Existing platforms refer to websites, apps, or networks that already have a huge user base. You can use these platforms to find new customers.
Existing platforms include the iOS App Store, Google Play store, browser extensions, major social media sites, and up-and-coming apps and social media sites.
Apps are extremely popular, and the market is very saturated. The best way to get people to download your app is to get ranked or featured on the app store.
Trainyard, a paid iOS game, gained initial traction by creating a free version of the app (after unsuccessfully marketing the paid version). As soon as the free version was released, an Italian blog wrote a positive review of the app. This rocketed Trainyard to the top of the charts in Italy, then the UK. Finally, Apple featured the app on the App Store, which led to lasting popularity for the game.
You must get initial attention to get featured. But once you get into the rankings, you enter a positive cycle—more people download the app and push you higher into the rankings again.
To get into the rankings, some companies buy ads from AdMob or downloads from TapJoy, or join forces with other apps in cross-promotion. Some also use paid services like FreeAppADay to increase downloads for a day and hopefully break into the charts.
Getting publicity and targeting blogs can also help you to rank in the app store. Above all, the app must be good and get good ratings to keep momentum going.
You can also strategically place requests for users to write a review right after they have a positive experience in the app.
Browser extensions are apps for the browser. Having a browser extension allows people to benefit from your site the entire time they’re using the internet.
Evernote grew quickly after introducing its browser extensions that “clip” and save content from the web.
All browser extensions are free, but can be ranked and featured in browser’s app stores.
It’s best to jump in when a new social media outlet is just beginning to grow. Why? Because new platforms are usually missing key features that your startup can provide.
YouTube provided a way to add videos to Myspace, which wasn’t possible at the time. Each video linked back to YouTube, which constantly drew in new customers and led to rapid growth.
Bitly made it possible to have shorter URLs on Twitter.
Imgur gave reddit contributors a place to host their images.
To utilize this channel, figure out where your potential customers congregate, then create a strategy to target them there.
It’s best to try each new platform and think of a way to optimize your product for it. Don’t wait to see if the platform will live or die. You don’t have anything to lose, and as a startup, you can’t afford to wait until the platform is saturated to take action.
Airbnb found most of their initial growth through Craigslist. They provided something that Craiglist users were looking for, namely a safer and more reliable way to find cheap accomodation online.
Airbnb added a “Post to Craigslist” feature on their website, which drew Craigslist users back to Airbnb to complete the sale.
PayPal’s strategy was to purchase items from eBay sellers and require them to receive payment through the PayPal platform. Over time, PayPal’s payment system became more popular than eBay’s.
Evernote considers existing platforms to be their core marketing channel. They take pains to get onto every new platform or device before it’s released.
Evernote was one of the first apps on Android device — because of the scarcity, it was featured on the Android app store for 6 weeks.
To get featured by tech companies, Evernote says that it thinks about what features companies like Apple or Google would like. They once released a special app that paired with a new Apple accessory, which got featured in an Apple ad.
They’ve also been the first app on Blackberry phones and other failed devices, but the successes more than make up for the failures.