There are over six million apps available on Google Play and Apple's App Store as of Q3 2022, making the mobile app market more competitive than ever. After creating and launching an app, the challenge for app developers and marketers is determining the best way to acquire users.
There is frequently debate over whether paid or organic channels bring in more users, as well as which channel brings in high-quality users. While both organic and paid channels are necessary for reaching your app's audience, comparing the two acquisition channels can help you better understand their importance, impact on revenue, and how to balance them.
Over the last few years, both organic and paid installs have steadily increased. Although paid campaigns are bringing in more users than ever before, organic growth continues to account for a larger percentage of users.
While paid campaigns only attract users while they are active, organic user acquisition occurs while the app is available in app stores. However, as the mobile app landscape becomes more crowded, it becomes more difficult for users to discover apps organically. As a result, marketers must also use paid ads to increase their visibility.
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In this article, we examined the volume of installs from organic and paid channels in 2022 to assist app marketers in developing the best UA strategy, maximizing return on investment, and driving their app's growth in 2023. We also looked at the differences in user behavior between organic and paid users, comparing sessions and sessions per user per day.
Organic installations won out
In 2022, 58% of all app global installs were organic, while 42% came from paid channels. This suggests that the majority of users installed apps after reading about them in a blog or by conducting a generic keyword search in the app stores.
This also demonstrates the significance of App Store Optimization (ASO)
. Though paid installs accounted for a smaller share of total installs than organic sources, they still accounted for a significant portion of total installs, indicating that a paid user acquisition strategy must be combined with ASO for an app's long-term growth.
Paid installs are expected to fall by the end of the year
Paid installs fell while organic installs increased in the final two quarters of 2022. Organic installs accounted for 61% of all installs in Q3 2022, while paid sources accounted for 39%.
While paid ads can lead to an increase in longtail organic app installs, this change also indicates that app marketers have reduced their paid marketing efforts, most likely as a result of the effects of inflation and budget constraints.
However, mobile advertisers are constantly improving their creatives and targeting, and the overall quality of apps is improving.
Meanwhile, when the apps after getting paid installs
, they will be at the top of the app store, and also get higher visibility and more organic downloads. When all of these factors are considered together, downloads continue to increase.
Organic sessions are the best
Looking at installs alone only tells half the story; it's critical to evaluate user behavior beyond the install to compare paid and organic cohorts throughout the user journey.
The difference between paid and organic users at the session level is far greater than the difference between installs. Organic users accounted for 72% of total sessions, with paid users accounting for 28%.
This suggests that users who download an app out of curiosity and interest are more likely to invest more time in it and use it for a longer period.
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Organic users had more sessions per day than paid users. Organic users started at 2.11 sessions per user per day on day one on average from Q1 2022 to Q3 2022. This figure fell to 2.04 on day 3, 2.02 on day 7, and 2.01 on day 30.
Paid users logged 1.98 sessions on day 1, 1.92 sessions on day 3, 1.9 sessions on day 7, and 1.93 sessions on day 30. While organic users had more sessions than paid users, the number of sessions for both remained constant from day 3 to day 30.
This demonstrates that while organic channels tend to acquire higher-quality users, paid acquisitions are also important because they help improve organic growth, reach, and volume at critical times. Paid marketing, for example, aids in increasing ASO.
The traffic to your listing is a known ranking factor, and the more traffic your listing receives, the more downloads it receives. By ranking higher, you get more visitors, which can lead to conversions, creating a positive feedback loop.