Driving Downloads On-premise: Developing an App Acquisition Strategy That Works!

Your app is an important tool to develop visitor engagement and loyalty. Now how do you get people to actually use it?

At SocialSign.in, one of the biggest challenges our customers face is effectively marketing their new apps to their target audience. Connecting with visitors in your physical space can be complex and challenging, and a poorly executed app acquisition campaign can cause more marketing pain than it solves. Your mobile app should engage and delight visitors as well as enhance the user experience, not be a source of frustration for your visitors.

Acquiring high-quality engaged users for your app is a journey with multiple touch-points. Through working with the most prestigious venues in the world we have developed strategies to use in each phase of the acquisition funnel to help increase app adoption and usage.


All customer journeys begin with awareness. In the beginning stage, the goal is to communicate both the existence of your app and why utilizing the app will enhance the visitor experience. With 1.2 million apps in the Apple app store alone, people today no longer react to the mere availability of an app and generally need to be persuaded to take action. According to comScore’s “The U.S Mobile App Report”, the majority of US smartphone users don’t download new apps over the course of a typical month.

Owners/operators of physical spaces need to ask critical questions to determine which strategies are successful in influencing guests to download and use your app. How does the app enhance their experience right now, or in the future? What pain does it take away? What are they missing out on? A generic call to action like “Download our new app in the App Store!” is not likely to generate much activity by your target audience because the incentive is absent. A simple “Why wait? Get the free app now to skip the line.” can drive app downloads actions at a much higher rate. SocialSign.In’s client success team can assist in the app acquisition strategy and its proprietary platform can serve compelling content to entice these users to take the initial action of downloading your app.


Quite commonly, app downloads are abandoned by users. The traditional app download process is problematic; you rely on your visitors to complete a multi-step process without getting distracted, coming across technical roadblocks, or abandoning midway.

These are the common pitfalls at each stage in the traditional app download process.

  1. Become aware of the app and develop interest in using it.
  2. Open the app store. This requires people to switch from what they’re currently doing—whether it’s texting their friends or abandon the e-ticket they have queued up. This can also potentially create a negative experience if the app isn’t available in their device’s platform.
  3. Search for your app by name. Problems in searching are normally due to spelling errors or that they’re not typing the correct search terms.
  4. Pick your app out of the search results. A particular challenge for newer apps is ensuring your App Store SEO propels you to the top result.
  5. Tap to download. Depending on carrier limits, apps over 20MB may be subject to download via Wi-Fi only. Even people with unlimited plans often face lag in places with concentrated usage, a common issue among popular arenas. Even this far down the process, this is the final roadblock preventing an otherwise successful download by a valuable customer. This is actually quite a common reason for app download abandonment.

Our team has developed a low friction process to not only promote awareness, but also bypass the above steps and remove the technical roadblocks. Compared to a regular app distributor marketed to consumers, physical locations have the unique advantage of a captive audience who are present and engaged with your brand in that moment. These are potentially tens of thousands of people constantly entering the top of the funnel that need to be moved through the funnel. The largest addressable audience that you have in your location is your Wi-Fi audience. How do you leverage this audience into app acquisitions?

Visitors are already in the habit of looking for free Wi-Fi, so we use this moment to introduce a screen on their device. This is an opportunity to greet them, present relevant and attractive offers from your venue, and to take advantage of their captive attention on their personal devices.

Here’s how our streamlined download process works:

  1. Tap the unlocked guest Wi-Fi network. An action guests are already in the habit of doing regardless of app awareness or interest in engaging with your marketing programs.
  2. Tap Facebook or enter their email address to access. One-tap entry for your visitor, and additional customer information for your venue to power future smart marketing and CRM decisions.
  3. See compelling promotions for your app, only if the app is supported by their current device. This ensures a positive customer experience that they’ll seamlessly jump to the right app for their device.
  4. Tap to download on a stable connection, bypassing carrier limitations

So how well does it work? In practice, nearly a quarter of visitors (based on ticket sales) connect successfully to our promotional Wi-Fi, and over a third of those connected tap through to download the app.


Downloading the app doesn’t guarantee usage. There are two main challenges past the initial app: maintaining the app’s presence and ensuring permissions are enabled (such as notification permission).

If your visitor doesn’t open the app after download, the app is in danger of deletion. People tend to try apps, and then decide whether they’ll keep the app within the first few days. According to Mobile App Marketing Insights by Google, 34% of people stop using an app because they simply lost interest. The key to success is to get the users hooked during that critical first 3-7 day period.

Ensuring permissions are enabled is especially critical for venue apps that hinge on a beacon experience to trigger in-venue notifications. If your visitor downloads the app, but doesn’t go through the process to authorize notifications and turn on Bluetooth, they’ll never see the beacon experience your team worked hard to design.

We’ve found success addressing these challenges by generating engagement with the intention of forming usage habits. People don’t delete apps they use; they instead take time and effort to maintain their profiles and permissions on the apps they use and love.

This is done by continually engaging visitors who have installed the app with content relevant to their stage in the journey. We use the opportunity created by the visitor’s usage of your Wi-Fi network to nudge them along and encourage visitors to download the app with relevant offers and content.

Standing by the food court? Use the app to pay and get 10% off now!

Liked Beyonce on Facebook? Get tickets in the app now before it sells out.

Seats in the upper deck? Upgrade instantly with the app.

Prompting a user to take a specific action, at the precise time, is the right way to ensure the app is opened, properly permissioned, and used to the delight of your visitor. Right message, right interval, right person, right context, perfectly executed every time.


Your customer’s place in the sales funnel doesn’t stop progressing once they leave your venue. Continued engagement ensures that visitors return again and again and two of the most valuable channels we’ve helped clients deploy are triggered emails and targeted social media.

An effective method is to continue the conversation with targeted triggered emails post-visit. An email strategy should be informed by their unique behavior and tailored to their position in the funnel. For instance, remind fans who downloaded the app but didn’t engage the compelling reason why they downloaded the app in the first place, with a deep link into your app—landing them in the exact spot inside your app. For visitors deeper into the funnel, trigger an email for an upcoming show from an artist they like on Facebook (as we identified earlier in the Wi-Fi connection flow).

Complementary paid and organic social strategy is another powerful way to continue engagement. Try retargeting your visitors as a custom audience with the same hyper-targeted messaging to reinforce the value of using your app and drive engagement. Use lookalike audiences derived from your visitor custom audience to grow your community and top-of-funnel leads.

Marketers use SocialSign.In’s multi channel on-premise solution to effortlessly connect and engage with visitors post visit be that Wi-Fi, email, or social.


These strategies have served our clients well in delivering real ROI from their app investment. SocialSign.in’s low friction on-premise marketing solutions and your app strategy work together as a cohesive solution to position your app for success. Be where your customers are and use your largest addressable audience on Wi-Fi to drive app acquisition as well as other on-premise marketing programs.


We would love to hear form you about your current app acquisition strategies, drop us an email at info@socialsign.in

Solutions & Options

Wi-Fi Marketing

Infrastructure Details

Devices Affected

Wi-Fi Integrations