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What Is User Acquisition (UA)?

(This article was originally published on Udonis’ blog.)

User acquisition, or commonly referred to as UA is the act of acquiring new users for an app, game, platform, or service. User acquisition is building an audience through marketing-driven activity.

This method of acquiring users must be data-driven and continuously optimized to look for patterns that work. User acquisition is important because without it can be very difficult for businesses to find and convert new users.

Competition is increasing, as well as the number of apps in both app stores. At the end of 2020, there were 3.14 million apps in the Google Play store and 2.09 million apps available in the Apple Play Store (Statista).

Main Types of User Acquisition Activity

Paid Media Marketing

Involves using media channels to display ads that will encourage users to download the app. The recipe for successful user acquisition through paid media is taking the right supply channels, target the right users with the right creative assets.

Paid user acquisition includes targeted posts, banners, or ads published on social media networks such as Facebook or Instagram.

Creating a paid user acquisition strategy starts with choosing an ad network for acquiring app users that fits your needs, budget, and goals the best. This approach will bring results much faster, depending on the budget you have.

Different ad networks can reach different user groups. If you want to reach social media users, you will advertise on social media networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat). Next, there is the omnipresent Google, and some specific mobile ad networks (Applovin, ironSource, etc.).

Most of these platforms have similar targeting options. They allow targeting users by age, location, device, previous app behavior, etc.

After the campaigns are live, you have to track the most important metrics: the number of installs and conversion rate (install rate). In order to stay profitable, make sure to track cost-related metrics as well: cost per install, cost per action, and ROI. All of these metrics will help you to optimize your ad campaigns.

Finally, the most important factor for app campaign success is its creatives. For mobile apps, especially games, video ads typically come with the highest conversion rates. Besides that, no static ad can showcase an app’s best features like a video ad can.

When you find a creative that works — focus on it. Just make sure to switch it up if you start noticing your audience is suffering from ad fatigue.

Owned Media Marketing

Involves the channels you already own to obtain new users. They are basically your brand’s extension, where you provide additional value for anyone engaging with your content.

Not only does it bring new awareness to your product, but it also helps you position yourself as an industry leader in the user’s eyes.

It can be through email messages, SMS, or rewarded user invite communications. With your existing channels, you can convert existing web users to app users through email targeting.

Imagine you have an already successful webshop with a decent amount of users, but you recently developed an app to make the shopping experience easier and more enjoyable for your users.

You could invite the existing users to download the app through your newsletter or even reward them for downloading the app with a discount or a special offer.

If your product is a game, and you have multiple games with a significant user base when launching a new game you can run ads through your existing network of games.

App Store Optimization (ASO)

Is a crucial activity that can have a high impact on your games’ success in the long run. It is the process of optimizing the apps’ page in the App Store or Google Play Store. The aim is to rank higher in the search results of the App Store, similar to how SEO’s goal is to be on the first page of Google.

The process of App Store Optimization (ASO) is ongoing, it never stops. ASO should start by researching the target market. After that think about keywords your users will enter when searching for your app.

Choose the right name, it should be a short and catchy name, but close to the keywords, you’re aiming for. Optimize the keywords specifically for App Store or Google Play Store — they have different approaches toward ASO keywords.

Also, when it comes to keywords, don’t forget to localize if possible. Each part of the app listing in the app store should be optimized. That includes a well-thought-out description that fits right into the word limit.

Furthermore, if you’ve done everything right but your visuals aren’t appealing, this is where you lose the user. That includes your app’s icon, screenshots, and preview videos. All of these should contain the main benefits while staying short and clear.

Finally, you need to optimize your app store page to be not only discoverable but also for conversions. To find out which elements of your app store page lead to most installs, constant split testing is a must.

Why Is User Acquisition Important?

  • Are you looking to grow your app/game?
  • Have you seen a decline in organic installs?
  • Do you want to boost your app in the App store?

If you’re facing any of these questions, you need to come up with a user acquisition strategy. The majority of apps are free to download and use.

If you increase the app scale, you’ll also increase the minority of users (roughly 5% — AppsFlyer) who will contribute to your in-app purchase revenue.

Essentially, user acquisition never stops since there will always be users who downloaded your app and never started using it, some stop using it after some time or uninstall it completely.

Retargeting and Re-Engagement Campaigns

Retargeting and re-engagement campaigns play a large role in keeping existing users. A strong user acquisition strategy will constantly bring you new, fresh and high-quality users. The number of paid installs will continue to grow, with revenue growing faster than the number of installs.

Non-organic app installs will be the fastest-growing category among attributed installs. The decline of organic installs has been constant. Achieving organic user acquisition at scale has never been more difficult.

However, the overall install volume of your app that can be driven by non-organic installs can still be very useful in raising the app’s ranking in the App Store or Google Play Store. As a result, there is a greater opportunity for an increase in the number of organic installs. More high-quality organic users mean your app will stay profitable for a longer period of time.

Well executed and well-planned user acquisition strategy could drive your user numbers as well as the revenue of your company.

Data-Driven Optimization for Effective User Acquisition

How to successfully optimize user acquisition? Test, test, and test more.

Nowadays, it is crucial to be data-driven. Knowing all about your user will be possible with the implementation of an app analytics platform. You’ll be running test and readjusting the campaigns as time passes. You’ll figure out what works the best for your app, game or audience.

It is essential to be data-driven and performance-oriented. Being data-driven is being focused on analytics for ad optimization and reporting.

Your user & customer acquisition process would start with creative production. Creative production is creating an ad banner and videos that will later be distributed through media buying.

The media buying part of the user acquisition process is aimed at campaign creation & management.

Where to Acquire New Users?

  • Social (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest & Snapchat)
  • Video (Youtube, AdMob Video ads)
  • Display (Google Display, AdMob Display & Yahoo Gemini)
  • Search (Google Search, Bing Search, Google Play Search ads & Apple Search ads)

After the campaigns are made, they are again analyzed and optimized. The goal is to learn what works best.

Even if you have a limited budget, spending more time with your attribution data will help you scale both organic and non-organic traffic. That’s how you ensure your marketing investment consistently comes back… and stays.

Challenges of User Acquisition for Apps & Games

Creating successful and profitable user acquisition campaigns for mobile apps or games is not an easy task. Here are some of the biggest challenges UA marketers are struggling with.

A Saturated Market

It’s no secret that the app market is huge and filled with competition. One of the biggest challenges here is that most of these apps/games are very similar to each other. For example, there are thousands of match-3 games on the market. There are also numerous apps helping people lose weight.

As a result, standing out is more difficult than ever.

The Ever-Changing Mobile Landscape

The mobile landscape is incredibly dynamic. In a years’ time, the state of the app/game market can drastically change. Also, user acquisition trends and best practices shift quickly. In just a couple of months, best practices can change. Just remember how IDFA depreciation turned the whole mobile landscape upside down.

Ad Fatigue

Some call it creative fatigue, some call it ad fatigue. Whatever you call it, it means the same thing — users are tired of seeing the same ads over and over again. When ad fatigue kicks in, advertisers start noticing high ad frequency, low CTRs, and higher CPIs.

The key strategy to overcome ad fatigue is to create and test new ads on a regular basis. They need to constantly search for winning ads that will engage their users, not frustrate them.

About Udonis

Since 2018 until today, Udonis Inc. has acquired over 150 million users for mobile apps & games. We’re recognized as a leading mobile marketing agency by 5 major marketing review firms. We helped over 20 mobile apps & games reach the top charts. Want to know how we make it look so effortless? Meet us to find out!




Udonis Inc. is an award-winning marketing agency specialized in mobile apps & games.

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