Have you ever wondered why people choose to download one app as opposed to another, amongst the almost 5 billion apps available on Google and Apple app stores ? Is it word of mouth? Is it the app’s design ? Or is it the result of an effective app promotion strategy? Well, the answer is a combination of all these factors and more, and can be summed up in three words: mobile app marketing.
Mobile app marketing should not be confused with mobile marketing, which refers to all the marketing activities run on mobile devices, from email marketing to mobile web advertising. Instead, mobile app marketing includes marketing campaigns specifically designed for app users, aimed at acquiring them, improving their engagement, retaining them and monetizing.
In this article we are going to explore the 3 main stages of the mobile marketing funnel:
- User acquisition;
- User engagement & retention;
- App monetization.
However, let’s start by clarifying why mobile app marketing is essential to the success of your app and anything you need to know about it.
Why mobile app marketing is important
As mentioned in our introduction, there are almost 5 billion mobile apps available in the 2 main app stores, and in 2021, there were about 150 billion downloads across all app categories. Therefore, the competition is tough, and even the best designed and most user friendly apps need an effective mobile app marketing strategy to achieve success.
By developing an overall and coherent app marketing strategy, advertisers and app developers can increase their brand awareness, grow their user base with both organic and paid traffic, and eventually generate revenues from their users.
There are multiple strategies that advertisers can put in place for every step of the app marketing funnel. App Store Optimization, a.k.a. ASO, and paid user acquisition are two channels for acquiring new users, respectively organic and paid. App updates and promotions can help user engagement and retention while in-app purchases and ads benefit the monetization strategy.
Now let’s take a closer look at the three stages of the mobile app marketing funnel!
App User Acquisition
First of all, apps cannot exist without their users, and that’s why acquiring new users must be at the core of any app marketing strategy. Mobile user acquisition requires branding activities, aimed at increasing brand awareness, as well as organic and paid channels developed specifically to acquire new users.
App Store Optimization (ASO) is a good technique to acquire organic users, who are not influenced by paid advertising activities. ASO refers to the use of keywords and texts in order to improve the ranking of your app amongst the search results in the app store. A higher ranking is expected to bring more users to download the app when visiting the app store.
Instead, paid activities designed for app promotion have different features and purposes. Here we list some of the most common app promotion channels:
- Influencer marketing;
- Social media such as Facebook and TikTok;
- Google Universal App Campaigns;
- Mobile Ad Networks;
- Demand Side Platforms (DSPs).
All these channels can help your app promotion and mobile user acquisition in different ways. For example, Google and Facebook provide self-serve platforms to run highly-targeted paid user acquisition campaigns. DSPs are similar tech platforms, either self-serve or fully managed, which often provide sophisticated targeting options, performance-based pricing models and A.I.-powered app campaign optimization.
In addition, DSPs run app install ads on programmatic sources, which provide full transparency throughout the campaigns and a less risk of fraudulent activities.App install ads are driving the mobile advertising spend, which is expected to surpass 300 billion dollars by 2022, making it the most relevant activity of mobile app marketing.
To learn more about mobile user acquisition strategies and app install ads, don’t miss our definitive guide here.
User Engagement and Retention
Once users are on board with your app the next step is to engage and retain them, making them become loyal customers and generate constant revenues. By tracking in-app activities with the help of Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs), you are able to better understand how users engage with your app and the whole user journey. This allows advertisers to identify which app features need to be improved and to release such updates as soon as possible. This process is iterative and needs constant monitoring.
User retention is a key app marketing metric, as important as user growth. Indeed, a huge volume of new users can be meaningless if such users delete the app or stop using it after a short amount of time. Therefore, it is important to increase user retention through promotions, updates and many other marketing strategies. Even app install campaigns can be optimized towards improving user retention rate.
The retention rate is the percentage of users who keep using the app after a set period of time. It can be computed by dividing the number of users still using the app after a set period of time by the number of users who installed the app at the beginning of the same time period. Improving the retention rate works to reduce the numbers of users who leave the app and increase users LTV (lifetime value) and in-app revenues.
For more insights about retention rate, read our article about the most important app marketing metrics and KPIs.
The final stage of the mobile app marketing funnel is the app monetization strategy. Mobile apps can be free to download or payable. Free to download apps can generate revenues through many different tools such as in-app advertisements, subscriptions or premium upgrades, and in-app purchases. The latter are driving consumer spend in apps, which in 2021 was nearly 20% up compared to 2020.
All the in-app events described above, from subscription to ads and purchases, can be tracked by MMP and optimized through app install campaigns. Indeed, programmatic platforms such as DSPs can leverage their proprietary machine learning algorithms in order to target the users who are most likely to carry out the desired post-install events.
Furthermore, advertisers can run app install campaigns by paying only when such in-app events are generated, avoiding to pay for traffic only or for installs. CPA (Cost-Per-Action) is the pricing model applied in such app campaigns, where the payable action is the desired in-app event, which is aligned with the business KPI monitored for revenues.
We believe all the activities listed in our article to be essential to promote your app and grow your business. However, the app marketing world is always changing and evolving, therefore any strategy needs to be monitored and adjusted based on new technological and regulation changes.