The growth of the two major app stores shows no signs of stopping. Only in the first quarter of 2022, the App Store offered about 2.11 million iOS apps. In the Google Play Store, the number of available Android apps even exceeded Apple’s already impressive result and reached 3.3 million.
Even though both stores regularly remove low-quality and dated apps, myriads of newcomers ensure the steady enhancement of both app platforms. It may seem nearly impossible to break through and succeed in the context of severe competition within matured and saturated markets. However, it’s never too late to join stores once you’re equipped with knowledge of mobile user acquisition channels and strategies.
In this article, we’ll examine different app store acquisition channels, see the difference between organic traffic and paid user acquisition (UA), and understand how to get organic traffic.
App Store Acquisition Channels
In mobile marketing, app store acquisition channels represent all potential sources of users for your app in major app stores. The most important tasks of every UA team are:
- to identify the most efficient acquisition channels that bring quality app users (with help of such tools as Google Analytics);
- to optimize and scale well-performing channels;
- to experiment and discover new sources of traffic to bring new audiences.
In practice, it usually means finding a balance between organic search traffic and paid user acquisition.
What is Organic Search Traffic in SEO and Mobile Marketing?
Originally, this term came to mobile marketing from SEO. Those of you who have ever dealt with SEO should be familiar with such terms as organic web traffic and direct traffic along with their differences.
Direct vs Organic Traffic
First, let’s define organic traffic in SEO – any traffic that comes to your website from a search engine for free. At the same time, traffic from an unknown source or that doesn’t come from a referring site is called direct traffic.
What is Organic Traffic within UA?
Now, let’s give definitions of similar terms but in the context of mobile marketing:
- organic user acquisition – downloads that come straight from App Store search (when a user searched and found your app themselves);
- direct install – when a download of an app occurs outside major app stores.
Despite the fact that organic UA doesn’t involve money directly, it can’t be considered completely free as it presupposes multiple app store optimization (ASO) efforts to improve the discoverability of your app. Furthermore, there are plenty of cases that can be generally qualified as an organic install but are not necessarily free: from getting an app after reading a blog post or article about it to seeing an ad in a non-digital format or oral recommendation of another user.
Even though ‘organic traffic’ in UA isn’t that free, an app marketer doesn’t have to pay a fee for each new user. Moreover, you might keep seeing growth results even many weeks after your marketing activities while paid traffic won’t attract new users when it’s finished.
How to Increase Organic Traffic and App Performance?
1. App Store Optimization (ASO)
ASO is the process of refining the visibility and discoverability of an app in major app stores (Google Play Store and the App Store) in order to boost conversion rates and enhance downloads number.
App store optimization goes beyond ranking high in store search pages, it also tends to improve click-through rate (CTR) via optimizing app store listings (from name and icon to screenshots and app previews). It’s impossible without constant experiments and that’s when specialized tools like the one offered by SplitMetrics are incredibly useful.
2. Brand Awareness Management
Users nowadays search for something more than practical features. That’s why your brand should be associated with clear immaterial benefits and values. Building and raising brand awareness is a complex prolonged process that demands your time and effort but eventually pays off in the long run. Think for yourself, the list of 100 most searched keywords (for both iOS and Android apps) are brand names.
That’s another sphere where ASO can reach a helping hand. You can start by using a review section as valuable feedback. It makes sense to highlight positive aspects of an app noticed by actual users. It’s also vital to constantly monitor the messages and values of your direct competitors.
3. Turn users into your ambassadors
Creating an efficient referral loop is rightfully considered one of the most complicated growth strategies. However, when it’s done right, the results never disappoint. The secret to triggering virality is to have a clear understanding of the ‘aha moments’ users experience and leverage these insights in your overall marketing strategy.
4. Partnerships and bundles
This method of organic growth presupposes motivating potential users to install your app with help of partnering with other companies. Cross-promotion is the most common tactic. Once you find the company that offers products and services complementary to your app, reach out to them and work together on the offer.
What are Paid Traffic and UA?
Similar to paid website traffic in SEO, paid user acquisition is app promotion via paid ad campaigns. The options of modern app advertising are nearly endless from targeting first-time customers to reaching your churned users. Learn more about Apple Search Ads vs Google Ads.
Paid lead generation has a great return on investment providing you understand the portrait of your user and know what ad channels work best for you. As a bonus, almost any decent campaign will help you raise brand awareness.
Here are a few tips to ensure the success of your paid user acquisition efforts:
- Be patient as return on investment takes time. Average users tend to pay off 6-8 months after the initial app install.
- UA tests are a must. Experiment with different paid channels before launching a full-blown UA campaign.
- Don’t ignore industry benchmarks. Let them guide you, especially during the initial phases of your UA activity.
- Opting for a reliable mobile measurement partner (MMP) must be out of the question. That’s the best way of having access to all necessary app data.
- Set up a smooth analytics system as it’s the secret to making correct marketing predictions.
- Audience feedback matters. It’s a good idea to have a dedicated community manager to keep in touch with your users.
In the current state of the mobile industry with an avalanche of new apps emerging on a daily basis, it seems impossible to succeed without resorting to paid channels. That said, it’s important to remember that user acquisition is a very complex system where various channels and methods intertwine and every action can potentially cause a domino effect.
How to Combine Organic and Paid UA Efforts?
It’s a failed tactic to focus on either paid or organic traffic when it comes to mobile user acquisition. Only by combining ASO and paid ad campaigns one can build a loyal and diverse user base.
Organic and paid search traffic work as interconnected vessels: quality and smart paid campaigns trigger organic uplift, while store page optimization leads to more efficient conversion of paid leads.
The most common tactic is to start your UA with a series of thought-through ad campaigns. Once your app is better known, you can make the best of your organic traffic. That’s why it’s really problematic to launch an app without a healthy budget to get your app noticed and have a higher search ranking. Getting many downloads in a short period of time enhances the relevancy of your app for the stores’ algorithms.
However, if you can’t boast an impressive budget to kick-start the performance via paid traffic sources, make organic UA your primary focus. Experiment with every aspect of your app store listing and every free channel available.
Smart ASO can also increase your chances of entering top charts sections – one of the best ways to reach an impressive portion of potential users.