A mobile user acquisition strategy isn’t tied to just paid or organic channels — it piggybacks on the channels’ existing audience and potential opportunities to entice users to download the app. Consumers demand convenience, and that entails connecting with them on the platforms they’re most comfortable with.
In part one of our mobile user acquisition guide, we talked about the major challenges with the walled gardens of Google search results, broken user experiences, and how different mobile user acquisition tactics can help.
In this part, we’ll explore some of the most viral campaigns that drove thousands of app installs and share best practices for implementing their mobile user acquisition strategies.
1. Optimize your social media channels to drive user engagement
The modern shopper not only turns to social media to find new apps, they actually download apps because of social media content. However, in addition to walled gardens and broken user experiences, purchase journeys are increasingly complex. This means engaging users to increase mobile user acquisition, revenue, and ROI can be tricky.
Yet some tactics can help you crush your user acquisition goals on social media.
Properly set up your social profile
For starters, make sure you set up your social profile properly — upload your logo, add relevant keywords in the bio, and add a short and compelling description about what your app does. Also, optimize your social profiles with the right keywords to help them rank higher on search engines. This way, when a user searches for those keywords on their search engine or an app store, your social profile has higher visibility and thus a higher likelihood of converting users.
Invest in influencer marketing
Trust-based advertising like influencer marketing helps brands build brand affinity among their target audience. This further leads to increased engagement and conversion.
It’s important to note that not all influencers have comparable degrees of audience reach or engagement. Also, a higher subscriber or follower count doesn’t necessarily mean more revenue or increased app downloads.
For example, industry influencers may have a low engagement with your brand but a high overall social influence. By contrast, your existing fans may engage with your brand quite a bit but still have a low overall influence on social media.
Brands that are ready and willing to invest in influencer marketing to promote their app should also factor in the quality of that influencer’s audience. This means identifying the true audience of an influencer and separating out the spam or fake accounts that might exaggerate their audience size and lead to faulty conversion rates. Tools like SparkToro can help you do this as well as dig further into your audience’s source of influence.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing an influencer:
- Engagement level: How often does the influencer engage with their audience? Do they have a good engagement rate based on their follower count?
- Relevance and authenticity: Does this influencer post content related to your niche and audience? Do the influencer’s values align with your brand?
- Demographics: Will this influencer have an impact on localized app installs? What’s the upfront investment and expected ROI with an influencer vs. other paid advertising for localized app promotion?
- Cost: What’s the cost and expected ROI for partnering with the influencer?
- Sponsored posts: Has the influencer worked with brands before? What was their follower count, engagement levels, conversion rate, and ROI for previous campaigns?
- Professionalism: What does the collaboration process look like? Are they willing to commit to a specific timeline for deliverables? What is the process and associated costs for reshoots or changes?
To promote their #LomoStyleChallenge, Lomotif partnered with Hailey Bieber — a model, influencer, and skincare entrepreneur with 47+ million followers on Instagram alone. She fit Lomotif’s campaign because her brand appeals to a younger, fashion-conscious audience. Lomotif incentivized users to share their go-to style pictures with a branded hashtag in exchange for a chance to win $5,000 and meet Hailey Bieber herself.
Leverage deep links
Deep links directly impact the success of your social media campaigns. They ensure your users’ journeys from social-to-app are as frictionless as possible. As a marketer, ask yourself:
- How are users being directed to the app?
- What happens if the user has the app installed on their mobile phone?
- What does the user journey look like for someone who hasn’t installed your mobile app yet?
Think of it like this: Every additional step in the user journey is another friction point in the conversion process — for example, taking users who already have the app installed to a landing page that prompts them to download the app again. This extra step might steer them away from making a purchase, sharing a referral, or further engaging with your brand.
Social platforms act as walled gardens that keep users within their own ecosystem by automatically opening links in their in-app browsers. This means deep links become even more critical to your mobile user acquisition strategy.
Integrating Branch deep links in your organic and paid social posts provides a seamless user experience and helps you increase customer lifetime value (LTV). For example, you can route the users straight to your mobile app or app store, depending on whether they have the app installed.
Ace2Three, a leading online gaming platform, leverages Branch deep links that redirect users from the brand’s Facebook profile account to their mobile website, and then routes users to the Ace2Three mobile app.
Alternatively, you can direct users to your mobile website where you can show them a Branch Journeys banner to prompt an app install.
Australia’s leading OTT platform, 9Now, integrated Branch deep links across its social media content — including Instagram posts, stories, and bio — to redirect users straight into the 9Now app.
“9Now has undergone a big effort to ensure as much of our inbound app traffic as possible is coming from Branch links, including our organic social channels. Apart from the seamless user experience from a link click to specific content in the app, it allows us to more accurately attribute performance to the right channel and understand the true effectiveness of our paid initiatives.”
— Adrian Grasso, 9Now Performance Marketing Lead
2. Create a referral program for existing customers
Creating a referral program is a cost-effective way to delight existing users and organically drive new users. It thrives on the social proof concept, which is when individuals look toward the choices of others before acting themselves. This model helps brands create space for themselves among their target audience by leveraging their existing audience.
An effective referral program can incentivize users to download an app and immediately refer it to their network of friends and family.
India’s largest restaurant and table reservation app EazyDiner implemented a referral program using Branch’s mobile linking platform (MLP) to reward existing users and potentially drive new customers to download the app.
Watch it in action:
But what makes two apps with the same marketing budget end up with radically different results? One app might be struggling to acquire 100 users from its referral program while the other consistently garners 1,000 users daily.
The “winner takes all” mentality is true when it comes to referral programs. It all boils down to a concept called virality, and it’s one of the most crucial elements of marketing today. Virality sits at the intersection of three key factors: incentives, ego, and emotion. Let’s see how you can integrate these factors into your referral program so it has a higher chance of going viral.
Offer tangible incentives to increase user engagement
Tangible incentives help you acquire and retain new users. An incentive can be as simple as a discount within your app, exclusive swag, an add-on product, or a level-up reward system.
Up Banking, an Australian bank, gives new users $5 to sign up and another $5 if they complete five purchases on the app within the first 30 days.
Automate referrals for quick sharing
Make referring to new users as easy and convenient as possible. For example, when you use Branch referrals, there’s no need to manually enter promo codes. New users automatically get incentives like redeemable coupons, cashback, etc. when they download the app through a referral link.
ShopBack, Asia’s leading cashback reward program, lays out a clear value proposition — “Give $5, Get $5.” By using deferred deep linking, ShopBack ensures accurate link matching and enables user-to-user sharing.
Enable sharing on multiple platforms to reduce drop-offs
Make it easy for users to share referrals on multiple platforms by using native share sheets. Native share sheets enable users to share without ever leaving your app’s ecosystem. This allows users to quickly share referrals while reducing drop-offs.
Indonesia-based beauty and skincare brand, Sociolla, runs a referral program where users can decide how they want to share their rewards link with contacts — via QR code or other native sharing methods like WhatsApp or Instagram.
Include deep links to ensure a smooth user experience
Make sure your links can share relevant content within the app, and ensure they defer deep link through the install. This means taking new users directly to the relevant product page in your app, rather than leaving them to figure out how to navigate the app by themselves and manually hunt for a product.
Bukalapak, one of Indonesia’s leading e-commerce companies, does this extremely well. Their deep linking directs users straight to the app store depending on their mobile device OS. Then they are immediately taken to the same in-app content that they initially engaged with.
Run A/B tests to measure and build virality
A/B tests identify how different copy and creatives impact the outcomes of your referral program. To build your app’s virality, try to infuse different emotions in your copy to motivate users to take action — like referring your app to their network.
The simplest way to measure virality is by specifically measuring how many new users are generated from one existing user. It’s calculated by the following formula:
In this formula, k = 5 x 0.2 = 1. This means that every new user you get will bring in one more user on average. The higher the value of k, the higher your mobile app user acquisition growth. Ideally, to ensure exponential growth, you want a k value of greater than 1.
In reality, virality goes beyond one user. This is called a double viral loop, and it can be explained with the following diagram:
When a new user engages because of a referral from an existing user, the original user is notified, which makes them more likely to re-engage with your app and share it again.
If you acknowledge the idea of virality as a key part of a referral program, your objective will shift from gaining individual users to gaining massive user engagement.
3. Leverage email marketing
About 43% of emails are opened on mobile devices. This represents a great opportunity — marketers can use deep links within emails to drive app adoption and help grow your app engagement.
But as we’ve written before, there is a disconnect between email and mobile apps that impacts the user experience and the ability to track clicks, especially on iOS. When you send an email to your contacts, they read it, click on the CTA, and are directed to the app store or your app.
Here’s the problem: Most email links are broken, and users end up in a vacuum. While it may look like you’re acquiring users from email marketing, you may very possibly be losing out on a significant number of users and driving higher abandonment rates.
To counter this, most successful email campaigns with high conversion rates use deep links throughout their emails — in the copy, images, and CTAs.
Be purposeful about where you’re sending your users
You want to redirect your existing users to your app quickly — without losing their interest, the curiosity of your offer, or the intent to purchase. This is incredibly important because mobile app users drive 3x more engagement.
GoMechanic sends app users directly to the promoted content in the app, enhancing the user experience and increasing engagement.
To acquire new users who don’t yet have your app installed, you could introduce an intermediary landing page that prompts potential users with a smart banner like Journeys.
Leverage deferred deep linking when messaging prospective customers
People who subscribe to your emails aren’t necessarily your app’s users. They might have come from your blog, homepage, pop-ups on a third-party website, or even a paid advertisement. By using deferred deep linking in your email campaigns, you can provide a smooth experience for users who may not already have your app installed.
If you’re running a promotional email campaign, a deferred deep link will direct them to the app store, depending on the device they use, and then to the exact product page within your app once it’s installed.
4. Use QR codes to fill in gaps between offline and online
If you have a retail store or do paid advertising using offline channels, it should include QR codes. The pandemic pushed brands to adopt QR codes as an essential part of both their offline and online marketing strategies.
At Branch, we observed a 496% surge in QR codes as the last attributed touch before a conversion event from January 2019 to January 2021. By 2025, eMarketer predicts 10.4% of all U.S. retail sales will be made via mobile devices. This means QR codes will continue to be a critical element of user acquisition strategies.
Customers expect innovative solutions for immediate needs — they look for a different size of the same product within the retail store, quickly scan products and make payments, and use offers or discounts while they’re shopping. To meet these expectations, brands need to deliver real-time information and immediate solutions. To do so, marketers are increasingly integrating QR codes to bridge the gap between offline and online channels.
Here are some different ways you can use QR codes to acquire mobile app users.
Connect your app with in-store to deliver more personal experiences
By using QR codes in your retail store, you can be both omnipresent and personal. Give users access to digital loyalty cards, digital coupons, product reviews, information, and personalized offers based on their previous interactions with your brand.
Tata Digital used Branch to create and place unique QR codes throughout physical stores at the point of sale to drive app installs. They incentivize customers with a “NeuPass” which offers additional discounts in the form of coins every time a customer makes a transaction using the Tata Neu app.
This approach helps brands using the Neu app to deliver a consistent experience to customers across touchpoints. It creates a holistic customer-brand relationship that’s both relevant for customers and ripe for brand engagement.
Use print media to drive offline users to your mobile app
Adding customized QR codes in print media campaigns provides a concrete access point to offline users.
Pizza Hut, one of India’s leading signature pizza chains, created QR codes powered by Branch deep links for its newspaper ads to encourage users to download their mobile app.
Another example is THE ICONIC, Australia and New Zealand’s leading online fashion and lifestyle retailer. They offer styling tips along with incentives (like the $20 discount below) to drive loyalty and boost engagement from existing customers via QR codes.
The best thing is Branch offers granular visibility into campaign performance, thus enabling brands to measure every scan, install, and channel conversion to accurately identify the ROI of each channel.
Boost brand affinity through interactive and educational content
Users who have purchased a product in-store already have a natural affinity to your brand. Adding a QR code to your product packaging allows you to create a long-term, more nurturing, and interactive relationship with your customers. QR codes are especially helpful in the food and beverage industry. They serve as the benchmark for authenticity and fight counterfeits so your customers know they’re buying goods from the original brand.
For example, Hershey rolled out QR codes on its Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolate. This provides quick access to brand representatives and offers transparency for their ingredients.
Users who scan the Hershey QR code are directed to a landing page that consists of a glossary of ingredients with allergens and nutritional facts.
Reduce friction points in the web-to-app user experience
Including QR codes on your brand’s website is the easiest way to direct users where you want them to be. Instead of expecting your website users to manually look up your mobile app on their smartphone, make it easy for them to transition from web-to-app using a QR code.
Hungry Jacks is an Australian fast food franchise of the Burger King corporation that leverages QR codes to drive website visitors to their mobile app.
Using QR codes on your website saves users time and effort and makes the buyer journey more seamless. Instead of typing and searching for your app and hoping to download the right one, customers can quickly scan the QR code to open the download page and install your app.
Use QR codes for faster checkout and re-engagement
Providing mobile checkout stations with QR codes can significantly reduce billing time and remove cumbersome processes.
EatSure is an app that allows users to indulge in cuisines from around the world from various trusted restaurants in one single order. It uses QR codes in offline environments (like the side of a food truck) to help customers place orders and pay online for faster checkouts.
Place QR codes at key city locations
QR codes in key locations encourage customers to download your app on the go. For example, Cult.fit, India’s largest health and fitness brand, displays QR codes on bus stands to encourage app downloads. Once the user scans the QR code, they are taken to a Branch link that opens directly in the app or the app store.
Marketers are desperately trying to navigate a mature market where consumers rationalize their purchasing decisions. The marketers that step up their user acquisition game will become indispensable change agents, even if that means experimenting with strategies like influencer marketing and channels like TikTok that were less common pre-pandemic.
Partnering with a mobile measurement platform like Branch will play a crucial role. This is especially true for performance marketers who will be able to identify the true source of conversions, measure ROI, and optimize campaigns.
To make it easier for you, we’ve compiled a checklist for the best mobile user acquisition strategies.
If you want to learn more about how you can use Branch to drive your mobile user acquisition, get in touch with us today.