Webinar: How to acquire and retain the users in a highly competitive app market

The experts from CleverTap, ZiMAD, REPLUG and Titling Point share their UA strategies to push installs, insights into user onboarding, and mechanics of retention.

Webinar: How to acquire and retain the users in a highly competitive app market

The recording is available via the link.

✍️ Key Takeaways:

Block 1. Smart UA.

Paid UA framework to learn from REPLUG

Video presentation: Mastering Your Paid User Acquisition Strategy with a 5-step process - App Promotion Summit Berlin.

Steps to follow. UA

  1. Know your game and its audience
  2. Strategy (following the Audit - there is no strategy without audit). part of the 5-step process framework - what’s our target audience, and what are the best channels to reach it? What’s the message to communicate and the creative strategy?
    Output of the phase: The final result of this phase should be a precise plan to start advertising and reach your target audience in the (supposedly) most effective way.
  3. Define KPIs and measurement methodology.
  4. Test, Experiment and Diversify:

✓traffic channels and sources (social networks, video networks, DSPs, OEM ads, offerwalls and rewarded playtime platforms, Influencers, CTV);
✓optimization methods (Installs, Actions like purchase on level or achievement);
✓creative concepts and formats etc.

5. Analysis part of the 5-step process framework - what are the main results and drivers of the results? How are the creatives performing?
Output of the phase: At the end of this phase, we should clearly understand how the initial strategy has performed, with a transparent cost structure and conversion rates overview—by channel and by any other targeting factor (audience, age, gender, country, etc.)

6. Continuously analyze, optimize and refine based on data, market trends, user feedback, and new opportunities that arise;

7. Optimize and test part of the 5-step process framework - what can we test to improve results? What cross-functional activities can we optimize?
Output of this phase: At the end of phase five, we should have a list of optimizations—based on the data collected during phase four—that we need to implement to increase paid user acquisition spend efficiency. That’s when we go back to phase three to implement the optimizations, and the Optimization Loop can start.  

8. Stay in sync with all other teams involved: the development and analytics teams, monetization and ASO team etc.

Proven UA strategies to get users at lower CPI. Experience of Tilting Point.

IP integrations are proving to be a great way to overall decrease the CPI’s
Leveraging UGC in some social media channels can be a great way to find game ambassadors for a fraction of the cost

Block 2. Smooth user onboarding,  gaming mechanics of retention

Stages of a smooth onboarding:

  • Welcome the Users
  • Explain Main Features
  • Prevent Immediate Uninstall (One-session Users)
  • Request Permissions
  • Increase Push Notification Opt-in Rates
  • Collect User Preferences and Registration

Dive into e-book to learn how to maximize marketing permissions and retention and article to ensure an effective user onboarding in 2023.
Video presentation awaits you here.

Retention. Points to consider.  

  • Retention starts in the app, use the retention waterfall to analyze each step what actions you can take to increase retention
  • Re-engagement waterfall
  • Native content personalization
  • In-app (highest conversion rate)
  • Push Notification (easy to configure, but limited range)
    Learn more on how to Write Push Notifications That Engage & Convert here
  • Email (best for high quality users)
  • Retargeting (catch all)

🎮 Retention strategies in Gaming. Vision of CleverTap.

  • Good LiveOps practices include personalized offers and engagement during the game
  • Based on players level of engagement, advancement and historic monetization
  • Free upgrades (time limited)
  • Level up package (discounted/free boosters)
  • Defeat / shortage offer (timed offers for re-ups)
  • Streak offers (extend gameplay with streak bonuses)

Block 3. Retention and Onboarding in non-gaming apps. Case of Runtastic 🏃.

Recommendations about retention methods/practices for non-gaming apps:

  • onboarding is key to make sure retention is increased: indeed, in complex, multi-feature apps, users onboarding can have from a 2x to 5x retention compared to non-onboarded users. Making sure the user is not overwhelmed and understand step by step the core and nice-to-have values of the app is one of the main triggers for retention.
  • Understanding the target customer and its users: if strategically you are targeting a customer and they are not retaining enough, at least till the threshold you would define valuable, it means you need to get to know them a bit better than what you are used to. Being a bit more pro, you can start to segment users in different buckets on how you would think they are (from e.g. churn risk to highly active).
  • Reporting: day 1,3,5,7 retention may not be enough for your type of activity. You would also like to see how people behave in long term retention (week 1,2,3) or even month 1,2,3). Depending on the expected frequency of usage of your app, you should figure out an interval from where very active and borderline inactive users are.
  • Events: find a set of actions in your app that, if combined together, they are highly likely to obtain a retention effect and guide people through them within your onboarding process. E.g. on the Adidas Running App, we can guide people toward doing a certain amount of Kms tracked as run/walk within the first 14 days and, if this is done, it is very likely that users will be retained in Month 2.


  • The reporting: it is very difficult to attribute a value to retention. Best practice is to connect it with LTV and therefore start to make retention a bit more monetary (e.g. if a user stay with us within D30, the LTV will be this one etc.)
  • Influencing retention: as retention is considered an indirect KPIs, it is very hard to figure out how to influence effectively retention and, therefore, you cannot ask the product team to e.g. work on improving retention or set KPIs to improve retention. There are delays in gathering the data and uncertainty if the changes done in the product could have caused this. It is better, in Luca Stefanutti's experience, to find some proxy events and test their correlation with increase and decrease in retention through statistical modelling.
  • In the Health and Fitness industry, RR% are generally very low, with a high churn within the first week. We need to think in weekly terms as it would be detrimental for users to do sport every single day but overall, the challenge is that users do not make a real commitment with the app install/user registration. The first commitment is the first "sweat" with the app and this may take few days.

Case of Adidas Running App:

  • Retention is key in our highly competitive industry. In order to make sure that users have a positive experience with the Adidas Brand and engage with it, we are actively working to improve our retention rates, through the usage of engagement events that act as proxy for retention, as we can confirm they may have an influence on it.
  • Retention is correlated with LTV and, therefore, the more we work on it, the better it connects with sales.
  • Within Adidas Running, we value a lot onboarding for working on retention. Indeed, we focus the onboarding around the core value of our app and in the post registration steps we show our most retaining features, so people find a first hook into the app (e.g. the goal setting feature).

Block 4. 💡 Current trends and predictions for 2023/2024

  1. Macroeconomic challenges will continue to affect the gaming industry in 2023.
  2. In the new privacy oriented era and after the roll out of Android Privacy Sandbox the UA channels landscape can change: continuous growth of programmatic networks and DSPs; focus shift from performance marketing to influence and brand marketing, CTV etc.
  3. Teams and companies that invest in their own data engineering teams and technologies, would get a key to effective UA.
  4. Increase in generative AI usage in games development, analytics and UA.
  5. Holistic approach - all the growth areas need to be perfectly connected to give a seamless customer experience.
  6. User Generated Content - for real.
  7. Never-Ending Personalization - from ads to onboarding, and retention strategies, you need to address the users personally.
  8. Smooth User Onboarding - user experience at the center. It is so expensive to get new users, don’t risk losing them after one session.
  9. Rethink the way you look at data - don’t forget, data is still there. You only need to work more with it.