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Your guide to app user acquisition

App user acquisition

What is app user acquisition?

Mobile user acquisition is an essential strategy to get users to install and engage with your app. The goal of UA is to make a profit, and to do that, you need the users you acquire to cost less than the revenue they generate. Building a strong user acquisition strategy that focuses on acquiring high-value users from top channels and bidding in a cost-effective way will help increase LTV and drive revenue down the line.

Here, we discuss the user acquisition model, cost, and strategies you can use to reach users and get them to download your app.
app user acquisition

User acquisition channels

There are many types of user acquisition channels and each brings audiences with varying characteristics, like demographics, levels of intent, and LTV curves. It’s important to diversify your UA strategy across many channels - there’s rarely a benefit to focusing on just 1 or 2. Generally, the more user acquisition channels you’re running on, the higher the chances you’ll drive significant installs and scale cost-effectively. 

The most common user acquisition channels advertisers use to attract users to their app include:

  • Social media: Facebook is probably the most popular platform for this type of mobile user acquisition strategy. The social media channel’s targeting capabilities and optimization features - like App Event Optimization campaigns - make it an effective channel for mobile app user acquisition, but the competition from other apps on Facebook can be very high.
  • Google: Under the Google umbrella, there are multiple platforms for advertisers to run mobile user acquisition campaigns. From Google Universal App Campaigns to YouTube to Search ads, you can reach a broad audience on Google’s different properties. The broad reach of Google can help you reach users at scale with appealing optimization features, like automated targeting and bidding.
  • App Store Optimization (ASO): Like search engine optimization, ASO is a way to rank higher in app store search results through optimization techniques. Without the cost of a paid user acquisition campaign, ASO can be extremely effective for drawing high-value users to your app - but it can also be very competitive and take a long time to increase your ranking.
  • Mobile ad networks: Apps will often open up ad space in their own apps for you to show ads that take the form of interstitials, rewarded videos, playables, or banners. The key to success from a mobile app user acquisition strategy on mobile ad networks is to create high-quality creatives that engage users and encourage them to convert.
  • Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and carriers: Running app acquisition campaigns directly on mobile devices through OEM and carriers like Samsung and T-Mobile enables advertisers to reach users directly, and at the times they have the highest intent to download apps. Recent innovations in this user acquisition channel like dynamic targeting, new placements, and unique parameters such as device targeting through third-party technology companies like Aura have made OEM and carriers very effective for driving high-quality installs at scale.

User acquisition model

Effective UA campaigns can attract high-value users that use your app more often and for longer and yield a higher ROI. App user acquisition teams can benefit from knowing the value of the users they drive, so they can accurately adjust bids and optimize campaigns.

Depending on your campaign goals, creating a user acquisition model with the right pricing model is key. Pricing models like CPC, CPI, CPE, and CPD are all relevant here, so let’s discuss what each is and how they relate to app user acquisition:

  • Cost per click (CPC): The cost and advertiser pays each time a user clicks an ad for their app
  • Cost per install (CPI): The costs each time a user installs an app from an ad - it’s counted from the first app open
  • Cost per engagement (CPE): The cost each time a user completes a post-install event (e.g. writing a review, providing their email) that’s set by the advertiser
  • Cost per download (CPD): The cost to the advertiser for a user to download an app and is counted when users press install. This pricing model is only available on OEM and carrier channels which are directly integrated into the device.

Using these pricing models, advertisers can check which type is helping them the most efficiently reach their KPIs. 

App user acquisition cost

App advertisers spent $74.6 billion worldwide in 2020 on mobile user acquisition, directly correlates with cost per install. While CPI varies per region, genre, and operating system, the global average as of July 2020 is $2.24

To reduce your app user acquisition cost and lower your CPI, A/B testing creatives and multi-bidding are effective strategies to try. With A/B testing, you change one variable - ad placement, background color, etc. - to see what yields a higher ROAS or lowers costs compared to your control group. 

Multi-bidding is a strategy that enables bidding on a more granular level, setting a bid for each of the different sources in your UA campaigns - e.g. males vs. females - instead of the same bid for all of them. This often lowers user acquisition costs because you’re reducing bids on campaigns or demographics that are lower performers and increasing bids on your top-performers. 

App user acquisition strategy

There’s no big secret to how to acquire users for your app - any advertiser can do it with the right strategy and consistent optimization. And having an effective mobile user acquisition strategy benefits your bottom line and contributes to helping you grow and scale your app. 

Here are a few ideas to give your user acquisition strategy a boost:

  • Diversify your user acquisition channels to help you reach new, engaged audiences.
  • Turn off channels that aren’t performing and put more of your budget towards ones that are lowering costs and attracting users
  • Use data to drive decisions - check your pricing models, look at your attribution data, and use all of the metrics at your disposal to make choices about your UA strategy based on hard facts
  • Experiment with your creatives, try different types and formats, and test them to see which are engaging users and driving conversions

Aura is one of the most effective user acquisition channels to help you achieve these goals. Unlike traditional mobile app acquisition platforms, Aura sits directly on user’s devices and shows your app when their intent is highest. From unboxing to in-life engagement, Aura gets your app in front of users first throughout the device lifetime. Try Aura today for your mobile user acquisition and discover how our innovative platform drives incremental growth and revenue.


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