Growth Hacking Ideas & Strategies

The Best Strategies For Growth Hacking Your Mobile Application

The holy grail of app growth is when your users move the app icon to their home page and open it multiple times a day.

When it comes to growth hacking a mobile app most entrepreneurs and developers think that their big idea will explode over the internet overnight. The truth is, growing a app isn’t just restricted to online. The old saying goes, “It’s better to have 100 people love you, than to have 1000 people that kind of like you”. If you can dominate a specific location or community of people, chances are that these people will be your mobile app’s evangelists and help you growth hack your product without you telling them. Free marketing or word of mouth marketing is the best and most effective type of marketing strategy out there.

1. Narrow your Niche

Sometimes it is much more effective to narrow down your niche depending on the type of mobile app you are developing. If it is a location-based app then it would be wise to test out a very tight cohort of users. Tinder, the dating app, is a good example of this. Tinder held frat parties at USC with entrance being conditional on having downloaded the mobile application. Put yourself in the users shoes. If you were invited to a frat party and arrived at the door with the only requirement being to download an app, you would most likely do so. Doing this, Tinder was able to growth hack and grow their database of users every night. Then word of mouth just took off from there.

2. Build Community Channels

If you are planning to growth hack your mobile app, then you should attack every channel you can target and come up with new undiscovered channels to target as well. Tinder’s example teaches us that targeting a smaller tight cohort of people is just as effective as targeting a large number of audience. College campuses are connected like ant farms. College students go home on holidays and chat with their friends over the social media networks. Almost every college student owns a smartphone. This allows word of mouth to spread extremely quickly and grow.

3. Mix Analog with Digital by Going Local

Another example of this is Sprig. Sprig growth-hacked their service locally like Tinder, but Sprig used another strategy. Sprig went around their local pier and all around the city passing out flyers. They did not target a specific tight cohort of people, but instead targeted a specific location of strangers. After people completed their first order, Sprig would follow up with them on reviews and request a referral which draws more user back into the retention loop. Be creative and start growth hacking your mobile app!

4. On-page App Store Optimization

For anyone who’s unfamiliar with app store optimization, it is the process of optimizing your app so that it ranks higher in the app store’s search results. Essentially, it’s not that dissimilar from search engine optimization — the process of optimizing your website so that it ranks higher in the search engine results.

However, ASO is decidedly simpler than SEO. Unlike the web’s organic search results, app positioning is determined primarily by two key factors: the text (i.e. keywords) used in the app’s title, description, and keyword list, and the actual performance of the app, e.g. it’s ratings and reviews and, of course, how popular it is.

Keyword research for ASO can be approached in much the same way as keyword research for SEO or PPC. You’ll probably want to begin your research with Google’s Keyword Planner. Pay attention to the search volume and competitiveness of relevant keywords, just like you would when carrying out keyword research for any other medium.

Beyond that, there are a number of app specific tools that can assist you in your keyword research. Sensor Tower is arguably one of the best known and most popular but App Mind and the App Store section of Keyword Tool are worth a look too.

5. App Store Feature Hack

There’s a little-known strategy to help your app get featured by Apple. Before we get to that, it’s important to know what Apple is looking for in your app.

Most developers know that they can email to pitch their apps for a possible feature. However, within Apple, there are “app store managers” for each app category.

Using a LinkedIn search for “app store manager,” you can find out how to contact the right person to pitch at Apple.

Because Blue Rocket has successfully identified and helped our clients create new and innovative features this is an excellent way to drive attention directly from Apple.

Use the Email Hunter Chrome extension, because it automatically creates an “email” button within LinkedIn that reveals the person’s email address. The software makes an educated guess of the email, so sometimes you may get a bounce back.

6. Titles and Your App Name

In the app store, your app name is also your app title, which is the equivalent to the <title> tag of a webpage.

It needs to serve two purposes:

  1. Enticing users to learn more about your app
  2. Providing clear clues (usually through keywords) as to the content of the app

Apple’s App Store allows titles up to 255 characters in length, however, depending on the device being used, only the first 25 or so of those will show in organic search. Any characters that follow will be hidden.

It’s worth considering then, how a truncated title will appear to users and affect click-through-rates (and subsequently downloads). It’s pretty imperative that you ensure users can understand what your app is about from those 25 characters.

To get an idea of how your Apple app listing will appear in the search results, use the StoreFront tool.

7. Off-page App Store Optimization

There are two key elements to off-page app store optimization you need to be aware of: ratings and reviews, and (in the case of the Android app store) links.

Ratings and reviews

The search function of an app store operates like any other search engine: it wants to serve the best possible results to the user. This means, along with showing results that match the keywords used, serving up apps that have received a good response from other users — namely, good reviews and a high rating.

Unfortunately, your users will rarely come and rate you without prompting — most of the time, you have to ask. The most obvious way to do this is with an in-app pop-up.

Unfortunately, in-app pop-ups suffer from one inherent flaw: they interrupt the user experience while they’re engaging with the app.

While there’s no easy way to get around interrupting your users, you can boost the odds that they’ll complete your desired action by making said action as easy as possible for them to complete.

8. The Exclusive Strategy for Public Relations

What is it? You give a big publication like Techcrunch, Social Times, AppAdvice or BGR the first right to publish your announcement: product release, update, funding, etc. Big sites love getting an exclusive, because it means that they will be the first to write about the announcement, which generally leads to the other big websites linking back to them as the source.

It’s a win-win strategy, because they get traffic and backlinks — and you get coverage.

The key to success for this strategy is to start early. You want to start pitching about two weeks before your launch date. You should only pitch the exclusive to one publication at a time, and be sure to follow up only once. If you do not hear back, you can move on to the next publication.

Blue Rocket has many successful ratings strategies that can be integrated seamlessly and successfully into your app.


Blue Rocket is a digital product development company based in San Francisco. Through strategy, design, and engineering, we help great companies build powerful digital experiences — the right way. Email us at