Mobile Game User Acquisition

Mapendo Team
September 15, 2023
Mobile Game User Acquisition

App growth is the process of acquiring and retaining users for mobile apps, in particular mobile gaming apps. In a complex and ever changing environment, app marketing is always evolving, thanks to new technologies and new techniques.

There are some good principles that are always valid for growing a mobile game and generating a thriving business based on it.

Mobile gaming is a huge market, worth more than 140 billion dollars in 2022 (according to Projections suggest that the market for mobile games will grow to around 170 billion dollars before 2027.

Let’s have a look at some guidelines that might be helpful in defining a successful mobile user acquisition strategy for your gaming app.

  1. What is paid user acquisition?
  2. How much does it cost to acquire app users?
  3. How to convert a user into a paying user?
  4. How to create a successful UA strategy for mobile games
  5. ROI-positive mobile games' growth driven by Mapendo

What is paid user acquisition?

Organic installs ain’t enough most of the time. If you want to grow your traffic it’s understood that you also have to rely on paid channels for user acquisition and growth. There are many channels, everyone has different characteristics. The top 3 characteristics that you have to analyze in order to pick the best acquisition channels are:

  • Their reach, the number of potential customers the channel is reaching. Reach alone is not enough, users must be in the right target for your game;
  • Creative formats that the channel takes into consideration supports. Every format has a different target and different KPIs in terms of retention, costs and monetization;
  • ROI/ROAS yielded by the channel.

There are some channels where you must be present, because of their reach (we’re talking specifically about the biggest social networks), when picking other user acquisition channels you can get hints here.

How much does it cost to acquire app users?

There are various payment models for user acquisition activities for mobile games. As in every paid media acquisition the fundamental price is the cost per mille (CPM) that is paid for your ad’s impressions. 

On top of that there are some other price models that are used specifically for mobile user acquisition.

  • CPI (or eCPI, equivalent CPI) is the cost paid to generate a single install.
  • CPA is a different pricing model, where the advertiser pays for an event that happens after the install.

Cost per install (CPI) is calculated by dividing the total ad spend for a campaign by the number of new installs associated with that campaign. What are the factors influencing the CPI?

  • The app platform (or OS): iOs and Android have different audiences, different technologies (specially attribution technologies) thus different user acquisition prices.
  • The app category: Games and dating apps tend to have higher CPIs than other categories, such as productivity and utility apps.
  • The target audience: The CPI of an app can also vary depending on the target audience. For example, an app that targets a high-income audience may have a higher CPI than an app that targets a mass-market audience.
  • The ad creative: The CPI of an app can also be affected by the ad creative. Well-designed and targeted ads can help to lower the CPI
  • The user acquisition strategy itself: depending on the target volumes (i.e. the desired number of new users that the app developer wants to generate every day) prices may vary. Bigger volumes mean bigger CPI, usually.

The same pricing rules apply also to CPA campaigns.

How to convert a user into a paying user?

Not every download turns into a user that makes a purchase. In-app purchases are the best way to monetize your app, but generating them ain’t easy.

The flow that turns a newly generated user into a (highly) paying user involves game design and the payment platform (managed by the app store itself). Only a very small percentage of the new users.

How many new users become paying users? Based on our strong experience with many clients, the conversion rate from new users to IAP is obviously variable, but we can say that it’s in a range between 0.5% and 3%. The higher the conversion rate the more efficient the user acquisition process for the app.

What happens if you’re not able to convert the user into a paying user? There are other forms of monetization, the most common one is In-app advertising (IAA). For a comparison between IAP and IAA you can read our own article here

How to create a successful UA strategy for mobile games

Growing a mobile game ain’t easy. A successful acquisition strategy for a mobile gaming app requires many ingredients. Here are some of the key points to consider in order to create and implement an outstanding strategy:

  • Pick the right attribution provider and model;
  • Work on your store listing (ASO and custom product pages for iOs apps);
  • Start CPI & CPM then gradually switch part of your user acquisition budget to CPA;
  • Implement a strong and effective measurement of ROAS/ROI (this is strongly tied with the attribution technology you will use);
  • Start testing different ad formats & creatives;
  • Optimize creatives and ROAS (without over-optimizing).

ROI-positive mobile games' growth driven by Mapendo

Here’s a quick list of successful campaigns that we have created for our clients.

How A Clicker Game Increased ROI By 2x Switching To Video Creatives For App Install Campaign

Clicker games are one of the most successful gaming app categories. In this case our client has used our video ads technology to grow their ROI, based on In-app purchases.

Discover How Mapendo Maximized ROAS For Simulation Mobile Game With Best Performing Creatives And Machine Learning Optimization

Our machine learning based technology helped a simulation mobile game enhance their ROAS, by analyzing creatives yielding good volumes and highly positive ROI at the same time.

Machine learning powered D7 ROI optimization for a leading bingo app

Bingo app are a huge hit! For this particular category the most difficult part of the user acquisition process is turning a new user into a paying user. Conversion rate from user to paying user is usually low and optimization is not easy because of this. Let’s have a look at how our technology might help your bingo app grow.