Mobile marketing insights: How people discover and use apps

by Mariya Danailova

What is the one thing you see when you wake up and before you go to bed? Your mobile phone?! Having said that, it comes as no surprise that today people are turning to their mobile phones for activities that used to take place offline. We read books, listen to music and radio, talk to our friends and do shopping on mobile devices. For all these activities we use apps. With the growing significance of apps, it is worth examining how we discover and use apps in our daily lives. 

As we look back at the state of mobile in 2015, it is interesting to see how much mobile usage has grown and how the mobile habits of people have changed. According to Flurry Analytics, mobile app usage has grown by 58% in 2015 and the time spent on all kinds of mobile devices has grown by 117%.

If we compare devices, the phablet has experienced the biggest increase of 334%. A phablet is namely “a smartphone having a screen which is intermediate in size between that of a typical smartphone and a tablet computer”. Given the statistics, it looks like people nowadays are spending more time browsing on their phablets than watching TV or reading newspapers.

Mobile app usage and mobile habits

If people spend so much time on mobile, we can ask ourselves how many apps they have at their disposal and how many of these apps they actually use. It is true that people download apps every day, either on a whim or with having a clear goal in mind. However, research shows that the average person only uses 26% of his or her apps daily. What is even more shocking is the fact that 1 in 4 apps are never used at all. This is also a testament to the fierce competition every new app faces when it enters the app market.

How do people discover apps?

Let us now look at the different ways of finding apps. In other words, how do people discover the apps they are looking for? The most common way of finding apps seems to be through the app store search on Apple App Store or Google Play. A study by Tune reveals that this is valid for 47% of iPhone users and 53% of Android users.

The second most common channel is word-of-mouth – 15% of iPhone and 12% of Android user discover apps by asking friends and family. Around 11 – 12% of both groups say that they “read about it on the web”. This makes web search the third most popular channel for app discovery. These channels are followed by browsing Top Charts categories, featured apps, in-app ads and social media.

App discovery channels cut

In summary, search is by far the best way for app promotion if you want your app to be found either on the app stores or Google. App Store Optimization (ASO) is therefore a powerful tool for improving your app’s visibility and discoverability. Optimizing your app will increase its rankings so that it climbs to the Top Charts, which is the next best place where users find apps.

Paid advertising is another means of app promotion that includes search ads, banner/graphical ads in apps, video ads, social ads. Last but not least, users discover apps on social media like Facebook, Twitter etc. either through their own network of friends or when seeing app install ads.

If you need help with ASO or paid mobile advertising, just mail us or call us at +45 36 946 374.

How do people search for apps?

There is no doubt that app discovery happens primarily via search but there are some key differences between user behaviour when searching on the web and in the app stores. Gummicube has analyzed search queries by thousands of users and come to the following conclusions.

When it comes to web search, users generally perform three types of search queries:

  • “Do” Transactional Queries – Action queries such as “buy a plane ticket”, “listen to a song”, “cook a recipe”
  • “Know” Information Queries – When a user seeks information, such as the name of a band or the best restaurant in the area
  • “Go” Navigational Queries – Search queries that seek a particular online destination, such as the homepage of a sports team

Source: Gummicube – App Store Optimization for 2015 

These types of search queries are inextricably linked to the types of micro-moments that users experience in their everyday lives. The search queries correspond respectively to I-want-to-do, I-want-to-know and I-want-to-go moments.

As far as app store searches are concerned, Gummicube’s analysis shows that 80% of all search queries are 2 to 3 word phrases related to app features. It is obvious that user search behaviour differs between web and mobile because users are driven by different intent.

These findings need to be taken into account by brands when they develop their app marketing strategy.

Convergence of web and apps

Another important issue that brands have to address is how to bridge web/mobile search and apps. Google has tried to make this easier with its mobile-friendly algorithm update on app indexing. App indexing puts your app in front of users and returns result pages from in-app content when users make mobile searches on Google. It does not matter if you have installed the app or not. If you have not installed it, there will be an “Install” or “Free” button next to the SERP.

Google also offers a way to install an Android app directly from a website, thereby bridging online and mobile. This is done by so called “over-the-air installs”. Here is how it works:


Users sign in with Google on your website and then have the option to install your app on their mobile device instantly, over the air, without leaving the website. They choose the Android device and the app installs directly on it, with the user already signed in.


Key takeaways

Here are the key insights to take home from this post:

  • Mobile app usage and time spent on mobile devices has grown in 2015
  • People use only 26% of their apps daily and 1 in 4 apps are never used
  • The most common channel for app discovery is app store search
  • Users have different search behaviour on web and mobile
  • The convergence of web and apps can happen via app indexing, over-the-air installs

At Leadmill, we would like to be your preferred mobile marketing partner and help you improve your app’s discoverability on all channels. We will provide you with valuable mobile marketing insights and expertise that will enhance your app marketing strategy and maximize your ROI. Just drop us a line at, call us at +45 36 946 374  or fill out the form below.

About the author


Mariya is Content Marketing Manager at Leadmill. She has a passion for mobile marketing and advertising – always searching for new insights and trends within the mobile industry on a global scale.

Posted on February 4, 2016 in Mobile Marketing Tips & Events

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