This article is the fourth in our series on how to acquire new users for your app.
Yes, you can get users through App Store Optimization and other organic methods, but in the highly-competitive app market, it’s hard to win without paid acquisition.
In terms of digital marketing make sure that, for the most part, the lifetime value of a converted user is greater than the cost of getting the user. In other words: don’t sink $5 of your marketing budget into a customer worth $4.
Now that you understand that paid user acquisition will be a key ingredient to your apps growth, let’s dive into some of the channels available for running these campaigns.
Social media channels make most of their money from marketing revenue, and for good reason. Social media companies like Facebook are able to compile tons of data on their users from the profiles they fill out, things they share and like, and pages they follow. By offering this data to advertisers they are able to help these companies pinpoint their target customers making their ads more effective.
From the standpoint of both the companies and the audience, this is perfect. As a company, you can narrow down your target audience to the people who fit your user persona. If your app is about checking baseball stats, you could just show the ad to people who mention baseball as an interest. For the audience, it means you’ll only see ads relevant to things you might actually want or need, reducing annoyance.
Facebook allows you to advertise in two distinct ways:
- You can promote your page’s activities and presence, growing your social reach and promoting app downloads through your Facebook page.
- You can market an outside web page or app marketplace with a direct-linked advertisement. In this case you would send your audience to an app download page that’s not on Facebook.
Facebook allows you to target your audience, track your results, and take users directly to your Google Play or App Store download portals. Smart App Marketer has an entire article dedicated specifically to app install ads through Facebook, and it doesn’t leave out a single detail.
Twitter offers a similar product to Facebook, but it cross-sections its targeting a little differently. For example, device usage and wireless connectivity figure highly in Twitter’s options, where Facebook doesn’t offer the options at all.
Being such a strong international social medium, Twitter makes sense if you want to target abroad but your app requires a certain OS or device to download. This might sound trivial until you consider that, on Facebook, you can only guess at what device someone is using based on other behavior features such as “liking” the Apple Inc. Facebook page.
Mobyaffiliates has a simple rundown on setting up app install ads on Twitter. Getting the ads up and running shouldn’t take more than a couple hours, depending on how much time you have to spend on designing them.
Whether you use Instagram or not, it’s still a growing social media outlet with a large audience that can really boost your growth. The fact that Instagram is such a visual experience can totally seal the deal for you if your app is very aesthetically focused or specific to images. The app install ads that Instagram shows are, above all, another image getting in front of the user, so make sure you bring your best design game.
And don’t back out just because Instagram isn’t a titan of data gathering yet; parent company Facebook shares audience targeting data between the two accounts. Let Facebook provide the information you need and have Instagram show the ad people want to see. It’s a win-win situation. Here’s a great post by Localytics on Instagram app install ads if you’re looking for more info.
Search engines are a great way to market your app, especially under two conditions:
- If your app answers a very specific need that people will search for online.
- The organic traffic for your app’s key search terms is very competitive, but the paid advertising is not.
The great thing about paid search ads is that you are able to place your in front of people when they are actively searching for your specific solution. To get started perform some keyword research to find the best keywords for your paid search campaign and launch campaigns on the major search engines like Google and Bing.
Need a little more help? Here’s a guide by PPC Hero explaining specifically how to use Google Adwords to drive more app installs.
App Store and Google Play search ads
Mobile app marketplaces like the App Store and Google Play have traditionally been free of ads, limiting developers to only app store optimization (ASO) and featured app lists to attract audience attention. However, these app marketplaces are changing their tune, and soon both stores will provide advertisers the opportunity to promote their apps when potential users search for relevant keywords within the app stores themselves.
Google Play, the first of the major two app marketplaces to adopt paid advertising and uses Google AdWords to manage these campaigns. Search ads within Google Play have been available since late 2015. The value of advertising directly in the Google Play store is that you are messaging to nearly one billion Android users who are actively searching and interested in downloading apps.
Unlike App Store search advertising, Google is implicitly using whatever data they have on users for Google Play ad targeting (unless a user modifies his or her account settings). This means that, in addition to targeting your app for a search term, you may also be prioritized and shown to a user based on other relevance factors, such as location.
Apple App store
The App Store is huge. With it already being difficult for smaller app developers to get their product in front of relevant audiences, some wonder whether paid search will bury matching results even further. The tides are changing whether developers like it or not, though, so it makes more sense to go with the flow and take advantage of paid search when it matches your app.
Apple’s search targeting will not take advantage of user data Apple already possesses, on the basis of protecting privacy. According to Apple:
“Search Ads is an efficient and easy way for you to promote your app within the U.S. App Store search results, helping people discover or reengage with your app at the very moment they are searching for apps like yours. Designed to give users a safe search experience, Search Ads sets a new standard for delivering relevant ads while respecting user privacy.”
It seems, for the moment, that you’ll be bidding almost exclusively on search terms. The good news? With research and smart budgeting, you may be able to displace entrenched organic App Store search competitors. You’ll have a fighting chance to show above them with paid search, and then your organic rank may improve from your new downloads.
Mobile ad networks
Ad networks display your advertisements on a variety of specific websites and mobile apps, not just on search engines or social media websites. Because active app users tend to be a logical target for selling apps, the most appropriate ad networks for driving app installs are typically mobile ad networks where your ads shown in other apps and mobile sites.
There are numerous mobile ad networks available and choosing the right one can be quite overwhelming. To make your decision easier many of these networks help advertisers get granular on the types of audiences they want to advertise to helping improve conversion rates and overall campaign effectiveness.
The goal is to help you reach the right people without having to over-analyze, making these networks easier to manage for app businesses. The key is to test these networks for ROI but it helps to choose the networks you want to test smartly coming out of the gate. Checkout the image below to get a visual on just how many options are available to mobile advertisers.
To help you navigate the overwhelming world of mobile ad networks and make the best choice for marketing your app, here’s a look at how these networks are categorized.
Demand-side platform (DSP)
A demand-side platform, or DSP, are services that offer the ability to buy ad inventory across a variety of ad exchanges, networks, and publishers. The best DSPs help advertisers pinpoint the best inventory for targeting specific users based on location, interests, browsing behaviors and more.
In this type of network, publishers make their ad inventory available through ad exchanges where ad impressions are auctioned off to the advertisers with the highest bids.
Supply-side platform (SSP)
A supply-side platform, or SSP, is where companies will interface with an ad exchange if they want to show ads inside of their own app. An SSP is, in basic terms, where the people who show the ads go to see the other side of the equation from a DSP.
If you wanted to show ads in your own app as a revenue source, you’d look at an SSP. This is not exclusive in any way, though, as you can still advertise your own app through the DSP.
App install platforms
App install platforms are advertising networks focused on app installs as the primary measure of effectiveness. Some networks charge you by the number of impressions (how many people see your ad) or clicks (how many people interact with your ad), but app install platforms only charge when and ad click leads to a completed download of your app.
Affiliate networks essentially use revenue sharing as a way to get more people to promote products. An affiliate, in exchange for driving an agreed upon action i.e. an app download, can earn an agreed upon sum of money for each action. Building a team of affiliates through these types of networks is an excellent way to get your app to spread like wildfire.
For comprehensive list of mobile ad networks brokedown by DSPs, SSPs, app install platforms, and affiliate networks, check out this article by Mobyaffiliates. You can also check out an extensive list of popular ad networks here.
Mobile ad network resources and tools:
Avocarrot can help you narrow your search with an article on how to choose a good mobile ad network. It requires a big picture approach with some data and some qualitative analysis, but it should be easy to quickly determine the major outliers for good and bad.
Video ad networks
From the name of these networks you probably already realize that the ad inventory offered by these networks comes in the form of video.
Video ads typically cost more to create than static ads, and are more expensive to display through ad networks. However, video ads often boast a much better conversion rate, making them worth the cost so long as you can safely assume the risk of such an expensive ad failing.
Video ad resources and tools:
Video marketing is bigger than you think and it’s still growing, according to Tubular Insights. Whether or not you can turn this data into part of your user acquisition strategy is up to you.
Apptamin also has an article to choose from the best in-app video ad networks. With such a specific need, it’s important to have a good selection of relevant in-app video ad networks to back you up.
Measure your user acquisition returns
If you spend money on paid user acquisition and don’t have an analytics tool set up to track your campaign results you will have no way of knowing which channels or ad formats are yielding the best return on your marketing dollars and will essentially being flushing money down the drain.
Don’t make this bonehead mistake. Our next article is about measuring, tracking, and attribution so that you can start analyzing your campaign data to make more informed decisions. In fact, this kind of data applies to all of our previous sections so far, not just paid user acquisition. We’ll show you how to get the information it takes to build a better app and marketing strategy.