Shopify App Marketing 101

Everybody is happy to tell you how to code a Shopify app, but nobody wants to tell you how to find customers.

If this guide had existed in January 2023, when I started in Shopify world, I would probably have been much farther along by now.

I know nobody reads anything, so I’ve kept it to the point here.

Marketing channels available

  • Shopify App Store (organic)
  • Shopify App Store Ads
  • Shopify Community Forums (SCF)
  • Reddit
  • YouTube
  • Google
  • Agency partnerships
  • App partnerships
  • Social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, IG, even TikTok)
  • Private communities (eg. Facebook/Slack groups)

Who to target, on which platforms

PlatformMerchants here?Partners here?
App StoreYesYes
Twitter/LinkedInNot reallyYes
Private groupsYesYes, but in different groups

You can build an audience of Shopify users on virtually any platform. I would just caution you against using social media as your MAIN channel, unless you exclusively plan to target partnerships with agencies and other apps.

The difference between social media, and the other platforms, is that merchants browsing on social media have zero intent to buy from you. If you’re a developer, sorry, but they don’t want to hear from you, and they will let you know by ignoring you, or flat out blocking you.

“DTC Twitter” is for people who want to learn how to sell more products and make their eCommerce business more profitable. It’s not where people go to look for apps.

You can ignore this advice, but you have been warned.

Avoid FB groups/Reddit

Anywhere there is a “moderator” who also “owns” the group, that’s a red flag 🚩. I don’t care what anyone says – all mods are on a power trip. There is no due process. If you get on a mod’s bad side even once, no matter the circumstances, you will get banned.

My advice is to only use groups as a place to lurk and come up with ideas for content and ways to improve your product. You’ll get way more value from that, than from interacting with people who, like “DTC Twitter,” do not want to talk to developers.

Feel free to ignore this advice, but don’t come crying to me when you get banned.

How to validate an app idea

If you have an “app idea,” abandon it. Seriously.

If you’re a developer, and you’ve never run an eCommerce store, then you have no idea what merchants actually want. Save yourself months of pain by finding an already-validated idea:

  • DO NOT go into groups/Reddit and ask “what app should I build?” You will get either ignored or banned, period.
  • READ the Shopify Community Forums (SCF). Read the newest and most popular posts, multiple times, every day, for at least a week. This will give even the most green of entrepreneurs a solid idea of what problems are still unsolved. Plus, the SCF is one of the only places that actually WANTS you to promote your app.
  • Look for competitors in the App Store. If there are no competitors, it’s a red flag 🚩. Remember, most app developers are chasing low-hanging fruit, so if there’s no competition, there’s likely a very good reason for it. I also probably wouldn’t recommend going after an idea where the top competitors have under 1000 reviews.
  • Focus on having conversations. Reply to people in the SCF/Reddit/Twitter/etc. with questions about the problem. Don’t even bother trying to sell them, unless they’ve replied. Don’t worry, you can still reach people through other, more promotion-friendly channels. The most important thing is to learn a little more about the problem than your competitors know about it.

Stop relying on the App Store

A lot could be said about the App Store’s weaknesses, but I’ve already discussed them in this article.

TLDR: The App Store is unpredictable, and it incentivizes unsustainable business practices (like paying for ads to promote a free app with 24/7 live chat support).

Build an email list

An email list is the only platform you can’t get banned from (unless you spam). It also has the most value, as once your list is big enough, you can even use it for retargeting on other platforms.

Email marketing is complex, and I don’t know nearly everything about it, but here’s what the average technical founder needs to know:

  • Start with double opt in (it makes your life easier)
  • Offer a lead magnet (like a discount or free resource) to encourage signups
  • Share helpful content 1x per week or so
  • Consider having a brief welcome sequence that establishes a connection with readers
  • Goal #1: Stay “top of mind” (in other words, prevent people from forgetting your name)
  • Goal #2: Train your audience to open your emails (by providing value every time). This way, when it’s time to make a sales pitch, you’re not met with crickets.


You’re free to take or leave this advice. You don’t have to agree with it. I’m just not a fan of wasting time on things that don’t work… Which is why I laid out a map of what DOES work instead.

Now, stop reading, put your phone away, and go get rich.