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6 Industry Leader Mobile Apps Analyzed — Here Are The Key Takeaways You Can Learn From

Are you a growth marketer favoring well-planned growth strategies rather than quick wins (which has a more mainstream name being “growth hacks”) ?

Then this post will definitely be useful for you:

You’ll discover how several industry leaders pulled off incredible growth enhancing their business strategies.

Of course, quick wins are fine, sometimes very lucrative victories too, but…

Let’s see an example:

Imagine you’re building a car. Without the engine running properly, unique external parts won’t ever matter. That individual, cool sports car of yours will just rust in your garage.

Even in the times of rapid development, we still believe that what makes your app prosper along the way is this:

You have to have a rock-solid strategy, knowing where the bottlenecks of your funnel are.


By failing and constantly learning.

Yes, failing is just as important as succeeding — as long as you learn from your mistakes.

However, growth strategies aren’t “one fit for all”. We all need to understand what levers the most:


Our ultimate goal with this article is to inspire you to take action, or start the right conversation with your team. And if this article only gives you an idea or two for a potential hypothesis to test — then it was worth writing it.

1. Robinhood

Image credit: Robinhood

Even if you aren’t in the FINTECH industry, you probably heard about how Robinhood crushed it way before their launch.

People were thrilled to invite their friends and climb forward on the pre-launch list to get access as early as possible.

Now…I know some of you already have an app…

Yet I promise you can still learn a thing or two from their success.

Let me show you how they did it:

When users signed up for Robinhood’s Referral, they were put on a waiting list. The higher a person’s position was on the list, the earlier the Robinhood fan got access to the beta.

Right after entering an email address, the “Thank you page” allowed individuals to see their position on the waiting list, which basically functioned as a leaderboard.

Fair to say it worked wonders:

This referral campaign generated them 1 million pre-launch users.

What made the strategy one of the greatest pre-launch campaigns of all times?

  1. FOMO → the fear of missing out on a product so many are EAGER to get access to ASAP — the leaderboard really emphasized on that.
  2. Gamification -> the challenge that made people enjoy inviting their friends so they can get ahead of individuals, which kind of created a competition
  3. Usability → a one-step process that was easy to complete within seconds combined with a clean UX on the landing page and thank you page as well.

Key Takeaways:

If you’re thinking about how to generate more users & wind up engagement, gamification is a powerful tool in your hands. It doesn’t need to be a pre-launch strategy at all. People love competing while using your app too. If you already have an app, think about how your users could spend more time using it while playing, sharing, and competing in a manner that fits your market.

2. Sweat

Image credit: Sweat

Who haven’t heard of Kayla Itsines? Probably everybody in the mobile industry.

The woman who, along with her ex-husband rocked the world of fitness apps by utilizing the power of personal marketing and influencer marketing.

We also wrote in more details about their trembling growth strategy we like to call the “Influencer Umbrella”.

Kayla was already having success in the fitness industry.

The SWEAT app just came as a new distribution channel for her and her already striving fitness brand.

Yet this doesn’t mean they didn’t capitalize very well on the influencer umbrella they created…it was an outstanding success! They far outgrow the expectations.

With Kayla being the “main lead of traffic” for the app, it was sure to blow up and become mainstream between their targeted audiences.

The loads of contents being published also added up to the success.

Key Takeaways:

They had existing influence so you can say it’s easy… but they put a tremendous amount of effort into content creation to this day. And they started from zero too on social media to gather a follower base. Try thinking about ways of turning your users into followers. Gain loyal followers and more will come. Followers will eventually become users. Huge cauldron of organic traffic. Plus, if you’re smart you will capitalize on its virality factor too.

3. Calm

Image credit: Calm

Calm is currently the biggest Health & Wellness app specializing in meditation, sleep stories and stress relief.

We wrote about their billion dollar marketing strategy before that made them become Unicorn.

We saw how a market-leader’s marketing strategy unfolded in front of our eyes, but….

What we realized is this: there are huge misconceptions about what makes them really successful.

A lot of people think it was “influencer marketing”, more specifically bringing on big names as contributors to the app. But you see, you need to convince those high-profile “influencers” with something unique in the first place.

And I gotta tell you: it’s not all about the money.

For someone like LeBron James who has his own well-established brand and empire, a legacy he built up, the utmost important thing is something different:

It’s the brand’s purpose that he’s standing behind to!

Calm’s brand promise is embedded deeply into the name, the product, the experience of new offerings and the ultimate vision. (link)

Sleep stories ultimately took the brand to the next level but the brand vision is what made it possible all from the beginning.

Key Takeaway:

Don’t forget the most basic principle: growth starts with the product. Brand and USP definition is key when we’re talking about extremely successful businesses — and Calm is definitely one of them!

4. Strava

Image credit: Strava

Strava, the fitness & social app for athletes is on its way to become a Unicorn.

By the words of SensorTower, “Strava led an overall record rise in downloads of apps across the health and fitness category in the second quarter of 2020, which collectively increased by a whopping 47% year-over-year.”

They are perfectly balancing between social life and fitness.


Their latest feature earned them 39% of their annual revenue in 47 days only!

In a nutshell: the person who has the most “effort” on a specific route over a 90 day period gets crowned as the Local Legend and receives a digital laurel crown…

But here comes the TWIST:

Strava’s free trial only lasts 30 days.

Brilliant, isn’t it?

Key Takeaways:

Build GAMIFICATION into your app (if applicable). This will make your users incredibly enjoy using your app, thus increasing retention, as well as make them part of a competition which will wind up engagement and usage. It goes great with virality as they are able to share results with their friends. Definitely worth implementing a few additions to utilize this. Social elements also add up to their success — this will make your users feel like they belong to a “circle” of like-minded individuals which will always keep them engaged. Meeting new people never gets boring.

5. Zynga

Image credit: Zynga

Zynga’s acquisition strategy is what saved them from their rough 2011 IPO.

They are the giant game company, who changed the “game” with popular games (yea, I just did that) like FarmVille, Zynga Poker, Draw Something and Words with Friends, which are played by hundreds of million users each and every month.

Let’s see how the famous strategy looks like:

Their great growth lays in a mixture of firm in-house game developments, as well as strategy-relevant acquisitions.

Zynga made some key acquisitions, namely acquiring Small Giant Games for $560 million, Gram Games for $250 million and NaturalMotion for $527 million.

As their team gained confidence, they soon acquired Peak, the Istanbul-based game developer for $1.8 billion.

With this, they added the games Toy Blast & Toon Blast to their portfolio and an additional 12 million players, increasing their base by more than 60% while expanding Zynga’s international reach.

“The company also reported a rise in profitability, with its earnings per share (EPS) at 10 cents, which was above the analyst consensus estimate of 8 cents.”
– (Ishan Majumdar,

Key Takeaway:

Think about how you can utilize acquisitions and in-house development. This might help to implement new and exciting features into your app, as well as open new doors for upcoming growth strategies.

6. Grubhub

Image credit: Grubhub

If you ever ordered food on your smartphone, you probably already stumbled upon Grubhub.

While having competitors such as Uber Eats or DoorDash, Grubhub is still the first to pop up upon most relevant searches.

How? By rocking ASO!

As we all know, a good ASO performance has a couple of core elements that one should focus on like App Title, Subtitle, Keywords, Screenshots, and Preview Videos, etc.

Grubhub managed to bring its A-game (or well, A+ game) on all mentioned fields.

Carefully & strategically choosing their App store name, subtitle and keywords made them winners in the food battle:

They come on top for “food delivery” which is the most popular keyword among all.

Appfigures, a leader in ASO (App Store Optimization) and Mobile Intelligence publishes a weekly series where they dissect the strategies apps use to gain visibility on the App Store and Google Play, it’s called the ASO Teardown.

One selected app is being analyzed each week, and receives an overall grade at the end of the teardown based on its App Store Performance.

Grubhub recently became the very first app to ever receive an A+ on its ASO performance.

Not bad, huh?

People are mostly looking for specific types of apps in the leading app stores. According to a more detailed study by Tune, 47% of iOS apps are discovered through app store search. On Google Play Store, even 53% of downloads are triggered by search. This makes clear that app store search is the most common method for discovering new apps

Appfigures also reverse-engineered their keyword list where they successfully target all their biggest competitors.

And they do very well here too!

They have top-performing screenshots which trigger emotions, having actionable captions highlighting benefits, and making it all easy-to-read.

Key Takeaway:

I guess it’s already clear: ASO is essential for your app if you want to outgrow your competitors and get the most out of your marketing endeavors. Choose your title, subtitle and keywords carefully and make A/B tests to validate several hypotheses.


When people talk about Growth Hacking, they look for ideas like Strava’s new feature that skyrocketed subscriptions.

But like I said before, growth goes beyond rapid tactics and quick wins. It is deeply built into the product, the vision, and ultimately the understanding of a continuously evolving market (that we are all part of, no matter what industry you are in).

That’s it for now. Do you have any other useful ideas to add? Drop them in the comments, so we can help each other grow.

To truly fulfill our mission about growth…

Read on down below about the next steps to your future growth.

What You Should Do Now

If you are serious about taking your app to the next level, you should download our 50 Mobile Traffic Sources spreadsheet — it’s incredibly useful if you want more traffic to your app.

If you’d like our direct help planning and implementing these strategies for your market, then click here 👈💰

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