What Is User Acquisition for Apps and Games: A Beginner’s Guide

What Is User Acquisition for Apps and Games: A Beginner’s Guide

by Andrea Knezovic

Have you been searching for a simple explanation of user acquisition for apps and games?

Look no further – this article is for you.

In this beginner’s guide, I’ll explain the basics of user acquisition, why it’s important, the main types of UA, and its challenges.

Let’s dive right in!

What Is User Acquisition for Apps and Games?

User acquisition is a process of getting more users for a mobile app or game through various marketing activities.

Most commonly, that’s achieved through paid advertising campaigns, but it can also be done organically.

The goal of user acquisition for apps and games is to convert users right away, unlike traditional advertising campaigns.

Furthermore, you should work on scaling your user acquisition campaigns to achieve the best results.

user definition

Why Is User Acquisition Important?

In order to grow a mobile business, companies need to generate installs and bring more users to their app or game to make money off it, i.e., monetize users.

However, that’s easier said than done, considering how competitive the mobile market is.

Fortunately, user acquisition campaigns can help with that.

They increase an app’s discoverability and convince users to install the app. Furthermore, this process allows you to attract relevant, high-quality users that will not just come and go, but actively engage with your app and fall in love with your brand.

Without a good user acquisition strategy, most apps and games get buried in the app stores and never manage to get any traction. In other words, without people who will use your app or play your game, you’re left with a piece of dead software.

Main Types of User Acquisition

When talking about user acquisition, most people think of UA through paid media marketing, i.e., paid advertising campaigns.

However, there are several different types of user acquisition you can try. All these approaches can work together to bring even greater results.

Here’s an overview of each one.

playable ads homescapes

Paid User Acquisition for Apps and Games

Paid user acquisition is a data-driven approach to converting high-quality users for an app or game. The goal is to target the right users with the right ad creative.

Paid UA includes publishing ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram or ad networks like Google or ironSource. Primarily, we’re talking about app install ads that encourage people to download an app or game.

Choosing the right network is crucial, as each one can reach different user groups. This is why you need to understand who your target audience is when selecting where to advertise your app or game. (For a list of top ad networks for acquiring players, go here. We also have a list of best ad networks for acquiring app users.)

What’s great about paid user acquisition campaigns is that they get your app or game in front of a huge audience. Not to mention that social media platforms and ad networks offer a wealth of user data. That makes targeting incredibly precise.

Furthermore, it’s cost-effective, as the cost per install is lower than the cost of customer acquisition through other channels.

coin master joan rivers nene

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is another form of paid user acquisition because you pay influential people to advertise your app or game.

According to CleverTap, 33% of users downloaded an app because of recommendations.

The key to a successful influencer campaign is finding influencers who:

  • share your target audience
  • have high engagement
  • understand storytelling
  • know how to craft appealing content that converts

Owned and Shared Media Marketing

Unlike paid media marketing, owned media marketing utilizes your own media assets to acquire users. For example, converting existing website users to app users or creating a website for the app to promote it. Both are great tactics to expose people to your app.

Shared media marketing leverages social media platforms to reach the desired audience. In this case, we’re talking about organic user acquisition.

my fitness pal facebook post

Content Marketing

The primary approach for both owned and shared media is content marketing.

That means you need to create content for your social media channels, website, blog, newsletter, etc.

There are various types of content you can utilize. For example, videos, images, graphics, blog posts, ebooks, infographics, live streams, podcasts, etc.

The most important thing is to consider your target audience and provide them with value.

Of course, the content should be based on your app’s theme. For example, if you have a fitness app, you can post workout videos, blog posts about maintaining a healthy weight, and inspirational quotes that will motivate people to exercise by using your app.

All of that can make people interested in downloading your app, and you can get new users for free.

Alongside content marketing, you should also work on community building.

app store optimization graphic

App Store Optimization (ASO)

Another form of organic user acquisition is app store optimization or ASO. However, app store optimization also aids paid UA because users land on an app’s app store page after clicking on an ad.

In that sense, app store optimization can be a part of both organic and paid UA.

When optimizing your app store page, you should focus on the following elements.

App Name

Your app’s name is one of the first things people see. For that reason, you should spend the extra time coming up with a unique and catchy title that not only grabs attention but also lets people know what your app is about.

Additionally, you can include some keywords in the title to improve your app’s ranking and discoverability.

App Icon

Along with the app’s name, the icon is also at the forefront. When designing an icon, make sure it’s readable, follows your brand’s style, captures attention, and relates some information about the app’s purpose.


ASO is a lot like SEO in the sense that using relevant keywords can help you rank higher in the app stores’ search results.

Stick to keywords that describe your app or game and use a mix of keywords according to their competition and search volume. For more info, check out our keyword research guide.

App Promo Video

This ASO element is optional. However, we highly recommend adding a promo video, especially for mobile games.

A well-executed app promo video can demonstrate all of the best features and benefits of your app/game in a more immersive way than images.

To learn how to make one, check out our article on creating an app promo video for mobile games.


This is another opportunity to present your app or game visually. The best approach is to create one image for each of the main features.


While most people don’t read an app’s description, it’s still worth taking the time to craft it for those who do. Some people might look for additional info on your app, so make sure to tell them all about it in the description.

These are the basics of ASO.

However, keep in mind that Google Play and Apple’s App Store somewhat differ in rules, policies, and ASO elements like keywords.


cash frenzy retargeting

Retargeting Campaigns

Last but not least, we also have retargeting or re-engagement campaigns. The retargeting aims not to acquire brand new users, just those who had already interacted with a business or its ads but didn’t download the app or have uninstalled it.

Furthermore, the purpose of re-engagement campaigns is to keep existing users engaged. Many people download an app or game but then forget about it or rarely use it. This is where these types of campaigns become useful.

Because paid UA can get pricey, it’s worth it to try and keep existing users and thus boost user retention.

The Main Challenges of User Acquisition for Apps and Games

To finish off, I’ve listed some of the main challenges app businesses face during their user acquisition campaigns.

Competitive Marketplace

It’s no secret that the mobile app and game market is quite saturated. Developers need to compete with thousands of similar apps across different app stores.

Because of that, distinguishing your app from all others is a daunting task. Not to mention it just takes one wrong move, and you’re out.

Ad Fatigue

As fatigue is another common issue businesses face when advertising mobile apps and games.

When people see the same (or similar) ad frequently, they start losing interest altogether. Because of that, you may notice the performance of your UA campaigns declining.

To combat that, you need to constantly test new ad concepts and never let people get bored and stop engaging.

Rising UA Costs

An increase in demand results in UA costs escalating. Especially for acquiring users who are likely to make an in-app purchase.

Because of that, it’s crucial to be data-driven and manage your budget accordingly.


After user acquisition comes monetization, as the main goal is to get more users who will then watch ads or make in-app purchases.

However, that’s easier said than done.

According to AppsFlyer, only 5 to 7% of users make an in-app purchase.

For that reason, a well-thought-out monetization strategy is a must. To get started, check out our beginner’s guide for monetization.

Final Thoughts on User Acquisition for Apps and Games

Now that you understand the basics of user acquisition for apps and games, you can move on to creating your own effective strategy and growing your user base.

For any questions, make sure to contact us or reach out in the comments!


About Udonis

Udonis is an independent full-service mobile marketing agency that acquired more than 200,000,000 users for mobile games since 2018. Visitudonis.co

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