Growth March 23, 2020

Need advice on marketing

Yi Lin @yiman

I'm the creator of a personal finance app for Mac and iPhone. The app is called Savings, and its website is

Right now, my marketing focus is on driving traffic to the website. Paid advertising is not cost effective (the app is only $9.99 a pop), and it doesn't seem like press is interested in talking about it because it's quite an utilitarian app.

Do you guys have any suggestion for driving traffic for an app like this?

  1. 2

    Paid advertising is a scalable way to promote and get installs. Maybe if you share the strategies you used for it, then I can help you optimise it. Plus content can be a good driver in your space but most of it is dominated by bigger blogs.

    1. 1

      Right now my Google ad is simply:

      Mac Personal Finance App | Simple & Effective
      Ad ‪‬
      Keep track of your accounts. Analyze your spending. Create a simple and effective budget.

      I emphasize Mac in the beginning so I don't get click from PC users. I want to filter the clicks down to high quality traffic only.

  2. 2

    This app seems quite interesting. Kudos!

    1. 1

      Thank you. What did you like about it?

  3. 2

    Some ideas:

    1. If you are getting a hard time letting people buy your product I think you should try making your product Freemium. Let the user get the feel using your product and if you (mostly them) believe that the product is worth the buy then they will surely buy it.
    2. Looking at the current scenario of COVID-19 people are not on their regular routines and are struggling with finance. Try making a premium feature of insight if you don't have that and then market it as how your app can help them save money by giving meaningful insights.
    3. Don't write about much technical stuff on your blog whereas providing your users with value content that screams SAVING MONEY will surely help you.
      Just my 2 cents!
  4. 2

    A few ideas:

    • I noticed your blog is mostly technical updates. Users don't really care about that stuff unless it's in the form of product marketing. Try blogging about personal finance. i.e., How to prepare for a recession, How much savings should a mid-twenty professional have, What's a 401k, how credit card interest works, etc., That would help drive some organic traffic.

    • Hit up some bloggers/podcasters in the personal finance space and see if they are looking to profile new apps.

    • Niche down further. Should this really be for everyone? Or is this a personal finance app for millennials, college student, rich people, frugal people, etc., That would make the marketing strategy a lot clearer.

    • Maybe there are some Quora questions out there about personal finance you could respond to?

    • Get the app listed in as many directories as you can (including Indie Hackers :) ) to improve backlinks.

    1. 1

      @baird, lots of great points here. Let me try to unpack it.

      1. I have thought many times about blogging about content that would interest my users, but I'm not sure if I'm the best person to write about them because I personally don't know a lot about these things. I've had a writer who approached me about writing an article for my site, I will follow up with him and see what happens.

      2. I've been trying to contact bloggers, press about my app. So far no success, but I know I need to do more of it. The problem I believe is in the fact that there is no great story about my app. If there is a interesting story I can sell to them, for example if I built an app using the latest AR technology from Apple, then there is a story to sell. But my app is just a simple personal finance app. I'm trying to figure out how to give them something in return for featuring my app.

      3. The other comments on this post touched about niching down further. My current niche is Mac finance app + minimalist design. Perhaps I should focus on the type of people as you described. If you have tips on how to craft a message to a niche, let me know.

      4. Yes, will try Quora.

      5. I'm working on building back links. But it seems like most directories (and comment area) has rel="nofollow" for links, which doesn't contribute to the authority of the site they are linking to.

      1. 1

        Probably a good idea to learn about these topics if your target market is going to be interested in personal finance. The average person doesn't know much so don't feel intimidated on having to be an expert. Allow your audience to learn alongside you. Probably would help inform product roadmap too.

        If you are pitching technical concepts about how the app was built or what it can do, they probably won't be interested (AR blogs would care if it was built with AR). Approach them with how your app can help their audience and what it can do for people.

        Niching down early is almost always the way to go. It's hard to craft messaging before you choose the niche. This would be a lot easier if you knew who your customer was.

        eh. I never thought about that... I'd rather just have my app listed everywhere it can be.

        Overall, my guess is that you need to shift from "how the app works" to "Who is my customer and how does my app help them".

        Hope some of this helps. Hit me up directly if needed!

        1. 1

          Thank you, you gave me a lot of good tips, it will take me some time to implement them. I may hit you up for comment once I'm done with some of the items.

    2. 1

      Here's a niche: limited-income STEM university students. Why?
      desire: Low income makes this a necessity.
      time: University students have time.
      personality/habits: The stereotypical engineer personality matches with the habits needed to use your app.

      It might be a tough sell given their limited budget.

      I was in this niche once upon a time and was using Microsoft Money religiously.

      1. 1

        This is an interesting idea, because I was exactly the same :) In fact, that is why I created Savings in the first place. It started in my college years when I used to use OmniOutliner to create the first breakdown of my spending. It was eye opening to see where my money goes, and ever since then I had this idea of creating an app for my own personal needs.

        I guess my follow up question is, let's say I defined a target audience, how do I go after it? The problem I have right now is I know who my users are (a lot of them older, retired folks), and in this case, STEM students. But, how do I reach them?

        I think building SEO is not realistic at least in the short term because there are so many other apps out there. I'm trying paid advertising now. Perhaps I should seek out places online where they hang out and get into their conversation? How do I drop the name for my app without seeming like self promotion and get kicked out of the group? Or, do something in the physical world perhaps?

        Any ideas appreciated.

  5. 1

    Hey @yiman - the execution seems not bad actually


    1. Paid Ad: It's too early to tell without some real test, I would suggest to invest a small budget like USD 5 /day for 3-5 days and see how data lead your next direction
    2. Press: I would rather argue whether you need media coverage.

    Try to think deeper and be creative on free traffic channels. For me, I leverage Quora, Instagam and selected social media group to promo my little side project. Hope it helps!

  6. 1

    When it comes to paid advertising, what kind of strategy have you tried? Have you tried A/B testing your creatives? A change in creative can lead to huge difference in CPC / Cost per Install.

    I like that the landing page: simple, minimal. However, I would emphasize the benefits and try adding some human images (Unsplash). It looks like a generic app — adding a personal touch can increase conversion rate as well.

    You may want to test another activation model: freemium, free trial or even money-back guarantee for 30 days. Even if it's $9 a pop, people can be still reluctant to purchase without trying it first.

    1. 1

      Great concept for the landing page, I agree, it needs a bit of a personal touch. I'm often too direct and to the point, I realize the need to have more empathy and emotion when communicating with users. Often time it's hard to see something you create the way users sees it, especially if you look at it everyday. Any tips on overcoming that?

      I tried freemium before and it failed pretty badly. Turns out its is incredibly difficult to convert users that far down the tunnel. I added a prominent Free Trial link for users who can't buy it without trying though.

  7. 1

    Hey Yi, congrats on your app.

    Firstly, as someone who works in branding... I'm simply looking at the UX/UI and asking myself does this look like something I'd want to use? If I compare it to say what's happening with all the neo banking stuff out there... it might look a little boring. Also a lot of these newer banks offer savings goals and can monitor your spending.

    Secondly, I think $9.99 is way too high. I agree with others and make it cheaper to get volume. Not free but something that someone wouldn't second guess.

    Thirdly, when you talk about press exposure who are you targeting? What I'd do is focus on those bloggers who appeal to everyday people. An example would be the here in Australia. And then get them to review it. If it's good then ask if they could share with their audience (and incentivise it).

    Finally, if it's a good app and super useful and people love it then they'll share it with their friends, families, etc. I keep using the neo banks as an example... soon as they started arriving in Australia I was like this is awesome and then started telling everyone about the ones I was trying out.

    I hope that helps.

    1. 1

      I agree. I'm aware that my app is not as modern as many of the new apps out there. I will try and see what I can add to it to make it more interesting.

      Just curious, what elements of neo banking apps make them less boring than my app? You mentioned savings goal. Is it just the general design of it that makes it more human friendly?

      1. 1

        @yiman can I upload images here?

        1. 1

          Unless you use an app like CloudApp, the easiest way is to drop images on this service and share the link in comment:

          1. 1

            It prob. would have been much smarter for me just to send you to their website as it has the branding there. 🤦🏻‍♂️

            1. 1

              It's a simple graphic that asks how much do you want to save each week. In my case it was $60 per week. Then it numbers each payment in circles per week for 6 weeks. Which they say then forms the habit for saving. Pay day is Wednesday at my company and therefore it prompts you to put the payment into the account. So far Volt Bank are focusing everyone on saving.

              But from a brand stand point. It's colourful, modern, graphical, easy and fun to use.

  8. 1

    @baird ideas are great and cost-effective. I have to emphasize the niching down idea. With plenty of apps for finance out there, your best bet is focusing on one segment of the market.

    People like custom made solutions, they often perceived them as superior. A basic fact in psychology is that people want to be part of a group of other people like them, hence they'll tend to use bespoke products. That's why niching down is important in a crowded market.

    BTW, have you tried Apple Search Ads? they give you a free $100 dollar credit when you start. You can try it out and see how without risk, see how that works, and then decide if it's viable.

    1. 1

      The niche I'm putting myself in right now is:

      1. Mac personal finance app
      2. Simplistic/minimalist design

      With these two criteria, the only other app I feel is in the same category is That app is actually very successful, and I can't figure out exactly what it is.

      The reason my niche exists is because Mac personal finance apps actually aren't that many. If I was in the iOS market, then there are too many competitors.

      Other qualities of my users are:

      • Generally frugal people
      • Responsible with their money
      • Likes to keep track of things (neat)
      • (Some) appreciates good design, especially well designed macOS app

      It's hard for me to figure exactly how to craft my "elevator pitch". As I said in my post, marketing/sales is something that's new to me.

      And regarding Search Ad, yes I'm looking into that just today. I want to do Search Ad Basic because it's cost-per-install. Hopefully I can acquire iOS users that way and upsell them on the Mac app.

      1. 1

        Niching down usually requires more than just choosing the platform. That's just one side of the spectrum, the other important factor is the kind of user you're going to serve.

        Once you have decided on your niche, you need to stress it in your positioning. That is, how you want people to perceive your product. Meaning that at the first impression, people should clearly grasp:

        • What your product is
        • What it does (your value proposition)
        • Who it is for

        Your value proposition is the qualities of your product tied to its benefits. It's your factor of differentiation.

        So for that, you need to make it clear in all your copy—copy is the jargon for the text in all your marketing material.

        I'm going to give you an example for your app based on what I understand from your landing page. Don't take it too seriously since I barely know what your actual product qualities are.

        "Savings 2 helps money-responsible people take control of their personal finances within a simple and effective app."

        This is what I would do in your case right now:

        • I'll assess how your current users describe your app and identify the qualities and the benefits that they mention.
        • Then I would create different value propositions based on that and test which one generates more clicks running some Apple Search Ads using a portion of the credit they give you.
        • If I get good results, I'll then go all-in with the best performing value proposition using the rest of the credit and even set a budget for it.

        I hope this helps you somehow. you mentioned you're new to marketing and sales... I'm going to share with you the best free training I've found on marketing and growth hacking.

        Start with this:

        Then go with this:

        1. 1

          Thank you, I think your copy for title is quite close actually.

          Right now, my problem is I am getting too little hits to my site, almost none. Therefore there is no way for me to do A/B test. I pondered SEO, PR, paid ad. Right now I think most direct way is paid ad. I just setup my Search Ad Basic account, hopefully that'll generate traffic to my iOS app. I also setup Google Ad, still figuring out how to get more impression because the keywords I specify (like "Mac personal finance app") so far is not generating impressions. The keyword "quicken Mac" has generated one click so far though.

          I think the key for me right now is figure out a way to send traffic to my app/site. Seems like paid ad is the only way to go.

          One other thing I have is an email list of about 500 users, who signed up on my homepage. I believe a lot of them are already users of my app, but some of them may not be. Perhaps there are ways to leverage that list as well. However, with the coronavirus on top of everyone's mind, right now may not be the best time to sell people on personal finance app.

          But, if I can find some content that is relevant to coronavirus and personal finance, and there are definitely some of them, I can make a compilation of it and send it to users of my list.

          I think my view on content creation is I always think of it in terms of a short term gain. Instead, I need to realize it's a long term investment. As long as I keep at it, and keep providing something that I believe is good quality, it will form a community within my existing user base and the words may get out as well.