3 Things to Know When Running User Acquisition in India | AppsFlyer
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3 Things to Pay Attention to When Running User Acquisition in India

Nadeesh Ramachandran (Guest Author) May 09, 2016

India has recently taken over the United States to become the second largest smartphone market in the world after China. This means that the number of people buying smartphones and accessing the mobile internet in India has exploded. Industry reports also place India 3rd on the Google Play Store in terms of app downloads. The number of app installs in both Google Play and the App Store has also increased by 50% in 2015, compared to the previous year. All this clearly points to the fact that Indians have a healthy appetite for apps.

The Indian app surge has also been substantiated in the India edition of the Vserv Smartphone User Persona Report (SUPR) 2015. According to the report, 24% of the country’s 160 million-strong smartphone user base downloads as many as 18 apps and games in a single month!


While this data might suggest that you can easily get Indian smartphone users to download and use apps, when trying to acquire and retain app users in the country, there are a few things that you as app marketers need to remember:

1) Storage (or lack thereof) is your nemesis

The cost of a device is a major buying decision for most smartphone users in India. Storage space acts as a cost differentiator among many premium or flagship smartphones. For instance, there can be a significant $120-$150 cost difference between the 16GB and 64GB models of the same iPhone in India. This also holds true for Android smartphones, where the difference ranges from anywhere between $45 to $120 for the same device, with storage space being the only differentiator.

Obviously, a smartphone buyer is more likely to go for the cheaper version. In such a case, users are likely to only install apps they believe they really need, thus leaving app marketers fighting a bitter battle for space on a user’s device. If an app takes up too much storage and a user doesn’t see much use for it, he/she will probably uninstall the app to make room for others.

2) There’s no space for data guzzlers

Mobile data connectivity affects user acquisition in India in two ways. First, many parts of the country are still not 3G-enabled, let alone ready to support 4G LTE. In fact, 67% of the country’s mobile internet user base is still on 2G, while about 30% are on 3G connectivity. 4G is still very far from even making a mark. In such a reality, consumers are more likely to install apps that can work with slower connectivity.

Second, 3G or 4G LTE connectivity, wherever available, is relatively expensive and therefore can be an inhibitor. If your app is heavy on data consumption, users in India are less likely to download and even use the app. Add to this the fact that Wi-Fi connectivity is sparse, so your best bet to drive installs and usage is to keep your app is not only lighter but also relatively low on data consumption. For instance, YouTube first introduced an offline mode exclusively for India, where users can download a YouTube video and watch it offline. The video gets stored for 48 hours thereby avoiding repeated streaming of the same video online.

3) Adopt the cash culture

Much of India is still a cash-led economy. Less than 25% of the country’s population has a  credit or debit card. Even among this group, few use it for online transactions. In most cases, they prefer to pay with cash or any medium that facilitates cash-based payments. On the other hand, over 95% of the country’s mobile subscriber base is prepaid. Combine the two things and a user’s prepaid balance becomes a wallet for mobile transactions.

As most of these users charge their prepaid accounts in smaller amounts, in-app purchases or freemium content cannot be priced like the US or other markets. According to industry reports, the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) for Indian mobile subscribers is $1.8. That means that in-app purchases or freemium content in your app should be priced as low as 15 cents. In fact, Google recently made a change in its Play Store policy in India, lowering the minimum price of an app to INR 10 (15 cents). This could also mean breaking down the paid features or freemium content into smaller pieces to fit the price.

To sum up, our experience working with some of the largest apps in the country (including Eros, Shopclues, Gaana, Times of India, Flipkart and OLA) has helped us arrive at these learnings. If you are marketing your app in India, we recommend taking them into account in both your user acquisition and retention strategies.

Ultimately, what you must remember is that there is little barrier to exit for Indian app users as they pay little to nothing to download an app, which means that the cost of the app does not stop them from uninstalling the app. Additionally, if using the app poses any of the above challenges, the user is also more likely to exit (uninstall the app).

That’s why it’s important to run with intelligence that allows you to make smart, data-driven app marketing decisions to acquire and retain users. Working with a trusted attribution and marketing analytics platform can help you gain the insights you need to target the right user with the right acquisition or retention approach. Combine that with a mobile marketing platform that can help you reach out to these users with the right marketing campaign, and you are in a great position to win big in user acquisition and retention in India.