3 Channels For App Discovery Beyond the App Store Charts

For most developers, app discovery is an uphill slog with 3 million other apps competing for attention in the app stores.

Fortunately, discovery doesn’t stop at the app store. There are other channels devs can use to push their apps out. Some of these are actually better sources for sticky users than landing a spot on the top charts, where casual browsers often uninstall as fast as they install, or never open the app at all.

Social ads

Even with curtailed organic reach, Facebook is still a key outreach platform for many developers. Bandai Namco ran a targeted ad campaign that netted the Japanese developer 250,000 new users. Even smaller apps like photo management app Ever increased installs by 50% through well-targeted Instagram and Facebook app install campaigns.

The thread that links high-converting campaigns together is the use of custom audiences and lookalike audiences. Developers should utilize Facebook’s targeting capabilities to reach audiences with a high likelihood to download their app. Using deep links for detailed offers in the ad also works especially well for e-commerce apps; a sneakerhead is more likely to click an ad for a shoe sale than a generic “Shop Now!” ad for a retail app.

Recommendations from friends and family

More people read their emails on mobile than on desktop. Airbnb showed the power of email as one of the first brands to use the channel for referrals. The new feature increased the number of referrals sent, as well as the referrals who became users after receiving the invite.

A friend’s referral is a powerful influence: word of mouth is 92% more effective than any other form of marketing, and 77% of users check out an app because of referrals. Users in China and Indonesia -- SEA’s most profitable mobile market -- rely on app recommendations from friends and family. Developers can also encourage referrals through incentives. Ride-sharing service Juno, for instance, rewards successful referrers 30% off on all rides for two weeks. Developers on iOS should note though that Apple only allows a one-way exchange for incentivizing shares -- rewarding a new user just for installing the app is a violation of Apple’s policies.

Search optimization

Travel brand HotelCombined already had a good keyword system in place: aggregating relevant keywords and localizing each one for a broader reach across its multinational audience. But it was by also integrating search to its mobile marketing app strategy that the brand drove a 150% increase in app downloads in a month.

Brands like HotelCombined prove that search is still a powerful tool for mobile developers, not just website owners. Users spend more time browsing on their smartphones than on desktop, and one in four users discover an app through search. Users in Japan and Korea, in particular, find apps more often by browsing search results than through social media.

By running multiple app install campaigns, developers can drive installs without the pressure of breaking into the top charts. And optimizing several campaigns is easier with Tenjin’s ROI Dashboard, which gives developers a real-time overview of campaign performance. If you’d like to try the dashboard, you can sign up for free, or email us at sales@tenjin.io for assistance.

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