Mobile App Marketing: Why Do People Download Apps?

Last modified:
Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Every great app starts with a brilliantly innovative idea: something that is entertaining or perhaps solves a problem. But, a USP isn’t always enough to ensure the success of an app and to maximise downloads.

In my quest to uncover the not so ancient secrets to mobile app marketing, I came across some interesting research from Think with Google. In a partnership with Ipsos, Google has surveyed 999 smartphone users between the ages of 16 and 64 on everything from how they discover apps to why they eventually delete them.

Here’s what the search giant’s report says, plus a few of our thoughts for good measure:

How Do People Find New Apps?

According to Google’s research, people turn to those they trust for recommendations about the best apps out there. The top method of app discovery was found to be ‘friends and family are using them’, whereas others find apps by browsing app stores, through app store recommendations or by viewing an ad on existing app.

finding new apps

This didn’t surprise us, as many social apps rely on connections being made to improve its content. For example, the more accounts you follow on Instagram the greater the volume of images in your feed.

Other ways people discover a new app include:

• Reading about it online
• On social media
• Viewing a TV or YouTube ad
• Through search engines

What Makes People Press ‘Download’?

Of course, getting eyeballs on your app is just part of marketing an app. You then have to convince users to download and use it. So, what are the top motivating factors among those who search in app stores?

Well, according to Google, price and privacy are at the top of the list. After all, everyone likes value for money and a good ol’ freebie.


Delving deeper into this research, it reveals that ‘half of people have never paid to download an app’ (I’m certainly one of these people – are you?)

Out of those who have paid to download an app, the highest motivating factor was the content that would not be available on a free alternative.

Why Do People Love Their Favourite Apps?

Writing this post has made me think ‘why do I like using the apps I have?’ and the answer was clear – convenience! I like apps that make my life easier.

I now use Whatsapp more than I text and call thanks to its group chat capabilities that allow you to effectively kill multiple birds with one stone. Whereas the Trainline app is a lifesaver when I’m in a rush. It has live train information, such as what platform a train will arrive on and if it is running on time or not, meaning you don’t have to rely on the ancient screens on platforms for information. You can access the need-to-know info anywhere, at any time.

However, Google’s research doesn’t quite match up to my personal reasons for liking apps. Its study looked at what users find most valuable about their favourite apps and ease of use, exciting new features and personalised user-experiences all came up trumps.


It has also been revealed that having a wide range of features, storing preferences and secure access are all preferred features of smartphone apps. Plus, if they’re useful, the vast majority of people don’t mind push notifications.

Why Do People Stop Using Apps?

Ok, so you’ve marketed your app and achieved your goal conversions, but how many people are sticking around?

Silicon Valley analyst Andrew Chen has revealed that the average app loses 77% of its users within three days of installation. A month after installation, 90% of users stop using the app and just 5% of users remain at the 90 day mark. But, why is this?

Google has broken these reasons down into two broad categories: Personal and app-related. It appears that the most common reasons for abandoning an app are:

1. No longer needing the app (personal)
2. Needing to free up phone memory (personal)
3. Not being as useful as the user thought it would be (personal)
4. Technical problems (app-related)
5. Too many ads (app-related)

Despite this, 91% of people would reconsider an app if changes were made to combat these issues.


Would a Mobile Site be More Effective?

With just 5% of users still using an app three months after installation, we understand that you may be questioning whether it would be more beneficial for you to scrap the app and utilise a mobile site instead. Well, for our best advice, get in touch.

strut your stuff online

For further reading, take a gander at the below:

Why PPC and Mobile are a Match Made in Heaven
Are We a Smartphone Society? The Increasing Importance of Mobile Marketing

Share this on:


Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Sophie has over 6 years of experience in the social media and content space, working in both in-house organisations and agencies. She has worked with exciting established brands in her time such as Campari, Aperol Spritz, Oppo Ice Cream and PayPal Australia. She enjoys the content creation process – from mapping out the shot and…

See more written by this author: Sophie Monks

We’ll be your
proactive partner