There are a multitude of ways that you can market your mobile app. With a few tools, you need to spend money. With others, you need just time.

Whatever marketing route you choose, getting your app in front of customers is one of the toughest challenges a developer can face.

Over the years, since the app stores came into play (pun unintended), app developers/entrepreneurs have tried various customer-outreach methods. When one method works for a developer or two, many others follow suit and soon there is clutter on that channel.

You need to keep looking for new channels. But newer channels don’t keep popping up through the weeks or months. And you definitely cannot wait for one to come by.

So what do you do? You go back to the basics. In the entire spectrum of marketing, it all boils down to one thing -- word of mouth.

Related: Why Starting Small Can Lead to a Better App

How can you influence word of mouth to help you get traction for your mobile app? Here are a few ways to get started.

1. Start slow and small. This can seem quite contrary to what most people would have you believe, but starting small can actually help you deliver a better app.

What this means is that with the first version of your app, you reach out to only a select few people (within your customer segment) in the community or certain geography. This geography can be limited to part of a city or an entire city. But nothing more.

You can do this mostly by yourself and with the help of your network. This lends a personal touch to your app and builds a better connection with your customers. The smaller you start, the easier to build your product with course corrections.

2. Focus on their needs. When you’re building for a specific customer segment, you are able to focus on their problems and pain points. Your version 1 of the app may or may not resonate with that customer segment.

If it does not, you do not want to find out after marketing to an audience of 100,000. You want to make the mistakes with just a few people, get your app right and then target the next 100, then the next.

Related: How to Attract (and Keep) Your First 100 Customers

Once you hit the target of your first 100 customers, connect with them as much as you can personally. That means picking up the phone and speaking to them. It also means driving to them and observing their usage behavior.

The more you interact with them, the more feedback you’ll get on their needs and how your product is helping them. The more you interact with them, the more they engage with your product.

If these first set of customers are delighted, they are bound to recommend your app to their friends and network.

3. Tell a story, build a brand. Do not always try and make a pitch to sell to your customers with what your app can do. Rather, tell a story. People connect with stories and personal experiences.

Look for a few customer-use cases that are interesting and tell those stories to your potential customers personally or through blogs and articles. The more you can emotionally connect with your user, the more engaged they will be with your app.

Leave people with something interesting enough to share with their network.

Once you connect with your first set of customers and offer them something they cannot live without from that moment on, you’ve got a winning app and a potential for growth.

There’s nothing better than a third-party, independent endorsement of your product, be it your customers or the media. Once you start getting these endorsements, your app is bound to gain traction. 

Related: There's an Art to Telling Your Brand's Story: 4 Ways to Get It Right