Competition among mobile apps is at an all-time high with 3739 new apps added to the Google Play store every day. With so many potentially effective ways of acquiring new users, it can be difficult to identify which channels deserve your investment. 

Even if you are already running campaigns for display ads, it is important to look at other cost-effective methods that can push you towards your user acquisition targets. In this guide we cover five effective ways of acquiring new users in 2021 and share best practices to follow for optimal results.

1. Leverage alternative app stores’ untapped audiences

Alternative app stores – otherwise known as Original equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) – can be leveraged to reach untapped audiences. OEMs such as Xiaomi, Huawei, Vivo and Oppo have their own app stores that can be used to reach your target audience and acquire new users at a low Cost per Install (CPI). 

This is a smart, fraud-free alternative to GAFA app stores, which have far more competition for their inventory and therefore have a higher CPI. OEM marketing is an effective way of acquiring new users because they offer untapped audiences and advanced targeting capabilities. 

effective ways of acquiring new users

This is why they are known for low CPIs with high engagement rates. These alternative app stores are also a smart way to drive incremental growth. Other benefits for advertising on alternative app stores include:

  • Acquire user level data that is compliant with GDPR regulations
  •  Gain access to worldwide inventory and create lookalike audiences that enable you to scale your business in new regions
  • Access a fraud-free ecosystem without additional layers between budget holders and the OEMs.

You can leverage these alternative app stores with Avow due to our partnerships with leading OEMs all over the world. We take a consultative approach that connects clients with our OEM marketing experts who are available to help throughout the campaign cycle.

2. Implement App Store Optimization (ASO) for GAFA app stores

In addition to acquiring new users through alternative app stores’ untapped audiences, marketers can practice ASO for GAFA app stores. The two largest – and therefore overcrowded – app stores worldwide are the App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android. 

As of the first quarter of 2021, Android users could choose from a selection of  3.48 million apps. The App Store is the second largest with 2.22 apps available to iOS users. It is not effective to simply upload your app and hope users find it – mobile marketers must increase visibility by performing ASO.

The majority (70%) of mobile users use an app store’s search function to find new apps relevant to their interests. This activity can be targeted to generate installs with ASO. This requires you to make tactical changes to your app store entry in order to increase visibility and generate installs as a result.  

A significant benefit of ASO is that the installs generated by this marketing method are organic installs. This means that users found your app based on their own intent, making them highly valuable users with the potential to positively impact KPIs such as retention rate and Lifetime Value (LTV).

ASO also enables you to cut user acquisition costs by generating installs without paying for an advert (ad) – you simply gain a higher ranking in the app store due to the tactical changes made to your app entry.

It is important to note that ASO practices will be different for the App Store, Google Play Store and alternative app stores because each store uses a unique algorithm. With this in mind, here are several ways you can improve your app store ranking:

  • Optimizing your App Name by including keywords and common search terms
  • Optimizing your App Title by including keywords and common search terms
  • Optimizing your App Icon by ensuring your image resonates with your audience and is recognizable as relevant to your app vertical
  • Include engaging screenshots and videos to give users an accurate impression of what to expect when they install your app
  • Include primary and secondary categories to ensure your mobile app appears for as many relevant search terms as possible
  • Improve rating and reviews by encouraging your active users to rate your app. You can strategically prompt users to rate your app in the store after gratifying moments in your user experience

Know more about “challenges of mobile user acquisition”

3. Use influencer marketing to reach your target audience

Working with influencers is a popular marketing method that is expected to be worth $13.8 billion in 2021. Moreover, businesses are making $5.78 ROI for every $1 they spend on influencers. If you haven’t started working with influencers to reach their audience, this is a smart addition to your user acquisition strategy.

effective ways of acquiring new users

An influencer is any public figure that has a significant power of influence on a particular audience. You can harness this for your user acquisition goals by working with influencers who have a following that aligns with your target audience. 

There are several ways you can work with influencers to get their audience’s attention and generate installs for your mobile app. This includes:

  • Paid product placements to ensure an influencer’s audience is exposed to your brand
  • Sending free products in exchange for reviews and similar exposure with an influencer’s audience
  • Sponsoring content such as live streams and regular video uploads
  • Providing influencers with discount codes they can offer to their following, increasing their value to their audience while also giving your brand exposure

Choosing the right influencers for your brand requires you to research their content, target audience and engagement statistics. These figures are particularly important because a large following does not automatically mean an influencer is generating a high number of likes, shares and purchases. 

Another best practice that will help you achieve your user acquisition goals by working with influencers is to trust their expertise. These public figures have built up an audience that resonates with their content – a valuable asset that you can use to optimize your influencer marketing campaigns. For best results, it is essential for this to be a collaborative process where the influencer has input into how to target their audience.

A smart way to stay in touch with influencers and maintain a strong connection is to add them to a newsletter exclusively for influencers and affiliate partners.

While influencer marketing can also be used for branding campaigns, it is important to make your influencer campaigns for user acquisition measurable. For example, you can provide an influencer with a unique URL code or discount that directs users to your app and specific product pages. This ensures that you will know which users were acquired as a result of your influencer’s exposure.

4. A/B test for high-value users

A/B testing is critical to maintaining and optimizing an effective user acquisition strategy. For user acquisition, A/B testing is the process of testing variants of the same creative in order to learn which generates the most installs. Moreover, you should also track events that enable you to learn which variant is delivering high-value users.

The long-term value of a user can be measured by LTV. This is a projected net profit for users who have installed your app, calculating how much revenue they will generate before they churn. You can calculate LTV by multiplying the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) over the average length of time users keep your app installed: LTV = ARPU / Revenue or churn.

5. Practice social media marketing

Social media marketing for user acquisition is the process of generating installs by engaging users across different social media channels. Platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Reddit and TikTok can be used to drive installs and maintain long-term relationships with your audience.

For example, you can share engaging content such as competitions to reach new users. You can also use social media to build a mailing list to alert users when your app is launched in their region.

Social media marketing is also a powerful retention tool. Marketers can offer customer services to ensure that their social media pages have value to users. You can also share User-generated Content (USG) to create a community and show users you value their investment in your mobile app.


With several effective ways of acquiring new users to choose from, it is a marketer’s challenge to identify which channels deserve their investment. To recap, here are the 5 effective ways of acquiring new users:

  1. Leverage alternative app stores’ untapped audiences
  2. Implement App Store Optimization (ASO) for GAFA app stores
  3. Use influencer marketing to reach your target audience
  4. A/B test for high-value users
  5. Practice social media marketing

To acquire high-value users in 2021, marketers should ensure that their app store entry is fully optimized. GAFA app stores are overcrowded across all verticals and require you to optimize your app’s ranking.

Alternative app stores offer a smart way to acquire new users is to target untapped audiences. With OEM marketing, you can access a fraud-free ecosystem that offers low CPIs and high engagement rates.

Marketers can also utilize influencer marketing to reach their acquisition goals. This ranges from sending influencers free products in exchange for reviews, to collaborating on sponsored content. Social media marketing is also a powerful tool that can be used for user acquisition and reengagement.

Here is the ultimate guide to User Acquisition 2021