How I Partnered With An Instagram Influencer To Get An Emoji App To #1 And Make Thousands of Dollars

Hi!  My names Mark and I've worked on over 2,500 apps the last 5 years (including the #1 app on the paid App Store).

mark-nagelmannIn that time, I've developed a lot of killer apps, but my biggest obstacle has been successfully marketing my apps to get the downloads and revenue they deserve.

In the beginning, I relied on ASO for app exposure.

Next, I focused on content creation, building a social media presence, PR, and advertising.

At a more advanced level, I worked on backend marketing and cross promotion campaigns.

All the strategies above are effective – but not guaranteed.  A lot of hard work, time, and costs are involved (not to mention the sleepless nights and hair pulling).  And even then, there's a good chance I won't see the return I'm hoping for.

So I thought I'd try a strategy other indie developers avoid like the plague -> the Influencer Model.

I found that there are thousands of influencers out there on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, etc…eager and ready to partner with you.

After working with a few of these influencers, the results were mind-blowing!!

In just 1 month, one of my apps:

  • hit the #1 spot in it's category
  • profited nearly $10k
  • created an ongoing partnership
  • brought on new clients

There were NO shady “blackhat hacks” or “secret marketing strategies” to the success of my app.

The project cost $0 to develop, market, and publish (I'll explain more below).

My app hit the top charts due to my ability to find, contact, and form a partnership with an influencer.   With just 1 social media post from my partner, my app profited $1,041 and shot to the #1 spot in the Entertainment category in less that 24 hours.

The bottom line is, the Influencer Model WORKS!

Keep reading to learn the 5 steps I used to find an elite influencer for my app SausageMoji (iOS / Android).

What & Who Is An Influencer (and why do I care…)?

Wondering what actually makes up an influencer and how they impact your app?

An Influencer is defined as:

A person or topic that carries an influence over others by driving a message to the larger market. 

Influencers WILL dramatically impact your project by driving traffic to your emoji app.

In short, quick_cheap_downloads!

But that's not all…Influencers also allow for:

  1. Direct access to target audiences (fishing-holes)
  2. Greater app exposure
  3. Ability to send messages to impact behaviors (“download my app”)
  4. Quick and cost effective results
  5. Shared workload contribution

For my project, I partnered with Sausage Dog Central, a company founded and ran out of Australia groomed towards dachshund dog enthusiasts 🐶.  Sausage Dog Central has over 1.5M followers on Facebook, 400k on Instagram, and a growing email list.

The results from the partnership (for iOS alone in just the first month):

sausagemoji-emoji-analytics (1)

The only marketing strategy we used were 12 social media posts published by our influencer which cost us ZERO dollars.

If you want the exact steps I use to contact, close deals + the launch plan I use to work with influencers (including app templates, email scripts, contracts, and resources), click here.

The Step EVERYONE Forgets

My WHOLE process for finding an influencer takes less than 10 seconds.


Before you even start LOOKING for influencers, you need to research the market.  That means you know WHO your customer is, WHERE they are, and HOW you're going convert them into a user.

Second, you need concrete data that PROVES THERE IS A DEMAND for your app.

One strategy we used to prove our app's demand was sending a survey to our Influencer's email list that documented what type of app they wanted and what to include in the app.  Our influencer's community literally laid the app out for us.

Market Research is the forgotten step almost every new developer skips over.  Don't make the same mistake that leaves most newb developer saying, “DOH!”

Here's a link to the emoji app templates and marketing strategies I used to hit #1 (Click Here).  There's a whole module on Market Research & Creating A Customer Avatar.

Once you've verified both your app topic and customer avatar – you're ready to start finding influencers!

The 5 Step System I Use to Find Influencers Using Instagram


Step 1: Search your topic

Open Instagram and search your topic in the search field.

For my Sausagemoji app,“dog” was the topic I initially searched.

Step 2: Browse hashtags

Under the searchbar, select the “Tags” tab and browse through related hashtags.

For example, when you search the topic “dog”, #dog will be the first visible tag.

PRO TIP: Just like with a Google search, predictive text will automatically populate in Instagram's Tags section.  This prompts endless sequences to browse through.

Step 3: Browse related hashtags (more niches)

Once you've selected a tag, several Related hashtags will populate offering more niche areas to search.

If you're topic is broad, Related hashtags will help you find niche influencers eager for a partnership.

Step 4: Click on Top Posts

After you've selected a tag (or related tag), Instagram automatically puts 9 of the most popular posts in the Top Posts section.

An image qualifies as a Top Post by:

‌• # of likes

‌• engagement rate (comments & likes/followers)

These are the cream of the crop posts I use to find qualified influencers.

Step 5: Match all qualifying criteria

Next, browse each of the 9 Top Posts to find 1 (or more) that matches the following criteria:

Criteria 1: 5k likes or more

Criteria 2: High engagement (the # of likes & comments compared to the # of followers)

Criteria 3: Authentic posts (branded purposeful content)

Criteria 4: High engagement on at least 1 other platform

Typically the influencers I reach out to have 1M+ followers on their primary social media platform (Instagram), and 350k+ on their secondary platform (Facebook/Twitter/YouTube).

PRO TIP: If you click the downward arrow next to the qualifying influencer you've found, Instagram will suggest additional influencers with similar criteria.


Here's a video rundown:


Next Steps…

Once you've found an influencer that matches all your criteria, it's time to make contact.

Start by following their social media accounts and strategically engaging with their posts.

Next, shoot them an email, FB message, Instagram message, etc…with the end goal of getting them on the phone.

Once you've contacted an influencer, make sure they're a good fit.  The top 3 traits I look for in a partner are:

  1. Responsiveness
  2. Marketing experience with a physical or digital product
  3. Excited to work on a project with me

How to Maximize your Success

The Influencer Model is a supplemental marketing strategy to get results quicker, more effectively, and cheaper than anything else out there.

This strategy DOES work.

But finding influencers is only one small step of the model.  If you're looking for a detailed step-by-step guide to find, contact, and close deals with influencers – you need our Ultimate Emoji Package.

Included are the exact strategies we use to get a profitable emoji app in the Apple and Android stores even if you have no coding skills and a very limited budget.

Don't miss out, to rapidly move your app up the charts -> Click Here.

Let's do this!



PS: Are you interested in working with influencers?  Drop a comment below, I'd love to hear about it!


  • Sharon Jones July 26, 2017

    I don’t have my App build yet to expensive for me right now.

  • Mario J. Martinez July 26, 2017

    Hi Mark,

    Bluntly put it, your strategy is pretty well outlined and seems to me that I will be considering to look this very close to my marketing research.

    Meantime, I will study this email and its content in detail.

    Let’s be in contact.

    Mario J. Martinez

    Found me in LINKEDIN.

  • Mario J. Martinez July 26, 2017

    Great post.

    Mario J. Martinez.

  • Quinn J July 26, 2017

    Great article.
    Logical and cerebral flow makes it an easy yet must-read.
    Thanks for sharing unselfishly. I am in the final stages of my app and hope to start testing in two weeks. Will definitely explore your recommended strategy.

    To the newcomers, just wanted to emphasise that hard work won’t cut it anymore. You have to work hard on the right stuff. This article helps with that. Thanks again Mark.

    Quinn J

  • Seán July 26, 2017

    Hey Mark,

    Great post and info. Question, what sort of deals might one expect to strike with an influencer? Split on profits? Or a fee? Or a mix of both?

  • Mark Nagelmann July 26, 2017

    @Mario –
    Thanks for the feedback! I’d love to connect and hear more about your influencer strategy + help where I can. You can contact me at


  • Mark Nagelmann July 26, 2017

    @Quinn –
    Congrats on making it to the final stages of your app, that’s awesome!! I highly recommend checking out the Influencer strategy, even if it’s just for testing/feedback.

    I agree with you that you must put in the work to be successful with apps. But I wouldn’t say it’s “hard.” Publishing hit apps takes “balance.” You can’t rely solely on ASO anymore. It takes a quality app + a solid marketing campaign. But it IS possible and working with Influencers is a great “secret sauce” to get you the numbers and revenue your app deserves.

    Best of luck with your latest app Quinn!

    My strengths have always been organization and communication. Working with Influencers has been a no-brainer for me + it’s been very enjoyable, and fun on top of bringing in solid consistent revenue.

  • Mark Nagelmann July 26, 2017

    @Sean –
    YES! So excited you asked this question. I’m hoping to do a followup post soon on this topic specifically.

    The short answer is -> YES! Split revenue and fixed fees are the two most popular deals with influencers.

    What most people DON’T know, is the difference between a “contributor” and an “affiliate.”

    Contributors are partnerships where you split costs, development, marketing, etc. Both parties have a say in the app and share the workload. For my apps, I usually take on the responsibility of development while my partner does the marketing. These deals are usually 50/50 revenue splits.

    But affiliate partnerships are what I get REALLY excited about…Instead of relying on 1 partner (like with contributors), with affiliates you can have ENDLESS people promoting your app for a revenue split and you get full control over the app. So you can reach out to influencers, provide them a unique tracking link, and tell them for every install you’ll pay them $X. Apple makes it SUPER easy to create unique tracking links, you can do so straight from iTunes Connect (no 3rd party integration needed).

    I’m excited you’re interested in working with influencers, let me know if I can answer any other questions with you 🙂

  • Brett July 26, 2017

    When is the Influencer Blitz Program being added to the Emoji Arbitrage course?

  • Mark Nagelmann July 26, 2017

    @Brett –
    We are currently running a PROMO for the Bluecloud Emoji Arbitrage course which includes the Influencer course as a Bonus. You can learn more here or by emailing

  • Paul morris July 27, 2017

    I had been hoping for some input on an idea of mine not covered anywhere in your info not sure your even right person to talk to

  • Mark Nagelmann July 28, 2017

    @Paul –
    I’d be happy to chat more about your specific scenario and help where I can. Feel free to drop a comment here and I’ll reply, or you can email me at:

  • Manavv August 10, 2017

    Hey Mark,
    Many thanks for writing this article as I was looking for one such for my social connecting app launch. However, if I am building a social connecting app based on hobbies/interests ( Target Group: 18-25 Years) who can be my influencers?
    Please reply.

  • Allan August 22, 2017

    Really interesting read. I’ve heard a lot about influencer marketing but it’s mainly targeted at the usual e-commerce shops. It’s nice to see that this strategy has other applications!

  • Mark Nagelmann August 22, 2017

    @Allan – thanks for the comment!

    You’re right, a lot of developers are going the ecommerce route – tshirts, coffee mugs, iphone cases…linking to physical products is a great way to bring in MORE revenue.

    However, I do use ecommerce in my pitch to influencers. My apps link to “their” website, products, services, etc. If they don’t have any, I show them how to create ecomm products to help “grow” their business.

    Developers think BIGGER is better and target influencers with the most followers and engagement. But the best partnerships come from influencers who are growing and on the way up. I’ve found that helping someone learn about business and how to scale it is has far better rewards than chasing $$$.


  • Patrik July 31, 2018

    Hello Mark,

    I’m looking for an affiliate product or something similar to market my stickers in the way you mentioned.

    While mentioning an option to market the apps with various Instagram influencers through Apple’s iTunes Connect (Unique tracking links), what did you mean exactly? Did you mean generating campaign links under App Analytics and tracking them? Or did I miss something and there’s something else?

    Thanks for the help ,

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