User Acquisition tips for apps similar to ZOMATO, UBER, AND PRACTO (Part-1)

User Acquisition is the first step towards building an app-based business model. I have already written on ‘how to analyze your app users’ with the help of cohort charts and setting up the right funnels. In this post, I would go a step back and suggest ways in which various app-based businesses can acquire users to start off.

To begin with, please understand that acquiring users is not where the job gets done. It must be followed by the right strategic moves to sustain retention and become valuable. Everything begins with app discovery and then followed by acquisition, usage, and retention. Here is a simple flow chart that sums it up all.


This is how the entire machine of app discovery, engagement and retention works.

This is how the entire machine of app discovery, engagement, and retention works.


Nature of the app- Generic, Value-based and Medium involvement
Target audience demography- Across income levels, Mostly youngsters
Preferred mode of discovery- Generic platforms such as Mail, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, Google Adwords.

So do you remember the mails that Zomato sent you informing about one of your FB friends joining the platform? Or do you remember those FB mobile feed ads that appeared once you went to the site looking for some restaurant related information?
It is apparent that an app like Zomato is routed through generic platforms to drive adoption. And this is what you need to do if you planning an app-based business model similar to Zomato.

User Acquisition for an app like Zomato-

To acquire users for an app like Zomato, one must play to their differentiating factors. There are numerous apps built to solve the same problem, but users often gravitate to the one that got it right. I hope you also have that X-factor in your app.

As a part of the strategy, it is always better to hunt for food and restaurant related local queries. To start off create a site and optimize it for google. Link it to the app. As far as additional efforts are concerned, here are a few points-

  • Create a Facebook login button in your app/site for easy sign-up
  • Inform FB friends of app users through mail
  • Go to start up forums and talk about your app to the users
  • Go to news stories related to food start-ups or anything relevant, and talk about your app
  • One can also join FB groups related to restaurants and market their app(s) there
  • Tie up with restaurants and ask them to register for the app

Fundamental Intent to download the app will be to know about restaurants and eateries. Give some information on the site and leave the creme-da-la-creme in the app. Don’t forget to hint that in you site.
Engagement can be high as people eat regularly at restaurants
Retention for elite users can also be high as reviewers are rewarded with badges and other titles that are non-monetary in nature. People can also retain for the sake of their friends being there.


There is a lot of demand for taxi booking apps right now. If you also fall in that league and planning to make it big with a ride sharing app, here are a few tips for user acquisition-

Nature of the app- Generic, Utility-based. Medium to High involvement
Target audience demography- Across income levels, tech-savvy young population
Preferred mode of discovery- Generic platforms such as mail, facebook ads, twitter ads, Google Adwords, Youtube Ads

Uber has been able to acquire users mostly from free rides on app installs. In developing countries like India, the strategy has worked really well. With continual news stories coming to light about its massive funding, the startup gained from brand recognition and familiarity as well. The company is is also seen tieing up with leading youth entertainment channels on Youtube for user acquisition.

TVF, a leading youth entertainment channel is giving 2 free Uber rides for singing up on their own site. The screengrab is from a series called Pitchers that mostly talks about the recent environment of startups in India. Since Uber is one of the most successful start ups out there, it connects well to the crowd.

TVF, a leading youth entertainment channel is giving 2 free Uber rides for signing up on their own site. The screengrab is from a series called Pitchers that shows the happening environment of startups in India. Since Uber is one of the most successful startups out there, it connects well to the crowd.

User acquisition for an app like Uber-

  • Rewarded referrals are a great way to spread the app across
  • Free rides on app installs
  • Twitter and FB feed ads can work as well
  • One can tie up with late night destinations especially bars, restaurants and movie theaters
  • Tie up with airlines and try to bundle the rides with their services
  • Tie up with other app start-ups such as Oyo rooms or Air BnB to bundle services
  • Run QR code banner ads and target the search terms that show purchase intent

Fundamental Intent to download the app will be out of curiosity and competitive pricing. Service will count for future rides.
Engagement can be frequent for a cohort of users who travel regularly.
Retention can be moderate. One can increase retention by notification marketing based on future events.


Practo is very similar to ZocDoc as far as the business model is concerned. Revenue is earned through a couple of modes. Doctors can buy a subscription for the SaaS-based model while the front end with a search bar, meant for patients, features ads. The business model of the ad network is similar to Google Adwords.

Nature of the app- Non-generic, Value Based and High involvement.
Target Audience Demography- Middle-class income demography in India
Preferred mode of discovery- Online organic search is the best way to get discovered

A lot of startups are eyeing the healthcare domain at this moment. Practo has definitely chipped in at the right time. Practo started 5 years ago when most of the traffic used to come from the web and a valuable online platform had worked for them. As far as mobile adoption is concerned, the company has grown organically and gained users mostly from word of mouth.

If you want to start something similar like Practo, and want your app to be discovered in a small budget, you would need some strategy. If I am given an app similar to Practo for user acquisition, I would first build a solid website that could assist people in ways Practo lacks. This will be followed by implicitly or explicitly suggesting users to install the app.

User Acquisition for an app like Practo-

  • Focus on exploratory search queries from patients and follow the top sites that pop for search results. Learn about the topics and tell about your app there.
  • Lure these people with free consultation from reputed doctors
  • Focus on discovery and penetration- Create referral benefits for users based on free consultation rewards
  • Focus on Retention-You can also give free consultation to set of users who referred other users. You can also create an economy within the app where users get points based on referrals and monetization of the referrals as well.
  • You can also go to health and fitness related forums to market your app
  • Use Quora intelligently-Put private doctors who are registered with you startup to write descriptive answers. Their recommendation can drive a lot of installs
  • Along with substantial buildup and posting of data by the marketing team, create an informative site for google to throw it up on the first page. Link it to the app suggesting it as a final step to consult a doctor for free.

Fundamental Intent to download the app will be to get valuable consultations from the best doctors.
Engagement can be low to moderate. It can be increased with bundling other forms of content in the app. Notifications can also work if they related to free stuff.
Retention can be moderate to high. High retention can occur for satisfied users. Since health care services are of high involvement, a great experience will not only retain users but also drive a lot of recommendations too.

I hope I have been able to give some valuable points regarding acquisition for apps like  Zomato, Uber, and Practo. I will write about more apps with differing business models in the coming days.

Part Two- User Acquisition tips for apps similar to SPRING, PARENTHOOD & MINK

Part Three-User Acquisition tips for apps similar to POCKET, DWOLLA, & BUMBLE/TINDER

Arup Dey

Arup Dey

I am passionate about Games, Content Marketing, NLE apps and Videos. In my free time I Read, Eat and Code. I see life around me as interconnected subsets of small events. Helps me learn a lot!