Business Strategy · Chicken and egg

How to attract users for an app that hasn't launched yet?

Chi Chi Founder looking for creative and bright people .

November 9th, 2017

I am working on a social app that would require a significant number of active users for it to be at all helpful/effective. I don't want to launch the app and there not be enough people for it to be useful. It's the classic chicken or the egg dilemma.

Are there any strategies you recommend for attracting a Day I users for an app that hasn't launched yet? I am especially curious about things that can be done pre-launch.

Ilya Lipovich Angel Investor/Operations leader

November 9th, 2017

Hi Chi. We get this question asked all the time by our customer during app development and closer to the end (I run a mobile app/Web development firm). There are many opinions on this topic... some are below in order of importance:

1. Attract as many beta testers as you can during your pre-launch phase. These are friends, friend of friends and family. Gather feedback from them, incorporate into your MVP and communicate to them that this feedback has been incorporate and ask for additional feedback

2. PR. Find media outlets that would be interested in what you are creating. Pre-pitch them with interesting content prior to launching your app and make sure to put an embargo on it (date of release)

3. Launch phase. Ask your beta testers to download the app and start using it. Incentivize them with in-app currency to encourage usage of the app. Make sure that you create social channels for your app and encourage conversation by your users.

4. Post launch promotion. Remember that first 2-3 weeks are key during app launch. App stores are likely to push your app higher in the rankings to give it a boost. During this phase, budget permitting it is best to launch paid user acquisition and boost the already organic boost by the app stores in the first 2 weeks.

Note above information is super high level and there are many things that should be done before, after and in between. Also, during development think about monetization... don't just think that you will just integrate something in the future. Having a plan will help you in cutting development costs in the future.

If you need more information about app development or have general questions about Marketing, feel free to reach out and if I can't answer I will be happy to point you in the right direction. or

Matt Software developer

Last updated on November 9th, 2017

One approach would be that you offer other services, functionality inside the app that would attract/engage users, letting them know they're early adopters/beta testers (maybe provide perks or incentivize that status), and that other functionality will open up (the main point of your app presumably) once X number of users has been reached. Encourage them to share the app with their friends, etc. Without knowing how your app would work, perhaps you can make up for the lack of initial users with other data, etc.

You could, and probably should, also develop a really thoughtful and engaging promo campaign (e.g. slick looking multimedia content, social promo, etc) to generate a groundswell of interest. This may be better left to a PR agency that know what they're doing, but something perhaps a bit enigmatic, tease out content and updates over a specific period of time) to draw users in, again emphasizing the early adopters exclusivity, then launch.

Effectively though you're talking about a beta launch that needs beta testers and the trick is having something to test. Perhaps you could explain a bit more about your app so we can provide more specific advice?

Luciano Figueira Pinto Founder & CEO

Last updated on November 9th, 2017

Try to create a landpage online where you explain the idea and offer the possibility for people to be the first to try it out. Ask them to submit their email and then when you launch you already have an email list.

Step 1: Create a beautiful, to the point landpage. (Be honest, say in which point of development you are, when they will get it and how your app will be useful to the user).

Step 2: Send it to friends and ask them to advertise it on social media or with friends.

Step 3: Create a targeted facebook add (only direct it to people you know will be interested - make a search by interests) that goes directly to the landpage. Use 5€ a day (a few thousand people will see it everyday). Gather emails.

Step 4: Never give up.

Hope it was useful. Best of luck.

Sapir Sosnovsky Innovator and Entrepreneur

November 10th, 2017

I am actually faced with the same problem, we are creating a network that heavily relays on other users for it to work for you.

What are trying to implement is an offer by which we create value in multiple other ways to attract as many users as possible.

The new problem now is that we have added so many features that the app is no longer an MVP and its starting to be very hard to test.

Yuriy Lozinsky True Nerd @webinerds (MCSE, CSM, CSPO)

November 10th, 2017


You are on the right way of thinking :)

There are plenty of Startups (and my old one :) that started to develop solutions driven by assumptions and without any proof of value for the people on the market (potential clients).

As for me, I spent first 2 years in Product development instead of markeing research and community management. Everything is OK now with my startup, but I understend, that some things could be made in more efficient way.

The main idea of my insight is to get proof (before product development and even to-market strategy development) that people will pay for your service in the wide range of meanings: by money, personal time, emotions and so on. More than half of startups developed products which used by people, but just for free. Service exists, but services's value it is not enough for people to pay for it.

1. You need the teaser. Video is the best way to bring your idea (not a product) to market to describe further value and get feedback.

2. You need to create and manage community of early adopters of your future product. You need to personify them and start talk to them.

So, my suggestion is to create lightweight website with video and "subscribe" form to collect e-mails and share it with your friends, for first

The second (cheapest) way is to create Facebook group and invite people for share your insight with you community.

Best regards


Sandeep Pai Solopreneur | Internet Marketer | Affiliate Marketer |

November 10th, 2017

Create a facebook page and build an audience, engage people in forums and ask them to like your FB page.

Release glimpses of app (probably USPs) partially just to have that curiosity generated in the audience. Request them to download your app and install it, test it and share their reviews.

Put up a contest, give away contest.. You can build a great community I bet you!

Curt Sahakian Attorney

November 12th, 2017

You need a partner with a pre-existing base of users.

You need to be prepared to offer them whatever terms they demand.

Just make sure it is clear what their obligations are in exchange.

Kranthi calm and creative

November 10th, 2017

First of All,

"Find your targeted audience." Join Groups on social networks, Join the Events and Networking sessions, List all the problems that you're trying to solve with your app, Talk to the group and tell them about your application, Collect Feedback and so on...

Once you have all the required information, Create a Landing page, An explainer video / animation, E-Mail template which explains the features of your application.

Now go back to the audience / groups and share the video, landing page and see if they're curious to know more information. Collect their basic information such as email id / mobile number (which helps you in lead generation) and offer them the beta version.

Tell them that it's an "Invite only" option as you want to have your special audience "A First Look" of your application.

There are few other ways which you can spread your "Content" to a larger audience, By running a sponsored campaigns, Press releases etc...

All the Best,


Christoph Ranaweera validate early, pivot and kill fast instead of feeding a zombie

November 10th, 2017

When I get you right you want to make sure that at the day when your app launches you can inform a lot of already interested users to keep the chicken and egg dilemma as little / short as possible.

This goes then a lot into (social marketing)

- Create a page on facebook, instagram profile, twitter or even pinterest. So it's a lot about quantity but you should not overdo.

- create as well a landingpage where users can sign up via mail.

- Do posts, ask friends to share and ask friends to tell their friends to share. Do posts frequently so your pages are getting interesting and people start sharing it. In one of my projects I had a writer creating a post every week.

- If you can do it then do marketing to your target group (specially google and facebook)

- if possible try to start with a region or more narrow target group to specially keep the marketing spend low and to keep focus.

- Talk to newspapers and media which covers your target group what your product will bring as an advantage. If you are lucky you get some coverage already before launch and follow up at launch or even after. But keep in mind they don't care about you and your app, they care about their readers and interesting / relevant infos for those so this is what your message needs to be about.

- if there are multipliers (like some associations, interest groups) then talk to them from the perspective that you want to create something awesome for their group and ask for support (input and promotion)

- look for groups on facebook, linkedin and wherever else your customers might be active. Join, post, respond to other posts.

- link users from all posts to your landingpage where they can enter their mail address or whatever is appropriate for your product. don't ask too much, every field to enter costs you conversion.

and important: offer users something for giving your their email. limited time price reduction, something extra / special. Whatever makes sense depending on your product.

There is tons more of things. just think about what your customers do and how they could be reached (get the persona done properly) and keep in mind your budget. As well keep in mind that the good old times where you could reach a lot of users easily via mobile are long time gone so it's a lot of work.