About the author
Bart Stemkens is a growth advisor for tech startups. He loves building online businesses and bringing them to live through bold ideas.
In today’s digital age, so many app developers are competing for consumers’ attention. It is no surprise then that addressing your ideal audience becomes a great challenge. A number of well-known brands have achieved massive growth through their apps. So naturally, one might think, how do they do it?
The short answer is app growth hacking.
What is App Growth Hacking?
In a few words, growth hacking is the process by which marketers are able to grow their products quickly. It forms a part of growth marketing, using data and experimentation to locate fast growth opportunities. Usually this growth results in a growing number of users, and an increasing user retention (also referred to as a product’s stickiness).
Growth hackers can stem from a variety of career roles, such as developers, managers, and marketers. But instead of focusing on the marketing aspect of growth, they concentrate on collecting data and carrying experiments that contribute to the growth they seek.
In the sea of digital success stories, you’ll find that most have taken place thanks to growth hacking.
13 app growth hacking tactics you can start using today:
In this article, we’ll share a list of 13 app growth hacking tactics that you can use to create your own app growth strategy, and offer practical examples of how these tactics can be used.
1. Team up with an influencer
Influencer marketing is one of the most powerful modes of marketing in 2022.
All over social media and the internet, you will come across all types of content that have been sponsored by brands in order to gain awareness and build a bigger audience.
As an app brand, you can team up with an influencer who is popular in the niche that your app is in, such as gaming, business or fashion.
This figure will be able to use their existing audience to promote your product to them. The reason influencer marketing is so effective is because influencers already have a strong bond with their followers, so anything they promote will be considered seriously by those who come across it.
2. Create a blog
Many app growth hacking strategies don’t go without a blog. Blogs used to be thought of as ways to document one’s own life, but that’s not the only purpose. Today, especially, people with all sorts of questions will type in questions for subjects that they’re not sure about or want to learn more of, and the first pieces of content they’ll come across are – you guessed it, blog posts.
Using a blog can be a great way of highlighting your app and how a customer can use it with a more general insight into the industry. It explains your app’s mission and purpose, and helps your audience connect with it more.
The usage of internal and external SEO in your blog posts can attract users and convert them into potential loyal customers who will want to keep using your app.
A subset of blogging is guest blogging, where you contract websites and blogs that post similar content to yours in order to contribute a piece and get more eyes on your app. A good rule of thumb is to be careful not to promote your app through the post, but to provide useful and interesting content that can then be linked to your app at the very end of the post.
3. Use incentives
Apps that offer freebies are known to retain more users. Free incentives can include the option to try free trials of premium features of your app, or offer money to users who manage to refer other users.
Promotional codes are an excellent way to attract new and existing users as well, and the best way to make people aware of this is by placing ads on suitable websites and inviting users to try your app with a free or discounted code.
4. Cross promote
If you haven’t targeted a large audience yet, you can try to maintain the one you already have. You can do this by cross promoting your app’s services with relevant partners to reach more users without needing to pay for ads.
Cross promotion tactics include co-marketing and product partnerships, such as partnered social media campaigns and events with an influencer or a brand that is in the same niche as yours. A good point to bear in mind is to partner up with a brand that emphasizes your own app’s uniqueness rather than compete for consumers’ loyalty.
Cross promotion, partner marketing or however you want to call it, is one of the biggest underestimated app growth hacks in my opinion. This tactic often requires strong networking skills and the ability to negotiate, but often result in massive growth.
5. App growth hacking doesn’t exist without experimenting
Experimenting is the strongest suit of app growth hacking. You will have to know what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to growing your app, and where any improvements may be necessary for mobile app growth. It’s a lot of trial and error, and that’s super important to understand.
One of the best ways to experiment as a growth hacker is by using A/B testing in the app and across various channels, such as email, SMS, advertising, landing pages, and so on, in order to understand what their users are attracted to.
6. Set up a solid push notification strategy
As mentioned in the intro, the desired output o app growth hacking can be divided into two parts: 1) user growth and 2) user retention. A solid push notification strategy is a must of (almost) every user retention strategy.
Push notifications are a great way to engage with your users because these are targeted, personalized messages that can be seen without asking for the user’s contact information, such as an email address. They just need to be approved by the users first.
When planning your push notification strategy, you will want to find ways that engage with your users and prevent them from being bored or disinterested.
It turns out that the success rate of push notifications may differ from one user segment to another. According to Upland, out of those who open push notifications, 54% convert from segmented pushes, as opposed to just 15% who convert from bulk pushes.
When asking for permission to send push notifications to your users, you may want to get creative. Try to provide users with actionable and important alerts, personalize the messages, and always make sure to test and optimize your results.
7. Incorporate feedback loops
Having a feedback loop in place can help you decide how to solve some of your app’s largest issues by analyzing feedback from your users, and noticing key trends and pain points.
The loop isn’t completed until you inform your users that you have tackled their issues.
A customer feedback loop can help you keep your product relevant to the user, increase user satisfaction, and encourage promotion by word of mouth. Many app growth hacking experiments are also the result of the output of the above mentioned feedback loops.
8. Ramp up your referrals
Letting others know about your app through referrals is one of the most effective ways of getting their attention. Customers acquired through word-of-mouth have a much higher retention rate of 37%, so brands that want to experience speedy growth will be more inclined to research referrals.
A good way to experience fast growth is by offering incentives not just to your referred users but the users who referred them in the first place. The incentives can include free perks such as a free version of a paid feature.
9. Optimize your app store listings (ASO)
To attract your ideal users organically, app store optimization (ASO) is your best friend.
This is because the first thing a user does to address their exact need is by searching for an app. So you need to make sure that you appear in the detailed results that they will come across.
ASO can help you enhance your app’s visibility and discoverability in the app store. It does this by optimizing different aspects of your app that defines it for the users.
Basic ASO methods include using an appropriate title and keywords for your app, optimizing your app description, icons, and screenshots, and localizing your app listing for a more personalized experience.
Tip: ASO should not be confused with Apple Search Ads (ASA), which is a form of advertising within Apple’s App Store.
10. Cultivate a community
A community within your app can provide valuable content and interaction opportunities for users, and can play an essential role in your app growth strategy.
For instance, even before you launch your app, you can make an announcement to your community, which can initiate excitement among your ideal audience. This helps attract new users or strengthen your relationship with your existing community, who can then refer your app to other users.
11. Expand your email list
Compiling an email list of your users can cause significant growth for your app. To start growing your list, you can begin considering the ways through which you can ask customers for their email addresses.
Such ways include but are not limited to gaining them through an app, via website forms, during events, transactions or on via social media.
Today, people, especially millennials and generation Z, tend to have short attention spans that make them feel bored more easily than before. It is no wonder that TikTok has reached the popularity it has. This means that for your app to stand out to them, you need to keep them engaged with exciting and challenging aspects.
Gamification plays a big part of how engaged your users are with your app. It forms a part of user engagement and retention strategy, and can include all areas from social media management, in-product customer experiences, to personalized discounts and giveaways, etc. In short, gamification helps keep your app in competition with others.
A study shows that games rank higher than other apps in the Apple App Store categories in 2022. Specifically, 13.66% of apps belong to the gaming category, followed by business, which is 10.15%, thanks to games’ engagement tools such as badges, rewards, points, scoreboards, internal currency, levels, and so on.
When you gamify your app, you help spark curiosity in your users who will want to claim more rewards. You also cause competition through elements like scoreboards and make users feel as if they are in control, such as deciding which milestone to complete next.
13. Start a bi-weekly webinar
Having a webinar lets you engage with your audience on a direct level.
It allows you to give your users valuable insight into your app, by giving away knowledge, training and expertise.
This direct engagement helps foster a loyal user base. The best part is that you can organize webinars at a frequency of your choice, but a bi-weekly webinar (a webinar occuring once every two weeks), is a good rate to start at.
Webinars are an amazing way of establishing connections with existing and potential users since you are giving your app a visual representation which can have a significant impact on the image of your app and brand in general.
Whether you’re about to launch your app or launched it a while ago, the question of growing your user base and downloads doesn’t stop. App growth hacking can be done at any point during your app development journey, and is an essential tool used by any app that has known significant success at some point.
Coming up with the exact growth hacks to use can be tricky, and this is why experimenting with different tactics until you find the one that best suits you is your best bet. Then, you can use that strategy to help you continue attaining more and more users even after months or years of launching.
Need help with hacking your app’s growth? Get in touch with us.