Have you created the Next Big Thing in the app world – and now you’re wondering what to do to get people to use it? Whether you’re about to take the Apple App Store or the Android Market by storm, these tips should help get you started.

One note before we start: Overall, you want to focus your efforts as much as possible and try to stir up the most interest immediately prior to the release of your app – people tend to like trying out the new and novel, and you’ll get to the top of the app store rankings by racking up as many downloads as possible in a short period of time.

Understand your customer

This is really a basic strategy that should start when you begin designing and architecting your app – who’s it for? Housewives? Teenagers? Bodybuilders? Think about your target customer – or customers – and make sure you design something they can actually use. The best way to sell apps is to make a great app. Let your intended audience guide choices during the design process, such as color choices, styling and imagery – it might be a hard sell to convince middle-aged male runners to use a tracking app that looks like it came from an Easter egg decorating contest, even if that look might be wildly appealing to preteen girls.

Seek out third-party endorsements

Getting your app reviewed by people known as “influencers” – bloggers, tech writers and other go-to experts with a voice in the area you’ve chosen – is a great way to sell your product. Treat it like a traditional PR campaign – craft a polite email to your influencers of choice letting them know why you thought they might be interested, attach general information (a press release or fact sheet will do the trick) to help them with their write-up, and give them free access to use the product at their leisure. Be sure to use your best manners – this is a critical part of your marketing campaign, and you want to make a good impression. Don’t try too hard to be “salesy” – really emphasize why you thought they might find your app interesting.

Pay attention to reviews

If there are negative comments in your app’s reviews, address them promptly. Nobody wants an app that doesn’t work or that will cause problems with their device. Post back in the comments (only possible for Google Play apps) to let users know the problems have been corrected. Thank them for letting you know about the problem, as well.

Create a digital presence

An app works a lot like any other business – so set yourself up with a promotional website and standard social media channels. Use your Facebook page, Twitter feed and Google Plus pages to engage followers and stir up conversation – you’ll have a hard time making your app a viral sensation without extensive use of social media. Make sure there are instructions for how and where to download your app on all your pages – you want to make it as easy as possible for people to find it once they’ve heard about it. Use your social media channels to engage the influencers we just discussed, as a follow-up. And consider creating a YouTube video tutorial for you app – a quick how-to demo can be influential. Make sure to post the video on your site.

Buy mobile display ads.

Your biggest audience is, obviously, mobile device users – so be sure to reach out to them where they are. This is where understanding your customer can, again, be useful – where do your customers hang out? Buy an ad, and consider a special introductory promotion – a time-limited coupon or discount is a great way to drive sales.

Zane Schwarzlose is an SEO at Fahrenheit Marketing, an Austin SEO agency. Zane thinks that mobile app marketing is really different from other forms of Internet advertising.

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