Growth Hacking Breakdown For Your Mobile App
Vasily Malyshev

After spending several years in the app development world managing Messapps, I realized there is one very popular misconception that people have about apps. Most people think that once you publish an app your work is done. You upload it to the app store and then just collect a monthly paycheck. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Having an app means having a business. And if no one knows about it, no one will pay for it.

Hence, it is important to invest time and money into the marketing of your app. In order to make sure you save some money and only do marketing that actually works follow these hacks below.

1. Build a website

Not a hack per se but a very important part of marketing is to build a comprehensive website. Before launching your app, the website is the best tool to generate initial user traffic. With an email signup, you’ll be able to get future user’s emails and notify them about launch and important updates. Your app website should have the following elements:

1.App name & logo (helps to increase recognition)
2.Show screens on phones (make sure people understand it’s an app right away)
3.App pitch (explain what the app is and why someone should download it)
4.Call to action (Include email signup before the launch and add download from app store buttons after)
5.Social proof (if other people said good things about you - show off!)
6.Social media (cross promote your social networks to engage your users there too)
7.Key features explained through screenshots (clarify all app functions)

Additionally you should add a blog to your website. First of all, writing good content for a blog will help drive more traffic to the website which can convert to app users. Second, with a newsletter email campaign and regular blog posts you’ll be able to keep your users engaged and remind them to use the app.

2. Do ASO!

ASO stands for App Store Optimization. And that is the one most important piece of marketing that many app companies forget to do. For example, imagine you need to find an app that will help you with grocery delivery. You would naturally go to the app store and enter “grocery delivery” in the search. You will see a list of apps ranked based on their reviews, number of downloads and how good their app store optimization is.

ASO can be divided into textual and visual parts. For textual optimization you need to focus on the name, keywords and description. For visual it is all about screenshots and the app preview video.

Textual optimization

For keywords you need to research traffic and competition for keywords you want to target. The best way to do so is to use tools such as Sensor Tower. The goal is to find a combination of high traffic and low difficulty. If the competition is big then it doesn’t matter how high the traffic is because your competitors will take all of it, that is, at least initially when you can’t compete based on the number of downloads and reviews.

For the name the most important thing to remember is that whatever you put into the “App name” field in the app store is viewed as keywords by the app store. And those “name” keywords have a bigger role than the standard keywords. Though Apple prohibits keyword stuffing and generally would not approve names that have too many words in them you should still add a tagline with keywords into the app name. For example if your app name is “Slice” and your app does pizza delivery then you should add keywords such as “delivery” and maybe “local” and “pizzerias” into your name.

In the description focus on the first 5 lines (255 characters). This is the only thing users will see unless they press on “...more” (which close to nobody does). Make sure that in those first few lines you give a great reason why someone should download your app and include couple of keywords.

Some textual ASO hacks

1. Name of your company is a strong keyword. If possible use a name that has keywords explaining what you do.

2. There is a correlation in how many times your keywords appear in your reviews and names of in-app purchases and how well you rank for those keywords.

Visual optimization

When people are browsing the app store, they mostly pay attention to the screenshots. The paradox, however, lies in the fact that people look at screenshots because they don’t want to read the text description, but they won’t understand your screenshots unless you put some text on them to explain what’s happening. So make sure you create custom screenshots that give 5 (same as number of screens) reasons to download your app.

Another important part of visual app store optimization is the app preview video. In the App Store the videos must be no more than 30 seconds and have mostly in-app footage. To make a successful app preview video, you need to utilize it to show the main user story, i.e. show a path user takes to use the main functions of the app. When uploading that video to the app store, you’ll be able to select a cover. The cover will essentially function as an additional screenshot when viewed on the page so make sure it is used to explain a feature or give a reason to download the app.

3. Have an in-app referral program

When coming up with a good referral strategy remember the following rules:
-Give a valuable reward to the person making the referral (“refer and get a free ride”).
-Give a valuable reward to the person being referred (referred person gets a 10% discount on their first purchase),
-Remember to proactively ask users for referrals to make sure they know about the opportunity.

4. Manage reviews

Reviews play a very important role in the potential success of your app. The more positive reviews you get, the better your search rankings are and the more downloads and new users you will get.

Make sure you stick to the following 4 rules when creating a review popup:
-Don’t interrupt someone’s experience. For example, if your app does food delivery then ask for a review after the order is placed or delivered. Not when the user is browsing the food menu.
-Delay asking for a review until the person has used the app for a longer period of time. This will ensure that feedback whether positive or negative will be constructive and will actually increase the chances of a user agreeing to write a review.
-Capture negative reviews. If the person does not like the app give them an option to send you the feedback directly. This way you’ll prevent them from writing negative comments about the app publicly.

5. Open betas rule

Last but not least do conduct open beta tests. Giving your beta release to the general public has two big advantages:
-Your app will be tested by a larger number of people which would help you identify any remaining bugs and fix them before the release.
-Open betas create loyal customers. Most people like to see how the product they found when it was unknown grows. Give them an opportunity to join your journey and they will reward you by staying loyal to the app and telling their friends about it.


Remember that having an app is managing your own business. If no one knows about it no one will pay for it. Marketing strategies might be different for different apps, but investing your efforts in marketing is key to launching a successful app.