Organic vs Paid Acquisition: Which Channels Perform Best

App marketers often wonder what the best way to acquire users is. Do paid or organic channels acquire more users? Are the users higher quality from one or the other? While both organic and paid channels are essential to maximize your app’s outreach, it’s worth comparing the two acquisition channels to better understand their importance and impact on App Store Optimization.

Installation Volume & Growth

The overall number of organic and paid installs have continued to grow over the past few years. While paid campaigns are beginning to bring in a greater percentage of users, organic growth still accounts for a larger number of users by far. Paid campaigns will only bring in users while the campaign is active, while organic outreach continues as long as the app is available. The growth has been impressive for both organic and paid;  a 2018 study showed the ratio of paid to free installs increased by 11% over the course of a year.

Organic installs remain the dominant source of user acquisition, but that does not make paid any less valuable. Disregarding paid installs results in losing the percentage of installs that do come from paid channels as well as stifling potential organic growth.

Use & Retention

It’s important to understand which channels acquire users that use the app more and continue to use the app longer. Organic users tend to continue using the app after 30 days at a 4% higher rate than users gained through paid campaigns. This remains consistent after the 30-day period.

Additionally, users acquired organically tend to use the app more frequently than those who saw it in an ad. Organic users typically have 12% more active sessions after installation than those acquired through paid channels.

Paid and Organic Symbiosis

While organic channels tend to acquire more users and higher quality users, paid acquisitions are still essential for an app’s growth. Every paid install helps apps gain 1.5 additional organic installs, due to the ASO boost that paid channels like Search Ads provide.

Paid ads can help improve your app’s organic growth and reach, so they’re essential for getting the most out of organic acquisitions. When users click on an app that shows up in an Apple Search Ad or Google Ad, it provides traffic that improves the app’s click-through-rate (CTR) and keyword indexation. This in turn makes it easier for users to organically discover the app through search – every successful paid click can lead to more organic users down the line.

Building brand recognition is important for an app to grow. In fact, marketing data suggests that prospective users need to be exposed to an ad or brand about seven times before connecting with them. Simply seeing a paid ad helps familiarize users with your app – as ads are typically pay-per-click, this recognition comes at no cost.

What to Remember

A paid marketing campaign will only reach users during the lifetime of the campaign, while organic outreach has no end date. As a result, organic reach will always acquire more users in the long-term. That’s why App Store Optimization is essential for increasing your organic visibility and outreach.

At the same time, paid campaigns are essential for an app’s success. Not only do paid channels improve an app’s visibility in the store, but they also improve its organic visibility every time a user clicks on it. Even if there are fewer and less frequent users acquired through paid campaigns, the paid campaigns help increase organic downloads as well.

It’s not a matter of organic or paid – it’s a matter of organic and paid. By using both acquisition channels and a solid App Store Optimization strategy, you’ll continue to find new and quality users for your app.

Want more information regarding App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we’ll help get your strategy started.

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