6 Guerilla Tactics to Acquire and Retain More Mobile App Users

5 Min Read

Your App Store Optimisation is on point, you’ve tested and tracked your creatives on your Google App campaign, you’ve even started referral programmes and a blog. But something doesn’t seem right, your app install numbers have begun to plateau. Your user acquisition and retention strategies are no longer working, what do you do?

You could continue doing what you’re doing and hope for a miracle to happen or you could try something different. We’ve found six unconventional methods you can employ to give your app campaign that extra boost it needs to stay on top.

Run playable ads that give users a sneak preview

Playable ads have been gaining popularity recently and, contrary to popular belief, are not exclusive to gaming apps. If done right, non-gaming apps can be gamified to provide a more engaging experience for users.

Take Burger King for example, the Angriest Whopper campaign challenged users to catch falling jalapenos with a burger to win exclusive discounts. The game was played more than 300,000 times in its first two weeks and achieved a 40.25% click-through rate. If a playable ad can help sell burgers, it can probably help sell your app.

However, the downside to playable ads is that creating one can be really daunting, especially if it is your first time. Some general guidelines to get started are to keep your playable ad simple, easy to win and show off the best parts of your app first. No one wants to play a dragged out game that has too many distractions and is impossible to win.

Another aspect of your ad that you should not ignore is your creatives. In most cases, a quality creative could mean the difference between a good and a bad app campaign.

Tap into smaller markets for potentially larger returns

No matter how appealing a David vs Goliath story may sound to you, going head to head with the big boys is probably not the best idea. What you can do instead is launch in countries that are not already dominated by the big players.

Competing with apps like Candy Crush and Amazon in the US is considerably more difficult than fighting with local or smaller-scale apps in countries that aren’t as saturated. Besides smaller markets, another method worth trying out is to tap into less saturated (but still related) categories on the Play Store and App Store.

Alternatively, you could list your app on other third-party app stores such as Amazon’s or Samsung’s, which do not charge developer registration fees. In comparison, Google charges a US$25 one-time registration fee while Apple charges an annual fee of US$99 for its Apple Developer Program.

With that said, launching in another market isn’t as simple as using Google Translate. Don’t forget to localise, especially in Asia, where neighbouring countries have completely unique cultural differences.

Incentivise your target audience

If you haven’t already, you should start thinking about running ads that promote incentive programmes such as app-install campaigns and sharing campaigns, as well as rewarded ads.

Ads that promote app-install campaigns are more commonly used in e-commerce and are targeted at customers who haven’t downloaded the app. These ads typically offer customers a slight discount if they make their purchases through the app, instead of on the website. Some of them even invite consumers to purchase limited edition products only available through the app.

Mobile game sharing campaigns are similar to app-install campaigns, in the sense that they also incentivise users. The difference is that these campaigns reward existing users for sharing their gaming experiences on social media in order to build awareness.

Rewarded ads are targeted at existing users and are displayed in-app. They offer users the option of watching a video or engaging in a playable ad in exchange for an in-app reward.

Integrate your app with a more popular one

Why go it alone when you can ask for help and possibly shorten your path to success? Integrating with a more established app will not only allow you to tap into their larger user base, but also add value to your users. A common example is mobile games integrating with Facebook or Google to allow for a hassle-free login experience.

Other apps that integrate well together are Todoist, which is a task manager that syncs with Google Calendar, and Slack – a team collaboration software tool that syncs with Google Drive. Granted, this tactic won’t work for every app in every vertical. But if you are able to find a partner app that complements yours, you’re golden. You’ll have to get their permission first, of course.

Make your app more accessible

Another demographic you should not forget about is the visually-impaired and hearing-impaired. Making your app accessible to those who aren’t able to enjoy the full mobile experience will not only set you apart from your competitors, but may also increase your download numbers.

Some features to consider incorporating into your app are voice assist and captions. Don’t forget to be multilingual as well, if possible. Offering your app in multiple languages opens up more doors for you and makes it more accessible to other markets.

If someone can’t understand English, you’ve just lost an entire demographic.

Hit the forums to get feedback on your app

It pays to find out which forums your target audience is on and get their opinions on your app’s UI/UX. This may sound unethical, but is actually beneficial for both parties. You receive feedback and suggestions on how to improve your app while your users get an awesome app recommendation, which may result in them downloading your app. Win-win.

There are tonnes of forums out there – Reddit, Tom’s Guide, TouchArcade, the list goes on. Take the time to find out which forums your users are on and, if done right, you’ll be able to promote your app without sounding like you’re promoting it.

The definition of insanity is… 

As marketers, we have to come to terms with the fact that our strategies and tactics have to evolve over time. The definition of insanity, as the saying goes, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If your app install numbers have hit a plateau, the wise thing to do would be to change tactics.

Simply switching to any old method, however, probably wouldn’t work in the age of information overload, where everywhere we look there’s an ad screaming for our attention. As cliche as it sounds, thinking out of the box may just be the thing your app campaign needs to soar. Besides, if you never try, you’ll never know.