Quality vs. Quantity of Mobile App Users


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It wasn’t long ago that the volume of downloads an app received determined its ranking in the App Store and Google Play Store. Users who clicked the “install” button were a determining factor of an app’s success. Due to the ever-changing app store algorithms, installs alone no longer weighs as much for determining an app’s ranking as they have in the past.

Measuring metrics to monitor how an app is performing is important, but ultimately, the quality of users (in-app actions) that are installing an app truly determines its success. By first understanding the different types of users, developers can then start to fully grasp why quality is more beneficial than quantity. In addition, analyzing microtransactions, subscriptions, reviews, ratings, and in-app actions will help gather insight into who the most engaged users are.

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1. Types of Users
Users are what keep an app afloat and determine whether it’ll find success in the short or long term. These users can be anything from the average user that opens the app often but never spends money, or those that are infrequent.

The highest quality users, “super users,” are loyal through and through. They tend to be more willing to spend money on microtransactions or subscriptions and contribute to building the brand outside of the app stores. Super users often impact the bottom-line, aka the revenue stream, and are important to an app’s overall success.

2. Microtransactions & Subscriptions
Those deemed as super users will be the ones that are most likely spending real money on the app through microtransactions and subscriptions. Sometimes it can be anything from $.99 to $99.99, but ultimately, they’re contributing to the app’s revenue stream.

Mobile games tend to be one of the highest revenue generating app category. Reports state that, in 2016, the average user spent approximately $35 in-app on “freemium” games. Additionally, around 47% of the in-app purchases or premium upgrades on “freemium” app can cost anywhere between $9.99 to $19.99. These stats show that users are willing to spend in-app and demonstrate the importance of acquiring high-quality users for the long-term success of the app.

3. Paid User Acquisition (UA)
While it’s ideal for users to spend on microtransactions and subscriptions, developers are constantly trying to capture new market shares by utilizing mobile paid advertising platforms. With the accessibility and transparency of paid platforms such as Apple Search Ads, Google AdWords, and Facebook to expand their app’s reach, advertisers are often faced with the conundrum of how to determine and measure the effectiveness of their paid marketing campaigns.

It’s imperative that advertisers integrate an attribution if they run a paid UA campaign. Setting up events within the attribution tool to see exactly where users are coming from and quantify how many are finding, installing, and taking in-app actions within the app is vital to understanding and measuring the campaign’s success.

4. Sharing & Ads
Having a higher number of users who actively use an app means there’s a greater likelihood they will view and interact with ads. This means that if a user finds the app useful, and never spends a dime, they will still likely interact with an ad or share the app with their friends. This social sharing tends to bring in other higher-quality users who have the potential to become super users.

5. Reviews & Ratings
Reviews and ratings may not be the first things that come to mind when evaluating high-quality users. However, if developers understand the factors that go into why a user leaves a positive and/or negative rating, they’ll understand what impacts their retention rate.

The more a user opens an app and invests time or money into it, the more likely they are to leave a high rating and helpful review. Even if a high-quality user isn’t completely satisfied with an update or new feature, they often provide feedback that still highlights how much they enjoy the app otherwise. Reviews like this are a social proof that can lead to a higher organic download rate.

Developing a reputation management strategy will help them to monitor reviews and engage with users in a timely manner. Responding to user feedback isn’t challenging, but it does require being active on a daily basis.

High-Quality Users are Key
Curating a marketing strategy that is built on the foundation of quality, not quantity, will help improve visibility and increase profit. The bottom line is that developers won’t find success if they aren’t targeting the correct users. They should also create an App Store Optimization (ASO) strategy to optimize their app store listings.

If developers are worried about where to start, they can work with ASO providers to make sure that efforts are being made to drive in the right audience. Having a team of experts in ASO and mobile marketing solutions can provide developers with further insights on how to acquire quality users who are willing to spend, rate, and share their apps. The volume organic growth an app experiences, combined with acquiring higher quality users from paid channels, will help contribute to an app success by increasing brand awareness while developing long term loyalty.


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