How to acquire users for your e-commerce mobile app

Written by Lukas Gjetting
Lukas GjettingApr 29, 2024


When brands think of launching a mobile app, one thing always comes up: User acquisition.

This question can take many forms, but the most notable versions are:

  1. How will customers discover my app?
  2. Why should customers download my app?

Both very good questions!

In this article, I will walk through both and provide detailed answers based on my experience working with merchants at BravoShop - a mobile app builder for Shopify.

Let’s dive in!

1. Discovery: How will customers discover my app?

If you release an app but nobody finds out about it - did you really release it? Launching an app and having nobody care is the worst.

Luckily, there are many ways to have customers discover your app - especially if you have an existing customer base and audience!

Post-purchase flow

Post-purchase app promotion

If a customer places an order on your site, they probably like your brand. At least they trust you enough to pay you money for your products.

There is no better time to invite them to download your app. This is especially true if your app offers features like improved order tracking and notifications on delivery.

Your post-purchase most likely contains multiple touchpoints:

  1. “Thank You” page after customer places order
  2. Order confirmation email

All of those can be used to showcase the benefits of downloading your app (later in this article, we will discuss what those benefits can be).

P.S. If you are using BravoShop to publish your app, setting up an app download button on the Thank You page can be done in 1 minute. And if you’re not - what are you waiting for? Get started today for free.

On-page promotion

Promoting your mobile app on your existing website is an effective way to get both your current customers and new, potential customers, to download the app. You can add a banner on your website's homepage promoting the app, highlighting its benefits, and providing a link to download it.

Another method is to add a link or button promoting the app in the website's footer. This ensures that the app promotion is visible on every page of the website.

Additionally you can create a dedicated landing page on your website for the app, detailing its features, benefits, and user testimonials, along with download links.

Don't forget to optimize this promotion for mobile devices - after all, they are your primary target audience for the app!

Existing audience (social media and email)

If you have a following on social media or an email list, these can be powerful tools in promoting your app.

Instagram post

You don’t need millions of followers or thousands of email addresses for this approach to be successful. Even if your audience contains just a few thousand Instagram followers, it’s often enough to kickstart your app.

Engaging your existing followers is a great way to launch an app, as they are often the ones who trust and value your brand the most.

We have seen brands have great success with this when launching their mobile app via BravoShop. You can read about one of those cases here.

Paid advertising is another effective way to acquire users for your e-commerce app. You can run ads on various platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and more.

The key is to target the right audience, create compelling ad copy and visuals, and offer clear value to potential users. But you already know all that! It’s exactly the same as running paid campaigns targeting your website.

One awesome thing about adding app marketing to the mix, is that you gain access to a new campaign type: App promotion.

App Promotion Meta Ads

Since most online stores don’t have an app, app promotion campaigns often perform better than regular website-based campaigns.

While an app install will most likely be more expensive than a click to your website, you should also see a much higher customer lifetime value.

Remember: The goal is not just to acquire users but to retain them as well. Make sure your app delivers value beyond what your website offers.

Organic traffic sources can be a blessing. For websites, this mostly comes from Google searches.

When you release an app, you suddenly gain access to 2 whole new search engines: Apple’s App Store search and Google Play search.

App Store search

To increase the amount of traffic you receive from this channel, you should look into App Store Optimization (ASO). Much like SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for websites, ASO is a crucial process to improve your app's visibility in the app store. It involves optimizing your app’s title, description, keywords, screenshots, and more to rank higher in search results. The higher your app ranks, the more likely it is to be discovered by potential users.

Like SEO, however, organic app store traffic is a long term play. You shouldn’t rely on it to kickstart your app.

App Store Optimization is especially effective when your brand is relatively widely known, and if you run brand awareness campaigns.

2. Incentive: Why would customers download my app?

People don’t go around downloading random apps. If you want your app to be successful, it needs to provide value beyond what is available on your website.

There are many ways to do this. Both monetary (e.g. 20% off your first app order) and non-monetary (e.g. be the first to hear about new product releases) can work. The winning combination includes both.

App-exclusive content

An effective way to incentivize users to download your app is by publishing unique content that is exclusive to app users. This could be in the form of guides, recipes, in-depth product insights, or even lifestyle articles that align with your brand.

App-exclusive content recipes

By providing this unique content, you give your customers a compelling reason to download your app. Not only does it offer them something of value beyond your products, but it also positions your app as a valuable resource they will want to return to.

A cooking equipment store, for example, could offer exclusive recipes or cooking tips on their app. A fashion retailer might share style guides or interviews with fashion influencers.

The key is to make sure that this content is both valuable to your customers and relevant to your brand. This way, you can increase the perceived value of your app to potential users, making them more likely to download it and engage with your brand.

Exclusive offers

Offering app-exclusive discounts is one of the easiest ways to incentivize app downloads. You can set up one-time discounts like “20% off your first app order” and even provide discount codes that are only available in the app.

Welcome push notification

If that seems hard to set up, don’t worry! BravoShop provides an extension called “App-Exclusive Discounts”, which lets you set up the whole thing in less than 5 minutes.

Early access

Providing early access to new products, sales, or events is another effective incentive for users to download your app. App users could receive notifications about new product launches or upcoming sales before the general public.

This exclusive access provides a tangible benefit to using the app -and it also makes your customers feel valued and special. This can increase customer loyalty and engagement with your brand. Plus, who doesn't love being the first to know about something exciting?

Get started with your own mobile app

Now that you know how to get customers for your mobile app, you just need one more thing: To launch a mobile app for your brand.

For merchants using Shopify to run their store, you can get started for free by installing our mobile app builder.

For a detailed walkthrough of how to launch a mobile app for your brand, check out our Guide to launching a mobile app for your Shopify store.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out! We would love to help you launch a mobile app.