This article originally appeared on MediaPost
Back in the early days of mobile app marketing—from the early parts of this decade up until about the midpoint of last year—marketers tended to focus on quantity over quality. In the midst of the land-grab taking place on the App Store and Google Play, most app marketers tried to drive as many new installs as they could as quickly as they could. While this approach proved effective in driving volume, some of the users were of poor quality and didn’t drive the developers’ business.
Today we are in a new era of app marketing, one in which developers have realized that this strategy is not sustainable. A burst of new installs might help an app break into the charts or even find its way to the top of them, but unless its users are engaged, active and most importantly monetizable, the app will quickly fall from the charts and there will be little overall value gained from this type of ad campaign.
That is why most app developers today have shifted their focus to quality over quantity. Rather than acquiring lots of low-cost installs quickly, they’re focusing more on the long-term goal of driving high-quality users that engage with their app and provide a user lifetime value (LTV) that is greater than or at least equal to the money spent to acquire them.
Below we explore some of the strategies that savvy app marketers are using to acquire users with high LTV.
App Trailer Videos
What better way to showcase an app than through a trailer video? An HD-quality video can demonstrate what an app is all about way better than even the most detailed of descriptions in an app store. Videos allow the user to see an app in action and get a sense of its graphical style, imagery, game mechanics and overall value proposition. Plus, they are also a whole lot more entertaining and compelling than a simple text description. If a user watches an entire trailer video and then decides to download the app, the likelihood that they are genuinely interested in it is very high, whereas even most text descriptions leave them wondering whether the app is really something that would appeal to them. Some video ad solutions even allow marketers to capitalize on users’ interest by embedding a call-to-action at the end of the video that drives the user straight to the app store. That’s why trailer videos have become perhaps the favorite ad format for today’s quality-focused app marketers.
The shift from quantity to quality has brought with it a shift from Pay-Per-Install (PPI) to Pay-Per-Engagement (PPE) marketing, an innovation that allows advertisers to first drive new users to install their app and then reward them for completing a specific action within it. The action could be watching a tutorial, completing the first level, creating a profile, or anything else that gets the user to essentially take the app for a test drive. With PPE marketing, app marketers are not charged per install but are only charged after the user completes the specified action. The install becomes added value. These types of campaigns tend to be more expensive on a cost of acquisition basis and cannot typically match the volume of new users that a PPI campaign can produce, but by pushing users deeper into the engagement funnel, developers stand a better chance of having those users produce higher LTV.
As targeting has gotten more advanced for mobile advertising, it is now possible for marketers to retarget users who have previously downloaded their app with ads encouraging them to come back and re-engage. Retargeting campaigns can reduce churn, improve retention rates and deepen engagement by reminding users of why they downloaded the app in the first place. Many marketers are using retargeting campaigns to announce app updates or introduce new features, creating a spike in re-open rates amongst their existing user base and maximizing the ROI of their ad campaigns.
Deep linking is the still relatively new technology that allows app developers to send a user to a specific part of their app, much the same way that URLs allow a user to visit a specific page within a web site. The implications of deep linking for app marketers is significant, because it allows them to adjust their creative, targeting and the overall app experience based on specific content. For instance, a hotel reservations app could conduct an ad campaign targeting users in a certain city with an offer to find a hotel room there that night, then deep link them from the ad to the screen in their app with the relevant listings, as opposed to just sending them to the app’s home screen. This method of app marketing is much more personalized and relevant, leading to higher conversion rates and better quality users.
Analytics & Attribution
Mobile analytics solutions are becoming more sophisticated, allowing marketers to have a better understanding of how users are behaving within their app and what factors are leading them to engage deeper or monetize more effectively. Attribution analytics, in particular, can track the behaviors of users and attribute them to a specific advertising campaign or referral source. For instance, a marketer can know, with certainty, that player X came from advertising network Y and had a lifetime value of Z. With this information in hand, marketers can optimize their ad campaigns to increase their spend with those sources of higher quality installs and either tweak or altogether eliminate the under-performing sources.
Test, Iterate & Optimize for Best Results
As developers focus more on driving high-value users and trying out new campaign strategies, it’s important to test, measure and optimize every variable within each campaign to make sure they’re getting the best possible results. Ad creative—whether text ads, interstitials or videos—should be tested for not only the best conversion rates, but also to see which creative drives the highest user LTV. Campaigns should be optimized at the network or publisher level to rely more heavily on the top performing sources. And even the app itself should be optimized to provide the best user experience.
The new era of app marketing brings with it an array of new strategies and tactics that can only be mastered through a mix of creativity, ingenuity and patience. But for app marketers that want to see their apps thrive for years, the strategies listed above are vital.