There are about 3.8 million Android apps and roughly 2 million App Store apps, but an average phone user has only about 60-90 installed, with 30 or so getting used monthly. That’s the definition of a pretty tight funnel.

We know that successful mobile marketing, especially on the app side, is about doing multiple things really well — but if you were to pick two major ones, those would be:

  • Get the initial download

  • User loyalty

While user loyalty is nuanced in its own right, the initial download is just as hard a step. How are you going to be the app that stands out among close to 4M others? The easiest answer is “word of mouth,” and/or “appear on Selena Gomez’s Instagram.” Since those two options are not plausible for many brands, we’re going to talk about some ways to creatively drive app downloads.

Think “cool promotional stuffs.” Some examples:

1. Free stuff tied to your brand:

If you spend at least $1 in its mobile app, you can get free fries same day at McDonald’s. New users to a new Shake Shack app also could qualify for free burgers. (If you did both within the early 2017 window for Shake Shack, you could get yourself a nice little lunch just via apps.) This is a cool promotional thing, for sure, but it’s also a business decision. Per CNN’s article on McDonald’s free fries: “When customers place their orders digitally, McDonald’s saves on labor, because the order goes directly to the kitchen, said Peter Saleh, a restaurant analyst for BTIG. There’s no need for an employee to take an order at the counter or through a drive-thru window and relay it back.”

2. Use an influencer:

No, not necessarily the expensive ones. (In reality, anyone with somewhat of a following can be thought of as an “influencer,” because they influence the views of others. But we’ll put aside semantics right now.) Visa Checkout and Taco Bell, for example, combined on a campaign with BigDaws TV, a YouTube prankster. If you used Visa Checkout, you got half off your Taco Bell app order. BigDaws came up with a video around offering “halfway hugs” to strangers, it went semi-viral, and Visa/Taco Bell had a 20% CTR, which is fairly amazing. The key on this one — that many influencer campaigns miss — is that the content needs to feel like the organic content said influencer is already creating.

3. Find logical partnerships:

yummly insta

Consider Yummly (a recipe app) and Instacart (a shopping app). When a Yummly user finds a recipe they want to cook, they can shop for all the ingredients through a link that takes them to Instacart, with all the ingredients automatically added to their Instacart cart. If Instacart isn’t installed yet, the user is taken to download it and the ingredients are still added once Instacart opens. The partnership led to a 35% increase in one-week user retention.

4. Create a video:

This isn’t some wholly new idea — marketers have loved video for years — but it makes sense from a repurposed standpoint too, in that you can easily use the video on YouTube and social channels and get additional traction. JotForm created an App Store video, for example, repurposed it, and even made a YouTube ad off of it. That ad received 11,000 views in its first couple of hours and significantly drove downloads. Remember: the human brain processes moving visuals much faster than text, so videos are a logical play.

5. Er, just put the download link in company email signatures:

Do this math — if you had 4 people in your business each sending out an average of 20 emails a day (that’s a really low estimate), that’s 80 people that you’re able to inform per day about your mobile app. That’s 560 a week or over 2,400 a month! (Not exactly related to apps, but when I started freelancing, I put a quick blurb about me in my email signature, and legitimately opportunities/business exploded in a week or two. We all send lots of emails from our main account. Leverage it.)

What else have you seen work in terms of promotions, giveaways, optimization, or anything else?