Xtra: Leading the Shift from Downloads to Usage | Presentations and Cases




Our smartphones. We cannot live without them. They bring us a tremendous amount of information and convenience. On average, we use our smartphones 3 hours a day, and advertisers are well aware of this. In the last few years, every big brand has started developing their own app to engage with their customers. Big app-driving campaigns have been launched, yielding impressive download results.

The true challenge brands are facing today is not just ensuring people are aware of their app's existence or encouraging them to download it. People download apps all the time and have, on average, 90 apps on their phone. So, what is the big challenge, you ask? It's ensuring your app is used, remains relevant, and continuously brings value to your customers. In Belgium, half of all downloaded apps get deleted within a month. Xtra, the most downloaded retail app in Belgium, quickly realized that the true business value of an app comes from active users rather than the number of app downloads. Alongside Xtra, Colruyt Group created different apps for every branch (Collect & Go, Dats 24, MyColruyt). To transition from the most downloaded to the most used retail app in Belgium, they had to change course. Xtra embarked on an ambitious mission to merge everything, creating one app to meet all their consumers' needs. An app that can become your personal assistant and help consumers save time and money. One app to rule them all.

Colruyt Group achieved this with their Xtra app. Significant upgrades introduced a lot of new features:

  • Enable mobile pay (eliminating the need for a card at the checkout)
  • A convenient way to make your grocery list and share it
  • Monitor the budget spent at the grocery store
  • Endless options in recipes
  • Collect loyalty points to plant trees
  • Integration of Collect&Go and MyColruyt app

And many other features were released to simplify the lives of Colruyt's consumers.


Authentic engagement to boost Xtra’s usage


Colruyt Group expected to see a growth in active users following the addition of amazing features. However, reality hit hard. Despite these efforts, the majority of app users engaged with only one feature in the Xtra app: the QR code for discounts. Being perceived as merely a digital discount tool significantly diverged from the desired positioning as “A personal assistant that saves you time and money.” To become the most used retail app in Belgium, the campaign's goal was clear: increase the number of features used per user. People needed to discover other features to truly value the app's potential to simplify their lives. Despite promoting the app through media, it was evident we were failing to encourage our customers to explore beyond the QR code.

The core purpose of having an app that simplifies everyone's life means it should do so for everyone. It quickly became clear why success was unreachable previously. "Everybody" is not an audience. This seems logical; each person is unique, which is why we haven't made an impact.

So Semetis and OnlyHumans combined their efforts, starting with deep research, which made us realize that a second part of our problem is advertising that feels out of place or overtly promotion, doesn’t help build trust with the audience.1,2,3 And if there is one thing a personal assistant should be, is trustworthy. We unlearned everything we knew had worked well before and pivoted to a native and content strategy, aiming to create content authentic to each media channel’s type and tone. Obviously, our goal was beyond just blending in, it was about creating value for the audience. Content they feel is worth interacting with. The native content plan was built up in 4 categories.

1. In-feed Social Media Ads

A well-executed in-feed ad has the potential to trigger an authentic feeling, rather than being promotional. The main reason why social media was a very important part of our strategy is because we needed to go through a learning curve. By playing with targeting options, we could discover the most fitted tone of voice of our different user segments on this platform. Five individual features were vigorously tested on Meta from June until September. Every wave of testing had the same duration, budget, and same mix of engaging content. Such as:

  • Very relatable day-to-day Whatsapp conversations: e.g. “What do you want to eat tonight?” or “Can you quickly get this from the store for our dinner?” (previews in annex)
  • ‘How to’ videos and carousels that explain how to set up / use a certain feature. The aim was to lower the threshold as much as possible for people to download the app or use a certain feature (previews in annex)
  • Instagram polls that had the purpose of ramping up engagement with the users
  • An abundance of other static creatives to test a variety of things, each with a different content angle to see what resonates best with our audiences.

The results of these tests were thoroughly analyzed and used in the big burst campaigns that followed after September.

2. Influencer content

Collaborating with influencers was the beating heart of our strategy. Studies4,5 show how valuable this type of content is. Influencers are much more authentic than brands. They deliver social proof and authentic content humanly. This increases the probability of interacting/convincing vastly. The influencers were carefully selected so that in their totality they could speak to the everybody audience. Rather than just using these influencers for their online following and forcing them to say what we wanted them to say, they got very few guidelines on the type of content they needed to make. Authenticity remained a top priority, resulting in 70 deliverables of creator content about Xtra through the eyes of the consumer. Organically alone on TikTok this started to live and reached over 820K people and got more than 1.7mio video views. The videos were also amplified through owned and paid media channels TikTok and Meta.

3. Branded content on social media

Xtra's owned media, especially their website, played a crucial role, delving deeper into content beyond other channels. They published numerous blog articles on enabling features and tips for using the Xtra app to simplify life, aiming to eliminate user hurdles. Besides organic website presence, Xtra promoted these articles through social media and native banners on the Zemanta and RMB network, resulting in over 12,000 visits lasting at least 15 seconds each.

4. Sponsored Articles on News Websites and Blogs

We collaborated with saleshouses to share Xtra's story through native articles written by Ads & Data and Roularta content writers, reaching audiences beyond Xtra's normal scope. These campaigns, optimized for quality reads, varied their content and placement based on the topic—recipes linked to ‘Libelle-lekker’ and NewPharma articles to health and news sites (gezondheid.be, de Standaard, NWS, GvA of HBvL). Additionally, native banners on premium sites directed traffic to these articles and Xtra's blog, enhancing visibility. This strategy achieved over 34,000 quality reads and more than 60,000 banner clicks.




The case emphasized the need for an app not just to gain downloads but to focus on activity. Xtra shifted from traditional promotional communication to creating authentic content tailored to each user and channel. This strategy's success is evident in three key outcomes: active users increased by 24%, monthly feature usage doubled, and the average number of features used per user rose by 57%, making the app significantly more relevant for users.

At Semetis, we're proud of this case and are sharing it with other advertisers to encourage a shift from focusing on downloads to improving user engagement. This success was made possible through our collaboration with OnlyHumans, demonstrating the effectiveness of combining tailored content creation with strategic media selection.



  1. Emodo Inc. “The Benefits of Native Advertising for Brands and Publishers.” 8 September 2023, https://www.emodoinc.com/blog/the-benefits-of-native-advertising-for-brands-and-publishers/.
  2. Wong, Lisa. “Study: As More Users Move Away from Social, Native Ads Offer a Powerful Alternative Experience – Outbrain.” Outbrain, April 2023, https://www.outbrain.com/blog/savanta-report-power-of-native/.
  3. Taboola. “New Study Indicates Native Advertising Outperforms Other Channels at Boosting Mid-Funnel KPIs.” Taboola.com, 11 January 2023, https://www.taboola.com/press-release/brandliftsuccess
  4. GRIN. “Why Influencer Marketing Is Important.” GRIN, March 2024, https://grin.co/blog/why-influencer-marketing/.
  5. Needle, Flori. “Benefits of Influencer Marketing [Data + Expert Insight].” HubSpot Blog, 26 March 2024, https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/benefits-of-influencer-marketing.

publication auteur Pieter Maesmans
Pieter Maesmans

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