There are 3 numbers that determine if your mobile app has reached product market fit. The “Time to Wow”, “Time to Refer (TTR) and Viral Coefficient. Once you have achieved product market fit, your TTW should be short (preferably in minutes or hours), your TTR should be hours or days and your viral coefficient should be greater than 1.2 to 1.5.
Most entrepreneurs start with their friends and family to be their first “beta” users for mobile apps. While that’s the best logical point to baseline your TTW, TTR And VC, you might not become “big” quickly enough to generate VC-level interest for your startup if that’s your goal.
There are multiple marketing methods available for startups. Many of the mobile app companies I know have tried Facebook Ads, Social Media Engagement, some have even tried SEO and still others have tried extensive PR and Blogging
The only thing that has worked very well for non-gaming productivity apps is influencer marketing.
Over the last 1 year, at Microsoft, there have been 3 acquisitions of top mobile productivity apps – Accompli (Email client), Sunrise (Calendar) and Wunderlist (Task Manager). I had a chance to talk to the folks who were at the companies during the early days.
The only thing that worked was “Word of mouth” for marketing. None of them spent money on advertising – they did market, but they did not advertise.
The only marketing technique they adopted was influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is the approach to get influential early adopters to try the product, then tweak to get their feedback and have them spread the product via word-of-mouth.
It is important to realize that influencer marketing begins with identifying, engaging and building your influencers way before your product is ready or even before you have a beta product.
Emailing your influencer when you need to have them try the product will not suffice.
You have to engage with them, comment, work their egos and build your credibility with them long before you launch your product.
Influencer marketing helps your increase your viral coefficient, and it may increase your time to refer, but it does not help with your time to wow.
You will get a lot more people trying and using your product if influencers recommend it, but dont expect that to be the only technique you should adopt after your product has a viral coefficient greater than 1.5
You might want to then adopt partner app referrals (when another popular app suggests your app as an add-on).
The other technique that works later is bundling – this is when you are part of a “suite” of apps which act together as a bundle and perform complimentary tasks or have a similar goal, but aid in different parts of the goal.