App Marketing: Exploring User Growth Approaches

09 Aug App Marketing: Exploring User Growth Approaches

Build it and they will come….or will they? Most people who have managed to create an app will tell you that it’s not exactly that simple. So how do you turn up the dial on user growth? Below we summarize the approaches apps took to make a splash in their respective industries. 

ritualxtorontoPartner Up

Who? Ritual & City of Toronto
Budget: Low
PR Level: Great
Anyone who has attempted a journey to the Toronto Islands for a relaxing, nature-filled city getaway this summer will know one thing – that it was anything but relaxing. Just drive by Queen Quay on a Saturday or Sunday morning and you’ll see the thousands of people lining up for the ferry (plus it’s a major Pokestop now, so that doesn’t help things – thanks Niantic).

The city has a solution for the high congestion levels and long lines at the ferry terminal,
1) it contacted Pokemon Go creator Niantic to move the Pokestop – seriously, they did, and more relevant to our narrative 2) they partnered with Ritual app to sell ferry tickets digitally.

The partnership seems ingenious, at least in theory. Ritual, an app that lets you order, pay and pick up food and coffee through your phone, get access to a new user-base – quite a feat in a city that’s saturated with food apps. While the City gets to test a concept and potentially even find an existing solution instead of building their own.


foodora2Be Really Visible

Who? Foodora
Budget: High
PR Level: Low

There are tons of food pick-up and delivery apps in Toronto, but Foodora went way beyond the typical physical advertising of restaurant stickers, posters, and flyers. Foodora is an on-demand restaurant delivery service from Germany, which bought Toronto’s Hurrier last fall, and commenced its takeover of the Toronto market. If you live downtown Toronto and you haven’t noticed the cyclists clad in pink helmets and pink delivery boxes then you may need to get your vision checked.  They’ve been descending on the city in swarms, growing from 20 delivery people in 2014 to over 500 delivery staff in July 2016. And winter is no exception, the couriers are dressed in Foodora’s signature pink jackets, delivering the hungry citizens of Toronto hot fresh meals through snow and sleet.

How did they do it?

  • Swag – jackets, helmets, boxes
  • Subway posters
  • Flyers and offers – I received a $10 off flyer in the mail


uberA Really, Really Good Offer

Who? Uber
Budget: High
PR Level: N/A
Uber is synonymous with cab fury in my city, so it’s hard to say whether their PR comes from angry cab drivers throwing themselves on Uber cars or actual brand awareness efforts

“Why not? Your first trip is free” has been my retort to anyone uncomfortable with using Uber. Their first free ride program and $20 referral program is pretty attractive. BUT the issue with having such an attractive program is that users may simply download the app for that one time offer and not much else. I use Uber pretty regularly, so this program worked on me, but others disagree.


wazeBe Timely & Relevant

Who? Waze
Budget: Low
PR Level: High

I first came across Waze in Israel when my brother was expertly multi-tasking driving down Tel-Aviv’s with navigating this app. Waze was created in Israel and offers community based traffic and navigation advice, letting you know when there are accidents, delays, cops, etc.

Every now and then I come across a news story about how apps are repurposing their technology to help others, and it just so happened that I saw one this week on Waze and the Rio Olympics.

With over half a million tourists expected to attend the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, scattered across 32 different venues around the city, it’s safe to say that the situation will be chaotic – especially on the roads. Waze is already beloved in Brazil, so what better way to get any users that were on the fence about your app, then to make it easy for them to navigate their own city? Waze’s release of new updates is timely, relevant, and highly valuable – making it a no-brainer for tech journalists who are tired of writing about another ridiculous Pokemon GO predicament.

Of course visitors will also find Waze’s real-time updates indispensably. Interestingly Google (which owns Waze), released its own set of updates to its Maps product earlier today.


stravaHelp Others

Who? Strava
Budget: N/A
PR Level: High

Waze is riding the wave of the Olympics with its latest release update, but you don’t always have to wait for the perfect moment to be of help. Strava – a cycling and running app – is proving the data they’ve collected around runners and cyclist’s movements with city planners. When the city of Oregon wanted to improve their cycling lanes, they turned to an app with a large data set of cycling information around when and where riders go: Strava. Well, it’s actually Strava Metro, to be more precise, an app that makes sense out of all the data Strava tracks.


pokemongoBuild Something Amazing

Who? Pokemon GO
PR Level: High


It’s not fair to feature this here, but considering the timing and its staggering success, I couldn’t leave it out. As Periscope’s Sara Haider pointed out, Pokemon GO uses none of the traditional user acquiring techniques were used to, and yet it:


How? A perfect combination of: beloved and nostalgic brand, engaging technology, word-of-mouth praise, and real-life interactions.


– Katy

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