Increase Downloads on the iOS App Store

Increasing downloads on the App Store is the ticket for building an audience, engaging users, and ultimately making any app successful. To increase downloads on the iOS app store, there are a few avenues you should explore and experiment with.

Analyze Your Existing Downloads

Before exploring novel opportunities, you should first analyze the sources of your existing downloads. The purpose of this analysis is to understand the nature of your current downloads and reveal where opportunities may lie. For a primer on App Store analytics, check our recent introductory article. Let’s dive into the data science!

Figure 1: Total Downloads by Source Type on the iOS App Store

Navigate to App Analytics in App Store Connect, and select your app. Next, pull up the graph of your Total Downloads. Finally, select the “By” dropdown and choose “By Source Type”. This will display the different sources for app downloads.

There are a few major categories of app downloads:

  • App Store Search: The app was discovered through a search on the App Store. This is often the category with the highest download volume.
  • App Store Browse: Discovery occurred while a user was browsing the App Store. Often, this means you app was found while browsing app categories or related apps.
  • App Referrer: Another app referred the user to your app.
  • Web Referrer: A website referred the user to your app.

Most users discover apps through App Store search. Even with powerful marketing campaigns elsewhere, most users simply go to the App Store when looking to download an app, so driving downloads from outside sources like Web Referrers can be challenging.

Depending on the proportions of your download sources, you may identify critical sources for your app’s traffic, or better understand opportunity areas.

Now that we have a sense of where our existing downloads come from, what are more powerful levers for increasing app downloads?

App Store Optimization (ASO)

Person reviewing data
Time to look at the data!

App Store Optimization (ASO) is the process of improving the details you provide to Apple about your app to maximize the number of users who see your app, improve your conversion rate, and increase your downloads.

The elements you should consider when optimizing are:

  • App name
  • App subtitle
  • App icon
  • Product page video
  • Product page images
  • Product page text
  • Product page keywords

The reason these elements are important are because you want to maximize the number of relevant keywords in your content. Apple will match user searches to the most appropriate apps so you are trying to help Apple effectively serve your app to users who want it!

Other elements, such as your app icon, are important because users will judge them when making a decision about downloading your app. If your app is appealing, you will have a higher conversion rate, which means you will get more downloads for the number of impressions (app views).

It’s very important to optimize your product page with A/B Testing to get as many impressions and downloads as possible. Apple provides the Product Page Optimization feature to help accomplish this.

Experiment with the elements and see how many downloads you can get! App Store Optimization is a technique that any app can benefit from, and there is no upfront cost.

Get Featured on the App Store

The holy grail of App Store marketing is getting featured by Apple. Getting featured means you will be on the front page of the App Store, which receives over 600 million visitors a week. This means you’ll get an astronomical number of downloads in a short period of time: it’s the best way to increase downloads on the iOS App Store.

In addition to the traffic you’ll see from App Store discovery, the number of volume will also propel your app to the top of the app charts, which lead to even further downloads. To hit the top spot, you may need more than 150,000 downloads in one day! Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a “rich get richer” situation.

To get featured, you need to stand out. There isn’t an easy set of steps to follow, and success will depend on app quality, the narrative of your team and app, timing, and luck.

While this is not an easy way to increase the app downloads, it’s worth mentioning because of the life changing impact it will have if your app is selected.

Apple Search Ads

When all else fails, you can pay Apple to promote your app with Apple Search Ads. You provide a budget to Apple and they will charge you for clicks and downloads. Fortunately, the content used is taken from your App Store page, so no additional assets are necessary.

Person taking money from wallet
Break out the wallet for ads!

Apple offers Basic and Advanced modes for ads. For individuals and smaller organizations, the Basic mode automates the surfaces where your app will be displayed. Advanced mode gives more control over audience targeting and the display of your advertisements, but requires more work to set up and monitor.

The downside to search ads cost. Depending on the nature of your app and the relevant keywords, competition may mean each download can cost a few dollars. It’s important to experiment with search ads to understand if your app can generate enough revenue to justify the ad spend.


The top three ways you should look to when increasing downloads are Getting Featured, App Store Optimization (ASO), and Apple Search Ads. Other sites will recommend other methods, like social media campaigns, e-mail marketing, and blog promotions. These are simply not effective and you are better off spending your time on the three high impact activities we’ve outlined above.

This may be a lot to take in, but don’t get discouraged. If you need help analyzing your app store analytics and increasing downloads, hire a data scientist at Data Science Jobs USA. We hope you’ve enjoyed this article, and best of luck to increase downloads on the iOS App Store!

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