Why you need to start using App Clips for new user acquisition in iOS 14 immediately

By John Koetsier September 28, 2020

I get it: iOS 14 is pretty new. We had all the drama and angst and excitement about IDFA, and now the actual operating system is rolling out, and most user acquisition professionals are just finishing heaving a massive sigh of relief that they can still do their jobs the traditional way, although just for a short period of time.

But here’s a really good thing about iOS 14: App Clips for user acquisition.

Yes, it’s extra work: another thing to do on your already-long-to-do list. But it’s potentially super-powerful. And I mean every letter of that S-U-P-E-R. I’m confident enough about it to say that you simply must explore using iOS 14 App Clips as a part of your user acquisition strategy.

Here’s how it works from a consumer perspective:

I just had a chance to try out App Clips as a consumer getting targeted for an app install. And it was awesome. (That’s not something you can say about every marketing event that you personally experience.) It was simple. It was clean. It was quick.

And maybe, more than anything else, it was fun. That might be at least partially due to the novelty, but that is another reason to jump on this quickly.

Here’s the consumer flow, which you can see in the screenshare movie above:

  1. Click a link (this one happened to be on Twitter)
  2. Tap Play (this is probably a differently named button if your app is not a game)
  3. Confirm that tap with another tap on Play in a pane that slides up from the bottom of the screen with an app image, an app title, and an invitation to try it
  4. Immediately jump into the App Clip, which has probably already been loading in the background
  5. Start playing
  6. Get an invitation to “Get App”
  7. Tap it, and you’re immediately in the full app

The experience felt incredibly fluid and clean. At no point did I feel like I was making a big decision.

I’m not sure about you, but I don’t install hundreds or thousands of apps on my phone. I only install apps or games when I’ve been convinced that they’re going to be useful or interesting, or if I’m really desperate for a solution to a problem and I think that app might solve it for me. I don’t like cluttering up my phone with too many apps. (And yes, that’s less of a problem in iOS 14 with App Library.)

Here, I kind of feel like I was being led along a path. Each step is simple. No step feels like a big commitment or a major leap. In fact, it pretty much feels like tapping links on the web: no real effort, no big investment, no major commitment.

What that means from a user acquisition point of view is that trying your app is now easy, quick, and entirely risk-free.

Also interesting: when I tapped Get App, I didn’t leave the game environment. I didn’t go to the home screen, or stay in the App Store as might have happened in iOS 13. Rather, I felt like I stayed in the same app, and now could just play more: simply continue playing the game that I had been playing. In fact, I also noticed that I was signed in with my Apple ID, although I had not explicitly asked for that (I’ll need more investigation here to understand what might have happened).

In short, the App Clip just seamlessly transitioned to the app itself.

It’s early days, obviously, but this looks to be an incredibly powerful option from a consumer perspective to try apps. And also incredibly powerful from a mobile marketer’s perspective to boost user acquisition.

App Clips in iOS 14 remind us, of course, of Instant Apps in Android. I’m not sure Instant Apps have gotten the reception that Google hoped for, but — as Apple often does — App Clips feels like a polished user experience that is ready for prime time.

Probably thanks to Apple’s opportunity to see how Google made it work initially.

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