People love free stuff.  A great way to boost sales for your app for free is to set it your app free for a day.  Yes, making your app free for a day can increase dollars for the next three months.

Like any other discount or promotion, if you prepare and publicize it correctly, it can result in quite an increase of sales, although it involves giving product away for free.

If you’ve got an app already on the App Store, one of the most challenging things to do is create a marketing or promotion strategy that actually works, without spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on it.  Setting something free for a day is both cheap and easy.


How Does it Work?

Your app gets publicized on the day it’s free, and people will click on the link in the following days not realizing that the app isn’t free anymore…. And then decide to buy it anyways.  This effect lasts as long as the article or announcement stays visible on the websites publicizing it, which is about three months at the longest.  That’s three months of extra clicks you wouldn’t get otherwise.

To my ears, at first, this seemed totally counterproductive – People who would download the free app would be otherwise paying customers, and so you’re just forfeiting money by setting it free!  But this line of reasoning is faulty.

The great majority of people who download your app while it’s free wouldn’t have paid money for it anyways.  For the people who would have paid money, there’s always more out there.  You’re not going to capture the entire market, so you don’t need to worry about these forfeited sales.

This tactic is best employed when you’re already connected to the community leaders of your users.  This means through your social media or website, as well as the leaders other blogs, forums, and websites where your users hang out.  We discussed putting together a mailing list of related blogs and websites to contact with news; now is the time to use it.  If you haven’t done so, open that link and get that set up before proceeding.

To maximize the impact of your app being free for a day, do these things:

  1. Go online to iTunes connect and pick a date to set your app as free that is two or three months in the future; this gives you adequate time to set up marketing campaigns with various online outlets.  Schedule it to go free, and schedule it to be paid again the next day.
  2. Write up an email/press release (depending on the tone of the outlets) to send to your press list.  Mention the scheduled date of the free day, and make it clear that their readers would be interested in this free app.  Most importantly, make it clear there are no strings attached for the news outlets.
  3. Schedule 3 -5 posts on your own social media in the week leading up to the free day, letting people know that the app will be free.  This way, any other people who have websites/blogs/followings can share the information as they wish.
  4. Schedule emails to your standard (opt-in) email list, letting them know it will be free as well.  Only send them one or two emails, as email is a much more direct and penetrative medium than social media is.

That’s all you need to do.  The success of this marketing strategy hinges on the quality of your press list, not on any special prep work; the more small-medium quality blogs and media websites you have on your press list, the more the free app alert will be shared with people, and the more people will see it afterwards to buy it.

This tactic is effective if used infrequently, but done too much and it loses it’s effectiveness.  Outlets cease to see it as a big deal, and viewers will wait to buy if they know it will just be free again later.