Acquisition is arguably the biggest challenge for an app. You work like crazy developing it and then once you get to the point of launching it, you’re suddenly asking, “Oh wait, how am I going to get people to use this?”

PluggedIn BD hosted a roundtable in Israel with industry experts to discuss what strategies work (and what doesn’t work) when it comes to acquiring users.

Here are the three things you should do for mobile acquisition.

1. Optimize Facebook campaigns.

When it comes to the social networks, our panel participants were out on LinkedIn and even Twitter (the targeting just wasn’t up to par from their experience), but Facebook, they agreed, is the place to be. This is the platform that gets results. For one thing, Facebook has the greatest depth of any social network; it knows you more as a person—your interests and habits—and thus it’s able to target much more effectively. The truth in targeting is multi-layered—and Facebook is able to reach each of these layers. So when you want to acquire your first couple thousand users, the wisest move is to run a Facebook advertising campaign. The platform is your best bet for high quality and a better CPI. You’re practically handed your best users on a silver platter. (That said, you will of course experience drop off at a certain point.)

But in order to get above all the noise in the space, you have to continuously optimize. Run multiple campaigns and monitor your KPIs (e.g. engagement, conversion). Test targeting and creative to pinpoint a precise approach. What ends up bringing value users just might end up surprising you.

After a soft launch with targeted campaigns on Facebook and once you hit the mass distribution stage, you can make a bigger splash by being featured in the App Store—and experience the viral effect. Don’t discount “old school” methods either (e.g. magazines, subway ads). From time to time, throw some traditional media in there to maximize your organic reach with press. But know that when it comes to mainstream media, you should expect more awareness than downloads.

2. Extract data for targeting.

Data is your best friend. Without it, you won’t know who your user is—and you need to get to know your user. Start by measuring absolutely everything. Gather data points around: how many quality users you have, how many convert vs. how many are retained, how many are actually sharing. Try to answer: What’s the right place to attract your user? When is your user active? 365scores, for example, is a real-time sports app that knew the best time to advertise to its user was right after that person’s team won.

When you know who your users are, you’re able to ask for those types of users. This is especially true on Facebook where you can use the lookalike audience feature to create similar groups to target. Once you draw out the data, you can segment it and begin hyper-targeting to acquire the highest quality users.

3. Pitch the problem, not the app.

Launching an app is not very interesting unless it’s special. So you’ve got to put a story behind it in order to sell it. The finance app BillGuard, for example, hired a financial analyst firm to create a report that presented a problem to consumers: collectively, they pay approximately $14.3 billion in unwanted charges each year. This was reported on by major outlets like Bloomberg and USA Today, and then the solution was presented: BillGuard, hooray! You need to create motivation. The more value you can demonstrate upfront, the easier it will be to acquire users. Don’t just pitch the app, pitch the app as a solution to a problem.

Bonus: Making your app social sure doesn’t hurt, either. People have an inherent desire to share things, feel connected, and be a part of a community.

What strategies have you seen work for mobile acquisition? Share in the comments!

Roundtable Participants:

Idan Miller, VP Media & Operations at YBrant

Barak Duek, CEO of Utappy

Raphael Ouzan, Founder, CTO & Head of Product at BillGuard

Zachi Flatto, CEO of ParkLife

Adi Shitrit, Director Mobile Advertising at Matomy

Yevgeny Brener, VP Marketing at 365Scores

Ze’ev Rubinstein, CTO at Askem

Nimrod Bar-Levin, CEO of Ono Apps