For digital companies, mobile applications are an important investment – a means to build their brand anytime and anywhere, engage existing audiences, and expand their user base. But running an app install campaign is no mean feat; between Google Play Store and iOS App Store, the number of app downloads numbered 105 billion in 2018 and is expected to increase this year.

With thousands more new programs released per day, what can marketers do to grab attention and prompt users to download their app over another?

If you’ve developed your own application and are struggling to increase your app store standing, this guide lists 4 things that you need to know to run a successful campaign.

#1 Paid Campaigns Boost Natural Growth

These days, it’s no longer enough to create a better product. Because of the rising competition, paid advertising has become part and parcel of digital marketing and, for app makers, a vital strategy to get more downloads.

There is an important tactical benefit, too: As your paid campaigns start to expand your reach, that traffic merges with your organic results, helping you move toward app store optimisation. Like SEO, app store optimisation follows the tenet visibility begets more visibility. In other words, advertising helps improve your ranking, which then signals to the app store algorithm that you are growing in popularity. In turn, the marketplace rewards you for your performance, by giving you extra exposure on the storefront, thereby boosting your ranking and putting your app in front of even more users, and so on, thereby reinforcing the virtuous cycle.

#2 But First, Let’s Talk Quality Installs

When executed properly, paid install campaigns can truly do wonders for your app. But in order to make sure that your investment will pay off, you need to keep in mind that not all app installs are created equal; others simply possess better quality.

So what does define quality in this scenario?

A high-quality app install assists in acquiring your ideal users, that is, those who have massive potential to transform into loyal customers. Ask yourself:

  • Who are your key users? What are their characteristics?
  • Can you offer incentives to encourage them to install your app?
  • How can you get them to keep using the app once they have already installed it?
  • What advertising channels will be most effective to reach them?

Remember: A download is more than just a download; your app is just a springboard to greater things. Initially, it’s about your customers forming a daily habit, but if you add most-wanted features they can’t find elsewhere or integrate with other services they already use, your app becomes an essential part of life.

Want to reduce customer churn? Create your app to be so sticky that it makes it too costly for your users to switch to another brand.

#3 Pick the Right Ad Types

So your audience is primed and the campaign is ready to go. What are the best channels to use, in order to reach your target app users? How can you make sure that your messages will resonate with them? Here are just a few ad types that you can use:  

Display ads

Display ads, a core part of any advertising campaign, can be very helpful, if implemented in the right way. Appearing as banners, images, or pop-ups on websites, they are designed to lead customers towards completing a certain goal or action – in this case, installing an app. Display ads are perfect for driving mobile web traffic to your app, since they can be optimised for different devices.

Paid search ads

In Q4 of 2018 alone, Google earned $39.1 billion in ad revenue (22 percent more than the company earned year on year), indicating the wide popularity of paid search ads. Placed on top of search engine results pages, this type of ad can be a powerful marketing channel, as it is the first thing that users see when seeking information online. But while flexible and relatively effective, paid ads can be a costly option for smaller advertisers.

Social ads

Not to be left too far behind, social advertising is fast catching up with search ads. Facebook alone, for instance, made $16.6 billion in ad sales during Q2 of 2019, but with a faster growth rate of 28% over the same period in the previous year.

This comes as no surprise, since social media sites have their own mobile apps and thus have always played a key role in collecting traffic. App ads are merely the next obvious step in the natural progression of online and mobile advertising.

Incentive-based ads

Notice a drop in traffic? Give your audience a reason to install your app. Try and test  sign-up discounts, exclusive promo codes, or bonus offers, and see which will work best for your users and meet your marketing goals. Incentives will also complement display ads, paid search ads, and social ads, as such enticements provide the user some added value, by just taking action to install your app.

#4 Track High-Quality Installs

Of course, you want your customers to do more than just get your app. Your ultimate goal, after all, is not just about getting downloaded or installed; it is about building your brand and raising user engagement. The mobile application is just a means to get there.

It does nothing for your business to have thousands of installs but with low involvement. The key here is to keep your users engaging with the app, both in frequency and in the level of usage. As they regularly access your app, you can learn more about then, how they use your software, which features they access often or those they don’t touch at all. All of this data can then feed into your product development pipeline, resulting in app updates that your best users will surely appreciate.

If you’ve started to focus on traffic that is both high-quality and growing, the next stage is to single out the ad channel that is bringing in the most relevant traffic and the best quality installs. And this can be done by following this easy strategy:

Over a certain period of time post-install, monitor your users’ activity and in-app events. Next, tie back these events to the acquiring network. By doing so, you can create a clear path to the value that each advertising channel is able to generate, allowing you to plan your strategy, resources, and budget accordingly.


Whether you are an app maker or marketer, you can apply the tips we shared here, in order to launch a successful paid ad campaign. The main takeaway: Focus on high-quality app installs, because no amount of advertising later in the pipeline will be able to undo a bad decision made in the early going – at least not without incurring unnecessary costs.

Digital Excellence has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands, to launch successful app install campaigns, from conceptualisation and design to results tracking and analysis. Work with us and benefit from our years of experience in mobile marketing. Reach out and let’s have a chat.


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