A Beginners’ Guide to User Acquisition in 2022

User acquisition is the act of getting new users for an app through non-organic means. In the world of mobile marketing, user acquisition is the process of acquiring new users for a mobile app. This is important to mobile advertisers because it allows them to reach new potential customers and tap into new markets. Mobile advertising is effective at reaching users who are not actively seeking out new products or services, which makes user acquisition essential for apps that want to grow their user-bases and communities, by extension, themselves.

Nowadays, almost half of the world’s population owns a smartphone, which means that it’s more important than ever for advertisers to have a mobile user acquisition strategy in place; consequently, the number of apps have continued to grow exponentially, increasing the competition in the mobile marketing ecosystem.

However, while the landscape changes rapidly, there are some tried-and-true methods that will still be effective in 2022. In this post you will read about the different types of user acquisition campaigns that can come in handy whilst advertising your app, as well as some tips on how to bolster your user acquisition strategies.

Types of User Acquisition Campaigns

Performance-based User Acquisition

This form of advertising includes the use of creative assets such as banners, gifs, videos, interstitials and interactables in order to persuade end-users to download an app.

An advertiser uploads their creatives that have a catchy theme or mention a discount, and these are then plugged into prime in-app placements where past apps of similar categories have succeeded in terms of click-through rate (CTR) and return on investment (ROI).

Interactive ads have been known to become very useful in the advertising of games as end-users can get a very quick taste of the gameplay within the advert. According to a study by Content Marketing Institute & Ion Interactive, 81% of marketers believe interactive content to be more attention-grabbing than static content, for instance, rewarded videos or playable ads. Learn more about the key differences between playable ads, playable videos & interstitials here.

Rewarded Engagements

Fast growing as a popular method of user acquisition, rewarded engagements are advertisers’ go-to method for hyper-growth. This form of advertising requires only the app’s main icon as the sole creative to be used.

This method of user acquisition incentivizes users to download your app in return for in-app currency of the app where your advertisement was shown. The most prevalent form of rewarded engagement is an offerwall – an ad extension within an app that allows users to perform actions to earn bonus points that may be redeemed for monetary rewards. Incentivized users tend to install new apps for bonuses which means rewarded engagements can earn an advertised app a huge amount of downloads in a very short span of time.

When granted this boost of installs in a targeted time period, an app also manages to increase its app rank which leads to greater visibility (similar to ASO effects) and an organic uplift.

This user acquisition type gets its name from the fact that users can be incentivized to engage with advertised apps beyond simply installing them. An advertiser can request that users not only install their app, but sign-up and interact as well; for instance, play a game up to reaching a certain level, or install the delivery app, enter their information and order food. The strategy here is to initiate a tutorial of the app’s utility to the end-user and earn their loyalty through prolonged exposure. Learn more about rewarded engagement’s hidden benefits here.

This campaign type is particularly well suited for gaming, fitness, delivery, finance and loyalty apps looking to boost their growth.

OEMs – Preinstall Campaigns & Recommendation Engines

App Discovery, also known as OEMs, refers to a particular type of mobile marketing whereby an advertised app is shown to end-users on their smartphone device. Users do not need to visit a website or an app in order to view the advertised app, which is what makes this such a powerful tool in the arsenal of a mobile marketer. OEMs allow advertisers to pole-vault over their competitors and reach their end users when they first activate their new smartphone devices.

App Discovery – OEMs can be divided into 2 common types:

Preinstall Campaigns

In a preinstall campaign, an advertiser’s mobile app is pre-loaded onto an Android smartphone device before it is sold to an end-user. Often, manufacturers such as Samsung, Xiaomi and Huawei allow for 3rd party apps to be featured as pre-loaded apps to be used by their end-users, after passing their screening processes. Once a user initializes their smartphone, they see the pre-loaded app on their home screen and after opening this app for the first time, the campaign officially recognizes a conversion. This campaign does not convert based on impressions or clicks.

In addition to beating your competition to the end-user, through the use of a pre-install campaign you are also able to build your brand equity as more users become aware of your app. The fact that your app is preinstalled on reputable manufacturers is also beneficial as you share in their brand’s success and reputation as well. For more information on how a brand can benefit from OEM Preinstall campaigns, click here.

Recommendation Engine

Many manufacturers have begun to rely on a new method to help further monetize some of their smartphone devices, especially their non-flagship mid tier models. They do this by creating an advertising space within the operating system of their devices such that they include a widget on the homepage of the device that “recommends” new apps to users based on their geo-location, age and app preferences to name a few demographics.

This recommendation engine is flawless in terms of delivering a seamless advertising experience to users but unlike a preinstall campaign, this method does not preload apps. Users who click on the recommended app will be taken to its Play Store page to download it.

It is recommended to mesh this user acquisition model with additional methods including social media awareness and influencer marketing so as to keep the app in the forefront of the end users’ minds and build brand equity.


A DSP is a Demand Side Platform, which is a type of software that allows advertisers to buy ad space in mobiles & websites, and track their campaigns. DSPs usually come fitted with extensive reporting analytics that allow advertisers to see how many people are seeing, clicking on and downloading via their ads. Advertisers can also learn the cost of their campaigns and if they provide a revenue macro to their DSP, they can also learn how much money they are earning from their campaigns and calculate their ROI.

Advertisers can place real-time bids on their DSPs based on predefined criteria, for example audience segments, pricing models, or any other relevant data. Leveraging this technology opens a new world of opportunities to manage bids and pricing for advertiser data.

DSP’s are especially useful for advertisers who wish to access a higher quantity of publishers to spread their advertisements across multiple different ad sources, exchanges and networks. As DSP’s have a large quantity of publishers, they always have an auto-optimization engine that is able to study traffic lines to ensure the highest performing publishers are prioritized and any fraud is automatically removed from ad campaigns. Read and learn more about how AppSamurai’s DSP Programmatic Inventory works here.

Influencer Performance Marketing (IPM)

Arguably the newest form of performance-based user acquisition, influencer performance marketing (IPM) is not to be confused with influencer marketing. Whilst Influencer Marketing is aimed at building brand awareness for a product or service, IPM is specifically designed to target app installs. Hence, this campaign method runs on a cost-per-install cost model, not per impressions or clicks.

IPM campaigns mesh the boosting nature of rewarded engagements with the high quality users of performance-based user acquisition, making it the perfect must-have app advertisers’ strategies.

Via a centralized dashboard (such as AppSamurai’s), advertisers are able to provide a tracking link and optional ad creatives that influencers then use in their content or on their profile whether in the form of a QR code (created using a QR code maker) or directly clickable link Viewers are then redirected to the app store page to install the advertised app.

It is worth noting that this type of campaign is 30% of the total viewers of an average IPM campaign install the advertised app without even clicking on the tracking link; which means 30% of an IPM campaign is attributed to organic installs, creating a considerable amount of organic uplift and beneficial SEO implications for the app in the process. That makes Influencer Performance Marketing one of the most ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) positive methods of user acquisition.


Successful User Acquisition Strategies Tips

Mobile user acquisition is a complex process, but these tips can help you get started. By using a combination of organic and paid methods, you can reach a large audience of potential users and encourage them to download your app.

  1. Make use of social media platforms

    Social media is a great way to reach potential users. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram have billions of active users, so there’s a good chance your target audience is among them.

  2. Use paid advertising

    While organic reach is great, it can be difficult to reach a large audience without spending some money on advertising. Paid ads on 3rd party ad sources, social media and search engines can be very effective in reaching potential users. Paid advertising almost always results in an organic uplift, meaning earning an increase in your unpaid audience. Learn about acquiring users via Twitter Ads here.

  3. Use app store optimization (ASO)

    ASO is the process of optimizing your app store listing to improve your visibility and encourage downloads. This can be a complex process, but there are some simple things you can do to get started, like using keyword-rich titles and descriptions and creating attractive visuals. Receive ASO advice and suggestions from your AppSamurai representative for free! For more info on ASO, click here.

  4. Leverage influencers

    Influencers can be a great way to reach potential users. If you can identify influencers who have a large following in your target market, they can help promote your app and encourage their followers to download it. For more information on influencer marketing, read here.

  5. Use PR and press outreach

    Getting your app featured in the press can be a great way to reach potential users. You can use PR and press outreach to try to get your app featured in popular publications and websites.

  6. Make use of user reviews

    Users who have already downloaded and used your app can be a great source of marketing. Encourage them to leave positive reviews on the app store and other platforms, and make sure to respond to any negative reviews.

  7. Use ASO to improve your app store ranking

    ASO doesn’t just encourage downloads on your store page, it can also be used to improve your app store ranking, which can help you gain more visibility. This creates a recurring download cycle where you earn more users the higher your app ranks in its respective category.

  8. Use data to improve your strategy

    Finally, make sure to use data to inform your strategy. Use analytics tools to track your progress and identify areas where you can improve. AppSamurai provides users with access to an extensive and easy analytics tool whereby they can learn the effectiveness and efficiency of their user acquisition campaign strategies.



AppSamurai is a One-Stop Shop user acquisition platform that aids app owners in growing their apps. Through an extensive aggregation of ad inventories including but not limited to performance marketing ad sources, rewarded engagements, DSPs and influencer performance marketing, AppSamurai can provide advertisers with a growth strategy for any app around the globe.

Now that you have done your reading and are ready for action, let’s discuss the next steps. To get started on marketing your app and unlocking its full potential, reach out to us by filling out the form on our website here and you will be hearing from a dedicated specialist soon! Sign up on the AppSamurai dashboard for free and begin your app’s journey!


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