The Best User Acquisition Practices for Your App

by Claire Tak on Apr 7, 2021

User acquisition (UA) is the process of getting new users to download your game or app. For mobile marketing, UA can be done through a variety of methods—paid or organically, but the goal is to attract new users for a low cost. 

At AppLovin, we’ve had many Ask the Developer discussions about how studios are optimizing their UA campaigns efficiently through automation and understanding their target audience.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but there are some best practices to think about when figuring out your UA strategy. 

Here’s what to consider when acquiring new users for your app or mobile game.

Know your KPIs

Think about the following key performance indicators (KPIs) to track your goals, engagement, and stay on track with your spending. Here are a few to consider:

  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC): CAC refers to the total cost of acquiring a customer from getting their attention to getting them to buy. Once you have this number, identify which avenues have the lowest acquisition costs overall and concentrate your efforts there.
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA): This is the cost to get a single user to download and install your app. 

Understand your audience

Define who your target audience is and really understand who would be interested in your game. That way, you can focus only that group and optimize your marketing budget as well. 

There are a variety of ways to do this, including previous campaigns that may have targeted a similar group of people.

Use a small portion of your budget to test your audience before launching the entire campaign. 

A/B test frequently

A/B test your marketing campaigns often to understand what is resonating with users. It’s an essential part of UA and helps you gain clarity for which part of your campaign needs to be optimized.

Segment users into two groups, change one variable, and then set a timeframe for how long you want to test. 

Analyze the results and see how much of a difference there is in the conversion rate—are people clicking more on a certain type of ad over another? Perhaps you want to see if your game resonates more with a specific demographic, such as males vs. females in a certain age group. 

Don’t forget to have a hypothesis in mind before you create an A/B test. 

Create high-quality ads that are engaging

If you’re focused on hyper-casual games, you likely rely heavily on ads, so it’s important to pick the right ad formats, A/B test them relentlessly, and fine-tune for ad frequency, localization, and more.

  • Rewarded video is known to be very effective, especially when it’s integrated well and offers real value to the user. 
  • Of course, ads are not just for monetization; they’re also a user acquisition tool. Playable ads, for example, are great for user acquisition for hyper-casual games because they let users try it out before installing.
  • Video ads are also an effective way to passively let prospective players know what your core game mechanics are like before they download.

ASO: Analyze your keywords

App Store Optimization (ASO) is a great way to get discovered from users in the app stores. Similar to the way search engine optimization (SEO) works for websites, ASO focuses on certain factors such as hitting the proper keywords, the keyword competition, and creating a description that entices potential users. 

Consider using keywords that don’t have a high competition so you can rank more easily. 

UA cross-promotion

If you’ve built a portfolio that can be used to cross-promote, it can be an efficient user acquisition machine, as long as you continue feeding the market quality, new products. 

There are also plenty of opportunities to cross-promote other apps from your portfolio at specific in-game moments when users are more engaged and likely to download other games—that’s an advantage every user acquisition pro must capitalize on.

Once you’ve built a portfolio that can be used to cross-promote, it becomes an efficient user acquisition machine, as long as you keep feeding the market quality new products. 

High engagement and installs can result in higher eCPMs. The key to a successful acquisition strategy is understanding when to take risks and which ones are worth it.

Claire Tak is Marketing Manager, Content at AppLovin.