How to Promote an App: 5 Essential Steps

Chiara Patrizi
February 22, 2023
How to Promote an App: 5 Essential Steps

If you are an app developer you know how difficult it can be to create and grow your app user base, especially without a well-built app install campaign. What is an app install campaign? Its name is quite self-explicative, it is an advertising campaign whose goal is to generate as many installs as possible. Achieving a successful app campaign means to stand out among the millions of competitors and it is crucial to reach a successful paid user acquisition strategy. But how can you promote an app with a successful app install campaign and catch your users’ eyes? Let me guide you through this process by following 5 significant steps.

Integrate with MMP

The first step in your app promotion campaign consists in integrating with a Mobile Measurement Partner (MMP) such as Appsflyer, Adjust and Singular. They are attribution platforms that provide a SDK link, thanks to whom advertisers are able to attribute installs and in-app actions to the ads that have generated them and, therefore, to the traffic provider who is responsible for the ads. MMPs play a key role because they provide you with a complete and unified outline of your app promotion campaign and they also check for eventual fraud.

Set goals and KPIs for your app promotion campaign

When setting up an app promotion campaign is fundamental to establish which goals you want to reach through it. Advertisers can choose whether to focus on increasing their user base by using a CPI campaign or to focus on profits by gaining high-quality users, who are most likely to spend money while using the app producing in-app purchases. Therefore, the second step is to set the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to optimize the ad campaign. To give some examples, advertisers can set the goal of boosting their Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), which is the specific revenue generated from a specific ad, or their Return on Investment (ROI). The latter is useful to measure the long-term profitability of the campaign, in fact it considers the Lifetime Value of the users rather than the Average Revenue per User (ARPU).

Choose a pricing model (CPI/CPA) for your app promotion campaign

Once your goals are settled, the third step in your app promotion campaign is to choose a pricing model. You can usually choose between CPI (Cost per Install) and CPA (Cost per Action). What elements should you consider making this choice? It depends on the kind of app promotion campaign you are running. Are you looking to gain as many new users as possible? CPI is what you are looking for because through this pricing model it is easier to do optimizations and to increase the volume of installs, which is approximately equivalent to the number of acquired users . However, once your goal shifts and you want to reach high-quality users, who bring you the most revenue, CPA is the perfect solution. In addition to that, CPA is a pricing model less risky for advertisers, because they only pay when users perform actions inside the app and  generate revenues.

Select targeted countries and platforms

Moving on to the fourth step, selecting the countries you want to reach through your app install campaign is crucial. After an initial phase of data acquisition, you can decide to narrow your target users to specific regions or cities that had a better performance during the ad campaign. However, you can always decide to keep testing new countries or regions to gather more data and optimize your app promotion campaign results. Selecting a targeted platform can also be a way to improve the performance of user acquisition campaigns. There are some differences between iOS and Android platforms, for example iOS users statistically spend more than Android ones while using apps. Furthermore, iOS platforms are more widespread in tier 1 countries such as North America, Japan and Western Europe, compared to Android ones.

Provide creatives 

The last step of your app promotion campaign is to provide your marketing partners and DSPs with creatives to show to your potential users. There are several formats of creatives, which serve different purposes during an app install campaign. To give some examples:

-   Banners, the most popular format because it can be displayed everywhere.

-   Videos, which are the most engaging format.

-   Native Ads are the less intrusive format because they match the user experience of the mobile app they are visiting.

You can rotate many different formats to run A/B tests that will help you understand which one performs better. The practice of rotating different ads is necessary to optimize your app promotion campaign, because thanks to it advertisers can observe the results and evaluate the best performing creative format.

To sum up

There are 5 fundamental steps to run a successful app install campaign, let’s recap them together, shall we?

1-  Integrate with a MMP that will provide you with track links and will help you to attribute the installs and in-app actions to the ads that have generated them.

2-  Set your app promotion campaign goals. KPIs will help you to optimize your app campaign by establishing what objectives you want to reach (ROI, ROAS etc.)

3-  Choose the pricing model (CPI or CPA) that better suits your goals. CPI campaigns will help you increase the volume of installs, CPA campaigns are rather about gaining high quality users, which will perform concrete actions on your app and therefore will implement your ROAS.

4- Identify targeted geos and platforms (iOS/ Android) for your app promotion campaign to optimize your ad spend and avoid wasting your budget on areas/devices with low performances.

5-  Last but not least, provide your marketing partners and DSPs with creatives to show to your potential users. They are essential for app install campaigns because they catch your potential user’s attention.

Now that I showed you all the steps, you finally know how to promote an app and you can start launching your app install campaign