User Acquisition 101

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Why user acquisition strategies (UA) are integral for improving your App Store and Google Play downloads against millions of other apps.

When you’ve put in the time and effort to create a great app, you want people to find and download it. But you’re up against some serious competition: there are currently around 1.85 million apps on the App Store and 2.9 million on Google Play.  

A clever user acquisition (UA) strategy can make a big difference to how quickly your app gets noticed and the number of downloads you ultimately achieve.  

What is user acquisition? 

Quite simply, it’s actively finding and recruiting new users for your app. There are several different routes you can take: getting your app to appear at the top of search lists; paying for ads to promote your app to a new audience; leveraging the marketing assets you already have; and wider brand campaigns to boost awareness. 

Four ways to get new users for your app 

People can be picky – 50% of apps are uninstalled within 30 days. So get as many downloads as possible via the following four routes, then deliver a top-notch user experience, and your app is more likely to survive.  

1. Organic search 

According to Apple, 70% of mobile users find new apps through search. So if you want to get more people downloading your app directly from search results, you need to work on your App Store Optimization (ASO).  

ASO is the process of doing all you can to improve your app’s visibility and appeal within an app store. It’s made up of three elements:  

Search Optimisation – getting keywords right (and in the right place) so your app is included in a greater number of relevant search queries. 

Browse Optimisation – building links with other apps, which validates your app, raises its profile and boosts its rating. 

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) – creating a persuasive first impression through your creatives and copy so that people take the next step and download the app.  

ASO is a vital component of any strategy: 65% of downloads on Apple’s App Store happen after search, as do 53% of downloads on Google Play. 

2. Paid UA  

When you want to lead new users to your app, you need to showcase it on whichever channels they’re already using – and that’s where paid UA comes in.  

You buy ad space to promote your app across Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube etc. You can also purchase ads within Apple’s App Store – called Apple Search Ads.  

Wherever you’re displaying your ads, they should allow your audience to click directly through to the app and download it immediately. You can also use paid ads to re-target people who’ve already downloaded your app but aren’t engaging with it, perhaps by offering discounts, exclusive content or free in-game currency.  

And have you thought about influencers? These are people who already have a large following: one word from them saying that your app is awesome can have their fans downloading it in droves.   

Of course, none of this comes for free. It’s important to regularly evaluate what’s performing well (and what’s not) to make sure you’re getting the best results from your spend. To learn more about striking the balance between organic and paid UA, take a look at this. 

3. Owned media marketing 

If you’ve already got an audience, use them! Send out emails, SMS or QR codes that encourage downloads. Add banners to your app that allow existing users to invite their friends. If people are coming to you via the web, give them an incentive to convert to your app.  

4. Wider campaigns 

Brand campaigns will keep you at the forefront of people’s minds, so the next time they’re looking for a new game, thinking of setting up a bank account, or wanting to place a bet, they think of you. That means they’re more likely to search for you by name, leading them straight to your app. 

The power of data in user acquisition 

A flow of new users isn’t just essential at launch, it’s vital to the ongoing profitability and success of your app. And the best way to get it right is with a data-driven approach.  

Test and retest what’s working. Spot the trends. See the point at which people are installing your app. See which creatives are drawing them in.  

Understanding how people interact with your app means you can focus your budgets at the most valuable UA channels. And this will give your app its best chance of success. 

One final point. Don’t forget to keep your users happy once you’ve got them. According to Google, 51% of people learn about new apps from friends and family, so word-of-mouth recommendations can play a really big part in boosting your downloads.  

Customer loyalty is good for budgets too. Various studies have suggested it costs more to get a new user than it does to keep an existing one – depending on what you believe, this can be anything from five times to 25 times as much.  

So integrate these four methods of app marketing to bring in new users, then do all you can to keep them.  

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User Acquisition 101

Why user acquisition strategies (UA) are integral for improving your App Store and Google Play downloads against millions of other apps.