You’ve made your app, it’s completely functional, easy to understand, and you believe it has a real place in the market. You’ve completed your first big hurdle, but success won’t come immediately. Creating an app is the first fight, but promoting your app and gaining loyal customers through generating app downloads will win the battle.

In order to have a successful app, you need to get creative to acquire customers. You’ll need to change it up and think outside of the box to get found.

Below are some creative and efficient ways to get your app found in the app stores and to increase your customer base.

Quick app downloads stats

  • 1.85 million iOS apps
  • 2.56 million Android apps
  • 142.9 billion apps were downloaded in 2020 alone

Source: Business of Apps

How to increase app downloads

In-app referrals and word-of-mouth

The key to word-of-mouth (WOM) is making your app easy to share. WOM marketing is one of the oldest forms of marketing, and still makes a huge difference in today’s consumer landscape.

An app referral program is essentially a tool that makes it easy for your existing customers to share your brand with friends directly from the app experience. Since it’s typically integrated directly in the mobile app, it requires minimal effort from your customer to reap the rewards. It rewards these happy and loyal customers with a credit, coupon code, or free product in exchange for getting friends to sign up, make purchases, etc.

And you don’t need to be in the services industry for in-app referrals to work with your strategy. To see if this strategy will work for you, look at your customer journey to see if an incentive like a referral would make sense to pull new customers in.

For example, HelloFresh has a referral program called HelloFriends where it gives members credit when they have friends sign up using their personal code. This is available both in-app and through their web browser.

App Store Optimization (ASO)

The process of optimizing mobile apps to rank higher in an app store’s search results (i.e. the app version of SEO). ASO drives the majority of all new app discoveries. To set your app up for success with ASO, make sure you have a bright and compelling icon, use contextual keywords, include a dominant keyword in the app name, make frequent updates, and have a healthy dose of recent 5-star ratings. Once you’ve nailed your ASO strategy, you’ll see the app downloads start to roll in.

2020 App Store Reviews iOS an Android

Affiliate marketing: App marketers join an ad network to create featured widgets and code snippets other app or web publishers embed on their platforms, and the app marketer pays affiliates a small fee for each download.

App install ads: There are lots of different paid avenues to drive app installs. The main social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, etc.) each offer their own version of app install ads. You can also sponsor ads in the Google Play store. These ads are a great way to drive downloads and reach a targeted audience. For example, check out the search result for “game” in the Google Play store. You’ll see a subtle difference between the paid advertisement and organic search results, but the end experience stays the same for the consumer.

Retargeting ads: If you have a built-in referral system in your app, retarget your customers’ referrals with ads until they convert and become a customer.

Social media

“You can never go wrong by investing in communities and the human beings within them.” —Pam Moore, Social and Marketing Consultant

Social media is a proven way to build communities and expand brand recognition, even though it’s been around for awhile. Social media platforms can be powerful tools that help engage the attention of a new crowd, and can help you build a successful online community.

Choose your platform wisely. Not every social media channel is not made for your app. Your business should choose to designate the most time and effort to the platform that will reach your target audience. For example, LinkedIn is a great platform if you are looking for business relations, but if you have an app focused on fashion, you might want to jump to Pinterest, TikTok, and Instagram.

In this modern era, no one has the time to even catch a breath, so how do you expect them to read 300 words about your app? Infographics and short video clips can help here as they are short, simple, and interesting, which may work better for potential customers.

It may seem simple, but engaging your community by posting relevant articles and posts that help community members will give you a big boost. Use the 80/20 rule in which 80 percent of the content on your social channels should be your entertaining and informative content, and 20 percent used for CTAs. This way, the community stays happy and your app download number can continue to increase through this channel.

Additionally, try involving influencers within your community, as they bring in great ideas, greater feedback, and experience you can use.

Content marketing

“The paradox is the more info you give away the more people will buy what you have to give.” —Brian Clark, Founder and CEO of Rainmaker Digital

There are many ways to approach content marketing, but to start, begin with identifying your targeted audience. The better you understand them and what they seek from your app, the more you’ll be able to create content that provides value to their lives.

If you’re starting fresh, you’ll have to think broadly about the content. But if you already have content assets, see what amongst the current content has worked best and what is missing from your current offerings. The best way to create content is to involve your team in the process. However, if you don’t have the expertise, outsourcing can be a good option.

Creating an editorial calendar (similar to one you’d use for a web experience) that aligns with your marketing plan and objectives is also a great place to start. Publishing content and amplifying its reach using social media can do wonders for reaching a new customer base.

Unlike other marketing techniques, the effects of content marketing last longer. Your content will be visible and keep entertaining, inspiring, or educating your customers as long as it holds its relevancy.

In conclusion: Increasing app downloads doesn’t have to be difficult

The app market might be more competitive than ever before, but every day, we see new apps rise to the top and overtake all others for downloads and usage. This process is not impossible, and with some hard work and creativity, you too have the chance to make your app user base skyrocket.