Photo via influencer Phi

With a staggering level of competition, what are the best strategies for mobile app growth and success?

Between the iOS App Store and Google Play, there are nearly 6 million mobile apps available for download as of the beginning of 2021.[1] 

A mobile app has a lifecycle just like any other product. Marketers must create plans for awareness, acquisition, and user retention. App store optimization (ASO), targeted ads, and push notifications are commonly used to market mobile apps at each stage of the user’s journey. But mobile app influencer marketing can build on those strategies to create excitement around an app launch and increase engagement throughout its lifecycle.

How Influencers Can Play a Role During the Pre-Launch Phase

Think of the pre-launch stage as one where you’re trying to build awareness and brand recognition of your upcoming app. People discover new apps through a variety of methods. They may learn about them by brand posts on social media, performing a keyword search on one of the two app stores, getting recommendations from friends and family, and posts from influencers on blogs and social media.

App referrals lost ground to app search for discovery during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As people were increasingly isolated, they turned to search to navigate new ways to be productive in their business and personal lives.[2]

But as the pandemic winds down, referrals are expected to gain ground once again, and an influencer marketing campaign is an ideal way to increase buzz, excitement, and engagement around a new product launch. Since nearly half of consumers trust influencers’ opinions for product recommendations,[3] influencer marketing may be a better way to introduce an app than a brand-created social media ad. 

Since social media is built for sharing, it’s an effective digital marketing channel for spreading the word about your upcoming launch. Mobile app developers should create a website or landing page for the new app so that influencers can link to it in their posts or – for Instagram influencers – on their bio pages. 

Ways that Mobile App Influencers Can Build on an Existing Acquisition Strategy

By the time your app is ready to launch, you’ll hopefully have increased brand or name recognition. Mobile marketers’ goal during the user acquisition phase is to encourage people to search for, download, and install the app. 

Many mobile app marketers recommend app store optimization (ASO) to increase discoverability in both app stores. ASO is similar to SEO in that it relies on optimizing app store listings to rank higher in app store search results. Mobile app marketers also use targeted app advertising to encourage both downloads and installations.

Keywords and Deep Linking in Influencer Posts

Influencer marketing can help move the needle on downloads and installations. After talking up the app in their posts and describing its real-world benefits, influencers can include branded keywords and direct links to the app store. Influencers can also take linking one step further and drive installs by embedding deep links in their posts. When users click or swipe up on the links, they’re taken to a specific part of the app that can demonstrate the kind of user experience they can expect if they install the app.

Influencers’ Advantage Over App Advertising

Given that more than 40% of people use ad-blocking technology,[3] marketers should look for other avenues to promote the app. Much of an influencer-driven acquisition strategy relies on great storytelling. If the influencer can describe how a specific app has made life easier, followers are likely to depend on this testimonial when deciding whether or not to download and install. Ads are not as effective as influencer posts for conveying believable stories.

Influencers and App Reviews

App downloads and installations rely heavily on user testimonials – primarily in the app stores. But mobile app influencers may have more credibility when it comes to testimonials and product reviews. Instead of an impersonal rating or review in the app store, an influencer is a known and trusted source that can convince followers that the app is worth their time.

Influencers and App Referrals

Mobile app growth depends on a constant supply of new users who will download, install, and open the app each day. App marketers develop referral programs to encourage current users to share the app with their friends and colleagues, and they typically use push notifications to relay messaging about those programs.

Influencers can post information about the referral programs on their social media pages, which can help to promote the program and explain why it will benefit current users. And when influencers promote the referral program, that means app marketers can send fewer push notifications – which can sometimes aggravate people if they’re too frequent.

Influencers and Mobile App User Retention

Mobile app success depends not only on new users downloading and installing it. If app usage drops off quickly, growth inevitably declines. App users need to be reminded why the app benefits them and occasionally given incentives to keep using it. The type of incentives you offer will vary depending on the nature of the app. For example, a lifestyle app might promote discounts on items, while a mobile gaming app offers in-game currency.

Mobile app marketers use push notifications to let users know about a specific discount code, freebies, contests, or bonus content. But push notifications can become bothersome – especially when the user is likely receiving these notifications from several apps each day.

Influencers can convey the same information included in push notifications but present it in a way that’s not intrusive. With the added benefit of real users’ recommendations – both the influencer and comments on their posts – a lapsed app user may be persuaded to return to the app to check out the incentives or new features.

Best Practices for Using Influencers for Mobile App Marketing

Influencer marketing success depends on choosing the right influencer. The mobile app influencers you select must align with your brand values and demonstrate high engagement with their followers. Here are some other tips to keep in mind:

  • Some brands use machine learning to examine influencer content and better predict which influencers will perform better on engagement measures and have the most success with a brand. Even though it’s now generally recognized that micro-influencers have higher engagement rates than macro-influencers or mega influencers, that may not be the case for your app.
  • AI is another popular tool for influencer fraud prevention and rooting out those potential social media stars that look good on the surface but may be deep fakes.
  • Make sure you work out all technical kinks before you bring influencers on board. Their reputations are at stake, and if your app doesn’t perform well, it will hurt your relationships with brand ambassadors in a way that may not be able to be repaired.
  • Be clear about your objectives but don’t stifle your influencers’ creativity. As stated earlier, storytelling is key to creating engagement about your app. It’s best to trust your influencers to make their interactions with your app come to life.
  • Set up analytics and define testing parameters in advance – just as you would with any marketing strategy you plan to use. Understand which metrics are your priority and decide how you will evaluate the results.
    • Test during the different phases of your marketing campaign because your KPIs will differ when trying to achieve awareness versus acquisition versus customer retention. You may even want to perform a test before the start of the campaign to make sure you’re working with the correct benchmarks.
    • Use A/B testing to compare influencers by controlling for the offer or incentive featured in the posts.
    • Make adjustments to your campaigns as you continue to track the ongoing results. The app analytics data you collect will guide you in future influencer marketing efforts.

Influencer Can Be A Valuable Tool For Every Stage of Your App’s Lifecycle

The determining factor for mobile app success is if it continues to provide value to its users. Influencers’ unique ability to engage with their followers is useful for generating awareness about the app, encouraging downloads and installs through education and storytelling, and retaining users by promoting offers and incentives. 


But influencers are probably your best source for learning what customers like, what annoys them, and which features they’d most like to see. Influencers’ connection with your customers can help make sense of the data you collect via tracking and make it easier for you to keep making improvements that genuinely matter to your users.