The Mobile Marketer s Complete Guide to User Acquisition

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1 The Mobile Marketer s Complete Guide to User Acquisition Appia Footer 320 Blackwell Street Durham, NC

2 user acquisition overview and best practices 2

3 Introduction User acquisition is one of the toughest challenges facing mobile marketers today. Users have millions of options when it comes to choosing which apps to give their coveted home screen real estate to. How can marketers ensure they are getting their message in front of the right audience at the right time? How can advertisers ensure they stay top of mind with their mobile users? In this whitepaper we will take a deep dive into mobile user acquisition best practices. First, we will tackle a few things to consider before kicking off a mobile campaign. Next, we will examine topics including mobile advertising, building a mobile search strategy, and ways to leverage social media to enhance your acquisition. Finally, we will offer optimization tactics to help increase the most important metric in mobile advertising the lifetime value of users. Four Things to Consider Before Kicking off a Mobile Campaign When it comes to mobile marketing, it can seem like there is an endless list of things to do before launching a campaign. There are certainly a lot of moving pieces, but here are four things to think about and help get a new campaign kick started. Operating System Most mobile users are as loyal to their devices as they are to their sports teams, their political parties, or their favorite brand of coffee. You re an Android person or an ios person; there is not much room for a grey area. Another difference between Android and ios users is their behavior. Forbes found that Google s primary goal on Android devices is to sell more advertising space to capitalize on their broad reach. Android works best for companies who are trying to get brand recognition or stay top of mind. Apple s goal on ios is to drive purchase behavior because those users are more likely to make a purchase on their mobile device. ios is a great choice for companies that are moving into online and mobile commerce. Consider the goals of your app before deciding which operating system. 3

4 4 Context When preparing for a campaign, consider the context in which your audience will be receiving your messages. When consumers are interacting with an app or game, they will find contextually relevant advertisements interesting and helpful, rather than disruptive to their experience. Personalize the messaging to give the audience content they want at precisely the right time. Relevance creates a better experience, and a better experience creates return users. Engagement What time and place are your consumers the most engaged? What action do you want to drive? Think about these behaviors and preferences when planning your campaigns. Engagement is one of the most important performance indicators for mobile marketers. Measuring how users engage with your app and consume content will help you target and acquire similar users to drive more downloads. Reach vs Accuracy If your target audience is men age who are interested in baking within a certain ZIP code, you can t expect to reach a massive audience. Be aware that reaching your highly targeted, highly specific audience can significantly cut down your overall reach. Mobile Advertising Mobile advertising is the best way to solve for user acquisition challenges. Advertising can be as broad or as focused as needed. It can also be as disruptive or as native as an audience will accept. Pricing Models There are several different pricing models for mobile advertising rates. Cost Per Impression (CPM): Cost per impression has the acronym CPM because advertisers actually pay on cost per mille or cost per thousand impressions. (In Latin, mille means thousand.) Cost Per Click (CPC): Cost per click pricing is straight forward and exactly what it sounds like. An advertiser pays each time the ad is clicked. Cost Per Install (CPI): Cost per install typically brings in users that are higher quality. CPI models charge advertisers only when an app is installed and opened. This model has gained significant traction in the mobile space, and is often used instead of traditional display models such as CPC or CPM.

5 5

6 non-incentivized traffic brings higher quality Incent Traffic vs Non-Incent Traffic Today there is less of a debate about incentivized and non-incentivized traffic. Overall, the industry has moved away from incentivized sources, but that doesn t mean they don t have a place. With incentivized traffic, the audience engages with an advertisement in return for a reward. For example, audiences may receive virtual currency to use in applications or credits towards a certain purchase in return for watching a video or completing a specific call to action. Advertisers can incentivize audiences to whatever degree they wish, requiring deeper user engagement such as clicking through to a website or visiting a brand page on Facebook, or simply rewarding users for basic views. 6 Pros: Incentivized traffic provides fast and easy user acquisition. Developers looking to drive installs or increase exposure quickly can do so via this traffic source, and usually for a relatively low cost-per-user.

7 Cons: These acquired users generally have lower lifetime value (LTV) for an app developer, as audiences may complete a necessary action to gain rewards but do not continue to engage with an application over time. Non-incentivized traffic offers no reward for advertisement engagement. This traffic is considered to be organic because users choose to engage with ads because of personal interest with no direct reward for doing so. Non-incentivized traffic can be targeted as specifically as incentivized, with typical categories such as geo-locations, gender, device type and more. Networks and platforms that provide non-incentivized traffic generally do so exclusively. Pros: Organic traffic provides higher quality users, as those that engage with applications have a demonstrated interest in the function of the application or brand message. High LTV customer acquisition translates to a higher ROI over time, and increased value for an app or advertiser. Cons: Currently, high quality organic traffic may be more expensive than incentivized traffic. 7

8 8 Depending on your campaign goals and resources, either traffic source may be the right choice for you. We encourage advertisers and developers to continue to monitor the quality of their mobile user acquisition in order to maximize ROI over time and create a successful campaign strategy. Targeting Capabilities Mobile users want to receive relevant advertising. Targeting is a topic that is widely discussed among mobile marketers and is going to become even more important in It is important to clearly define targeting goals to give your audience a great user experience that enhances brand affinity. Depending on your advertising needs, different targeting could be hugely beneficial to your marketing campaigns. Loyal users are what you re looking for. Use smart data to find the most relevant, targeted audience. Hyper-targeted and localized campaigns will help cut down on wasted marketing spend. Ad Formats One exciting thing about the mobile ecosystem is that it is constantly changing and evolving. New and innovative ad formats are instrumental for user acquisition, and there is a constant flow of new ad formats for advertisers to test out. Some ad formats are more disruptive to user experience and gameplay while others appear to be native to the app. AppWalls are the least disruptive, but typically drive a lower amount of revenue. Banner ads offer slightly higher revenue with a fairly undisruptive experience. Interstitials and video ads are some of the most disruptive ad formats, but they traditionally drive higher revenue. Native ads are an interesting new format in that they are very discreet by nature, but have been shown to drive very high revenues for mobile marketers. At the end of the day, advertisers have to test to see which ad formats or combinations of formats work best for their user acquisition. Choosing a Network Choosing whom to partner with can be a little intimidating, especially because the mobile ecosystem is so fragmented. When first starting out, spread your spend across several different networks to see what kind of returns you get. Once you are able to analyze your performance, cut spend and reinvest in what s working best.

9 targeting high lifetime value users 9

10 10 After carefully considering all of these different aspects of mobile advertising, choosing a network that can show a high ROI and bring high LTV users is going to be the best partner for user acquisition needs. Mobile Search Strategy The need for a mobile search strategy is becoming apparent to mobile marketers. A growing number of the population is moving to mobile-first behavior, but many of those consumers are still using search engines for app purchase decisions. Leveraging mobile search can help encourage incremental app discovery for those who still prefer to begin with search prior to landing at the app store. According to Forrester, 89% of users have used their mobile device and 91% have used their tablet for mobile searches. Everyone can benefit from getting in front of users who are actively searching for an app. Forrester goes on to say that top placement is critical due to small screens and search results must be immediate, simple, and contextual to cater to mobile behavior. Mobile app tracking firm AppsFlyer has found that search can have a lower conversion rate, but typically brings in some of the highest quality users of any app discovery channel. Additionally, emarketer estimated that 51.5% of all mobile ad spending went toward search in That is not to say search should be your sole acquisition channel, but it absolutely should be part of the mix. One tactic that marketers should take advantage of is having a mobile-optimized website where users can learn more about an app. This will rank well on search engines because of keywords and responsive mobile design, both of which make for better experience for visitors. A well thought out search strategy can help break down barriers to conversion. While mobile search may account for a smaller percentage of overall user acquisition, marketers may be missing an opportunity by not integrating a mobile search component as part of a holistic app discovery strategy. Leveraging Social Media App Discovery is a huge challenge for app developers. It s tough to break through the noise when you have more than 1 million other apps fighting for space on mobile phones.

11 Chis DeVore recognized this challenge back in 2011 but it still rings true today, Blaming the app stores for poor discoverability is a little like blaming Google for not putting your site on the first page of results -- getting found is the responsibility of the publisher. To try and solve for the app discovery challenge, publishers are forced to get creative. People don t discover all apps in the AppStore or Google Play. They find great apps on the web, in the news, on television, and social media. A study from Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange earlier this year showed that Americans who use social networks spend an average of 3.2 hours per day engaged in social media across the computer, tablet, and mobile phones. That s a lot of eyeballs for your app! Twitter recently started allowing third-party developers to include download links with their latest cards update. For example, if one of your followers checked in on Foursquare it also allows a cross-post to Twitter. The Tweet would have a small link that could direct the viewer to the App Store or Google Play to download Foursquare. If the viewer already has Foursquare downloaded, the link could serve as a deep link to content within the Foursquare app. Twitter Cards allow developers to share summaries, photos, videos, and more. Facebook does a great job of allowing their users to interact with games on multiple levels. Facebook requests to share what games they are playing, lets players ask their friends for lives or virtual goods, or posts to their timeline when they complete a level. When users see that their friends are using and sharing an app on social media, it becomes an organic recommendation for user acquisition. App developers should also leverage their own social media accounts to create buzz about their apps. Let your followers and fans know exclusive information or news through social media. This is a great way to generate discussion and maybe even becoming a trending topic online. Unfortunately, App Discovery isn t as simple as, if you build it, they will come. App developers have to get creative. Leverage your social media channels and take advantage of technology on social platforms to get in front of potential new users. The Importance of High LTV Users Lifetime Value (LTV) has been an especially hot topic in the mobile space over the last few months. Advertisers want quality users, not just a high quantity of users. 11

12 quality users bring more revenue over their lifetime DOWNLOADS LTV LTV DOWNLOADS 12

13 Mobile marketers can think of LTV as a combination of two things: engagement and value. Users that find high value in your app and are regularly engaged are going to bring the most revenue over their lifetime. Engagement is a pretty straightforward performance indicator to measure. You can track metrics like usage, in app purchases, sign ups, level ups, and social sharing. Measuring value can be a little more abstract. How do you know if someone really values your app? Here are four possible ways to measure value: Ditch channels and creatives that aren t preforming Users will let you know what channels and creatives they like. It s smart to test with multiple channels at first, but when you see they aren t working well, cut spend and reinvest in your top preforming outlets. Monetization While monetization is definitely an indication of engagement, it also demonstrates value. Users are not going to spend money on something that they view as wasteful or frivolous. Brand Affinity Loyal fans will bring you the highest LTV. Not only are they highly engaged, they share their love with other potential users! Additionally, they will be the first ones in line for your next game, cross promotion, or special offer. Virality The definition of virality is, becoming very popular by circulating quickly from person to person. Becoming viral is no easy feat, but if your app can do it you will be exposed to some of the highest LTV users there are. These super fans are almost addicted to your app and take brand affinity to another level. Measuring LTV is one of the most important KPI s to keep a pulse on. The higher your LTV, the more revenue you will see from those loyal, engaged users. Be sure to nurture these users with special campaigns. Send them a limited or exclusive offer to stay top of mind. The days of gathering a ton of users regardless of their quality are over! Measuring LTV will get you on track to become hugely successful in the mobile ecosystem. Conclusion In conclusion, user acquisition is a huge challenge! There are a lot of moving parts to consider when thinking through a strategy. Mobile advertising is one of the best ways to solve for user acquisition. Building a mobile search strategy, and leveraging social media are excellent ways to enhance mobile marketing campaigns. Ultimately, mobile advertising is all about acquisition of high lifetime value users who truly find value in your app. 13

14 Appia 2014 Appia is the leading mobile user acquisition network, delivering more than 75 million app installs globally. Ranked #22 on the Wall Street Journal s 2012 Top 50 Venture- Backed Companies, Appia provides non-incentivized performance mobile ad solutions for developers, publishers and advertisers. With offices in San Francisco and Durham, as well as global sales locations in the UK and Mexico, Appia has quickly become the largest, non-incentivized app install network. For more information, please visit

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