Mobile User Acquisition Strategy: Drive Users to your App (Part 1)

Aarushi Singh

Content Lead APAC

Aug 22, 2022

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Mobile user acquisition is based on a multi-pronged strategy that focuses on building a better user experience. But it’s tough to stand out from the crowd. There are 5.7 million mobile apps globally, with 3.5 million on Google Play and 2.2 million on iOS. To increase mobile user acquisition rates in such a saturated market, you need to refine your existing strategies. 

The goal is to reach as many users as possible and ensure they continue engaging with your app after install. This will help you increase lifetime value (LTV) and reduce customer acquisition costs (CAC). To do this, you need to balance web and app campaigns and experiment with paid and organic channels that can drive revenue. 

In this guide, we’ll delve deeper into what mobile user acquisition strategies look like for owned, earned, and paid channels, and how Branch can help you along the way.

1. Optimise your website for mobile SEO to drive new users to your brand 

Mobile searches account for 63% of organic traffic, and 75% of searchers never scroll past the first page of Google search results. This means search engine optimisation (SEO) sits at the top of the mobile user acquisition strategy funnel. But driving organic, content-driven user acquisition can be challenging. 

Here’s a breakdown of Google search results, from Google’s content to AMP and organic content. Notice the limited space of organic content compared to Google and AMP content. 

Walled Garden of Google Search Results

Evidently, Google is increasingly becoming a pay-to-play environment, just like other platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter that have in-app browsers to keep users inside their ecosystem. So it’s crucial to put efforts into your organic content strategy to rank better against fiercer competition and create a seamless web-to-app transition for your users to break out of those walled gardens

This is where mobile SEO comes in. Customer journeys are no longer linear, and their actions depend heavily on whether your brand is relevant, helpful, and personalised. SEO plays a major role in helping you predict intent and anticipating your customers’ needs, which you can use to further optimise your mobile website. 

Here are some examples of how brands are optimizing their mobile SEO for better user experience: 

Optimise your mobile web to route users to your app

Now, let’s dig into some of the mobile SEO strategies we’ve seen work incredibly well for brands:

  • Focus on mobile user experience: Look beyond just integrating responsive design. Ensure you have the right pop-ups and banners in place for your mobile users that streamline their user experience. For example, ensure a seamless mobile web-to-app transition while preserving the context of their user journey. 
  • Understand mobile user search intent: Take a look at specific mobile user stats before you dive into your keyword research. Then create content that closely matches the results on the first position of the SERPs.
  • Build a solid link architecture: Google is increasingly effective at matching search intent to corresponding page types — product pages, category pages, or articles. You can match the exact keywords with page types and help bots crawl your website pages that match your users’ intent. 
  • A/B test your mobile elements: Test different versions of your landing pages, banners, pop-ups, product specification layout, images, and CTA’s to understand what works best for your users. 
  • Focus on local SEO: As local searches have become more specific, brands are uncovering opportunities to reach their target audience. Setting up a Google My Business profile allows local companies to rank higher in local searches. You can also identify and optimise for specific keywords that are more relevant in your local searches to make it easier for your users to find you.

In one of our recent webinars, Mobile SEO in 2022, Ethan Smith, CEO of Graphite, and Mada Seghete, co-founder and VP of marketing at Branch, delved into this topic and more.

2. Implement personalised smart banners to take the mobile web users to your app where they convert and retain better

Smart banners are the solution to broken user experiences. They help you connect users in the research and discovery stage of the funnel to the purchase stage. They enable an effortless transition from web to app to ensure a customer takes the desired action. Smart banners are also a great way to rev up “purchasing intent” — in other words, to motivate users to purchase from your app.   

The success of smart banners comes down to creative, quality, and contextual deep linking. They need to have a defined objective. For example, Do you want to promote product A or B? Do you want the user to land on a specific page within your app? Do you want to redirect your existing customers from the web to the exact product page in your app?  

Smart banners like Branch’s Journeys help marketers create more intelligent and personalised banners. It improves your ability to do personalised marketing where you can tailor the look and feel of your banners. 

Journeys also allows you to create customized CTAs based on different audiences and their specific behaviors across both mobile web and your app. For instance, you can show one banner to your existing app users, like a specific product offer. Then, you can show another banner to your mobile web traffic with different content, layout, and CTA, like asking them to download the app. 

The ICONIC — Australia and New Zealand’s leading online fashion, sports, and lifestyle retailer — uses Branch’s deep links throughout its email campaigns. When a user clicks a product link in a newsletter, they are deep linked directly to that product or product list within the app instead of being redirected to the mobile web.

Users are redirected from email-to-app

Smart banners with deep links allow you to preserve the context of a user journey. Users who do not have the app installed are directly routed to the download page in the app store. On the other hand, those who already have the app installed on their mobile device are redirected from the mobile web to the exact product page or content within the app.

With Journeys, you can test and optimise your smart banners depending on the referring source of the user. This allows you to get a closer look at your user journey and uncover key findings. Which campaigns are working best? What CTAs are driving the most traffic? How does the conversion rate differ for different referring sources? 

For example, if your major traffic source is the mobile web, it’s good practice to display small banners on SEO landing pages. Saying yes to a full-page interstitial might be lucrative, but it’s important to take stock of which intrusive banners can negatively impact your user acquisition.  

3. Optimise for app stores (App store optimisation)

App store optimization (ASO) is the process of improving the performance of your app to garner higher visibility within app stores. Along with ASO best practices, there are three key elements that drive users to install apps.

Discoverability 

No longer is creating excel sheets with lists of keywords the only factor that influences your app’s visibility in the app stores. Discoverability is driven by an organic keyword strategy combined with paid search. 

It’s worth pointing out that ASO is different from SEO and requires a different approach to keyword research. For example, the on-page optimization for ASO includes app name, description, and keywords, whereas the on-page optimization for SEO includes title, keyword density, page speed, and bounce rate. 

The process of creating an organic keyword strategy for ASO begins with understanding two things — branded search and intent search. You need to figure out what motivates your targeted user and how can you present your app as the solution to their problem. 

For instance, you can write a branded keyword in the audience’s local language to enhance the likelihood of them engaging with your app. Or you can also add the first few letters of branded keywords that have an overlapping audience with your brand to pull in relevant traffic to your app. You can also add generic keywords that attract a lot of traffic to your app’s description. 

Marketers are also investing in paid ads targeted to a specific audience with keywords, ensuring they rank at the top for those searches within the app stores. 

Conversion rate optimization (CRO)

There are multiple ways a user can discover your app within the app stores such as browsing, branded searches, and featured pages. CRO is the process of improving conversion rates for an app across all of these channels. 

This means optimizing an app experience — specifically discoverability — to improve the chances of users downloading, engaging, and purchasing within your app.  For instance, adhering to Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines which details the best way you can use different colors, layouts, and graphics to your benefit. 

Accurate data and measurable insights

When you’re implementing ASO, you need to review your app’s vitals to see how it’s performing based on key metrics such as application not responding (ANR), crash rate, and excessive wakeups. So, for example, if you discover after tracking your app’s performance that it has a 6% crash rate, set up an app health dashboard so you can constantly check your crash rate and other important KPIs. 

It’s equally important to draw insights based on A/B tests you might run for different versions of the app’s interface and content, paid ad campaigns, and more. Make sure to factor in other mobile analytics KPIs like visibility, conversion rate, user feedback, monetisation, and mobile growth. 

4. Run app install ads to drive users to your mobile app 

Of all the user acquisition strategies we’ve seen brands implementing that drive results, running app install ads is one of the most targeted and effective ones. A breakdown of mobile growth efforts reveals that companies of all sizes continue to invest in app install ads to acquire app users despite the rising costs of paid advertising. 

Investments in organic and paid channels to drive mobile user acqisition

In today’s ever-more-complex purchase journey, app install ads provide a frictionless experience for users jumping from one platform to another. With a direct CTA to download an app, marketers can improve ASO, boost app store ranking, and quickly garner app installs. 

TikTok can be a great addition to your omnichannel user acquisition strategy. It helps you show your products in action and deliver tons of value in an easily digestible format. TikTok ads are ideal for B2C mobile apps that want to piggyback on the platform’s popularity and massive reach. 

With Branch, marketers can measure their TikTok campaigns by tracking their TikTok media spend and tying their return on advertising spend (ROAS) to specific in-app events tracked within the Branch SDK. This allows you to see which specific spend tactics, media placements, or strategies lead to installs and events further down the funnel like sign-ins, registrations, and purchases. 

The best thing about paid advertising like app install ads? They significantly expand a brand’s reach and visibility across every stage in the funnel, from awareness to conversion to re-engagement. 

The next steps in the mobile app user acquisition race

As user acquisition for mobile apps grows more competitive, marketers are pushed to incentivise users on longer time horizons. This means giving users a seamless experience and more value in exchange for small payoffs, like scanning a QR code, clicking on a CTA in an email, and shopping from their retail stores. 

Brands need to leverage opportunities for brand affinity and connect with potential customers in a more omni-channel sense than ever. This calls for integrating a powerful solution that supports your mobile app user acquisition strategies throughout the customer journey. 

Branch helps marketers implement an end-to-end user acquisition strategy by supporting cross-channel campaigns like web-to-app, email-to-app, paid advertising, and more. The true power of Branch solutions lies in accurate mobile attribution, which allows marketers and brands to effectively identify, measure, and optimise every touchpoint from every channel. 

We’ve also published part two of our mobile user acquisition strategies to share examples of viral campaigns that drove thousands of app installs and best practices that you can implement right away. Or you can also use this quick checklist for your mobile user acquisition strategy.   

To learn more about how you can use Branch to drive your mobile user acquisition, book a demo with our team today. 

Branch provides the industry's leading mobile linking and measurement platforms, offering solutions that unify user experience and attribution across devices and channels. Branch has been selected by over 100,000 apps since 2014 including Adobe, BuzzFeed, Yelp, and many more, improving experiences for more than 3 billion monthly users across the globe. Learn more about Branch or contact sales today.

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