Emily Carroll

The average smartphone user downloads only two apps each month, and attracting those users is getting harder and harder. When searching the Internet for a solution, there are hundreds of articles sharing mobile app user acquisition strategies. These common tips promise to boost downloads and increase revenue – but do they work?

In this post, Mobile Growth Association discusses four real-world examples of how smartphone apps made it big by using popular acquisition channels.

App Store Optimization (ASO): Dark Sky Weather

Dark Sky Weather is an app that offers hyperlocal weather information. It provides its users with detailed forecasts, advanced maps, and custom alerts to stay informed. Sounds like your run of the mill weather app, right?

Dark Sky Weather was able to differentiate itself by using App Store Optimization (ASO). When Dark Sky Weather was first created in March of 2020, its name was just "Dark Sky." After low user acquisition rates, the app updated its title to, “Dark Sky – Weather Radar, Hyperlocal Forecasts, and Storm Alerts.”

Using the right keywords is critical to the success of a mobile app. As a result of ASO, Dark Sky Weather currently ranks as the #1 weather app on iTunes.

Paid Advertising: Hopper

Paid advertising will place an app in front of a newer, larger audience that has little awareness of the platform beforehand. Many popular paid advertising strategies include Facebook, Instagram, and Google Ads.

For example, Hopper – a mobile app that helps users book flights and hotels based on the best rates – saw a 67% higher rate of app installs after utilizing paid advertising on Instagram.

In addition, the travel booking app saw a 50% increase in flight searches for new users and an 80% increase in higher booking rates for new users.

Influencer Marketing: Headspace

It can be extremely hard to earn the attention and trust of a new audience, especially if your app is new to the market.

Influencer marketing helps boost your reputation and brand recognition by partnering with a social media personality that already has an established relationship with your target users. In fact, 33% of mobile phone owners say they downloaded an app after it was recommended to them.

Popular meditation app, Headspace, famously used influencer marketing with members of the fitness community to promote the platform. The app recently joined forces with the NBA where players will share stories on social media about how they leverage the app.

Referral Program: Airbnb

A referral program typically involves offering users an incentive to share your app with their friends, family, or others in their personal network.

Airbnb proved this popular acquisition strategy to be successful by conducting internal research of its users. The rental online marketplace company and app shared that customers acquired through its referral program were more likely to:

  • Schedule more reservations
  • Refer more people from their networks
  • Sign up to become hosts

Moreover, Airbnb found that 25 to 55% of new user growth was produced through referrals.