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The Ultimate Guide To Creating A Mobile User Acquisition Strategy

Successful apps don’t just happen. They are strategized for and our app marketing experts drilled down the strategies that you should be using to hit virality this year.

Viral Patel, Blogger

May 30, 2018

9 Min Read

With over 2.8 million Android apps in the world and 2.2 million apps on Apple’s App store by mid 2017, it is clear that the app market is growing at an exponential rate. When 197 billion mobile app downloads were reached in 2017, the market sure knows that smartphone users are more than willing to use more apps - for personal, professional and entertainment purposes. But with such volume of apps getting published every single day, how do you create a mobile user acquisition strategy that actually works?

Successful apps don’t just happen. They are strategized for and our app marketing experts drilled down the strategies that you should be using to hit virality this year.

Designing a viral mobile user acquisition strategy

There are a number of ways in which you can acquire mobile app users. The most obvious one being, a big fat advertising budget. But the truth is, just how long can you keep adding more budget to your marketing wallet and how do you stop these newly acquired users from churning?

The answer is - creating a data backed strategy that combats app volume in the market and hooks user attention for good.

1. Nail your app’s message

You might feel like you have created an app that serves an important purpose in the user’s life. But unless your messaging is right, the user is never going to know what you do. Let’s face it, the first thing you see in an app is its tag line! This is especially important for those apps and games that have just launched in the market.

Let’s take an example. The Clear app enables users to create reminders and to-do lists on one dashboard instead of having to set them up separately. Knowing that this makes it easier for the user to keep track of things, they use it as their core message in the app store.

clear app aso

2. Focus on app store optimization

The one mobile user acquisition strategy that has always worked like magic, is app store optimization.

Almost 90% of smartphone users utilize the app store searches to explore apps or browse through the options they have. If this is the search result that you want to be listed in, it’s time to optimize all the aspects of your app store description. This includes your app name, app subtitle, app description, keywords, ratings and reviews, usage metrics and more.


Struggling with ASO? Check out our app store optimization cheat sheet today!

3. Drill down and define your target market

A lot of apps and games make the mistake of launching on the app stores and targeting users across the world. While this might lead to initially getting a lot of app downloads, it also results in a greater churn in less than 3 months. The reason being, most app users don’t see value in what you offer.

That’s why you need to define and continually optimize your target market. For instance, start with the basic demographics like location, user age group, interests and their common concerns. This helps you align your mobile user acquisition strategy with the right solutions and pitch them your app without sounding too pushy.

Here are all the basics to define a user persona effectively:


4. Leverage social media to the fullest

A mobile user acquisition strategy without social media, is incomplete. When 90% of your users are present on at least 2 or more social media channels for personal and professional purposes, why not reach out to them where they are the most active on a daily basis?

You can use the platforms to share glimpses from your game, address common questions or even ask for feedback on it. We listed down 10 creative ideas that you can use on Facebook to promote your app and game - taken from the best in the industry. See them here.

Here’s a post by Clash of Clans, for instance:


5. Focus on the user journey

One of the most important parts of a mobile user acquisition strategy is the user journey. But it often gets ignored while focusing on releasing new features to appeal to the user. The reason why it matters is that it ensures a new user understands all the features that you’re offering and helps him get started on them.

For example, Slack makes sure their new user’s in-app journey is seamless by walking them through a few quick onboarding screens. This doesn't just walk the user through what their app can do, but also introduces him to features that hook his interest and will nudge him to promote the app further after trying.  

slack onboarding

6. Tap into word of mouth promotion

According to Nielsen, 92% of users trust recommendations from their friends and family, over the 67% that trust advertisements or any other content format. That’s why referral marketing is one of the most used and trustworthy marketing tactics.

But to leverage the power of word of mouth, you need to build a viral loop of referrals into your game or app. Here’s what you need to have in place:

  • Offer something valuable in lieu of referrals

  • Enable easy invite sharing on social media and chat apps

  • Reward power users for active participation

  • Ensure more value with every session

  • Make it a part of the user’s onboarding and in-app journey

With tools like Smart Invites,  this is easy to implement.


Some smart ways to incorporate a referral program into your app or game design is to enable milestone sharing, offer exclusive content, create a multiplayer gamification scenario and others. We, in fact, listed down 9 ways to build a viral loop of referrals into your mobile user acquisition strategy. Check them out here!

earn free coins referral

7. Offer a freemium model or play before pay

One hack that always works for both apps and games, is to offer a freemium model. Yes, you want to monetize from your app - but what’s an app without an active community of users?

When the commitment is just about installing an app, the user is more likely to convert. This allows them to experiment with what your app has to offer before they actually pay for it. Similarly, a ‘play before pay’ model for games can give the user a sneak peek into the game and let him decide if he’d like to go for a paid subscription.

What’s more?

Well, free apps also have a higher acceptance rate when recommended to friends and family. A lot of apps like Dropbox, CandyCrush, and others have used similar models that let the user first focus on experiencing the app and then nudge them to the next step.

Also read: 10 in-app monetization tactics that guarantee higher revenue

There are definitely tons of ad formats that you can use for your user acquisition campaigns but experiment with something that grabs your market’s attention instantly. That’s where video ads come in!

Even if it’s a small aspect of your app or game that you’re highlighting, the moving graphics serve as a great attention puller. A survey suggests that video ads can get you up to 71% conversions.



9. Don’t forget email marketing

A lot of apps underestimate the power of email marketing when it comes to getting more app installs. But as a channel where you can reach your target users on a 1:1 basis, it is where you can get a considerable number of users from.

With up to 70% emails opened on mobile devices, you can use Smart Links to redirect people to the right app stores. Deep-linked emails don’t just create a seamless channel of user acquisition, but also set the right first impression for your brand.

Also read: How to choose the right deep linking solution

email marketing for mobile app user acquisition strategy


10. Get the word out!

You might not feel like it is important, but press release can actually help you boost your brand awareness and drive in more app installs. Making it a part of your mobile user acquisition strategy is an effective way to continually acquire more users from the channel on an ongoing basis.

For instance, if your app or game gets featured on Product Hunt. That’s a platform with a very active user community, that is always seeking for new or interesting solutions.

Another way to reach out to a mass audience with unique content is to collaborate with influencers in your industry. It is one of the most used mobile user acquisition strategies in today’s date. 

Creating a high converting mobile user acquisition strategy

No matter what channel or strategy you make use of to acquire more users, you need to move on a measure and optimize model always. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to creating a mobile user acquisition strategy for an app or game. You need to experiment, measure and optimize on the go!  

Still, don’t know how to hit virality?

We recently published a study with SEGA, on what makes some apps go viral, while the others struggle to even retain their acquired users. The study covers insights from more than 40,000 players who were invited to the game, Sonic Forces: Speed Battle, via social media, invites powered by GetSocial.

It typically looks into the viral behavior of users who generated five or more installs from their friend circle, displaying greater social influence. But what channels did these users make use of to send out invites?  

viral mobile user acquisition strategy

See the full infographic here

Why did this mobile user acquisition strategy work?

  • Personal recommendations work 10X better than push marketing tactics for user acquisition

  • The instant gamification resulted in more app sessions from both the users - invitee and invited

  • Power (active) users generated five or more installs by sending 10X more invites than a regular user

  • WhatsApp being a commonly used chat app, accounted for 47% of user acquisition

  • Lower user acquisition costs, resulting in further campaign optimization for higher results 

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