The 9 Best User Acquisition Strategy for Apps

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Your app user acquisition strategy is the engine that drives your brand. Let’s give it a proper tune-up so you don’t find yourself under a steaming hood, wondering where it all went wrong.

In this blog, we’ll explain why having a proper user acquisition strategy for apps is so critical and give you some ideas for optimizing your own. But first, the basics.

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Man smiling at his smartphone representing a user acquisition strategy for apps

Why is it important to have a user acquisition strategy for apps?

Having a user acquisition strategy for apps is critical for several reasons:

  • Growth and expansion
  • Sustainability
  • Competitive advantage
  • Revenue generation

Growth and expansion

User acquisition is fundamental to achieving consistent growth and expansion for your app. As your user base increases, so does your app’s influence and market presence. Without a strategy to acquire new users, your app may experience limited growth potential, which can hinder its reach and impact.


Sustainability in the app industry requires a continuous influx of new users to compensate for user churn (users who stop using the app) and to keep your user base active. With a proper strategy, you can always replace users who have uninstalled the app or lost interest—and then some. 

Competitive advantage

The app market is highly competitive, with millions of apps vying for users’ attention. A well-planned user acquisition strategy distinguishes your app from the competition, making it more visible and appealing to potential users. By effectively acquiring users, you can gain a foothold in the market and compete more successfully against other apps.

Revenue generation

Ultimately, this is the goal. And a robust user acquisition strategy is directly linked to revenue growth. A substantial user base increases your monetization potential and enhances your app’s financial sustainability.

9 app user acquisition strategies to try today

Let’s get into some actionable tips you can use to improve your app user acquisition strategy right now:

1. App store optimization (ASO)

ASO is a crucial user acquisition strategy for mobile apps because it improves visibility and discoverability in app stores like the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. When done effectively, ASO leads to more organic downloads from users actively searching for apps in your category.

Here are a few ASO pointers:

  • Do some keyword research. Identify relevant keywords and phrases users are most likely to search for when looking for an app like yours. Incorporate those keywords into your app title and description. 
  • Include screenshots. Adding some screenshots to your description gives users a better feel for your app’s interface and user experience. 
  • Encourage ratings and reviews. This step is critical. You should also respond to user feedback and address issues to build trust with your audience. 
  • Test everything. Utilize A/B testing on elements like your app icon, screenships, and description to see what performs better with users.

2. In-app referral programs

In-app referral programs leverage your existing user base to bring in new users, often resulting in highly engaged and loyal customers. Plus, you’re able to acquire valuable data about the preferences and behavior of your users, which can inform your marketing and product development strategies.

Here are some tips for a successful in-app referral program: 

  • Offer clear and compelling incentives. Some common incentives include discounts, credits, premium features, or any reward significant enough to encourage users to participate. 
  • Keep it simple. Users should be able to refer contacts with just a few clicks. 
  • Enable personalized messages. Allowing users to send personalized messages to their referrals adds authenticity and improves conversions. 
  • Implement tracking mechanisms. You should be able to track which users referred others and whether those referrals resulted in conversions.

3. Paid advertising

Paid advertising is critical to your app user acquisition strategy. It allows you to reach a broad and highly targeted audience quickly, providing a predictable and measurable way to drive new users to your app.

Keep these points in mind when running your paid ad campaign:

  • Choose the right platform. Select the platform that aligns with your target audience. Common options include Google Ads, Facebook Ads, TikTok Spark Ads, etc. 
  • Research keywords. You’ll need to incorporate relevant keywords into your paid ads to ensure they reach the right audience. 
  • Test your work. Run various ad copy and formats against each other to determine what performs best.
  • Optimize your landing pages. Make sure you have a well-crafted landing page for people who click on your ad. 
  • Optimize ad timing. Schedule your campaigns to run during peak times when your target audience is most active.

4. Email marketing

Email marketing delivers highly targeted and personalized content directly to potential users’ inboxes. Not to mention it is super cost-effective compared to many other advertising channels. 

Some best practices: 

  • Build your list. Collect email addresses through your app, website, and other marketing channels. 
  • Segment your audience. Organize your audience based on characteristics, behaviors, and preferences so everyone gets the most relevant content. 
  • Personalize your content. Make your emails as personal as possible for the recipient—even if that just means using their name in the subject. 
  • Offer a clear call to action (CTA). Include a compelling CTA that prompts recipients to download your app, sign up, or take another desired action.

Want more email marketing tips? Check out the top email marketing trends from 2023.

5. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing leverages the credibility and reach of content creators who have established authority and expertise within your app’s target audience. An endorsement from them gives you the social proof you need to build trust in potential users

A few tips for getting started with influencer marketing:

  • Identify relevant and brand-safe influencers. Your partners should be a direct reflection of your target audience. When you find the right match, be sure to carefully vet each one before signing them on. 
  • Establish clear agreements. Clearly define terms with your creators, including compensation, content expectations, posting schedule, and so forth. 
  • Promote influencer content. Share the content on your app’s social media channel, website, email marketing, and other channels. 
  • Build long-term relationships. Nurture lasting relationships with creators who consistently drive positive results.

Take a crash course on working with content creators: Influencer Marketing 101

6. User-generated content (UGC) campaigns

UGC content campaigns are an important word-of-mouth marketing strategy that can help you build authenticity and trust by leveraging content from real users. While these campaigns might involve an incentive or reward, they are still quite cost-effective for generating engagement and expanding your reach. 

When running a UGC campaign:

  • Make it easy. Prove clear instructions, user-friendly submission forms, and options for users to choose their preferred content type. 
  • Create a unique hashtag. Encourage users to include the hashtag in their social media posts to boost discoverability for other users and yourself. 
  • Engage with participants. Acknowledge and reward users for their contributions by featuring their content on your page, giving them a shoutout, or offering some sort of prize for participating. 
  • Obtain necessary content rights. Clearly communicate how you plan to use UGC, and always get permission before using it.

7. App review sites

App review sites are third-party platforms where users and experts share their opinions and experiences with apps. These platforms can make or break you so be sure you have your kinks ironed out before running a review campaign. 

When you’re ready, here are a few tips:

  • Contact the right people. Reach out to administrators or editors of the review sites. Introduce your app and its unique value proposition, and request a review or feature. Ensure your app’s listing on the site is complete and up to date.
  • Provide review materials. Offer reviewers access to a press kit with high-quality images, app descriptions, and any relevant documentation. Make it easy for them to evaluate and write about your app.
  • Leverage positive reviews. Use positive reviews as social proof on your website, social media account, or any other marketing materials. 
  • Learn from negative reviews. Negative reviews will often uncover a pattern. Study them, and pass any findings off to your product team.

See why GRIN is an influencer marketing software leader, according to the world’s leading review site. 

8. Localized marketing

Leverage localized marketing to tailor your efforts to a specific geographical region or demographic. This ensures your app’s message, content, and campaign resonate on a personal level with the folks in that area. 

Some pointers to keep in mind:

  • Conduct plenty of research. You’ll need to understand the preferences, behaviors, and any cultural sensitivities of the marketing where you run your campaign. 
  • Engage with local communities. Build a presence in communities and online forums to start building relationships with your target audience. 
  • Collaborate with local influencers. This associates your brand with a person that your target consumers recognize and trust.
  • Sponsor local events. Participating or sponsoring local events, festivals, or conferences increases your visibility within the community.

9. Offline promotions 

Offline marketing promotions provide face-to-face interactions with potential users. This type of experiential marketing is valuable for creating a memorable impression and establishing a personal connection with your brand. 

Consider the following:

  • Offer interactive demonstrations. If possible, offer live demonstrations that showcase your app’s features and benefits. 
  • Seek local media coverage. Reach out to newspapers, TV stations, and radio stations in the area and invite them to the event. 
  • Gather real-time feedback. Ask plenty of questions about the app so you can gather feedback from the users during the event. 
  • Collect data. Gather user information through sign-ups, contests, or surveys and use the data for future marketing efforts. 

Key takeaway: Don’t get caught without a well-thought-out app user acquisition strategy. 

Now that you have the tools you need to optimize your app user acquisition strategy, it’s time to put them to good use. Remember: Every app experiences fatigue and ultimately churn. The key is not being afraid to experiment with fresh ideas that pique the curiosity of new users. Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

User acquisition means identifying, attracting, and converting new users or customers for a product or service, such as a mobile app or website. The goal is to engage potential users, encourage them to take specific actions (e.g., downloading an app, signing up, making a purchase), increasing the user base’s size and quality.

Mobile app acquisition refers to the process of acquiring new users for a mobile application, typically through various marketing and promotional efforts. It involves attracting and onboarding users, often with the goal of increasing app downloads, installations, and usage.

To get users to use your app, ensure it provides value, a seamless user experience, and effective onboarding. Promote it through app store optimization, online and offline marketing, and influencer collaborations. Engage users with relevant content and incentives, and gather and act on user feedback for continuous improvement.

Optimize user acquisition by defining clear objectives, identifying the most effective acquisition channels, testing and refining marketing strategies, focusing on user engagement and retention, and tracking key performance metrics for ongoing improvement.

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Written by Quinn Schwartz

Quinn studied journalism at the University of Kentucky and now lives in Portland, Oregon. He’s particularly interested in storytelling in digital marketing and cost-effective creator strategies for smaller brands. When he’s not writing, you can find him at a concert, dog park, or debating whether or not to go on a run.

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