Mobile Apps · Business Strategy

What are the best, low cost mobile app user acquisition tools / strategies?

Leon Lackiram

April 1st, 2016

Hey Guys - New to Founder Dating but really excited to be networked with you all. Myself, along with a few engineers I know, are building mobile app and preparing for our first version launch. We have a handful of beta users that have asked to sign up and give us feedback during the beta phase.

Any advice on best practices for user acquisition at a low cost? I'm currently bootstrapping everything for now.

Also, any suggestions on what we should be focusing on before launch (Market research, user acqusition, business plan etc)?

Piyush Nigam MD at The Ark Marine Solutions

April 1st, 2016

The idea is looking good. Some thoughts for you:
1)  Expect the standard chicken and egg problem - barbers (maybe you should call them hair stylists!) will not come in unless customers are there and customers will not come in till the right number of hair stylists are there
2) The app needs to be good, but the true value you will create here is the mass of users actively using it.
3) Creating value, most of the times, takes investment (not just ideas).
4) A pure online campaign, even if it goes viral, will bring in the potential users once but unless you have solved the catch 22 from point (1) above, they will just install and uninstall
5) You will have to start the basic user acquisition offline. Ideas on that:
a) Start local in your city
b) Get two guys on bikes to go shop to shop. Help them setup a sexy looking profile for their shop for free
c) Run a scheme for their customers where if they take a selfie after the haircut and upload it to the app as part of a review of the hair stylist then they join a lucky draw to win an iphone - initially might need to post a few boys/girls at the hair stylist's shop who look out for happy customers and pitch the idea to them.

Offcourse the huge valuation that you will get is when all this starts happening 'automatically' and scales through the sky....but realistically you will have to start the basic usage with something offline like above...

Cassi Kjun Jiyong App promotion, app install, review and rating provider.

Last updated on September 25th, 2017

Hi there, based on my experience, here are some effective and cheap user acquisition methods for you.

Buy keyword Search Installs - Boost App Ranking in the App Stores

Data shows that over 65% users download an app by searching keyword in the app stores, and most of them just browsing the top 20 qpps - the higher your app rank, the greater chance that your app will be downloaded. App store optmization is a good way to boost app ranking, but it's a long term project, for a new app, the best promotion time is the first two weeks, then you should grasp the gold time to promote your app. Buy keyword search installs can boost your app ranking in 8~10 hours, really worth to have a try. Highly recommend.

Buy App Reviews to Increase the Download Rates

70% users will see at least one app review, 95% users will take the app reviews as one of the most important reference factors to judge the app(especially for a new app), but only 42% users will use their own judgment on the quality of the app. Then, for a new app, buy app reviews is a great user aquisition method.

Before launch, you should optimize the following aspects to increase the download rates:

  • Design an attractive App Icon
  • Create an attractive App Title
  • Using Eye-Catching Photos and Videos
  • Writing a great description. Highlight your app features and advantages in first 3 lines. Keep it short and simple

Hope those methods are useful to you.

Jennifer Byrne Co-Founder & Partner at Quesnay Inc.

April 1st, 2016

Digital Turbine - they drive app installs and can segment /target Happy to introduce you

Tom Jay

April 1st, 2016

What market?

What type of users?

Is this a social app? Game? Dating? Event?

Free? Paid? in-app purchases?

Different ways to market different types of apps.

I normally try to get 1,000 installs to validate, 10,000 to prove the system is working and then 100,000 installs to really focus on what is going on.

Once you get to 100,000 users then it takes a different marketing system to really maintain the users and acquire more. That's where the expertise comes in to play!


April 1st, 2016

Try Fluid UI - KP

James Lindsay Founder at Yumr

April 1st, 2016

Please elaborate more on your application, as mentioned by Thomas above. 

Leon Lackiram

April 1st, 2016

Awesome - Thanks for all the great responses everyone!

To elaborate like you asked, we're finishing up the first version of a mobile app that connects barbers to their clients. So for barbers it will automate the scheduling, booking and even payment process for them. It will also automate marketing by allowing them to share their work in-app and through connected social media feeds.

For clients, the app will allow them to either find new barbers locally or via search/social connections, book appointments with their preferred barbers and browse trending hairstyle photos, top rated barbers, etc.

This will be a free app for clients and we're still finalizing a subscription model that would work on the barber side along with other monetization ideas. For right now, we're really just focused on how we can get as many users as we can when we launch.

Any suggestions knowing that?

Leon Lackiram

April 1st, 2016

Jennifer - Awesome, looking over their website I'd be interested to take a look and would love an intro. Thanks for the offer, any idea how much they charge?

Tom Jay

April 1st, 2016

This is the hardest type of app to market with the double ended marketplace.

But, that being said your in luck.

Contacting providers is simple, you can go door to door, email lists or standard marketing to these people (Social, Business Web Sites, etc).

So connecting to lots of providers will be easy.

Connecting to the consumers will be even simpler.

You need to estimate the cost of acquisition.

Lets say you have a cost of $4 per user, then it would be pretty simple to get 10,000 downloads of your application.

Facebook Download Ads, Google Ads, Yahoo Download Ads.

Spending $40,000 will get you 10,000 installs.

What you really want to do it get 1,000 installs and convert them to daily users, you want them to use the app and have them share it so you get a social/viral distribution of your application.

Get 100 providers in an area, then have them post a small poster in their shops.

Create a contest for free services, people will have to upload images of good and bad haircuts, people will vote on these. The winners will get something, people who vote a lot will get something.

Use a simple system like this to get people to use the app everyday, call the contest "Bad Hair day" and allow the users to share pictures on Facebook/Twitter, this will give you a viral pickup as well.

Your in a market that should be really simple to market into.

The number of users will only be limited by your budget.

Ehtesham Shaikh SEO Analyst at

April 2nd, 2016

Try offline marketing.
Make an small sticker that says your USP "Book Hair Stylist Online" or what ever.
Go to shop, list them up ask them to put an sticker at their door.
Initially you could try this and see the result for 1 week or else you have the alternate option given by @Jenniffer.