Mobile app marketing is essential for brands that rely on app user engagement and retention to support their business growth and marketing goals, especially with today’s increased market competition.
With over four million apps available between the Google Play & the Apple App Stores today, it’s safe to say that breaking through the noise is no easy task.
The good news is that today there are more ways than before to your visibility, connect to your audience, and increase the lifecycle of your mobile app.
Here’s everything you need to know about the world of mobile app marketing, the core components of app marketing strategy, and how you can get started today.
Jump to a section
1. What Is Mobile App Marketing
2. App Store Optimization & Mobile Creative
3. Apple Search Ads (ASA)
4. Google App Campaigns (Google AC)
5. App Marketing Measurement & Fraud
1. What Is Mobile App Marketing?
Mobile app marketing is in-app advertising that drives awareness, installs, and daily active user (DAU) growth and user retention.
In today’s crowded app market, mobile app marketing has become essential for getting your application in front of your target audience to drive downloads, active users, and in-app conversions for your business.
Open up the Google Play or Apple App Store and you’ll see why — there are a countless number of competitor apps competing for visibility.
2. App Store Optimization (ASO) & Mobile Creative
App store optimization is akin to “mobile app SEO,” meaning you can boost your app’s organic ranking within the Apple App and Google Play Stores with the right strategy.
An optimized, keyword-rich description of your app and its features is essential to boosting your visibility, downloads, and, eventually, climbing the app store rankings.
“The more engaging and optimized app store page you have, the more downloads and users your app will receive. Downloads impact your organic ranking, giving you a chance to increase your app’s ranking on the Google Play and Apple App stores.”
— Joe Douress, Senior Manager of SEO at Tinuiti
How to Optimize Your App Store Page (ASO) for More Downloads
If you want to make the most out of your app’s real estate on the Google Play and Apple App stores, you’ll need to optimize the keywords, creative, and generate as many positive reviews as possible for your app listing.
You can optimize your app store page by:
- Choosing keywords that best describe your app’s features
- Reviewing competitors’ apps for ideas
- Using as many screenshots that are allowed within each app store
- Allowing users to rate or review your app directly within the in-app interface
“Getting an app discovered can be a major hurdle marketers face as there is a lot of competition in the space. ASO helps improve your app ranking and visibility, getting it in front of the right users organically.”
— Liz Emery, Director of Mobile App Strategy at Tinuiti
To learn more about how to optimize your app for the app store, check out The 7-Step Guide to App Store Optimization (ASO).
3. Apple Search Ads (ASA)
If your app isn’t ranking in the top ten for your target keywords, then you’re going to need some help driving traffic to get users to download your app. And by help, we mean using paid advertising channels to drive app visibility and downloads.
Apple Search Ads are one of the best ways to drive traffic, installs, and user acquisition for iOS users.
The ads can appear on iOS devices, meaning iPhones and iPads, and are projected to generate up to $2 billion in revenue for Apple by 2020.
Today, 70% of Apple Store visitors use search to find an app. That stat can be overshadowed only by the fact that Apple search ads claim an impressive 50% average conversion rate for downloads.
Apple Search Ads features include:
- Build out different “Creative Sets” for your campaign to showcase your app in action
- User type and keyword targeting
- Limited tracking (downloads only)
For more information on Apple Search Ads strategy and how to get started, check out Apple Search Ads: The Complete Guide [2020 Update].
4. Google App Campaigns (Google AC, formerly Google UAC)
Google App Campaigns (Google AC) enable you to reach Android users that are browsing the Google Play Store.
What makes Google App Campaigns special is that not only can you target a larger audience (all Android users), they also combine Search, Display, and YouTube inventory into a single campaign, known as Google App Campaigns (formerly Google Universal App Campaigns or UAC).
It’s important for brands and marketers to pay attention to Google AC now more than ever. As outlined by eMarketer in 2019, for the first time, US consumers spent more time using their mobile devices than watching TV, with smartphones specifically dominating that time spent.
— Parker Brown, Paid Search Specialist at Tinuiti
“With Google App Campaigns, marketers have the ability to open up their app’s user base to additional sources of inventory and serve on some of Google’s app-exclusive networks creating additional exposure and daily activity in a space where the tide is clearly still rising. Additionally, GAC allows marketers to leverage Google’s machine learning to learn more about their customer base and ensure they’re targeting relevant users.”
Google App Campaign features include:
- Tracking Through Google Play
- You can only measure a “download” for Android via Google Play (never know if the user opens the app). No setup required
- Linking Google Play & AdWords
- Can measure Google Play in-app events
- Can measure revenue if using Google Pay for in-app purchases
- Using a Mobile Measurement Partner – 3rd Party (True Attribution)
- Track First-Open and In-App events
5. App Marketing Measurement & Fraud
Too often, mobile app marketers get distracted by app installs and forget that the true value of driving in-app activity and daily active user (DAU) growth.
While user installs are nice to look at, they won’t count for much if the users themselves aren’t engaging with your app and contributing to your business goals.
Why is third-party tracking (Mobile Measurement Partners) essential for tracking app marketing ROI?
You want to make sure you have a strategy that goes beyond just installs and uses post-install event tracking so you can measure in-app activity such as signups, first orders, repeat purchasers and more.
- A good portion of users install and never open the app
- At the end of the day, your clients will want to spend dollars on channels that help their business
- An install with no action doesn’t contribute to that
- In-app action event tracking
- Understanding actions within an app whether it be signup or purchase helps identify quality users
- Mobile app fraud rates are doubling
- In Q1 2018, 7.3% of 3.4 billion app installs & 350 billion interactions showed evidence of fraud
In-app event tracking will enable you to then optimize toward real users that are making purchases or conversions to increase lifetime value (LTV) and make the best use of your app marketing dollars.
Focus on and reduce mobile app ad fraud
Fraud is rampant in the app marketing space, and it can cost you big if you aren’t careful.
According to a 2018 report by eMarketer, mobile app firm AppsFlyer found that app install fraud had tripled within a 12-month time frame.
“Fraudsters have become so sophisticated that they can essentially generate as much fraud as they want by faking installs,” said Shachar Guz, product manager at AppsFlyer. “They have learned how to hack exposed software development kits [SDKs] and manipulate the system by mimicking real user behavior.”
So how can you make sure you aren’t wasting ad dollars by falling victim to app ad fraudsters?
The key is to find and use a mobile measurement partner (MMP) that you can trust.
A mobile measurement partner (MMP) is a platform or a third-party company that allows you to measure attribution for your app goals, such as installs, user activities, in-app conversions, etc. Work with your MMP to make sure that you are targeting the right audiences, paying for real users, and keeping track of downstream metrics to verify so you can understand how your mobile app advertising campaigns are performing.
App marketing is a relatively new channel that has enormous potential for bringing visibility and boosting the user lifecycle for your app, but you need to have a solid strategy before going all-in.
- Have clear goals for your app marketing strategy
- Optimize your app store page for greater visibility and keyword ranking
- Use paid channels on Google, Facebook, and Apple to drive traffic to your app page
- Fight app fraud by using an MMP that you can trust and tracking downstream metrics
- Measure more than just installs with post-install event tracking
Want to learn more?
Apple Search Ads: What App Marketers Should Know
Case Study: How Mobile App Install Ads Drove 18X More Free Trials & 94% Lower CPA for Panna Cooking
Google Analytics For Firebase: What App Advertisers Need To Know
GAMMA Leaders: Liz Emery & Mobile App Marketing