Growth Marketing Strategies for App Marketing Lifecycle

Growth Marketing Strategy depends on the stage of the user with your app or service. Personalization techniques are widely used in retention, engagement, resurrection and reactivation marketing.

Dickey Singh on February 2, 2017

You came across a real-world pain point that you felt compelled to address. You researched and identified that developing and publishing an app is the way to solve the problem for a clearly-defined target user. You read blogs, did some market research, talked to a bunch of potential users, and figured out a strategy to build an app that the users would make a difference in the lives of your users.

You built an app and showed it to the users you talked to, and they loved it.

You published the app, but you were met with the proverbial sound of crickets — No downloads!


Both the Google Play and Apple app stores have well over 2 million apps each, and the app market is hyper-competitive and has matured considerably. There are fewer bad apps on the app stores. The fads, clones and reskinned apps are disappearing. Apple is even removing apps that have not been updated for a while, and all 32-bit apps won’t work in future versions of iOS 11.


App Marketing Lifecycle

Developers must have a user acquisition strategy, and market to acquire new users. Marketing, however, does not stop after acquiring users. A fourth of users never launch an app for the second time. App marketers must market to existing users to keep bringing them back to the app and to retain them.

When your downloads convert to active users, Marketers must keep users engaged with personalized content and updates. We refer to this as Engagement Marketing.

Dormant users who have not used an app but have not uninstalled the app should be resurrected, with personalized calls to action. We refer to this as Resurrection Marketing.

Users who have or may have uninstalled the app, or stop using an app for an extended period may need to be re-acquired when new capabilities or enhancements are added. We refer the act of reacquiring users as Reacquisition Marketing.

Personalization Strategies

Personalization is not merely replacing {first-name} with “John” in a message. Personalization includes personalized messages but is a lot more than just that. It is individualization at scale. It is the ability to offer a tailored experience to every user at mobile and web app scale. Marketers can personalize user interfaces, content feeds, user experiences, all communication messages, feature and product promotions, and In-App purchase promotions, uniquely to each user based on their behavior, usage, preferences and social graph. Marketers rely on intelligence to be able to personalize content, interactions, engagement, and experiences.

Let’s take a look at Acquisition marketing versus Retention, Engagement, Resurrection and Reactivation Marketing.

Acquisition Marketing

Acquiring new users for your app or service is a hard problem. Finding the “right users” is more difficult. Acquisition Marketing entails creating awareness of your product to the right markets, identifying the right users, making it easy for them to try the product and most importantly onboarding the users with a personalized experience, so they become repeat users.

Various channels and venues are available to an app marketer for creating awareness and to advertise to the right audience.

Organic Search

Optimizing for higher visibility of your product’s web page and app store description page in search engine results pages, for Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Yahoo. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) applies to both mobile and web apps. Writing blogs and articles helps you create awareness for your product or company and develops authority in the industry. It can help educate the market and indirectly helps your product. Blogs and articles help the entire industry. For a wider reach, you can write on Medium, DZone or Quora. You can always publish your content first on your site and repost on Medium after 24–48 hours for the additional distribution benefits provided by each.

Paid Search Engine Advertising

Paid Search Engine Advertising is promoting your product via Search Engines by paying for visibility in the search engine results pages. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) traditionally refers to paying for placement in the results. Search Ads use the same metadata app publishers use for describing the app to display ads. The thing to keep in mind is that app stores are more and more relying on usage and engagement metrics for discovery and these are also key factors in Search Ads. In other words, if your app is engaging for your existing users, your app will be more discoverable to new users.

App Store Optimization (ASO)

Optimizing your content on app stores improves discoverability of your app and helps apps more discoverable to the right users. See White-Hat and Black Hat App Store Optimization techniques.


Getting media coverage about your product as opposed to you paying for an advertisement. For instance, VentureBeat writing about your product is much more value than placing a paid advertisement on VentureBeat that appears next to an article. Public Relations companies help you reach media willing to tell your story. You hire a PR agency to connect you with media who are looking to write about products like yours.

Social Channels

Sharing on social channels creates awareness of your product. Advertising on social media helps you reach audiences that are on social media based on interests and likes.


Advertising on websites, on TV, via telephone and print may be relevant options for your app. Building a list of potential users and sending them content and promotions via emails, or SMS in some countries are also options. Creating awareness via contests, campaigns and affiliations and sponsorships are also available as options to bypass blocked ads. If you already have an app with many users, you can advertise directly to your user base about a new app or product.

A|B testing

Finally, showing A|B testing content works best when you do not know enough about your users, as in the case of acquisition marketing.

Retention Marketing

As aforesaid, we know just acquiring users is never enough. Only 75% of users launch an app for the second time or visit your site a second time. First experiences clearly matter and unfortunately even the best A|B tested onboarding experience does not work for every user. App marketers must market to existing users to retain them and keep bringing them back to the app or service.

Ensuring users keep coming back to your mobile or web app is retention marketing. Depending on your app or service, and what permissions you have received from your users, various channels are available to reach to your users. Further, different channels are useful for different users for bringing them back to the app or service.


Push notifications — If you have enabled Push, you can reach out to users with status updates, actionable content, marketing services via Apple Notification Services, Firebase cloud messaging and Web Push Notifications

SMS, MMS — If you collect and have permissions to reach a user using their phone number you can send Simple and Multimedia notifications to your users

Social Media — You can post direct messages to users if you have permissions, with status updates and opt-in content.

Transactional email — Email continues to be an effective way to reach users for promotions and updates to users who have opted in.

A|B testing vs Personalization

An excellent A|B tested message favored by 80% still has 20% users who preferred other variations of the test. Since you have already acquired the users you know a thing or two about the users, like device technographics, demographics, usage behavior, geography, etc. Use the data you have about your users to your advantage by personalizing every interaction with your users.

Engagement Marketing

When users come back and use your mobile or web app, Marketers must engage them directly with unique individualized experiences, personalized content and relevant updates.

Engagement marketing is interacting with users at a personal level, based on both what you already know about them and their behavior within an app or website. Engagement marketing is continuous and happens throughout the usage of an app or service. Engagement marketing both adds value for each user and attempts to influence actions to achieve desired outcomes.


Local Notifications — Local notifications to users that are informative and of value to an individual user and are not pushed by the server. “You have items worth $47 in your cart. Orders over $50 ship for free!”

In-App Messages — In-app messages are sent by marketers to individual users based on criteria. “John here is 20% off coupon for items in your cart.”

Personalized Feed Content — Similar to in-app messages, personalized content can be shown in the feed in your product.

Again, marketers should use the data they have about users to personalize every engagement and experience.

Resurrection Marketing

Users who have stopped using your app but have not uninstalled the app for a particular period may be invited back with personalized messages.

Channels for Resurrection Marketing include SMS, MMS, email, push notifications, Web notifications and direct messages on social media, depending on what users have opted in for.

Reacquisition Marketing

Users who have or may have uninstalled the app, or stop using an app for an extended period may need to be re-acquired when new features or enhancements are available. We refer the act of reacquiring users as Reacquisition Marketing.

Channels that work best for reacquisition marketing are the same as acquisition marketing but can be personalized based on what you know about the user. Push notifications, SMS, MMS, email, social media, etc. work equally well but you have to capture this information for users to be able to use it later.

Reacquisition marketing vs. acquisition marketing

Since you had acquired the users, you may know a thing or two about the users, like device technographics, usage behavior, opinions, values, lifestyle, geography, etc. You may also know prior purchase history, preferences and past searches. Use the data to personalize interactions with your users you are trying to reactivate.


In Conclusion, the Marketing Strategy depends on the stage of the user with your app. Marketing to users before they are acquired differs from marketing to them after they become users. The personalization strategy depends on what you know about the user. App users are most receptive when they see relevant promotions and interactions.

Marketers should personalize every customer experience, interaction, and communication. For instance, showing relevant items in a feed; showing simpler UI to novice or new users and switching to a proper UI for expert app users; using purchase history for making promotions relevant. We see wider use of personalization techniques in retention, engagement, resurrection and reactivation marketing. Further, any messaging or interaction that is individualized has magnitude better chance of success.