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15 App User Acquisition Strategies Proven To Boost Mobile App Installs

If you’re here, then I guess you probably know that exciting feeling after developing a great mobile app. At first, you even believe that mobile user acquisition will not be a problem at all because your app happens to have well-thought-out features and an exceptionally intuitive interface.

What’s more, your family and friends might boost your confidence even further by trying out the app and praising its features.

It feels like it could be the next big thing after Facebook and the likes. Possibly your biggest break so far.

Or is it?

Ok, sorry to burst your bubble, but, as much as it looks and feels like a genius mobile app, the market has to discover it first to become successful. That means that in addition to app development, you need to invest heavily in solid mobile app user acquisition strategies.

You see, penetrating the mobile app market is not that simple anymore. Once your app developers create everything, it’ll take a special kind of app user acquisition campaigns to outpace your competition, and attract app downloads.

But then again, what type of competition are we talking about here?

The State of The Mobile App Market

Let’s look at it this way. The number of smartphone users is expected to hit 3.8 billion by the end of 2021.

Number of Smartphone Users from 2016 to 2021(in Billions)
Number of Smartphone Users from 2016 to 2021(in Billions). Source: Statista

If a fifth of them downloaded your app, you don’t even have to seek app revenue from direct app purchases to make a killing. You could easily make billions of dollars with such a user base, mostly from third-party in-app marketing.

Sadly, everyone knows this already. There are more than half a million app developers in the U.S. today. And most of them, if not everyone, is trying the same thing as you – searching for their big breakthrough with great apps.

Number of Software Developers Employed in the United States in 2010 and 2020 (in 1,000)
Number of Software Developers Employed in the United States in 2010 and 2020 (in 1,000). Source: Statista

And that covers just the U.S. Now, imagine the sheer number of similarly skilled professionals in the world.

According to the Global Development Population and Demographics Study by Evans data, there were 12 million mobile app developers in the world as of 2016. That’s easily the population of the States of Illinois or Pennsylvania, all competing against each other.

Considering that this has grown by more than 2 million since 2016, you can picture the numbers that we’re dealing with as you read this.

Certainly explains why more than 5,000 apps are submitted to the App Store every day.

Well, you may argue that most of them are not that good. And you’d be right because Apple only approves and publishes a little over 1,400 of the best.

Number of Mobile App Releases Per Day
Number of App Releases Per Day. Source: 42Matters

Apple has pretty high standards for their App Store applications. So much so that, as it turns out, many of the apps in the App Store are rated 4.5-5 stars, while 4.0-4.5 stars rated apps come in second, and 5 star rated apps third.

App Store Mobile App Ratings
App Store App Ratings. Source: 42Matters

I don’t mean to sound alarmist, but the fact of the matter is, the competition is stiff. There are more now about two million great apps competing for attention in the App Store.

You either get your app user acquisition strategies right, or forget about making it in the mobile app industry.

Apps that successfully pass through Apple’s editorial team are reasonably good. The main issue for some of them, if at all there are any problems, may just be a couple of minor bugs.

That essentially means that winners and losers are principally determined by their app marketing and mobile user acquisition strategies. Failing is fairly easy. But so is emerging at the top. You just need to leverage effective app user acquisition strategies that have been tried and proven.

Here at PreApps, we’ve tried out a whole lot of app user acquisition tactics over the years. The result has been more than half a billion app downloads across over 3,000 apps.

So, how about we walk you through the paid and organic user acquisition strategies that have worked well for us? You can think of this as the ultimate guide to mobile app user acquisition campaigns.

How To Get An Extra 100,000 App Downloads

15 Proven App User Acquisition Strategies

#1. Press Release

The influence of the press on decision making and social lives is undeniable. According to research by various scholars, there are only a few things that are as impactful on the human mind as mass media.

This effect is especially profound among the youth, who, on average, download more than four times the number of apps as the older demographic.

So, of course, it only makes sense to capitalize on this campaign tactic right from prelaunch app marketing.

Create a compelling app press release and distribute it to influential press platforms. You’ll then get to use that to create awareness about your mobile app among your target audience and potential users. 

#2. Create A Website

With Apple enjoying an extensive user base, the App Store continues to attract millions of visitors every day. This explains why 47% of U.S. iPhone users admit to discovering the last app they downloaded by searching through the App Store.

How U.S. iPhone Users Found Their Last Mobile App They Download
How U.S. iPhone Users Found Their Last App. Source: Techcrunch.com

Then get this – while 15% learned about the mobile app from their friends and family, 11% claim that they read about their downloaded apps on the web.

Now that’s precisely why you need to include a website in your app user acquisition campaigns. In addition to building traffic through organic channels like SEO, you can use it as your primary app base – from where you should be able to take charge of your entire web marketing strategy.

#3. Paid advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Apple Search, YouTube, Google UAC, etc.

Still, in the same study, 6% of respondents downloaded their last apps because it was featured on Google, while 2% proceeded to click an ad on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites.

Although inorganic vs inorganic marketing is still a hotly debated topic, one thing is obvious- paying for well-placed ads will still get you a solid number of mobile app downloads. In other words, paid user acquisition works.

Among the many dynamically interactive social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter enjoy the largest following in that order. So it’d be wise to combine them with Google’s Universal App Campaigns, which is specifically optimized for app businesses.

And while you’re at it, you might also want to include YouTube in your paid app user acquisition campaigns.

100000 New App Downloads - type 3 - mobile

#4. Get Featured On App Review Sites

A separate research conducted by firms Forrester and Nielsen notably released results that are almost similar to what we’ve explored. 7% of iOS users learn about apps they download by reading blogs.

That said, there are two primary types of blogs that will mention your app. Your own blog on the app’s main site, or a third-party app review site.

Mobile App Discovery Methods
App Discovery Methods. Source: Forrester

The subsequent reach, of course, depends on the size of the review sites’ audience. That’s why it’s very important to work with an app marketing agency that has connections to influential review platforms. 

#5. Choose A Great App Name

Following more than 120 million App Store sessions analyzed over more than 2 years, it was established that 60% of your App Store visitors will not scroll past their first impression on the app page, and 50% ultimately make up their minds based on just the first impression alone.

Now, among other things, the very first impression in the App Store is made by the app name.

So, you need to grab user attention through a creative name that is not only unique, but also memorable and descriptive of the app’s functions.

This alone stands to boost your app user acquisition rate by 35%. 

#6. Choose The Right Keywords

Of all the app discovery methods we’ve reviewed in the two studies, one remains predominantly popular- browsing in the App Store.

Even Apple itself attributes 65% of mobile app downloads to searches within the App Store. Its search engine algorithm is known to query and rank apps based on various factors, starting with the keywords.

As such, you might want to particularly prioritize keywords in your App Store Optimization. Take the time to sufficiently conduct keyword research, and then choose the most popular keywords according to your niche and target users. 

#7. Cross-promotion On Other Apps

Although you’re all essentially fighting for user attention on the App Store, you could also capitalize on other applications to drive traffic.

There are many established apps that are increasingly enjoying millions of users, and would be open to cross-promotion.

As a matter of fact, 3% of iPhone users discovered their last downloaded app through this. 

#8. In-App Referrals

If your app is intuitive and engaging, introduce a feature that allows users to share stuff with their friends across multiple platforms. Then subsequently, find a way to encourage them to do so.

You could, for instance, entice them through various user rewards,  just like Uber has been doing with free rides.  This strategy alone proved to be so effective in acquiring new users that even Uber’s competitors had to borrow a leaf.

#9. Publish Eye-Catching Screenshots And App Demo Videos

With only a handful of apps currently using app demo videos, this is one of the app user acquisition strategies that could ideally set your app apart from the rest.

Apps With App Demo Videos
Apps With App Demo Videos. Source: Storemaven

A great app demo video is short since 10% of video watchers are lost every 5 seconds, uses crisp clear sound, and passes on the message concisely.  On average, it could help you increase mobile app installs by 25%.

And while you’re it, you might want to further supplement your app demo videos with engaging screenshots. Use clear images that best demonstrate all the unique elements of your app. 

#10. Social Media Marketing

More than 71% of internet users today are on social media – translating to over 3.96 billion people worldwide. That makes social media platforms the single richest source of target audiences and potential app users.

Therefore, in addition to paid social media marketing, try using organic methods – like social media pages- to build a strong following.

Apps in the App Store are already attributing 19% of their app downloads to traffic from social media sites. 

#11. Expand Marketing To Multiple Countries

As one of the most prominent brands in the world, Apple has extended the App Store to more than 155 countries, all of which can be accessed by app developers worldwide.

Limiting your app’s scope, therefore, will only curtail its growth. The more countries that have access to your app, the larger your prospective user base.

So, to appeal to a wider user audience, you should consider conducting a comprehensive analysis of various markets, and then optimizing the app for their respective demographics.

#12. Ask For User Reviews

A user review is not just an opinion about your app. It’s one of the elements that are heavily factored into the App Store’s search algorithm.

Additionally, your users’ genuine views will inform the decision-making process when improving the app’s features. This could go a long way in boosting future app user acquisition.

Then get this – since only 15% of apps have user ratings, encouraging users to post their opinion could easily push your app ahead of 85% of the apps in the App Store. 

#13. Viral Marketing

The social media age has seen the rise of overnight superstars thanks to viral content.

You could do the same for your app by systematically composing and strategically placing creative content aligned to your target audience’s interests.

This could drastically increase the number of mobile app downloads in a considerably short period of time.

Content that sparks awe is usually the most effective for viral marketing, followed by laughter, amusement, and then joy.

Viral Marketing Emotions
Viral Marketing Emotions. Source: NeilPatel

#14. Email Marketing

While email marketing may be a traditional digital marketing method, it’s still fairly effective at connecting with target audiences.

You could, for instance, start by building an email list through your website, after which you could proceed to creatively rally them with emails that offer various app install incentives.

Then once they download your app, keep engaging them with fresh, shareable content. That’ll help you attract more organic installs from their friends.

Discover Why Top Apps Choose PreApps - Type 1 - orange

#15. Track Your Marketing

Finally, the potential of the entire app user acquisition campaign cannot be fully realized without comprehensive tracking.

Adequately measuring the individual strategies will help you accurately establish their respective effectiveness. Then subsequently, you’ll have an easy time tweaking your marketing and repositioning your app to respond better to your mobile market needs.

Conclusion

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To recap:

  • The number of smartphone users is expected to hit 3.8 billion by the end of 2021.
  • There are more than half a million app developers in the U.S. today.
  • According to the Global Development Population and Demographics Study by Evans data, there were 12 million mobile developers in the world as of 2016.
  • More than 5,000 apps are submitted to the App Store every day.
  • According to research by various scholars, there are only a few things that are as impactful on the human mind as mass media.
  • Youth, on average, download more than four times the number of apps as the older demographic.
  • 12% claim that they learn about their downloaded apps from the web.
  • 6% of the respondents downloaded their apps because it was featured on Google, while 2% proceeded to click an ad on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites.
  • 7% of iOS users learn about apps they download by reading blogs.
  • 60% of your App Store visitors will not scroll past their first impression. Consequently, 50% make up their minds based on this alone.
  • Apple attributes 65% of mobile app downloads to searches within the App Store.
  • 3% of iPhone users discovered their last downloaded app through cross-promotion on other apps.
  • If your app is intuitive and engaging, introduce a feature that allows users to share with their friends across multiple platforms.
  • A good app demo video, on average, could increase mobile app downloads by 25%. So keep it short since 10% of the watchers drop every 5 seconds, use crisp clear sound, and come out strong on the message.
  • More than 71% of internet users today are on social media. This alone makes them the richest source of traffic.
  • Apps in the App Store are already attributing 19% of their downloads to traffic from social media sites.
  • Apple has extended the App Store to more than 155 countries. And all are adequately accessible to app developers.
  • Since only 15% have user ratings, encouraging users to post their opinion could easily push your app ahead of 85% of the apps in the App Store.
  • Content that sparks awe is usually the most effective for viral marketing, followed by laughter, amusement, and then joy.
  • Email marketing may be a traditional digital marketing method, but is still fairly effective in connecting with your loyal following.
  • The potential of the entire campaign cannot be realized without comprehensive tracking.

So, which of these strategies do you think would work best for your app?

In case you need help developing a solid mobile user acquisition strategy for your app, let us know and we’ll be happy to sort out your troubles!

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Sean Casto
Posted By

Sean Casto

I am the founder and CEO of PreApps.com, the leading mobile marketing and discovery platform. I have been a guest speaker at industry conventions for Microsoft and Samsung and lectured at Universities such as Northeastern and Harvard. I have acquired a deep understanding of the struggles developers face and a passion to serve the growing mobile app community.

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