App Marketing 2021: The Basics on How to Market a Mobile App or Game

In this post we are going to learn the App Marketing basics. They are basics but I’m pretty sure a lot of people don’t know about them. So, here we go!

No, I will not begin with the traditional SEO stuff like “for sure you got here looking for how to do App Marketing in 2021 and getting more downloads for your mobile app or game“… I’m not like that anymore! 😝

Now, going back to the serious stuff, growing a mobile business in 2021 is not that much different from what it was in 2016 or in 2019. It is not that much different, but it is not exactly the same: the app stores changed, the trends changed, and now there is a lot more competition… The only thing that did not change is that the product is the key to the success of any digital business, whether mobile or desktop. And that you still have to get downloads, for sure.

Downloads = the fuel of App Marketing in 2021

Downloads, downloads, downloads… People are crazy with getting app installs! And that’s not for nothing. Without them (and consequently, without users), an app becomes useless. In any case, it is important to highlight that the installs of an app or game are only the beginning of the adventure of any mobile business… There is a lot more! Retention, communication, monetization…

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please, don’t forget that ratings and reviews generated by users are also a very important piece of the puzzle. And, just as it happens with installs, the more and better ratings and reviews, the best. Users reviews have a direct impact on the stores’ visibility and on the conversion rate to download.

Okay… After a few months, phase 1 of your app development is over (there will be more, don’t doubt that) and you already have it ready (an MVP at least) to be super successful on the app stores App Store and Google Play. But you know -you read it already on lots of websites and several people already told you- that without downloads your app will not get very far. Basically because a digital business without users is not a business. And that’s why you are here, right? To make business and to earn money… I want to believe you do because if you don’t have a well-defined business model for your app and earning money is not in your plans, the installs won’t bring you much, if not anything.

App Marketing 2021 - Make money with apps

I will tell you a secret: the downloads work to GENERATE INCOMES with the apps. The more installs (provided that they come from real users, of course), the more incomes. And, even though it can seem “weird”, the more downloads, the more downloads. That’s as simple as this! And knowing that, you will have to get on with it to get installs and, therefore, generate income. This is precisely what this post is about, how to get installs for your app and how to do App Marketing in 2021. Let’s go!

Downloads, Installs, Installations… Name them as you wish!

Pssst… Here comes another secret: To get downloads you have to work on marketing, no matter what. There is no other way. You can do it in different ways, but you have to do so.

I identify, according to their origin, three types of downloads. ¿How can you identify the origin of downloads? From the developer consoles (App Store Connect and Google Play Console) or with an attribution partner (SDK), but “this is another story and should be told on another occasion”.

The three types of downloads are:

Free installs (yes, FREE!)

I am one of the people that believe that a digital business, to be the most profitable it can be, needs to have a strong organic part. And besides, if your app business works through displaying ads, the organic part becomes ESSENTIAL. This is where the huge importance of organic installs comes from for any App Marketing strategy.

Organic Install Sources - Mobile App Marketing in 2021

The organic downloads are FREE (yes, FREE), help reducing the acquisition costs in case of active investment in user acquisition and they usually are high-quality installs. They can come from the app stores (ASO – App Store Optimization), from mobile web search on Google (SEO – Search Engine Optimization) or from your own channels, that usually are “the “great forgotten”:

ASO (App Store Optimization)

I always say that ASO is the most important part of any App Marketing strategy, and it works that way since app stores are app stores.

ASO, as you should know, is the process of optimizing the store listing of a mobile app to maximize its visibility and conversion rate to download on the app stores (App Store and Google Play) and to get the maximum volume of organic downloads. The organic downloads generated through a correct ASO strategy can come from the “browse” source (Top Charts, related apps, featurings…) or from the searches that are made by the users. And that’s not only it; if our App Marketing strategy includes paid campaigns, ASO will have a strong impact on the acquisition costs of those: the higher the conversion rate to downloads, the lower the acquisition costs. ASO is wonderful! And how can you monitor and optimize the ASO of your app or game? With App Radar, the best ASO tool on the market.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Did you know that when you optimize your store listing for ASO (on-metadata), you also optimize for SEO? An app that is published on the App Store and/or on Google Play has a public URL that Google (and other search engines) tracks, indexes and ranks. But watch out, having a well-optimized listing is not enough, you also need backlinks… I will tell you more about it in detail in another article.

Downloads from your own channels (OWNED)

Use your own channels to receive downloads for your apps. This kind of install is also free, you only need to dedicate time to it.

Your website

You have a website with mobile traffic from smartphones or tablets? Use it to generate downloads for your app. For example, you could use “Smart Banners” or pop-ups, among other options. Don’t you have a website for your mobile product? You should…


You have a subscribers list? Send them an email and recommend them to download your app!

Social media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat… Use your social media accounts to generate downloads with content.

Your product

Your app can also get downloads from itself. How? Member Get Member, shares, app invites, etc. Try everything you think about. None of the above worked? Think of something NEW!

Owned Media - Mobile App Marketing in 2021

Installs from paid channels (PAID)

Everyone does not have the budget to invest in user acquisition, but if you do, you can try some powerful channels and measure their quality regarding the investment (incomes). Besides, it can help you increase free organic traffic and downloads… I always recommend trying with a low budget. Sometimes, you can be positively surprised 🙂

Apple Search Ads (ASA)

Apple Search Ads is the ads platform of Apple that works within its App Store. Basically, it’s a clone of Google Ads in which advertisers bid to rank their product, whether apps or games, for specific searches made by the users. ASA can be a very good option to empower your mobile business. We recommend this fantastic ASA guide if you’d like to learn to make the most of this ad network.

Google Ads UAC

Google, one of the biggest technology giants of the internet, has its own ad network for apps: Google Ads UAC. This ads platform allows you to generate downloads in the Google Search network, on the proper Play Store, on YouTube and on the display network, displaying ads to users when they browse through an app or a mobile web.

Facebook Ads

Facebook is one of the kings when it comes to generating downloads. Its high volume of mobile users and its capacity to segment them make it one of the best channels to get installs.

Instagram Ads

Instagram, which has tons of mobile users, belongs to Facebook and you can create downloads campaigns on Instagram Ads directly from Facebook Ads’ own panel. Make the most out of the segmentation potential of Facebook’s ecosystem to get quality users to your app!

Paid Install Sources - Mobile App Marketing in 2021

You can also get paid downloads from TikTok, Twitter (Twitter Ads), Pinterest, Snapchat…

If you ask me which platform is the best to generate paid downloads, I will always tell you that “it depends”. It depends on the type of app, the objective country, the business model, etc etc. That is why my advice is to TRY ALL THE POSSIBLE OPTIONS until you find the ones that work best and generate a positive return.

App Marketing 2021 basics: conclusions

Earlier I said that downloads are to make money with apps, but it’s not the only ingredient of the recipe. However, they are the starting point. It all starts with a download! But, please, do not let your product, user retention or communication with users aside. Getting downloads for an app or game that does not work or monetize well will be useless.

And that’s it for today’s article about how to grow a mobile app or game and not die trying. I hope you find it helpful.

You aren’t using App Radar yet to work on App Marketing in 2021 and grow your business? You don’t know what you’re losing.


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