The holidays are nearly upon us, which means that app developers everywhere are frantically trying to prep themselves for the end-of-year rush. That’s right – it’s not just retailers that see a spike between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holiday season typically gives a boost to mobile app developers as well. To make sure you’re ready for the holiday season, we present the following 10-point checklist…
1. Update your app with holiday-themed content Try adding holiday-themed content, characters, skins, icons, levels and more to your app to give it that special holiday feel. Sometimes even just a bough of holly or Santa cap can have the desired affect. Holiday-themed accessories, power-ups, boosts and other virtual goods can and often do provide a nice boost to the developer’s bottom line. If you’re feeling really ambitious, an entire holiday-themed app might have even more impact than just a holiday update to an existing app.
2. Submit your app early Because so many app developers plan some kind of update for the holidays, the wait time for approval on the App Store can be much longer than it normally is during other times of year. The typical 7-day wait time can creep up to twice that long or even longer. So be sure to account for a longer approval process and get your app updates and submissions in early—like late November if possible.
3. Offer seasonal discounts and promotions Starting on Black Friday, retailers go all out to offer every variety of discount, coupon, sale and promotion they can come up with. But shoppers aren’t the only ones looking for a good deal—mobile app users are too. If your app is a paid app, try lowering the price for the month of December, or even giving it away for free. If you sell virtual goods or services, try discounting them, offering 2 for the price of 1, or even giving away a few limited-edition items for free in the hopes that consumers will want to buy more. Tapjoy currency sales are also a great way to get users that might ordinarily not take part in advertisements to go ahead and complete a few offers.
4. Update your creative with holiday themes Whatever kind of app install campaigns you are running—text ads, video trailers, rich media, etc.—try updating your creative to be a little more festive. If you’ve updated your app with holiday content, be sure to show off your new assets in your creative. This will help draw people in to the ads and help you convert more users to installs. If nothing else, it shows that your app and its ad campaign is fresh and timely, which will make the app seem more worth checking out.
5. Adjust your bidding strategy December has historically been a competitive month for app installs, because so many developers are looking to finish the year strong. This means that if you want to grow your user base as well, you’ll likely have to increase your bidding rates to drive the type of volume you’re seeking. Either that, or get more creative about your distribution strategy by trying one of the tactics below…
6. Try Pay-Per-Engagement advertising In the traditional Pay-Per-Install (PPI) model, developers pay each time somebody downloads and installs their app. The Pay-Per-Engagement (PPE) model takes this one step further by requiring a user to not only download an application but also complete some type of action within it—such as playing Level 1, or watching the tutorial—before they earn their reward. Because PPE motivates users to test out an app, they get to know the app better, understand its value prop better, and are therefore more likely to continue using it. Although PPE might not drive the same kind of volume as PPI campaigns, the quality of users tends to be higher, so it’s particularly worth considering during this time of year when app marketing is so competitive.
7. Target your campaigns effectively Another way to get more bang for your marketing buck is to make sure you are targeting your campaigns appropriately. Your marketing partners should be able to align your promotions with other apps that target similar demographics and interests as your audience. That way you’ll experience higher conversion rates and receive higher-quality users that tend to stick around longer. Identify which targeting parameters drive the highest value installs and ramp up those sources during the holidays.
8. Use retargeting to advertise to existing app users Another tactic that can help drive deeper engagement during this highly competitive season is using Tapjoy’s app retargeting service to deliver ads to those users who have already installed your application but might not have used it in a little while. You can re-engage with lapsed users and improve your overall retention rates by targeting these users and urging them to come back and check out your new updates or take advantage of special discounts and promotions.
9. Serve timely, contextually relevant messages and notifications If you’ve followed the advice above, you’ve got new content and special offers to promote to your active users. But if you do so during inopportune or intrusive moments in your app, you’ll only annoy users instead of delighting them. Tapjoy’s events framework and in-app messaging service lets you target users with contextually relevant messages so that you can promote your new updates or offers right when users are most likely to take action on them. A user just ran out of virtual currency? Ask if they’d like to take advantage of your currency sale to earn more. They just used their last power-up? Suggest they try out your new holiday-themed boost.
10. Keep momentum going into January Even with the spike in new app installs that December brings, January is also a busy month for app installs. All those users who received new smartphones and tablets as gifts for the holidays will be searching for cool new apps to try out. So make sure to save some of your marketing budget and carry it over to January, when bid rates begin to return to normal and Cost Per Install rates might drop a bit.