Trends & Insights
Cracking the first 10,000 App Installs using TikTok
April 24, 2024
Hamza Alsamraee

App marketers know the struggle: growing an app to 10,000 installs feels like an intricate art. Endless experiments drain budgets, leaving you guessing what truly clicks. But what if you could unlock a predictable formula for successful app growth?

Enter Hamza Alsamraee, founder of, and his secret sauce: TikTok. 

Hamza has cracked the TikTok code for success, and he's got the receipts to back it up too: over 1 billion + views, a 48% average CAC decrease, a staggering 5.6x ROAS, and over $100 million in managed ad spend. 

In this post, get expert insights on campaign strategy from Hamza and campaign measurement & optimization from Airbridge, one of TikTok’s marketing partners. 

What do most app marketers get wrong about TikTok?

I’ll be honest–there’s no one single “hack,” but there is a process we follow that has been golden. It’s all about good content. Everything else is secondary. 

There is no golden content style (there are tips we will cover below), so the key is quick, efficient iteration. Most teams fail at this.

Most agencies and in-house teams source content the wrong way. They contact a bunch of influencers/UGC creators, or worse, they hire an agency to contact a bunch of random UGC creators. It’s nearly impossible to find reliable, high quality, and cost efficient creators this way.

The reality is–and I know because I was a creator once–creators are notoriously slow and rarely hit deadlines. They also don’t scale very well–a single short form video can cost a brand thousands of dollars. On the other hand–there are a lot of affordable “UGC” creators, but finding a good one is like finding a needle in a haystack. Brands cycle through dozens just to find someone decent.

I was on the other side of the equation before–I ran growth at Faves, a subscription app which has reached 1m+ downloads. I witnessed first hand how hard it is to source creators–so I became the creator. I personally made 1000+ videos for Faves. 

But I’m assuming most people don’t have the time (or interest) to make thousands of videos. The key is having reliable, analytical creators that can iterate for you. This is the biggest difference between Newform and other agencies. Our creators are all in house–and they all have analytical backgrounds (tech, engineering, etc). 

This is why the biggest growth “hack” is having a reliable, in-house creator that cranks out dozens of videos a month methodically (whether through us or as a direct employee). Instead of throwing out creative briefs to random creators with varying levels of quality–now you can control for content quality and focus on positioning. 

It is this iteration on positioning that ultimately unlocks profitable, scalable growth for your app. You don’t want to change too many variables and just throw things at the wall to see what sticks. Focus on building content programmatically, testing your hypotheses along the way. 

Thousands of TikTok videos later, what surprising insights for maximum ROI and low CPI have you uncovered? 

The word “hate.” I’m not kidding–almost half our top performing videos start the video with “I hate ___.”

Painkillers sell much better than vitamins–not only at the pharmacy, but in the app world as well. Position your app as a painkiller and see results rapidly improve.

In addition, the first person works really well (I [the creator] have this problem). Second person ads don’t work as well in our experience. Instead of “you,” focus on “I.” It makes content more authentic and relatable.

How do performance on Spark Ads compare to other ad options on TikTok?

For Spark Ads to work well, a piece of content needs to be doing well organically already - meaning there is already existing engagement which increases watch time and lowers CPM (tiktok users love scrolling through comments). You’ll notice the biggest app performance advertisers rarely use them for new ads with low engagement as the effect is nowhere to be seen. 

This shouldn’t discourage you from Spark Ads altogether. In fact a lot of apps have had TikToks blow up about them and their effects amplified through Spark Ads. I encourage all app advertisers to search for their app on TikTok and contact creators to get rights to use their videos as Spark Ads.

Acquisition is key, but retention is the real beast. You've cracked the 10,000 install code, but how do you convert fleeting users into loyal fans and, ultimately, paying customers?

Across all apps–don’t go after trend based content (sounds, challenges, etc). It brings in fleeting users. You want to pitch the app for what it is to attract loyal users that will retain and monetize.

Across all apps–we’ve found “phone in hand” content to work better than purely green screen/screen recording content. Instead of screen recording the app, throw in more live demos with a phone in someone’s hand. Something like this.

At the end of the day–most of retention and monetization is an onboarding problem. But onboarding begins with your content. We focus heavily on this “content-onboarding” fit at Newform. If the content sets incorrect expectations about the product, it’s bound to fail. 

App marketers often stumble on TikTok. What are the most common mistakes made when marketing on TikTok for growth?

A few things.

Targeting the wrong audience with install campaigns. If you have a subscription app and have a revenue goal–you should avoid audiences under 25. While they may show great top of funnel metrics (i.e. CPI, CPT), they do not convert well down the funnel. However, if you are optimizing towards a payment event, this matters less.

Targeting too narrow: the algorithm knows better than 99% of media buyers. I’ve seen only a couple of very rare cases where restricting the algorithm worked well. For the vast majority of apps, just go with broad targeting. 

*Airbridge Tip* Optimize app subscription with funnel analytics

Reallocate ad budgets or optimize subscription funnel by taking a granular view of channel/campaign/creative/country/device drop-off rates across Install, Sign-Ups, Paywall, Free Trial, Subscription, 2nd/3rd Payment steps, and more. 
Airbridge Funnel report example

Spending too much money on Android or T2 countries. The biggest opportunity by far is iOS, US users. Android users have similar acquisition costs to iOS users, but are harder to monetize. T2 countries may show very low CPI, but it will be hard to scale profitably given low monetization potential. We focus ~90% of our spend on iOS users, and most of that spend is on US users. Other profitable countries to target include the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Scandinavian countries, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, etc.  

*Airbridge Tip* Uncover retention and monetization insights post-install

Whether you’re a gaming, subscription, or social app, dive into granular in-app metrics like d1, d3, d7 ROAS/retention, ARPU, CPI, Time to First Purchase, Predictive Lifetime and Predictive Lifetime Value, down to the channel/campaign/device/country level on the Airbridge dashboard.
Airbridge Revenue report example

About NewForm

NewForm is a full stack growth partner for your app. Unlike other agencies who focus on ecommerce, NewForm has been programmatically building content specifically for app growth with profitability at the forefront. Through their short form content strategy, they've scaled dozens of early stage apps and generated 8 figures in revenue. 

Hamza (founder and CEO) and team are happy to chat, you can book a time here.

About Airbridge

Global app marketers ditch costly attribution tools for Airbridge’s unified measurement platform. Our ultra-granular, hyper-configurable dashboard provides real-time visibility of cross-platform user journeys across mobile, web, PC, and console from first click to loyal users. 200+ metrics, iOS measurement, deep linking, fraud protection, and data sharing - at an all-in-one price that fuels your marketing budget, instead of draining it. See why Nexon, Alarmy, and LG made the switch.

Get your free demo at!

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Hamza Alsamraee
Founder and CEO @NewForm
Hamza is the Co-founder and CEO at NewForm, a growth engine for consumer software. NewForm scales consumer software through content across paid media channels. With a vertically integrated process, campaigns are rigorously tested at scale through volumetric iteration.
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