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There’s almost 3 million apps available on the Google play store right now and almost 2 million on the Apple store. That’s a lot of competition. So how do you make your app stand out in a crowded field? Even if your app is a masterpiece of intuitive design, solves a genuine customer problem, and has a colour palette to match the greatest works of Monet, it may still struggle to get the number of downloads you’d hope for.
You can’t just ship and hope, there’s an art to getting your app noticed in the app store and growing a loyal following. We’ve compiled a list of tactics you can implement right now to start getting more downloads.
1. Collect and share app reviews
Reviews improve your download rate in two ways:
- Increasing your app store ranking: Apps with positive reviews and ratings rank higher in search results
- Adding social proof: To encourage browsers to download your app when they see what a great experience past users have had
Research shows that only 15% of users would consider downloading an app with a two-star rating, while 96% would consider downloading one with a four-star rating. Getting those positive reviews is crucial if you want more downloads, but don’t be too pushy — try asking for reviews when:
- A customer has been using your app for a specific amount of time
- A user completes a specific action within your app
- A user reaches out to your customer support team
You can implement a pop-up style request, send an email, or add a button in-app that lets users leave a review when they’re ready. Take it one step further and offer an incentive for a review, like a percentage off of their monthly payment or a free additional feature.
2. Carry out keyword research
No one is going to download your app if they can’t find it in the app store. And, the usual way people find apps is by searching for them. If someone is looking for a time tracking app, we can safely assume they’re going to type “time tracking” into the search bar and take a look at the top results.
If your time tracking app doesn’t have the words “time tracking” written somewhere in the title and description, it’s not going to show up.
To avoid this, carry out keyword research to find out the search terms your target audience is using and implement them into your app title and description. There are several ways to do this:
- Use a keyword research tool, like Ahrefs, to find high-volume search terms related to your product
- Leverage Google’s autocomplete feature
- Check out what keywords your competitors are using
- Interview and survey your customers to see what words they use to describe your app
3. Introduce referral programs
Word-of-mouth marketing is still one of the most effective ways to increase visibility of your app. If you’re looking for a photo editing app and your friend recommends the one they use, chances are you’re going to check that out first.
Referral programs give your current user base encouragement to share your app with their friends, family, and colleagues, and rewards them for each new signup they generate.
Turning your loyal user base into your biggest advocates and ambassadors is one of the quickest, easiest, and cheapest ways to increase your download numbers. You want to make sure you’re giving them a good experience though, since 89% of people will recommend a brand to others only after having had a positive experience.
TaskRabbit gives current users and new signups $20 off as part of their referral program. You don’t have to give money off, however. You can offer a free feature, a free gig of storage, free ride credits, or something else related to your app.
4. Create engaging content
The more eyeballs you have on your app, the more downloads you’re likely to get. And one of the most effective ways to get more eyeballs is to create compelling and engaging content.
Building out a portfolio of blog posts, videos, infographics, tutorials, and guides creates more opportunities for potential users to find you. It also helps position you as an expert in your industry and increases trust and credibility among customers.
So, what kind of content can you create?
- Tutorials that show how your app works
- Videos that pick out key features or show a problem your app solves
- User-generated content in the form of testimonials and case studies
- SEO blog posts that attract users via Google
Buffer is renowned for producing highly relevant and engaging content across its blog and a variety of other publications.
On top of this, the more content you have, the more chances you have to generate backlinks that form part of the ranking algorithm on the app store.
5. Bring influencers on board
Influencers can affect the purchasing decisions of your target audience. Not only does this act as a kind of social proof (because someone with credibility is recommending your app), but it also increases your reach since you’re tapping into a pre-established audience.
Working with influencers doesn’t mean hiring celebrities at a ridiculous cost. In fact, micro-influencers (that is, influencers with fewer than 10,000 followers) have a higher engagement rate than mega-influencers.
Work with influencers by:
- Identifying industry specialists: Find relevant micro-influencers who have an audience you’d like to reach
- Reaching out: Make a connection with your chosen influencers and put together a collaboration package
- Tracking and measuring: Monitor your results so you can optimize campaigns in the future
Disney Emoji Blitz partnered with influencers to drive downloads of their apps. They gave their chosen industry specialists a code to share with their audience — so everybody wins.
6. Localize in multiple languages
Regional success can influence your ranking in different areas, and boosting your ranking in multiple different locations can increase it overall in the app store. The thing to remember is that different destinations have different languages, different customs, and different priorities.
Limiting yourself to one language and one location will limit the number of downloads you can get. In one study, localizing an app generated 54x more downloads.
It can seem daunting to translate your app into multiple different languages to target different markets, but you don’t have to localize every part of it. Instead, simply do what’s called a minimum viable localization, which involves localizing:
- The title, subtitle, and keywords for your app
- The screenshots, annotations, and calls-to-action
- The description
Our friends at Dogo App made the decision to localize their app from day zero. Not only because that would open up a wider market for the app, but also because they know that people appreciate the chance to use a product in their own language. Their app is now available in ten languages, has been downloaded two million times, and featured as Apple’s “App of the Day”.
“You don’t need a lot of customers in one country to start localizing. It’s enough if you have some customers in a lot of different countries. Altogether, they still make a big group of people.” – Tadas Žiemys, Co-Founder, Dogo App.
Check, check, checkGet our Mobile app localization checklist with all the best practices on one page. Yes please
7. Focus on user retention
Getting new users is sometimes the easy part. Keeping them around is another story entirely. But, the higher the retention rate of your users, the easier it is to rank in the app store and build a loyal following.
Instead of solely focusing on driving new downloads, continue to nurture existing users so that they continue using your app and recommend it to friends and family.
So, how do you get them to stick around?
- Offer incentives: Give loyal customers rewards for each milestone they hit, like an additional feature when they’ve been a user for six months or a monthly discount after a year
- Provide great content: Don’t forget about existing users when it comes to content creation. Build guides and tutorials they can use to make the most of your app
- Listen to feedback: Take feedback from existing users on board to improve your app
- Create a community: Set up an online community or forum where app users can hang out, ask questions, and talk among themselves
The Waze app has a community forum where users can ask questions and share their success stories.
Increase your app download numbers today
Increasing downloads is the number one goal of most app developers – and why wouldn’t it be? The more users you have, the higher your app’s visibility. But there’s an art to getting it right. Start by optimizing your app store listings with relevant keywords and localized descriptions before branching out to creating content, working with influencers, and creating referral programs.
But, most importantly, don’t forget about your existing user base. These are your biggest advocates; the more you nurture them, the more likely they are to leave positive reviews (which have an impact on your app store rankings) and recommend your app to their friends, family, and colleagues.