9 Tactics to Increase App Downloads for Less

This article was originally published on the TUNE blog. Branch acquired the TUNE Attribution Analytics product in September 2018, and we have republished select pieces of content for the enjoyment of Branch customers.

User acquisition can be a challenge for app marketers. We estimated that American smartphone owners download an average of three apps per month, a small number in comparison to how many apps are currently available. As of June 2016, the Google Play app store and Apple’s App Store sell over four million apps combined. With so many options out there, attracting user interest is no easy task.

Fortunately, there are many effective ways that can encourage more users to download your app. Here are nine tactics to help you boost your marketing efforts, and metrics you should track to gauge your success:

1. Prioritize app store optimization

App Store Optimization (ASO) is a simple but crucial way to influence app downloads. Keep in mind that it requires a sustained effort to be successful. While app store rankings depend on metadata—like keywords, description, ratings, and reviews—there’s more to ASO than that. You also need to consider how keywords rank in each app category. For instance, casual games are most competitive for keywords, while music and trivia games are much easier to rank for.

You can also perform A/B tests to see which store assets most resonate with your audience so you can continue refining your app store page.

Metrics to track:

  • Keyword ranking
  • App store impressions
  • Number of downloads
2. Encourage user reviews

Raising your app store visibility is only one part of improving downloads. Once users find your app, you’ll need to convince them that your app is valuable and reliable enough to download. This is where reviews come in handy.

As Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey found, users tend to trust word-of-mouth recommendations, such as user reviews, over other forms of advertising. You can encourage user reviews through in-app messages, although you’ll need to be careful not to send too many notifications as that may end up alienating your audience.

Reviews not only indicate the quality and relevance of your app to potential downloaders, they also provide an excellent opportunity for you to engage with customers. If reviewers provide suggestions or even complaints, you can respond and show potential users how responsive you are to feedback. By doing this on a regular basis, you’ll inspire trust and encourage more app downloads as a result.

Metrics to track:

  • Number of total reviews
  • Number of top reviews
3. Ensure your app is crash-free

If your users find any problems with your app, they’ll share their grievances online so you can easily learn if your app is faulty. After you respond to their complaints, your developers should fix the problem immediately so your app never crashes again.

However, it’s more effective to take a proactive approach—your app should undergo vigorous testing so that your developers can identify all potential bugs and resolve them before you make your app available to the public.

Metrics to track:

  • Crash rate
  • Retention rate
4. Motivate users to make referrals

Referrals are another way to demonstrate quality, relevance, and trust, which will help increase downloads. You can turn your existing users into brand ambassadors by giving them an incentive to refer your app to their friends.

For example, if you have a cloud storage app, you can offer a free gig of storage if users refer your app to others. Or for a ride-sharing app, you can provide free ride credits in exchange for a referral.

Metrics to track:

  • Number of in-app referrals
  • Number of downloads
5. Invest in content

Creating compelling and relevant content to promote your app can help you reach more potential users. It may be in the form of online articles, sponsored content, videos, or infographics, although it depends on your audience’s consumption habits.

For a gaming app, you can produce walkthrough videos to show off your product’s rich visuals and gameplay to impress your audience. You can also share user-generated content to help build a sense of community.

Metrics to track:

  • Number of organic referrals
  • Number of social shares
  • Search ranking
6. Engage on social media

Content powers social media, and maintaining a strong online presence can be an effective way to expand your reach and introduce your app to new customers. However, your target audience will spend time on one platform over another, so paying attention to your user demographics is crucial. Keep in mind that you’ll need to do more than share sale pitches on social media, in order to draw interest. Responding to your followers and asking them to share their thoughts demonstrates that you care about your audience’s opinions.

Metrics to track:

  • Number of social shares
  • Follower count
7. Influencer and community outreach

Influencers have the power to affect the purchasing designs of your target audience. Reviews from recognized experts not only bring more exposure to your app, but they also instill more trust in your product. By researching the right influencers for your community, you can establish a beneficial partnership that will build your brand and boost app downloads.

Metrics to track:

  • Number of social mentions
  • Number of organic referrals
  • Search engine ranking
8. Measure, analyze, optimize

Of course, it’s important to constantly analyze how users are interacting with your app in order to ensure that they remain engaged. Are they successfully using the app the way it was meant to be used? Are there any roadblocks that are preventing you from monetizing your app?

You can use these insights to optimize your future campaigns. Perhaps you’ve noticed that many users from a certain source stop interacting with your app after a day or two. That may be because they weren’t a qualified audience, so you can choose to re-direct your campaign efforts to other acquisition sources.

Metrics to track:

  • Session length
  • Retention rate
  • Uninstall rate
9. Put your mobile-best foot forward

App stores are only becoming more saturated, and with the industry moving toward the convergence of mobile web and mobile apps, it’s wise to consider how your brand translates across multiple channels instead of focusing on just your app (or just your web) experience. Of course, it’s more than just marketing across those channels, but being able to measure their effectiveness too. 

Metrics to track:

Whether consumers are seeking entertainment or help with performing a certain task, they have plenty of apps to choose from. Use the tactics and tech stack that will put your brand at the front of the pack.