Mobile App Development Blog

Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Building a Mobile App.

Ian Blair

Get to 1+ Million Installs For Your App

When your app first launched, I taught you how to get your first 1,000 downloads for it.

But now that your app has been out for a while, it’s time to aim much higher than that. We’re shooting for one million installs.

With so many apps available in the app store, you’ve got lots of competition. Some of you may think that this number is unrealistic or unattainable.

Where are you right now? You may not even have 100,000 downloads yet, nevermind one million. But I’m here to tell you that it’s possible.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this will be an easy task.

But if you follow my advice, I’ll steer you in the right direction and you’ll be on your way toward one million.

Prioritize performance

The people who already have your app installed on their devices are going to have a major impact on you getting more downloads.

That’s because their experience is going to play a large role in how other people see your app.

So you’ve got to make sure that your app is performing well at all times. Nobody’s app is perfect. The occasional bug, error, or crash can happen to anyone, including you.

But when something like this happens it’s your job to identify those errors and fix them right away. Do whatever you can to make sure that this won’t happen again.

You can implement continuous integration into your process to help limit mistakes, especially if you have multiple developers working on a project together.

With continuous integration in place, you’ll go through a series of stages for quality control purposes.

series of stages

This process will help your app run smoothly. If your app doesn’t run efficiently, then people who already downloaded it aren’t going to keep using it.

That means that they won’t recommend it to their friends and family either. In fact, they may do the exact opposite. 31% of users will tell others about their poor experience with a mobile app.

You obviously don’t want this to happen on your quest toward a million downloads. You need people to be happy with your app and tell everyone they know how great it is.

Take pride in your app. Don’t release updates that aren’t fully functional and don’t have the glitches worked out yet.

Encourage high ratings and reviews on the app store

This piggybacks off of our last point.

When an app performs well, users will be much more likely to give it a favorable ranking and maybe even review it on the app store. But there’s one obstacle you’ll need to overcome.

Here’s the thing. People probably won’t go out of their way to leave a review unless your app really changed their lives. Let’s be honest here for a minute, it probably didn’t.

Instead, people who had a poor experience are more likely to leave unfavorable ratings and reviews. So it’s your job to encourage the users who love your app and use it often to leave a review and rate it on the app store.

One of the ways to do this is just by asking them nicely. Send a popup notification when they open the app to encourage them. Here’s an example from Emoji Blitz of what that popup can look like.

emoji blitz

You’ve got to be careful when you take this approach. Don’t send this popup every time someone opens your app or they’ll get annoyed. This will ruin their experience and have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to accomplish.

You could even offer an incentive for users who rate your app or leave a review. For example, you could give them a discount off of their next purchase, or free coins if you’ve got a gaming app.

Just make sure that you’re not soliciting good reviews. Don’t say, “Leave us a five-star review to get a discount.” Instead, just ask them to please review the app.

Understand your platform

You need to become an expert on the platform that your app is available on. If your app is already on the market, then you previously decided to build for Apple or Android.

For those of you who haven’t built your app yet, I admire you for reading this before your app is released. Thinking about one million downloads before you start development is great. Good for you!

Deciding on your platform was one of the most important decisions that you’ve had to make during this process. Hopefully, you’ve already done some of the legwork back during your development stages to understand how the platform you chose works.

You’ve got to know the app store optimization differences between the Apple Apple Store and Google Play Store.

Here’s a chart that highlights some of the differences.

ASO differences

Familiarizing yourself with the app store optimization factors for each platform will help you get more downloads.

For example, as you can see from the image above, social and links affect your ranking for the Google Play Store, but not the Apple App Store. So focusing on this from Apple’s platform would be a waste of time, while ignoring it from Google’s platform would hurt your rank.

There are also differences in where you can put keywords in your store listing.

If you want to attract new downloads based on your app description, you can only change the description with a new update for iOS devices. But with the Google Play Store, you can change your description at any time.

You’ve also got to understand how Apple users behave differently from Android users. Do your research and you’ll learn that iOS users spend more money than Android users. You’ll also discover that iOS users make more money.

Use this research to your advantage to make sure that you’re properly targeting users on whichever platform your app is available on.

This will help you position your app correctly in the store and ultimately lead to more downloads.

Leverage social media channels

Your current and prospective users are both active on social media platforms. I’ve already discussed how important it is to keep your current users in mind when it comes to getting new downloads.

You need to be living on these platforms as well.

This will help you get your current user base to use your app more frequently, especially if you’re running promotions or offering deals via social media.

An active social media presence will also expose your app to a wider audience. Encourage user-generated content by engaging daily with your social media followers.

These interactions can cause them to post, tweet, share, and favorite content that will be seen by their followers too. As a result, more people will hear about your app and brand, which will help you get more downloads from the new exposure.

Social media is a great marketing channel because it gives you the opportunity to respond to your followers in real time.

You can also communicate with people who haven’t downloaded your app yet. They may have questions about your brand or app. Answering their questions in a timely and professional way will lead to new downloads.

Try to get in contact with social influencers to help promote your app as well.

Take a look at the top reasons people have for downloading a new mobile app.

top reasons

The app being recommended by another person ranked highest based on user responses. So getting a social influencer to recommend your app can lead to a ton of downloads.

Combine your marketing efforts with other brands and social media pages as well to help create even more exposure and drive installs.

Include a direct download link on your social media profiles so users can be directed straight to the app store instead of having to search for your app.

Launch on another platform (if you haven’t already)

Earlier I talked about understanding the platform that your app is currently on. But being available on just only platform isn’t enough to maximize downloads and get you toward one million.

I know that building an app can be expensive, especially if you’re building a native one. But if you can afford it right now, you’ve got to launch on the other platform as soon as possible.

You’re excluding a huge chunk of potential downloads if your app is only available on one store. Bringing your app to another platform could potentially get more than double your current downloads. Here’s why.

Android devices control more than 70% of the market share across the globe. But as you can see, Apple devices dominate North America.

geography

So if your brand is based in the United States, you may have initially launched on the Apple App Store, which is fine. But if you want your app to be consumed by a global audience, it needs to be available in the Google Play Store as well.

You can’t expect to hit one million downloads if your app is only offered to one-third of the population with mobile devices.

For those of you that still haven’t built an app yet, you may want to consider building a hybrid app so that you can launch on both platforms simultaneously. This will keep costs low and you won’t have to go through the development process twice.

You’ll also have a better chance of getting closer to a million downloads right off of the bat, instead of having to wait until your app is built for a second platform.

Don’t forget about app accessibility

I want to continue talking about making your app available to the largest number of people possible. Even if you’re available on both platforms, you need to make sure that everybody with a mobile device has the ability to use your app.

That’s why app accessibility is the new must in mobile development.

You’ve got to take into consideration all of the people who are living with disabilities. I’m talking about things that can impair their ability to use your app.

People have hearing problems and vision issues. There are people who have problems with their hands, joints, and grip. Other people can suffer from seizures from certain types of flashing lights.

Your app needs to be able to accommodate them by offering things like voice assist or captions.

captions

The data shows that adding captions to videos has increased engagement by more than 500% since 2012.

Don’t neglect this part of the market. Make your mobile app accessible for people with disabilities and you’ll benefit from higher downloads.

Blog about it

In addition to social media, you’ve got leverage other platforms as well to promote your app.

Blogging has tons of benefits that will help you. Adding blogs to your website gives you fresh new content, which can improve your SEO ranking. As a result, you’ll see an increase in traffic to your website.

When people are searching for various things on the Internet related to your app, your website can become a top search result if you’ve got lots of relevant blogs on the topic. Now these people will be more likely to download your app.

Include download links to your app directly from your blog. According to Statista, more than half of the global web traffic comes from mobile devices.

global web draffic

So there’s a pretty good chance that people will stumble upon your blogs from their mobile devices. That’s why a direct download link will help you increase download conversions.

Other websites can also use your blog as a reference. You’ll get a backlink that will drive more traffic to your website as well, which leads to more downloads.

Implement a referral program

We saw data earlier that said most people download an app because of a recommendation. So you’ve got to give your current users a reason to recommend your app to friends and family.

Sure, you may get some people who recommend your app in passing because they had a good experience, but that’s not a sustainable way to reach a million downloads.

Offer an incentive for each referral.

Here’s a great example of an incentive offered by Lyft to get more downloads through a referral program.

lyft

This makes it worth it for both the current user as well as the new one. Your current users get rewarded for their referral, and the new user has a reason to try out your app.

Conclusion

One million downloads.

Yes, you can do it.

Getting a million downloads won’t be easy, but there are certain things that you can do to increase those the chances of reaching such a monumental number.

It starts with how well your app performs. If your app runs smoothly, it will be easier for you to get users to give it high ratings and favorable reviews.

You’ll also need to get familiar with the platforms that your app is available on so you can put an emphasis on app store optimization.

Use social media to promote your app to a wider audience. Blog about your app and have download links on your website.

Make sure your app is accessible and can be used by people who have disabilities. Implement a referral program as well.

Take these steps that I’ve outlined above and you’ll be on your way toward one million.

What strategies are you using to get more people to install your mobile app?

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Ian Blair

BuildFire Co-Founder. I'm a digital marketer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. I'm here to help businesses go mobile and build apps more efficiently than before.