Are App Downloads Stagnant? Here’s How to Revive Traffic & Downloads

With nearly five million apps available for download across Apple’s and Google’s app stores, you must develop smart strategies and tactics to stand apart from your competition. A solid understanding of your customers is the best place to start. Utilize that knowledge to bring value to their app experience and explore the following marketing tools that can really work to bump up your traffic.

Use App Store Optimization to Find Keywords that Bring in High-Value Clients

Since 70% of mobile users find apps using search on the iOS App Store or Google Play – and nearly two-thirds of downloads happen right after a search – it’s more important than ever to optimize your app to compete with the nearly five million apps available today.

Keywords are considered the main factor in app store optimization (ASO), so it’s crucial you identify the words your potential customers are using when they’re looking for an app similar to yours. Conduct keyword research to find the most relevant words used most often by your target customers, and place the keyword that’s most heavily searched in the name of your app (the title of the listing). At Zutobi, we are a driving education app with pre-teens and teens in mind, so all our keyword research centered around driver’s education keywords. You can see on our Zutobi app page how we made sure to include these keywords in our titles and descriptions. 

Optimization isn’t a one-and-done task. You’ll need to regularly monitor your downloads and those of your competitors to find out what is and isn’t working. However, it’s best if you don’t change your app title unless absolutely necessary. As your app becomes more popular, word-of-mouth can boost its popularity, and people will search for it by name. A name change can hurt your app’s chances of gaining ground in the competitive app marketplace.

A/B Test Your Way to Success

Besides regularly monitoring your app’s keyword performance, another way to determine if your app is on the right track is to test user experience or ad effectiveness among two or more different segments of your app’s audience. By testing one variable among a limited number of users, you’ll gain the benefit of discovering what’s most successful before you make big sweeping changes to your app’s features or run an expensive ad campaign.

Effective A/B testing begins with an hypothesis. You’ll need to decide what you want to test, and you can often make that decision by finding a problem you want to solve. Once you have an hypothesis in mind, you must research to understand which variable you’ll change between the A and B audiences. At this point, it’s also a good idea to know how you will respond to the test’s results. What will show up in the data that will persuade you to change your ad or features for your broader audience?

Next you’ll segment your audiences into groups large enough to produce reliable data, and then present the different versions to the two audience segments. At the completion of the test, you’ll analyze the results and implement the tactic that proved to bring in the results you aimed to achieve.

Learn About Your Customers by Reaching Out to Them

Knowing your customers is essential for marketing anything – and that includes your app. But you can go further than just analyzing data to discover your target’s needs and wants. Reach out to users and potential customers by answering questions, replying to feedback, and becoming active in forums and groups.

Answer Questions

Find a question and answer website that gets a lot of traffic – Quora, for example – and solicit questions about your app. Provide useful information and clear up any confusion about usage, but don’t cross the line where it appears you’re only trying to advertise or promote your app. Appearing on a site like Quora helps you to understand which problems your customers are facing, and works to improve public relations around your app because you’re  helping to solve customers’ problems.

Reply to Negative Feedback

Nobody likes to see negative feedback, but the worst thing you can do is to ignore it. If those searching for your app see a lot of negative ratings or reviews, they’ll likely scroll away from your listing in the app store.

Let your customers know you are concerned about their satisfaction and that you’re going to take action to improve their experience. You may even be able to improve your conversion rate as review readers recognize your commitment to customer service. And people who leave a negative review are often willing to change it once they’re heard by the developer.

Contribute to Online Forums and Groups

An online forum or group is an excellent way to find out what your customers and potential audiences are talking about in relation to your app and your competitors’ offerings.

Subscribe to these groups and look for places where you can contribute information of interest to the topic. Be upfront about your identity and either link the app in your profile or signature. But be careful to avoid looking like you’re just there to promote your app. The users will react negatively to that tactic and you may even get banned.

Establish Credibility by Becoming a Thought Leader in Your Industry

One of the best ways to earn trust among the app-using community is to establish your company and brand as a credible source for information and insights about your industry.

Although it will probably be a while before in-person speaking engagements return, you can establish credibility by hosting online webinars or participating in a larger remote-only event with multiple speakers. Even a number of smaller events can help you gain ground with high-value audiences.

You can also promote your expertise by writing guest blogs on popular industry websites or pitching a journalist to write a story about your app. Journalists are always looking for topics to write about, so pitch in a way that shows how you’re able to provide a valuable resource. It’s a win-win situation.

Once you’ve found the appropriate venues, make sure to promote them on social media. Acquire video of your speaking engagement and post it on your YouTube account. Include excerpts of your presentation or your featured article on Twitter and Facebook. Give people the opportunity to share it and then watch your brand grow. The more exposure you receive for your company and its app, the better your chances for improving word-of-mouth and increasing the number of downloads.

Incentivize Potential Customers to Download, Use, and Share Your App

Along with optimizing your app for relevant keywords, reaching out to your customers, and showing them they can trust you and your app, it’s helpful to add incentives for people to download and interact with it. Incentives can provide additional value, and that’s what people are looking for when they download apps.

How to Incentive Downloads

The incentive you choose will depend on a deep understanding of your target customers. What do they need? What are their motivations? What are their pain points? When you can answer those questions, you’ll be able to develop incentives for them to download your app.

For example, you could offer a discounted or free item/service with every new download. To promote this type of incentive, research the best places to reach your target audience. Perhaps it’s email or maybe it’s an ad on social media. You could also place display ads online that will link to your app instead of your website.

How to Incentivize Continued Usage or Re-engagement

Display ads on search are not only for persuading news users to download your app. Surveys have shown that people will re-engage with an app if offered a discount, an exclusive offer, or bonus content. Once again, it’s necessary to understand your target customer’s motivations in order to deliver an incentive that will get results.

One way to keep app usage consistent is to offer in-app rewards – a promise to receive free items the more you use the app. This approach works especially well as a loyalty program, where app users collect points that add up to a free item or service after reaching a specific rewards threshold.

Another method for increasing usage and keeping your customers in-app is to offer information relevant to your industry. You could include blogs that offer tips, guides, how-tos, or educational material – whatever is most applicable for your business. For Zutobi how this manifests this comes in the form of learners practice tests, modules on parallel parking, hand signals, etc. The key is to understand there isn’t just one content that will be so evergreen is single handedly powers growth. You need to continually refine and add more content that fulfills and meets your users’ needs. 

How to Incentivize Users to Share Your App

The best place for sharing is social media, so use either free or paid social tactics to attract attention to your app with enticing visuals and a referral incentive. Referral programs are popular with shopping apps, where a current user can earn cash for signing up a friend. Because there are so many blogs that suggest easy ways to make money, you could pitch some of the more popular ones to feature your app in their roundup.

When You Bring Value to your Customers You’ll See an Uptick In Traffic

Whether you choose to employ all of these tactics or just a few of them, keep customer value central to your strategy. People are short on time and patience. If they’re going to engage with your app, you’ll need to show them how they’ll benefit from using it. But remember that customer engagement is an evolving process. Keep a close eye on your customers’ needs and pain points so you’ll always be ready to provide the value they crave.


Author: Tim Waldenback

Tim Waldenback is the co-founder of Zutobi Drivers Ed, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online drivers education to help teens get their license. Tim founded Zutobi to make world-class driver’s education fun, affordable, and easily accessible for all.

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