Three Ways Word of Mouth Can Successfully Market Your New App

You've finally finishing building your app, and now you're ready to market it. But with a seemingly endless amount of marketing options, you find yourself instead staring blankly into the distance, paralyzed by a stupor of indecision. It's okay. We're here for you.

Getting your app in front of users is a difficult challenge. With an overwhelming number of marketing approaches and channels through which to broadcast your message, it's no surprise you don't know where to start. Fortunately, you don't need to thoroughly vet every option that comes your way. Sometimes you just need to start with the basics.

Before we were inundated with new marketing channels, word of mouth was what made businesses grow. And it still does. Why? Because we want recommendations from people we trust, and we don't particularly trust people we've never seen or spoken to. If you can "wow" someone enough that they're willing to tell their friends, you're doing something right.

Now that you have your app ready, it's time to make word of mouth marketing work for you. Here's how:

1. Start small.

Avoid the "Go big or go home" trap at all costs. You don't want to release your app to the masses until you know what problem you're solving, what value you're proposing, and how users will interact with it.

Once you have a functioning prototype, it's time to test it out with a group of 100 or less users. Let each person use the app (don't force their hands or lead them, you want to see how they interact naturally with the app) and get their honest feedback.

Observe their behavior when using the app, and take the time to ask important questions. These people are giving you an invaluable peek into the way the market will receive your product, so it behooves you to really invest time and energy into these tests.

Be prepared to change course dramatically after working with test groups. Your app may be awesome as-is, or you may be missing huge features that you hadn't even considered. During this phase you should take the time to fix bugs, tweak the interface, and improve the overall experience so by the time it's in the hands of the masses, users fall in love with it—and tell all their friends.

2. Build a relationship.

Take the time to really get to know these test groups—learn what they like, what turns them off, what motivates them to act, and how influential they are in their circle of friends. As you get to know them individually, you're actually getting a view of your users as a whole. You're also building trust, and establishing this trust is key since it will enable you to get to the meat of how the test users really feel about your app.

The more you develop the app into something the test groups love, the more likely they are to recommend it to their friends. By doing so, you're given access to their networks and you gain insights that even the most well-developed market research couldn't deliver.

3. Tell a story.

Storytelling is a big buzz word in content marketing, but it's not all just unsubstantiated hype. People love a good story, and it shows in usage studies such as this one from BufferApp. According to the study, both time spent on the page as well as full-page reads increased by over 500% and almost 300%, respectively, when the content followed a story.

Use your experiences with the test groups to craft usage storylines and customer journey maps. Better yet, request input from the test group users so the content comes from their mouths, not yours.

User-centricity isn't a new concept, but it has new implications. If you're working for your audience, they'll work for you—in the form of priceless promotion through word of mouth.

What ways have you successfully used word of mouth to market your app?