App User Acquisition Strategy: 4 Keys To Success

Mapendo Team
May 30, 2022
App User Acquisition Strategy: 4 Keys To Success

A strong app user acquisition strategy is fundamental to guiding users to download and open your app. This process requires a systematic and sustainable strategy that allows your business to target users who generate post-install events and ideally have lifetime value for your app.

In this article we have outlined key factors to creating a successful app user acquisition strategy in 2022.

App User Acquisition Strategy and Mobile Attribution

The App User Acquisition strategy for your app starts with the attribution model. This is the strategy a marketer uses in order to understand which action is responsible for a conversion. This is extremely important as attribution modeling allows you to analyze your user journey and understand which channels and touchpoints are working together to convert your clicks into app installs.

In June 2020, Apple announced the end of deterministic mobile attribution based on unique device identifier (IDFA), and with it introduced SKAdNetwork, a new kind of technology attribution for all iOS users who didn’t want their device behavior recorded for marketing purposes. SKADNetwork is Apple’s privacy-friendly way to attribute impressions and clicks to app installs on iOS apps. It shares conversion data with advertisers without revealing any user-level or device-level data.

This completely changed the game and meant that advertisers were getting a smaller, filtered fraction of the data that they were gathering for campaign optimisation and ROI measurement.

  • SKAdNetwork

With SKAdNetwork everything runs on Apple properties: the attribution happens within the app store and then is verified on Apple’s servers, where data is “cleaned” and then sent to the advertiser with a delay of 24–48 hours. The goal for Apple here is to preserve sensitive data, such as the person’s identity or the IDFA, if the user has decided not to share it. The data are processed in order to guarantee the user’s privacy.

  • Probabilistic Attribution

Alongside SKAD, companies are also using probabilistic attribution, in order to guess the results of campaigns in real time, while still respecting users’ privacy. Probabilistic attribution model replaces the prior deterministic attribution, and is completely anonymous and respectful of the user’s privacy. As a result of this, we now have limited ad tracking, meaning that advertisers are getting less granular data, less accurate, and post backs are delayed by at least 24 hours after install, which makes optimizing campaigns in real-time very difficult.

With this setting enabled, the user’s IDFA appears blank when tracked. This means they won’t see specific ads targeted at them because, as far as networks see, the device has no identity. This meant that optimisation technology needed to be integrated in order to make campaigns work and be ROAS positive. There are some technologies, such as AAP by Appsflyer, that cunningly combine the privacy of the Skadnetwork approach, together with a probabilistic approach

View through Attribution

In order to run programmatic app user acquisition we strongly recommend to activate view through attribution (VTA) rather than click through attribution (CTA). The difference being that VTA is based on measuring the campaign performance from an ad impression i.e the ad being looked at, rather than a click.

The goal of view-through attribution is to provide advertisers more visibility into the ads and channels that are driving conversions and app installs.

If an advertiser ignores VTA and only uses click through attribution (CTA), they may be falsely assuming that a marketing channel or ad isn’t valuable in terms of driving conversions. Another danger of overlooking VTA is you will filter affiliate traffic only.

Machine Learning to Optimize App User Acquisition Strategy

Machine learning is your weapon for paid user acquisition, and the key to user retention. This form of AI can give a complete view of how marketers’ efforts are performing, providing improvements and ensuring your UA budget is spent wisely.

Machine learning involves algorithms that find insightful information without being told where to look, differing so from traditional computing, in which algorithms are sets of explicitly programmed instructions. Machine learning does this by leveraging algorithms that are trained on data, on which they learn in an iterative process in order to generate outputs, and automate decision-making processes.

In the post iOS 14 era, algorithms have been retrained so as to adapt to the fewer user data points. With Limit Ad Tracking (LAT) being the new norm for the mobile ecosystem, machine learning is essential for mobile attribution technology to provide advertisers with more visibility into the ads and channels that are driving conversions and app installs.

CPA or CPI? The Best Pricing Model for Your App User Acquisition Strategy

CPI and CPA app campaigns are performance based pricing models, meaning that advertisers only pay for concrete results such as app installs or actions. Therefore, these two pricing models are both less risky than Cost-Per-Mille and Cost-Per-Click campaigns. Deciding which is most suitable as your payout method depends on the goal of your campaign. Let’s have a look at the differences and advantages of both:

CPI, Cost-Per-Install, app campaigns, are designed to pay an amount for each time a user installs the app, depending on DSPs and ad networks. CPI as a pricing model is:

  • Easy to optimize as it relies on just the app installation
  • Takes less time to scale volumes of installs.
  • Can be optimized towards CPA benefits.

CPA on the other hand, stands for Cost-Per-Action, and is when advertisers choose a user’s action after they have installed the app to measure and only pay for users who engage in that action. What is special about CPA is that it is:

  • Less risky for advertisers as they only have to pay when they have generated revenue from the user.
  • Aimed at acquiring higher value users.
  • Helps to increase ROAS.

“To get newly acquired consumers to stick around, marketers need solid retention strategies so their users become “superfans”. Analyzing your data will be essential to understanding the full conversion funnel and user journey” (Shubham, Adjust).

Deciding on which pricing model is best suited for your app install campaign is all depending on the goal of your app. Do you wish to grow your app installation rates, in which case CPI is for you, OR, is your goal to acquire high-quality users with strong levels of engagement? If that is the case then CPA is what you’re looking for. These high quality users will help increase the ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) of your app install campaign.

Forecast of $400B in Ad Spend for 2023

Forecast of 400B in Ad Spend in App User Acquisition)

Top channels For App User Acquisition Strategy in 2022

A winning app user acquisition strategy for your app is to combine many channels through which to target your uses. The first and most important step is to design an overall app user acquisition strategy deciding which channels you will use. This is to ensure the range of platforms you are using work holistically. Promoting your app in this way increases the likelihood of more installs as a wider audience is reached.

  • Social Media is one of the most popular mobile App UA channels. It can be very effective for app user acquisition when used correctly and is directly measurable. Platforms like Facebook, TikTok are incredibly valuable for UA as they also ad platforms that target specific users.
  • Google has proven time and time again to be a highly equitable app user acquisition channel. From its search engine and app store to YouTube and discovery ads there is no end to the exposure this channel can give to your app.
  • Mobile Ad Networks

A strong UA strategy will incorporate these with other more traditional channels:

  • Offline Advertising is all non digital advertising efforts such as TV, radio, Billboard. While it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of offline advertising, is it proven to be effective?
  • PR and Press Coverage: the right publicity is a great addition to any UA strategy as it is guaranteed to boost user awareness of the brand and app.
  • Organic App User Acquisition & ASO (App Store Optimization) are incorporated into video creation, social media posting and blogging. These channels are the golden ticket to building a loyal following of loyal customers.

Controlling owned media is also an essential part of any app user acquisition strategy. Examples are websites and blog sites. Your organization’s ability to create its own message, as well as the timing and delivery of said messages across multiple channels, helps owned media drive value. The more owned media you have, the more chances you have to extend your brand presence in the digital sphere and reach more users.

Adopting a disciplined app user acquisition strategy is vital regardless of the scale at which you operate or the industry you belong to. Considerations such as activating view through attribution, how you are going to utilize machine learning and also which channels you will target users through are all practices that will build an unbreakable UA strategy. These are the keys to continued growth and revenue generation of your app.