This sponsored post is produced by Localytics.

Here’s the app trap: you’ve spent an inordinate amount of time, money, and resources to build a truly great app. You’ve convinced your team that having a mobile presence is a necessity in today’s digital age (which it is). And you’ve tested once, twice, ten times to ensure that your app is ready for your users.

Then, you’re stuck. Because you’ve built a great app, but nobody knows it. Even worse, the marketing you’ve done up until now hasn’t worked to wrangle users.

Many developers and app owners today understand that app promotion is critical to getting your app in front of potential users. But if you’re not targeting the right audience, you might be wasting your marketing efforts, or worse, paying for one-time users.

App users allot you only a short period of time to impress them, and 20% of apps are only used once. So, how can you be sure you’re attracting and engaging the right users? Use this post as your guide.

Acquisition Campaigns: Learn what works and what doesn’t

It’s always best to start with organic app promotion: social media, App Store Optimization primed for higher rankings, an app-specific website, email marketing, PR and industry outreach. These are important tactics, and should always ground zero of  your arsenal.

But while all apps will have organic promotion, not all will have a paid acquisition counterpart. Paid campaigns can be highly targeted to serve ads to users most likely to download and use your app, and better yet, you can easily track which partners, ad networks, and campaigns actually drive valuable users.

You can put together a paid plan that looks something like this:

  • Paid web vendors
  • Weigh the pros and cons of a variety of paid channels (email, banner ads, social media ads, etc.)
  • Drive traffic to your app’s website/app store page with each paid campaign
  • Think about where your target audience is and invest appropriately
  • Paid mobile ads
  • Consider buying ads in the mobile sphere (these ads appear inside other relevant apps)
  • Facebook’s platform is the most used but, consider other ad platforms as well (here’s a list of the top 10)
  • When evaluating a mobile ad partner, look at its audience, performance measurement metrics/benchmarks (like cost-per-click), the user experience and technology, etc. (here’s a detailed checklist)
  • Use deep-linking so people land on the most appropriate location within your app — don’t ever just send people to your app’s home screen
  • Be careful about incentivizing app downloads. Apple is cracking down on these types of mobile ads when done wrong

Measure the metrics that matter

Once you’ve got an acquisition strategy up and running, it’s time to measure it correctly. This means viewing “downloads” as just the beginning, not the main success metric. Yes, tracking cost per download is, initially, a good way to identify which of your campaigns are the most successful.

But not all downloads turn into users. In fact, it can be the case that downloads produce only a small percentage of actual users. It’s even possible that a person can download your app and then never open or interact with it. Because of this, distinguishing between users and downloads is the first step in measuring and evaluating actual engagement.

Instead of downloads, track these kinds of metrics:

  • Compare the cost per new app user to the price of your app
  • Monitor how quickly new users return to your app (pay attention to your app’s churn risk window)
  • See which campaigns drive users with the highest number of app sessions and/or longest session lengths
  • Track the new user’s lifetime value (LTV), or their value to you over time as a customer. This metric is the primary measure of app ROI, and is a better signifier of which campaigns are most beneficial (whichever deliver the users with the highest LTV)
  • Try to invest in paid channels that use CPE (cost per engagement) so you only have to pay for engaged customers

Engage users on their terms

Once you start gaining new users, it’s important to create user segments that track behavioral details like in-app actions taken (conversion events), screens viewed, and other activities and characteristics that give you deep insight into how your paid-to-acquire users are acting.

For example, you can use behavioral analytics to determine if your paid-to-acquire users are becoming powerful influencers or super fans, demonstrating a better ROI and pinpointing worthwhile channels. If instead these users are under-using your app, you can clearly identify which groups and campaign sources need revisiting, and test different paid channels, types of ads, and targeting techniques.

Using segments, you’ll be able to identify how new users actually use your app, what information they provide, and what they find valuable. With this knowledge in hand, you can create a personalized, engaging experience for users that reflect where they came from and what app features they like to interact with most. One way to accomplish this is by using targeted push and in-app messages that serve up relevant content and offers.

Happy, engaged users are more likely to use your app more frequently, have longer sessions, convert, make in-app purchases, and give you positive reviews. All in all, they are the most valuable users you have, and re-engaging them to keep them happy is a definite must-do.

As with all marketing strategies, your acquisition campaigns need to be re-thought and optimized as user preferences change. No app can stay static and be successful; no matter what your industry or your driving purpose, you will have to evolve as user behavior evolves. Stay ahead of the pack by investing in strong analytics —and by never forgetting that engagement matters!


Go deeper:  Check out Localytics’ ebook, “8 Critical App Engagement Metrics“.


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