5 Growth-Hacking Strategies to Increase Your App Downloads

With the cost per install consistently growing each year, app publishers must get creative with their marketing efforts.

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By Steve Young


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

This article is included in Entrepreneur Voices on Growth Hacking, a new book containing insights from more than 20 contributors, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders.

According to mobile marketing technology firm, Fisku, cost per install in November of 2015 for iOS increased 40 percent from $1.10 to $1.54, while Android increased an astonishing 101 percent from $1.13 to $2.27 year-over-year.

With the cost per install consistently growing each year, app publishers must get creative with their marketing efforts.

After successfully launching apps of our own and also for our clients, you will discover five of our favorite growth hacks to increase downloads when you have little to no budget.

Related: Why Your Small Business Needs a Mobile App

1. Paid-to-free campaign

This is a campaign that I have run many times and it's driven hundreds of thousands of downloads on multiple occassions.

If you're not familiar with a paid-to-free campaign, it's where you make a paid app available for free for a couple of days.

If you have a free app, you can make one of your in-app purchases free. However, the in-app purchase must be a non-consumable type, which means that the product is purchased once by users and does not expire or decrease with use. For example, new race tracks for a game could be implemented as non-consumable products.

It is important to note that getting media exposure is crucial to making this a successful campaign. I generally give a big website like AppAdvice or BGR the exclusive on the free campaign, which dramatically increases the chances that the website will cover the price change. Skip to the fourth strategy of the article to learn more about the exclusive strategy.

2. App store optimization

There are two commonly overlooked components of your app store listing page that can increase your downloads -- reviews and in-app purchases.

The words that are in your app store reviews -- those left by your users -- and in-app purchases are all indexed by Google Play and iOS. Having targeted, relevant keywords in both areas will help you see a dramatic increase in downloads.

In fact, I share a black hat ASO strategy that we at App Masters use to hack app store reviews to instantly increase keyword rankings.

3. Localization

There are 28 regions in the App Store, and each country has its own App Store. It would be naïve to think that the world only searches for apps in English. In fact, most users will read and search the App Store in their native language.

Unless your app is designed for a specific region, take the time to localize your app in every language. You never know who will find your app useful.

Gonzalo Juarez, co-founder at eTips, the number-one publisher of mobile travel apps, proudly admits that they do not run any paid marketing campaigns. Localizing his apps has led to a greater than 200 percent increase in downloads and in countries where they didn't have exposure before.

Juarez suggests first translating the words used in your app name and keyword field. Once you start to notice an increase in downloads for a particular language, he suggests further translating your app description, screenshots and then finally your in-app content.

Lastly, use a translation website like Gengo or OneHourTranslation, and hire two translators - one to do the initial translation and another to proof it.

Related: How Duolingo Mastered the Fickle Language of Startup Success

4. The exclusive strategy for public relations

Using the exclusive strategy, we have been able to secure coverage on Techcrunch, Social Times, AppAdvice and BGR.

What is it? You give a big publication the first right to publish your announcement: product release, update, funding, etc. Big sites love getting an exclusive, because it means that they will be the first to write about the announcement, which generally leads to the other big websites linking back to them as the source.

It's a win-win strategy, because they get traffic and backlinks -- and you get coverage.

The key to success for this strategy is to start early. You want to start pitching about two weeks before your launch date. You should only pitch the exclusive to one publication at a time, and be sure to follow up only once. If you do not hear back, you can move on to the next publication.

5. App store feature hack

There's a little-known strategy that I've used to help multiple clients get featured by Apple. Before we get to that, it's important to know what Apple is looking for in your app.

I go into quite a bit of detail about this growth hack in this blog post, but here's the gist.

Most developers know that they can email appstorepromotion@apple.com to pitch their apps for a possible feature. However, within Apple, there are "app store managers" for each app category.

Using a LinkedIn search for "app store manager," you can find out how to contact the right person to pitch at Apple.

I like to use the Email Hunter Chrome extension, because it automatically creates an "email" button within LinkedIn that reveals the person's email address. The software makes an educated guess of the email, so sometimes you may get a bounce back.

Related: Los Angeles Techweek 2015 Features Mobile, Health Care and Fashion Innovations

Steve Young

App Marketing Specialist and Founder of Appmasters.co

Steve P. Young is an app marketing consultant and founder of AppMasters.co. He helps clients get featured by Apple, increase downloads using App Store Optimization and drive cost effective influencer marketing campaigns.

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