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Posted by on Aug 28, 2014 in Apps, Marketing, Mobile | 2 comments

How to Get More Users for Your App in 5 EASY Steps

How to Get More Users for Your App in 5 EASY Steps

Getting More Users for Your App in 5 EASY Steps

Ok, ok, so maybe what I’m about to talk about is not the “easiest” thing to do..
BUT – I can assure you that by the time you’re finished reading this, it will have been explained in a way where the implementation thereof seems pretty “easy“. 😉

True story: I was having dinner last night with a friend who was asking for tips on how to go about marketing her teams app that is going to be published in about 3 months or so. The just of what I told her will be outlined in this article, so let’s start from the top.

First Step: Build Community from the Get-go

It’s never too early to start building a community of curious “would be users”/followers for what you’re working on.

Hollywood has been especially good at this over the last few years in using Apps to to boost pre-release engagement for a film that’s about to come out and then again once it actually hits theaters. Because they more than likely have a much wider target audience than you do, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Who would be my ideal users?
  • Where do they spend their time online?
  • What can I do to entice them to learn about my brand – now?
  • what kinds of problems are they facing?
  • How can I make my App appear to be be the solution their problem?

The list could go on, but that’s a good place to start.

Smart App marketers should understand both: the power of curiosity and the importance of cultivating an early following. If you just involve people in the development process of your app, share sneak peeks, and interact in the same communities as your target users, people will look forward to your app’s launch with excitement and enthusiasm.

One must remember that the alternative to NOT doing anything and expecting the Ol’ “If I build it they will come” saying to ring true, is a recipe for disaster. But then again, 94% of developers do it.. so if you’re looking to jump on A band wagon; go right ahead (kidding).

Second Step: Consider a Soft Launch

My friend David is probably the most recent person I talked to about this. He recently launched his App OnSwitch; which works with the Philips Hue. It’s a pretty cool app if you have a Hue and are looking for some better lighting options, but let’s not digress here.

I was telling him how by doing a Soft Launch in a similar Geo and Demographical territory they would be able to gather data and feedback on what they can improve in their app before it is unveiled to the masses. However, I wouldn’t consider or relate a soft launch to a “beta” per-say, because there are already platforms out there (including one that Apple is working on) that do that.

You could think of it more along the lines of a “premiere” before the grand opening, where only an exclusive (usually way smaller) amount of people will be seeing what’s in store to voice their opinions and leave praise where due.

Once you’ve collected a decent number of users after your soft launch, you can then move those users over to your social media accounts to have them engage with you, and each-other (whilst boosting brands awareness) which will prove advantageous as you continue to move through your over-all marketing plan.

Turning fans into evangelists should be the goal for every brand.

Third Step: Think Outside the Square and use App Store Optimization (ASO) to Your advantage

Naturally, the highest quality of users will be the ones who are searching for you. Unfortunately, given that that both Google Play and the iOS App Store have over one million apps on them (each); this doesn’t make for an easy task. Getting your app to rank for the most relevant keywords, phrases, et al; should be your #1 priority. The best part of ASO is that it’s a long-term strategy. Much like SEO, after you’ve done the initial ground work; the rest is down-hill (in most cases).

Here are 3 things you can do to ensure that your App becomes the self-sustaining success you want it to be:

  1. App name, publisher’s name, and app description (in the app store)
  • Be concise and creative with your copy to get the fence sitters to download by using principles described here.
  • Include keywords/keyword phrases and stay below 30 characters.
  • Think about what terms your users are searching for then decide which you want to use in unison with your brand.
  • To determine what keywords to use or what your users are searching for you can use a few of these tools below:

If all else fails, Google Keywords tool is something I still use in addition to some of the tools mentioned above.
2. App Ratings

  • The higher the ratings, the higher the visibility.
  • The greater the reviews, the greater the rank in the charts.
  • Contemplate on what would motivate users to happily rate your app.
  • ALWAYS find a way to resolve negative reviews; and ask that people not rate the customer service of your brand, but the quality of the app.

Reason being is: If you’re a startup, depending on your team size, it may be rather difficult to manage all the incoming reviews and respond to them while trying to improve the product itself. Therefore, makesure people are rating the right thing. The product. Not the customer service.

3. Overall app rank, category rank, and sub-category rank

  • Just like SEO, you want to have your ASO balanced in a way where it’s still enjoyable to the human user; but also optimized for the algorithms that are run on each platform that determine its ranking.
  • Your app’s rank is also influenced by the number of languages your app is available in, the page visits to your app’s product page, and app screenshots/video (don’t forget meta tags).
  • With that in mind, consider whether you truly want to fight for a top ten spot in a generic category like “Games” or, whether it’ll be more to your avail to rank in the top three for a more niche sub-category, like: racing games.

Two things that don’t necessarily fall under ASO but should still be considered are:

Having a App Website &/or Blog

  • Even having a 1-3 page website for your app that is sleek and modern is sufficient in helping you you gain traffic to your app from outside the App Ecosystem.
  • People are without a doubt searching for solutions to their problems outside the app ecosystem; so you may as well get in on some of that traffic to direct them to your app.
  • By having an App blog and creating/curating interesting content on subjects that are relevant to your app you will naturally build a following. There are all-types of marketing strategies that can be implemented to grab traffic and redirect them to your apps product page, but it all starts with you.


The Fourth Step: Have an Advertising Budget.

Overlooking this one has almost become too typical. The frugal Startup wants to try to do everything they can for free in lieu of paid strategies that may get them to their goals quicker. Considering that every smart app uses their own form of organic strategies, it would be silly not to differentiate yourself by trying some paid campaigns too.

When properly executed paid campaigns can provide a greater lift in downloads and reviews that just may give you the boost you need to finally be noticed in the charts to have the organic viewers FINALLY recognize your app for what it is, and have that flood of users come on through. Granted, It’s important to discuss what will be best for you and your team depending on the stage you guys are in and what kind of ad budget is actually available.

Here are a few paid strategies to consider:
(Given the length this article already is, I’m not going to go into much detail)

  1. Facebook CPI campaigns – has proven to be extremely effective.
  2. Mobile Affiliate Networks – Can work very well if setup with the right network and done properly.
  3. Quality Media for PR – Can work well if done correctly.

The Last Step: Getting Press

The easy way to approach this one is by thinking of social networking like normal networking, but online. “Who you know” certainly does have its merits but even if you don’t, it’s not difficult to attend some networking events to meet these people in real life to establish relationships with who may be interested in helping you out in the future.

Remember to always take a step back to consider where you are in your launch strategy. Getting notoriety regardless of how big or small has merit. If you happen to win some awards for your apps, then you definitely want to include it in your apps description once your app is actually published and has been launched on a large scale.

Here are a couple sites to check out:

(More in my book, The App Launch Blueprint)



While I wouldn’t consider it a step as much as I would common knowledge, you want to always be sure to measure your progress (in anything really). But don’t just measure the results of what you’re getting for the sake of getting “superficial/vanity metrics”; try and dive deeper and perform a cohort analysis that will tell you the important things you need to know to really optimize based on what’s working and nix what isn’t.

Things to consider having as your KPI’s:

  • CPA vs LTV (Cost per acquisition vs Lifetime value)
  • User session intervals
  • User session consistency
  • Churn rate
  • and more, depending on your type of app

Hopefully if you’re still reading this and you’ve gone through everything I’ve discussed you will have a better understanding and renewed sense of confidence for when the time comes to launch your app. If not, then well, you know where to find me.


  1. Hi Kevin, thanks so much! This article is very helpful. One question for you is….
    Can you share an example when you help a startup with those "paid strategies" and got big success?

    • Hi Jin,
      Most of the developers were fairly boot-strapped so I advised them of alternatives because they didn’t have the budget.

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