What makes a good mobile user acquisition strategy? It’s a complex topic and one that can leave you scratching your head and wondering what really matters when it comes to the latest app marketing trends.
You may be considering which ad networks to try, which app distribution platforms to use, or even which analytics tools will give you the best audience and competitor insights; all with the ultimate goal of getting better users for less money.
Yet, there are two things that remain consistent: the need to understand who you’re targeting and how to reach them. In the words of Fiksu, who abandoned their Cost Per Install (CPI) Index this year, “measuring downloads can be easier and faster but the true metric to worry about is engagement”. If there’s one takeaway from the yo-yoing cost of acquiring loyal users versus high volumes of app installs, it’s that landing quality traffic is where the value lies.
Across all app marketing services, from strategy and distribution to app store optimization and advertising, data and targeting capabilities are key when it comes to smart mobile user acquisition. For example, many app store optimization platforms go beyond standard keyword optimization by delving into marketplace and audience data. Meanwhile, app install networks now use sophisticated targeting, real-time tracking and performance-based models to optimize your ad campaigns.
Here’s a list of the best user acquisition services and tools to help you reduce costs and get better quality users; including the latest marketing automation platforms, ASO agencies, advertising analytics tools and more. Or, you can browse for services and tools in our user acquisition directory.
We’ve divided these services into the following categories:
- App Store Optimisation Tools
- App Install Networks
- Demand Side Platforms (DSPs)
- Agencies: ASO and App Marketing
- App Store Analytics
- Advertising Analytics
- Marketing Automation
- Alternative App Stores
App Store Optimization Tools
A large percentage of users will discover your app through an app store search. App store optimization is the key to getting your app seen. Developers have plenty of DIY options, at their fingertips, to perform their own ASO.
Mobile Action – They released a big chunk of their user acquisition toolbox for free including ASO tools like competitor tracking, keyword optimization and marketplace intelligence data.
Gummicube – Offers on-page and off-page optimization services and their own app store intelligence software to deliver better results, for a monthly flat fee.
App Radar – A keyword tracker that sends you daily notifications, via Slack or email, of your app’s keyword rankings. For Apple App Store and Google Play.
AppTweak – Download a free report for your app and try out their tools during a 7-day free trial. Along with competitor tracking and analytics features, you can also optimize and localize your app keywords in seven languages.
AppTop1 – A keyword search optimization platform. They offer US and UK app store optimization services and will start with a free analysis of your ASO plan.
Tune – Offers more in the way of app store analytics to optimize your app store assets and track your competitors.
AppRankCorner – A free ASO tool to optimize your app’s keywords and track rankings and competitors. They’ll also send you daily email reports with your new rankings and reviews.
SearchMan – Benefit from app market research, for free, and access their ASO tools for $25 per month per app. SearchMan’s unique feature is their search visibility score, providing at-a-glance information on your app’s discoverability.
Keyword Tool – A free web extension that uses App Store autocomplete to find the most popular keywords related to the topic of your app.
App Annie – A well-known app analytics platform. App developers can make the most of App Annie’s free market data Store Stats and ASO tools.
Store Stats with App Annie
AppCodes – Offers a keyword prediction tool, competitor tracking, app store SEO and a tool to track press mentions, for $14.95 per month. Currently iOS only.
MetricsCat – Provides market data and analytics based on user reviews. After the free 14-day trial you have a choice of three packages to match the level of features you need.
PreApps – A pre-launch mobile app marketing and discovery platform offering ASO services. The team will optimize your app store assets and provide actionable insights in a report within 7 days.
Sensor Tower – Trusted by the likes of Reddit, Adobe and Sega, Sensor Tower’s ASO tools offer app performance monitoring, competition analysis and a keyword translation feature.
ASO Dragon – Advanced ASO tools include keyword, category and competition analysis. After your free 14-day trial, packages start at $499 per month based on your needs.
Mopapp – Lets you track and analyse your app sales. Gathers data from all major app stores so you can compare your app’s performance across stores and platforms. Pick from their Developer or Enterprise packages.
CodeNgo – Supports multi-app store publishing and updates, automated language translations, and app review tracking. Their basic plan has a one-off set up fee, then it’s free.
SplitMetrics – Along with visitor analytics this platform’s stand out features include A/B testing tools, to boost app page conversion, and the ability to personalize app pages for different demographics. Prices start at $249 per month.
AppData – Provides current and historic app traffic data so you can spot early trends and new market opportunities. All core features are available from $595 per month or you can upgrade to their Enterprise plan.
App Install Networks
Paid acquisition campaigns will give your app more exposure and app install networks offer sophisticated targeting options and data to help your ads reach your ideal audience. Facebook was named the “undisputed leader in mobile advertising” by AppsFlyer and social media networks, in general, deliver quality users. Video ad networks still reign, especially on iOS, with a 30-90% higher retention rate than other networks. Beyond the big three players (Google, Facebook and Twitter) lies a large number of ad networks able to extend your ad reach further.
AppLovin – Offers sophisticated targeting, customized ad creative, real-time data and predictive models to deliver dynamic ad campaigns.
Vungle – Positioned as the “leader in in-app video advertising”. They use real-time data and behaviour modelling to get customer targeting right.
AdColony – A division of Opera Mediaworks, AdColony works with the biggest iOS and Android publishers across categories. Strong targeting options and HD mobile video ads make AdColony a powerful player.
Google Universal App Campaigns – Designed to drive Android app installs. Uses your app’s Play store page assets to generate your ads while the system matches them to the most relevant inventory.
Facebook Ads – With its extensive user profile database, drawn from its billions of users, Facebook is hard to beat. Laser sharp targeting capabilities mean you can serve ads to users based on interests and online behaviour patterns.
UnityAds – Previously known as Amplifier, Unity Ads provides access to over 1 billion global gamers. They focus on integrating rewarded video ads into publishers’ game play.
ChartBoost – One for mobile game developers. The mobile games-only ad platform includes sophisticated targeting and install tracking features, and developers can buy installs directly from other app owners via the Marketplace.
How to monetize your app with Chartboost
Yahoo Gemini – App install ads have the potential to reach millions of users across Yahoo’s mobile sites and apps, as well as Tumblr. And, there’s the added benefit of its mobile analytics tool Flurry.
Twitter Ads– Advanced targeting and re-targeting features help generate valuable installs. It’s easy to set up an account, there’s no minimum spend and you can start and stop at any time.
Heyzap – A premier mobile ad network. You can use the platform to automatically A/B test creative and placement, as well as optimize campaigns using post-install data. Recently acquired by RNTS Media, Heyzap will team up with Fyber.
Leadbolt – Ranked as one of the leading ad networks in the world. The company operates in the US and Australia and has clients in over 165 countries. They offer a self-serve platform or fully managed service.
Epom Market – Offers mobile-specific targeting and unique app tracking SDK for iOS and Android platforms.
Cheetah Ad Platform – Cheetah Mobile is the second largest developer on Google Play giving clout to their 2015 launched mobile ad platform. Combines top rated Cheetah mobile apps with a network of over 1000 publishers, giving advertisers access to a global audience of millions.
Glispa – Reaches a million mobile users around the world and delivers nine million app installs each month. Its optimization engine is based on post-install engagement data to acquire high quality users.
AppLift – Made a big mark on the gaming industry thanks to partnerships with King and Wooga. Has massive global reach, working with over 5000 media partners.
MobAir – Provides quality traffic through native ads and performance campaigns. Extensive experience promoting e-commerce, utility, travel and gaming apps.
Mobusi – An international network of more than 20,000 publishing partners and 5,000 advertisers in Europe and South America.
Mobvista – Asia’s largest mobile advertising company acquired mobile user acquisition company NativeX in 2016. Mobvista has partnerships with top social media sites and reaches users in over 240 countries and regions.
Liftoff – Their performance-based model means you can acquire users by targeting post install actions rather than simple installs. Used by eHarmony and Zoosk among others.
Yeahmobi – Their ad network reaches audiences in over 200 countries and drives app installs on a CPI, CPA and CPM basis. You can also tap into audiences on Facebook and other social networks with Yeahmobi Social and Search.
Clickky – One of the few advertising platforms to offer non-incentivized installs with CPE campaigns. This means you only pay for the users who perform certain actions inside your app.
Adcash – Self-serve advertising platform that gives you access to deep level targeting including mobile device, operating system and location.
Taptica – Focuses on big data and state-of-the-art technology to target quality media. Includes the analysis of in-app behaviour and audience segmentation from 1st party data. Taptica is a Facebook Marketing Partner.
Taptica video intro
Motive – Gamer focussed ad network with an invite-only publisher base. It works on a CPA and CPI basis and has partnered with EA and King, among other big names.
Avazu Mobile – Top targeting capabilities, real-time tracking and reporting are Avazu Mobile’s best features. They’ve worked with big name clients including Orange and Vodafone.
Supersonic – Works with the world’s top developers and boasts high profile clients such as EA, Hasbro and Disney. Highlights include advanced targeting and a variety of ad formats.
Propeller Ads – One of the largest ad networks in the industry connecting you to users in over 195 countries. Has a flexible bidding model including CPA, CPI, CPL, and CPM campaigns.
Mobobeat – A mobile performance platform for app developers and agencies. They deliver CPI based campaigns with global scale.
Appsuch – Sells iOS app installs and Android app installs with ratings and reviews.
mobileCore – Launched by IronSource in 2012, mobileCore has been winning over app developers with its advanced targeting features and brand safe network of direct publishers.
Waypedia – Good for developers who want quickly increase volume the volume of downloads to boost app ranking. No SDK integration. Prices start at $0.10 per install.
Blackfox – Gives you access to high quality traffic with global reach. You can define your targeting by state or device and Blackfox offers 24/7 support.
InMobi – A specialist in app promotion. Their Miip platform helps you promote your app through discovery zones embedded across 40,000 apps. Ads are adjusted based on user behaviour.
Tabatoo by Somoto – Finds your most valuable users with their Algo-Match technology. Global reach.
Adperio – They look beyond the install by using ongoing optimization to align engagement and scale for your maximum ROI.
Tapjoy – Offers several bidding models: Pay-Per-Install, Video-To-Install and Pay-Per-Engagement. Or re-engage your current users with Tapjoy Reconnect. Boasts 1 billion installs so far.
Product overview: see the power of Tapjoy
Demand Side Platforms (DSPs)
When it comes to ad buying efficiency, Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) win hands down. These platforms bid for publisher inventory, often in real-time, and the whole process happens in milliseconds. Advances in technology also mean advertisers can reap the rewards of sophisticated targeting and measuring features.
Consumer Acquisition – Their AdRules platform is designed specifically for mobile app advertising on Facebook and Instagram and offers a free 30-day trial. Generated over 40 million app installs.
StrikeAd by Sizmek – Offers a programmatic demand-side platform dedicated to mobile. Known for their robust targeting tools and award-winning support.
Smaato – Runs the world’s largest independent mobile ad exchange and you can plug into it through the DSP platform and start bidding in real-time.
Trademob – Their DSP gives you access to one billion users worldwide and facilitates re-targeting through real-time bidding.
PocketMath – A 100% self-serve mobile demand side platform. Places your bids in real-time based on your targeting criteria. Has offices around the world.
Fiksu – Offers a mobile DSP for programmatic buying. Their advanced targeting toolset includes a mobile audience platform that focusses on behavioural data tied to mobile IDs.
Merchenta – Supports mobile web and in-app inventory from almost 30 exchanges including Smaato, Google Doubleclick and Tapsense. Mobile deep linking is also supported through their platform.
Jampp – Claims to provide access to “over 60% of mobile traffic around the world through a single dashboard”. Uses real-time bidding to acquire active mobile app users.
MobFox DSP by Matomy – You can buy directly from MobFox SSP, with no bid fees, and access over 40,000 publishers. Its real-time micro-bidding feature means you can set separate bids on each creative.
Bidsopt – Offers a self-serve mobile DSP with 24/7 technical support, should you need it. Equipped to serve banner, native and rich media ads.
Splicky – Buy ad impressions on a CPM or CPC basis using Splicky’s real-time bidding technology. Includes advanced targeting options and real-time analytics for more control.
Tamome – A managed DSP for CPA campaigns, advanced tracking, analytics, and A/B testing. Specialists in mobile and they offer flexible buying options.
Go2mobi – Built for data transparency, Go2mobi positions itself as a “Mobile Audience Targeting Platform”. Offers precise audience targeting and campaign performance controls.
NetADge – A self-serve mobile DSP serving the French market and beyond. Integrates mobile data from Adsquare for advanced audience targeting.
AdGoji – In-app ad space specialists. Its mobile DSP uses real-time bidding and you can optimize campaigns for CTR, CPI, CPA or re-targeting.
The Mobile Majority – Claims to “process data five times faster than the average DSP”. Key features include real-time analytics, in-depth reports and full integration with the company’s other products.
Adelphic – Developed patented technology which assigns an “a-tag identifier” to consumers behind devices for advanced audience targeting. Inventory metrics and user data are applied in real-time to find the most valuable opportunities for clients.
Jennifer Lum of Adelphic on programmatic video buying
User Acquisition Agencies
In such a crowded market you might need a little help getting your app noticed. Whether you want a killer app marketing strategy, help running your ad campaigns or someone to take charge of your ASO efforts, an agency can dedicate time that you might not have. Some agencies cover the full range of marketing channels while others focus their skills on one area such as ASO.
Phiture – A mobile growth consultancy for app and game publishers. Delivers Mobile Growth Audits and hands-on help for app store optimization.
ASO Co – Offers an end-to-end ASO service covering all platforms and app stores globally. They use their proprietary app store data for optimization.
Appnext – Dedicated to app discovery. Join a community of over 30,000 developers. Their self-serve platform works on a CPI bidding basis.
ComboApp – Offers the full gamut of app marketing services including ASO, monetisation, and user acquisition management. Has completed over 700 app marketing projects.
Oplytic – Provides analytics and engagement software so you can track the performance of your app marketing efforts. Also helps you run incentivized campaigns.
Heracles – As well as consulting services, Heracles can manage your app’s paid ad campaigns and provide a suite of analytics tools for user acquisition.
The ASO Project – Claims to be the only ASO agency to offer performance-based ASO services. They’re integrated with analytics partners including Appsflyer and also offer launch packages for new apps.
Curate Mobile – A boutique mobile performance agency with global reach. Focussed on media buying and attribution analytics.
Preapps – Takes more of a “community” approach to app promotion and ASO by focussing on pre-launch exposure and user feedback.
Dynamo Partners – Consultants offering mobile app marketing services such as user acquisition, media planning and ASO. Clients include Lufthansa, Hailo, and T mobile.
Dot Com Infoway – Their app development and app marketing wing provides design, development and app marketing services pre and post-launch.
Dot Com Infoway’s 7 do’s and don’ts of mobile app marketing
Mobtimizers – They use analytics data to optimize app visibility, usability and downloads. Has offices in Copenhagen and New York.
Somo – Racked up several industry awards including Most Innovative Agency in Mobile at the Mobile Mafia Awards 2013. Their Apptimiser tool allows detailed tracking of individual app campaigns across all mobile platforms.
ASO Agency – Dedicated to app store optimization, ASO Agency also offers live focus groups so you can test your creative.
Redbox Mobile – App store optimization specialists. Boasts an impressive list of global clients including Universal, Virgin and Tesco.
App Marketing Agentur – A full-service app and mobile marketing agency that has completed over 750 successful campaigns. Counts the EU, UK, USA, Asia and Australia as their core markets.
Yodel Mobile – Alongside mobile strategy and development, Yodel Mobile are experts in managing, measuring and optimizing mobile ad campaigns.
Performance Revenues – Deliver performance-based marketing for mobile apps. Works with brands in gaming, travel, utilities, lifestyle, casinos and more.
Appency – App experts. Combines social media marketing, media planning and buying, and public relations to promote apps.
Appromoters – Offers three different packages for app marketing and promotion, to match each stage of an app’s lifecycle.
Who is Appromoters and what do we do?
Moburst – As well as ASO support, Moburst’s user acquisition service offers a selection of hyper-targeted, burst, and brand engagement campaigns. Boasts over 200 clients.
Surikate – Mobile performance arm of Mozoo. Developers can get access to Surikate’s mobile test panel of over 80,000 users. Big name clients include Red Bull, Adidas, Ikea and Dior.
Miratrix – London-based agency combining mobile app strategy, ASO, mobile display ads, and inbound marketing. Register to use their free app store review mining tool.
yellowHEAD – Leading digital marketing agency. Claims to have achieved growth in organic app installs of between 100% and 1,000% for its clients. Trusted by international brands such as Tinder, Zynga and Playtika.
Growth Tower – Positioned as a user acquisition agency, Growth Tower provides ASO, app marketing analysis, ad management and reporting for app developers.
Fetch – Covers all areas of mobile marketing from strategy and creative to user acquisition and programmatic buying.
AppFillip – Provides a full range of app marketing services from market research and ASO to ad campaigns and social media marketing. Submit your app for a free analysis report.
Ola Mobile – Specialists in user acquisition with a focus on Cost-Per-Install mobile campaigns. Integration with mobile tracking partners makes it easy to analyse in-app behaviour and demographics.
AppPromo – App promotion agency providing strategy, marketing and monetisation services. They offer a launch ASO package for new apps and a live ASO package for existing apps.
AppN2O – Focus areas include marketing strategy, ASO and SEO, media buying, and buzz marketing. Trusted by Google, Unilever, and American Express to name but a few.
M&C Saatchi Mobile – App store optimization, mobile acquisition, media planning and buying, and mobile strategy are just a few of the services offered. Named Mobile Agency of the Year award at The Drum Awards 2015.
M&C Saatchi Mobile asks, are you looking beyond the downloads?
App Store Analytics
A large chunk of your user base will discover your app through app stores. Using smart analytics tools will help you understand the marketplace, track competitors and make informed choices for app store optimization.
Gummicube – Provides accurate data about app store trends and search so you can find your audience more effectively. Try it out with the free demo.
App Annie – A trusted name in the industry. Their app store analytics, advertising analytics and store stats market data tools are all free.
Searchman – Study your competitors and rankings using their free app market research tool and improve your app’s visibility by signing up for actionable insights using SEO tools.
ASO Dragon – Along with their ASO tool they offer category, competition and reviews analysis. There’s a 14-day free trial before you commit to one of their pricing plans starting at $499 per month.
Mobile Action – Their app analytics are available for free while their audience, ASO and market intelligence analytics tools all have separate monthly pricing plans.
AppTweak – Get a free ASO report for any app (including your own) and access analytics and competitor monitoring tools through one of their monthly plans. Free 7-day trial.
Sensor Tower – Their Ad Intelligence product provides mobile ad insights while Store Intelligence and App Intelligence tools will help your ASO. Clients include Sega, Adobe, and Reddit.
AppCodes – An ASO tool for keyword research and app SEO. You can also monitor your competitors and even track press mentions. From $14.95 per month.
AppRankCorner – A free ASO tool to keep track of your app’s rankings, keywords, and user reviews.
Appfigures – Tracks everything from app sales and downloads to reviews and revenue. Connects to all major app stores. Free 14-day trial and a choice of two pricing plans.
Appfigures: The math behind a “sticky” app
You can use advertising analytics to get more insight into the performance of your ad campaigns and the users who are clicking on your ads. These tools shine a light on discovery, retention, and user engagement.
Tune – Brings attribution analytics, app store analytics and in-app marketing into one tidy package. Used by Ebay, Uber, and Sony. Free demo available.
App Annie – Deserves a mention in this list too. App Annie’s advertising analytics tool automatically collects data from all major ad platforms. Free, easy set up.
Kochava – Provides real-time attribution and analytics data. Features over 2,000 integrated networks and publishers. Clients include Microsoft, Pepsi and Pandora.
Apsalar – Offers a comprehensive mobile app attribution platform as well as remarketing and CRM platforms. Partnered with more than 600 ad networks worldwide.
Appsflyer – A leader in mobile advertising analytics. Appsflyer also offer smart deep linking technology and are official Facebook and Twitter mobile measurement partners.
Onelink by Appsflyer
An efficient way to drive more engagement from your ad campaigns is with marketing automation. These platforms will automate many of your marketing processes such as customer segmentation and campaign management for a better return on your investment.
Appboy – Enables advanced audience segmentation and multi-channel messaging for highly personalised marketing campaigns. They help brands such as Etsy, Dominos and Soundcloud.
Swrve – Offer targeted and tested in-app messages, A/B testing, push campaigns, and user behaviour segmentation. Experience in the games, finance, retail, publishing and lifestyle sectors.
Urban Airship – Experts in mobile engagement. Offer audience and user insight tools and automated push notifications and in-app messaging. Starter packages are free and you can upgrade to a paid plan to access more features.
Upsight – User segmentation, messaging and optimization (including A/B testing) are their key products. They offer custom packages to suit your needs.
Introducing Upsight Marketing
Alternative App Stores
With so much competition in the major app stores, only submitting your app to the Apple App Store or Google Play may not give it the best chance of success. One Platform Foundation reveals that alternative app stores drive 200% more downloads per app than Google Play. Distributing your app across multiple stores will increase your chances of monetising and getting more exposure. This is because there’s more chance of users discovering niche apps and of your app getting ‘featured’ in an alternative app store. Here’s a list of the best of them.
App Scatter – A distribution platform for mobile app developers. You can register, submit, update and monitor apps across multiple app stores. The App Store Ranking feature shows you which stores are performing best. Currently in Beta, looking for testers.
CodeNgo – A self-publishing service for Android developers. Submit your app to up to 33 app stores for a one-off set up fee of $20.
SlideMe – A curated Android apps and games marketplace. Ranked second to Google Play in terms of global reach for Android apps.
Appland – Allows you to create your own app store. It’s free to upload your apps to all Appland powered stores globally and you can tag them with geographical coordinates.
Aptoide – Users can create their own app store within its marketplace. Complete their free Certified Publisher Program and you’ll get priority in Aptoide’s search results.
AppChina – A rapidly growing alternative Chinese app store. Claims to have over 30 million users. The down side is there’s no English version available.
Yandex – Store for Android apps. Publish your app and it will appear on all their partner stores. Already contains over 100,000 apps.
Amazon Appstore – App store for Android, Kindle Fire and Blackberry apps. Contains over 340,000 apps that have gone through a moderation process to meet quality standards.
GetJar – One of the largest alternative apps stores. Rewards its customers with virtual currency. Developers can upload their apps for free and use the tools to grow their user base and sell more in-app purchases.
AppBrain – A leader in Android app discovery. The store also provides the AppLift SDK tool so developers can monetise their apps.
Opera Mobile Store – Allows app and game developers to publish their apps in multiple formats (including Windows, iOS and Android) and reach users in up to 230 countries.
Opera Mobile Store Video
AppZoom – An app store for both iOS and Android. They test and review over 7,000 apps every year.
Mobango – An alternative app store that mostly offers Android and Java apps. Developers can publish their apps and games for free. Boasts over 8 million registered users.
Samsung Galaxy Apps – Samsung’s very own app store which includes Android apps and apps for Samsung TV. Also includes categories for its individual devices.
Wandoujia – China’s leading alternative app store. Developers sign up for an account and, once approved, you can submit your app to the store for review. Boasts over 500 million users.
Mobile9 – An app store and social discovery platform for apps, games, wallpapers, ringtones, music, books and comics.
Anzhi – A strong community of app users is at the heart of this platform. This Android app store, for the Chinese market, allows users to comment on and recommend apps.
Tencent App Gem – If you can speak Chinese you’ll be able to submit to this huge app store with over 80 million daily users.
Whether you’re seeking to acquire long-term users as part of your omnichannel marketing, give a new product a quick boost in users, or just want to test out some new user acquisition tactics, we hope this list has inspired you. Looking for more options? Check out our full directory of user acquisition services.