How to Increase App Downloads: 10 Proven Strategies

Chidinma Egwuogu
20 Apr 2024

11 min. read


You’ve done the hard part—built a great app. But with millions of apps on the market, you can’t just wait for people to stumble upon it. Users might never come. Instead, of leaving it to chance, learn how to increase app downloads with proven strategies. And that’s exactly what this guide is all about.

How to increase app downloads

Here’s how to increase app downloads:

  1. Perform search engine optimization (SEO)
  2. Perform app store optimization (ASO)
  3. Localize app content
  4. Partner with influencers
  5. Launch the app on product sites
  6. Launch an early access campaign
  7. Enable shareable user content
  8. Promote the app on social media
  9. Launch a content marketing campaign
  10. Strike cross-promotion partnerships

Let’s tackle these strategies one by one.

1. Search engine optimization (SEO)

App stores aren’t the only places to discover your app. Sometimes your exercise app can be found via a Google search on home workouts. Google search results page for workout apps

Why it’s a big deal: Most people don't go past the first few options in their search results. And with the majority of global searches being mobile, your app needs to show up at the top.

Multilingual SEO starts with keyword research to determine what your potential users are searching for. To this end, use Ahrefs, or Moz. You can also try SEO tools created for app store optimization (ASO) keyword research: Mobile Action, Sensor Tower, and Data AI. keyword research in ahrefs

Once you’ve chosen keywords, add them to your app's title and description. But keep it natural—no one likes keyword-stuffed content.

2. App Store Optimization (ASO)

ASO improves an app's visibility in the App Store and Google Play. It involves optimizing the app's title, description, keywords, visuals, and user reviews. The idea is to make your app more attractive and relevant to potential users.

Speaking of which, here’s how to find what Apple users are searching for in the App Store:

  1. Sign up to Apple Search Ads
  2. Choose language preferences and click Continue
  3. Enter account details and payment information
  4. In the Campaigns section, click Create Campaign

creating a search campaign in Apple Search Ads

  1. Select your app and enter campaign details
  2. Enter a default maximum bid and set the Broad match type

entering a bid in Apple Search Ads

  1. In the Keywords section, click Add Keywords to an Ad Group
  2. In the Keywords dashboard, review suggested keywords.

Use the provided keywords to optimize your App Store information. If they are at odds with the SEO keywords, experiment to find the ones that work best for you.

When optimizing your app information, keep in mind these character limits:

  • Name: up to 30 characters (App Store and Google Play)
  • Short description: up to 80 characters (Google Play)
  • Long description: up to 4,000 characters (App Store and Google Play)
  • Subtitle field: up to 30 characters (App Store)
  • Keywords: up to 100 characters (App Store)

3. App localization

Localizing your app is adapting it for different cultures. This includes tweaking your app's store listings, content, UI elements, graphics, cultural references, and even date formats and currencies.

By localizing your app, you can tap into 175 regions for the App Store and 195 regions for Google Play. For example, after localization, a mindfulness app Phiture experienced a 40% increase in downloads for non-English markets.

Isn’t app localization difficult? Wouldn’t I need a large team to perform it? No and no.

App localization isn’t that tricky, if you use a localization management platform, like Centus. With Centus, you can translate iOS and Android versions of your app into dozens of languages simultaneously.

Here’s how to localize your app:

  1. Sign up to Centus
  2. In the Project dashboard, click New project

creating a project in Centus 3. Enter the project name and select Software project type

choosing a project type in Centus

  1. Select base languages for your localized app choosing base languages in Centus

  2. Click Create project

This is your localization project, the hub where you can create translations, arrange editorial reviews, and test translation quality.

Let’s start by adding your app language resources. Note that you can follow the same steps to localize files containing your app’s title, description, or even marketing materials.

  1. In the Centus dashboard, open your project
  2. Go to the Imports section and click Select a file

importing localization files in Centus

  1. Add XML or other files for translation
  2. Click Upload a file

uploading files to Centus

Everything is ready for translation. Let’s see how it’s done:

  1. In the Editor section, click keys to enter translations manually
  2. Choose among suggestions generated by Google Translate, DeepL, or Microsoft Translate
  3. Click Save

Your app is translated, but since translation is the last barrier between you and user satisfaction, let’s ensure it’s perfect. To this end, arrange a review by a professional editor. Here’s how to add them to your project:

  1. In the Contributors section, click Add people
  2. Enter the editor’s name, email, and other details
  3. Choose the editor’s role from the dropdown menu

adding contributors to Centus project

Now your editor can review app strings and leave comments for you or your translators.

Centus commenting feature

Comments can be really helpful. But you know what can communicate a message even more effectively? Screenshots.

Screenshots are indispensable for UI/UX localization, as they provide invaluable context for translators and editors. Here’s how to share them with your language experts:

  1. In the References section, click Upload reference
  2. Write a description

sharing screenshots in Centus

  1. Click Upload reference

When translations are ready, export them in a preferred file format.

Pro tip: In Centus, create Android or iOS SDK bundles to integrate translations into your app without waiting for store approvals.

4. Influencer partnerships

Imagine this: You're scrolling through Instagram and see your favorite influencer raving about a new app. They're genuinely excited, showing off cool features, and maybe even offering a promo code. That's influencer marketing in action.

Why it's a big deal: Influencer marketing is huge—we're talking a $21.2 billion industry in 2023, soaring from just $1.7 billion in 2016. Why the boom? Because it works. Around 92% of people trust influencer recommendations over traditional ads. That's a whole lot of potential app downloads. a social media influencer

Source: Envato Elements

Example: Take the Honey extension. They got YouTubers like Ryland Adams and PewDiePie onboard, blending in Honey promotions with their regular content. Result? A big win in conversions, because who wouldn't want to try something a trusted YouTuber recommends, especially if it's free to start?

Remember to pick influencers your target audience likes. Make sure their posts about your app seem natural and true to their style.

Watch how much their help boosts your app's downloads, customer retention, and engagement. Be smart with your budget—sometimes smaller influencers can give you a good bang for your buck. And lastly, always play by the rules with advertising.

5. Launching on product sites

Launching your app on product sites is a great way to increase downloads. To do this effectively, you need to showcase your app on platforms like Product Hunt, Hacker News, or Betalist. These sites have large communities of tech enthusiasts and influencers who are always on the lookout for new and exciting apps.

The key is to create an engaging product page with a compelling description, good visuals, and maybe even a demo video. You should also interact with the community (that’s also a strategy on its own), answer questions, and respond to feedback.

Why it’s a big deal: It can be hard to find your niche customers on your own. Getting noticed on product sites can make your app stand out, draw in early adopters, and drive downloads. A screenshot of Clubhouse’s Product Hunt Launch in 2020

Source: Product Hunt

Example: Clubhouse, the audio-based social app, is a prime example of a successful product site launch. After Product Hunt listing, the app gained quick popularity and significant traction among users. This initial exposure helped them establish a strong user base and set the stage for future growth.

6. Early access or beta testing groups

Early access or beta testing groups let a select group of users try your app before it's fully launched. This step helps in two ways. First, you get real-world feedback. Users can spot bugs or suggest improvements that you might have missed. Second, these early users often become your app's advocates, creating social media buzz.

Why it’s a big deal: Beta testing leads to a more polished app at launch, which can significantly boost downloads. Users are more likely to recommend a high-quality, well-functioning app. Thorough beta testing can improve an app's quality and performance, leading to higher customer satisfaction, positive reviews, and better long-term success. Screenshot of Spotify for Podcaster’s landing page

Source: Spotify

Example: Spotify's beta test for its interactive podcast feature is a perfect example of boosting app downloads through beta testing. The feedback from early users helped improve the feature, increasing the app’s appeal, and, ultimately, downloads.

7. Enabling shareable user content

Let your users create and share their own content from your app on social media or other platforms. This strategy turns your users into brand ambassadors. When users share their experiences or achievements from your app, it naturally promotes your app to a new audience. This kind of organic, user-generated promotion works due to its authenticity and relatability.

Why it’s a big deal: 70% of people trust peer recommendations more than brand content. This peer-to-peer marketing can lead to increased app downloads, as people often want to try out what their friends are using and enjoying. A screenshot of Duolingo’s progress sharing page

Source: Duolingo

Example: Think of how Duolingo lets you share completed lessons or Spotify with its 'Spotify Wrapped'. It's a cool feature because it lets users show off what they've done or discovered, like new music or language skills. This sharing acts like free advertising and is a smart way to spread the word about your app without a big marketing budget.

8. Social media engagement

If you've got an app, it's a smart move to chat and engage with your users on social media. Social media engagement means regularly interacting with your audience on platforms like Instagram, X, or Meta. This involves responding to comments, posting updates, and creating content that encourages your audience to engage through likes, shares, and comments.

Why it’s a big deal: This is a big deal because when people like how you talk and engage with them on social media, they're more likely to tell their friends about your app. In fact, 71% of people who have a good time with a brand on social media end up recommending it to others. A screenshot of a taunting Duolingo’s X post

Source: Duolingo

Example: An app that does this well is Duolingo. They're really active on X, TikTok, and other social media. They talk to their users, crack jokes, and even share memes. This makes users feel more connected to the app. Plus, it makes learning with Duolingo fun, not just inside the app but also on social media. This kind of engagement helps them keep users interested and attract new ones.

9. Content marketing via blogs and articles

Write interesting articles or blog posts that your app’s potential users might find useful or entertaining. The idea is to create content that's not just about your app but also related topics that your potential users care about.

For example, if promote a fitness app, write blog posts about health, exercise, and nutrition.

Why it’s a big deal: When you write good blog posts, more people visit your site and share your content on social media, which can lead to more app downloads. It's a way to show off your expertise and build trust with your audience. Long-form content are especially valuable because people see them as more in-depth and informative.

Plus, if you nail your SEO (that's making sure your articles show up on Google), you can get even more people reading your stuff.

Example: Take a look at the Canva blog. Canva, a graphic design tool, uses its blog to post articles on design tips, marketing strategies, and creative ideas. These articles aren't just about using Canva, but they're topics their users are interested in. It helps bring more traffic to their site, and more traffic can lead to more people using Canva.

10. Collaborating with non-competing apps

The idea here is to create partnerships where both apps can benefit from each other's user bases. This could involve cross-promotion, shared marketing campaigns, or integrating features that work across both apps.

Say a fitness app teams up with a healthy food app. They're different but related—one helps you exercise, the other helps you diet. They promote each other to their users. So, if you're working out on the fitness app, it might recommend checking out the food app for healthy meal ideas.

Why it’s a big deal: Through cross-collaboration, both apps get more relevant exposure. The best thing? Cross-collaboration is completely free.

Parting thoughts

Remember, the key to success is finding the right mix of strategies that meet your audience’s unique needs.

Focus on creating a user-friendly app with a unique value proposition, use ASO for visibility, localize your app, localize social media, and market, market, market.

Happy downloads!

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