What App Publishers Ought to Know About Borrowing App Engagement

You don't have to do all the work of increasing user engagement yourself. Learn how to leverage more popular apps to help you.

How to piggyback app engagement

Everyone knows that it is getting harder to get noticed on the app stores because of the increasing number of apps. Even if someone downloads your app, there is no guarantee that they will actually use it. A Neilson study showed that although app usage time is on the rise, the average number of apps that people use every month use stays about the same.

Number of apps used

Image credit: Neilson

At the same time, it is becoming more and more important to have a branded app that will represent your business on mobile devices. So how you do you stand out from the crowd and get users to download and engage with your app?

Of course, you should start with App Store Optimization and make sure that you are ranking well for your target keywords. But once someone downloads your app, how do you make sure that your app doesn't get lost in the dozens of apps on the average mobile device?

This post will show you some stats from a recent research report and how that information is the key to increasing downloads and user engagement with your app. You can essentially borrow engagement from the most frequently used apps.

The Five Apps That People Use The Most

In a recent Forrester study entitled “2015 Mobile App Marketing Trends: Orchestrate Your Brand Presence, Beyond Your Own Apps, By Borrowing Mobile Moments,” they found that people actually use a very limited number of apps on a regular basis.

Forrester reports that people in the US and Britain primarily use five apps on their mobile devices. They use these apps for a total of 80% of their total app usage time.

lt="App usage stats

The top five apps that they use will vary by user. Their findings, in terms of total number of apps used every month, also agree with the Neilson results shown at the beginning of this post. People in the Forrester study used an average of 24 apps per month. These frequently used apps are heavily skewed towards messaging and social apps.

There are five apps in particular that are used the most by people in the US. They account for a total of 28% of usage across all apps.

  • Facebook

  • YouTube

  • Maps

  • Pandora

  • Gmail

Borrowing Engagement

Understanding the apps that your audience uses the most is the key to understanding how to borrow engagement from these apps. This will allow you to stand you from all the other apps on a person's device.

But how do you borrow engagement?

Essentially, you first need to find out the top five apps that your target audience uses. Then figure out the best way to engage with your users on these different platforms and get them to tap over to your app.

When in doubt, start with the five apps mentioned in the previous section. For example, this is how you could use engage your users from those apps.

  • Facebook - Create a Facebook page, run ads and create a group related to your business. Post content and offers that would be interesting to people who use your app.

  • YouTube - Create entertaining or useful videos that your users would like.

  • Maps - If you have a local business, make sure that your business is setup in Google My Business and map integrated services like Yelp.

  • Pandora - Run ads.

  • Gmail - Run an Adwords campaign.

Those are just a few ideas, but they can work for any app or industry. Also experiment with apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and other apps that have high user engagement. Once you figure out how to leverage these more frequently used apps, then include relevant links to your app.

Use Deep Links

If possible, make sure that you use deep links to provide people with the exact information they are looking for. Once people start opening your app more frequently through links, they will become more familiar with your app and use it directly.

Even if you cannot use utilize deep links right now, you can still link to your app's website (with a smart app banner) or your app's app store page. This can grow your downloads and increase app engagement.


So if you are worried about getting lost in the sea of apps out there, borrowing engagement from other apps is a great way to keep you ahead of your competitors. It takes some time and research to do it right, but the rewards can be huge.

The battle for users in your category will be won by smart app marketers who utilize several different strategies at the same time. If you don't think that you have time to market your app on social media, read this post to learn how to get it done as efficiently as possible.

Create and implement a strategy for borrowing app engagement right now. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will start to see results.

Do you have any other tips for leveraging more popular apps to increase engagement? Let us know in the comments below...

Sensor Tower's platform is an enterprise-level offering. Interested in learning more?

Hugh Kimura

Written by: Hugh Kimura, Head of Content

Date: February 2015

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