Getting Started with User Acquisition for Apps | AppsFlyer
user acquisition

Getting Started with User Acquisition for Apps: The Complete Guide

What’s happening with user acquisition? The app age has obviously matured since its infancy—just a decade ago—but it certainly has not stopped growing. The key performance indicators you care about as an app marketer continue to generate impressive upward trajectories.

Look back and you see double-digit year-over-year growth.

user acquisition

Look forward and the trend is projected to continue into 2020.

user acquisition

Non-organic installs—realized from paid and owned marketing activities—will also see the bars get taller each year and an arrow pointing steadily higher.

Look even further forward and the app economy continues burning bright. According to the App Annie 2017-2022 Forecast:

  • Annual consumer spend in app stores will reach $157 billion by 2020 (up 92% from 2017).
  • Average annual consumer spend will reach $26 per device by 2020 (up 23% from 2017).


Will your apps be joining the party?

Obviously, the raging hot app market bodes well for those capable of staying in step with the demands of their verticals and mastering data-driven marketing. However, it should be equally obvious that in every crowd you have leaders, laggards and a vast array of competitors in between.

Just like in every type of business, in the case of mobile apps, marketers are responsible for attracting and keeping customers. In this guide, we’ll focus on the former, which is known as user acquisition, or UA.


User acquisition is the method of driving new users to a mobile app business through marketing activity.

UA primarily takes the form of paid media marketing, owned media marketing and app store optimization (to maximize organic traffic). It’s the lifeblood of your business because:

  • Growth in the freemium-driven app economy depends on capturing the small minority of users (roughly 5-7%) who contribute to in-app purchase revenue.
  • Amidst an explosion of apps, the mobile ecosystem has witnessed a decline in the share of organic installs due to broken app discovery.
  • Effective UA boosts your app store rankings, which leads to more UA.


So, how do you master user acquisition?

Like any critical skill, you begin with a strong command of the basics. That’s precisely what this guide covers.

In the pages that follow, you’ll learn more about the most prominent UA challenges and the critical elements of planning, executing and continuously optimizing your UA efforts.