Whether you are building an application for profit or giving it away for free, the perfect app won't help someone who either does not know about or who does not think it is for them.
Who is your audience?
When I developed MADE, my audience was tenants facing eviction, most of whom were low income. I also knew that they had only about 3 weeks, on average, to find my app before they could use it to fight their eviction. Most of my clients, as well, would only use my app once in their lives.
Because of this, I decided to focus my outreach on social workers, other legal aid providers, and the court service centers, rather than direct outreach to tenants. Put simply, these third-parties were likely to become familiar with MADE over time and be able to recommend it to many tenants. What's more, tenants were likely to reach out to these providers at an early stage when their housing was at risk, in time to use the app.
Increasing your search ranking
Earning placement on existing highly-ranked sites
In Massachusetts, the existing state-wide legal aid website, https://masslegalhelp.org, has a very high search ranking. In recent years, a new government-run website, https://mass.gov, has gained an even higher ranking. Getting placement on both of these sites for MADE required building relationships and earning trust of decision makers. There is no free lunch here. The result, however, is that both websites drive a significant fraction of our traffic.
Gaining earned media
Creating a content funnel
UpSolve is one non-profit that has very successfully driven growth using the strategy of the content funnel.