How to get user engagement in 2020
Thursday, January 2, 2020
App user engagement is often a hard beast to slay and the landscape in 2020 looks very different than the app landscape of just a couple years ago. As we enter into a new decade of mobile apps, here is some insight on how to get user engagement in 2020.
The most difficult challenge for every app developer to overcome is: How do I get my app in front of a customer so that they can engage with it? UA campaigns are notoriously expensive and invariably suffer from diminishing returns. ROAS at the start of a campaign falls somewhere between 200% and 300%, but soon enough it peters out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to frustrated app developers who spend and spend but just aren’t getting new users. My response? Diversify! It’s the only way to get incremental users.
Creating a Diverse UA Media Plan
No doubt, Facebook and Google are terrific channels to introduce a new app to the market. Both offer incredible scale, and Facebook, in particular, allows for incredible targeting opportunities. As a result, these two channels allow you to test the market and receive immediate feedback to hone your messaging and optimize your audiences. It’s no wonder that ROAS is great -- at first.
But there are challenges. First and foremost, competition on those platforms is fierce, as virtually every app developer in the world spends the bulk of its UA budgets on Facebook and Google. And despite the billions of users worldwide, it’s remarkably easy to exhaust your audience. This is why after a run of strong ROAS, costs seem to go up and up, while the number of conversions declines.
There’s real value to looking beyond Facebook and Google for incremental users. We’ve seen app developers enjoy incredible success on channels most app developers never even consider, such as Reddit and The Weather Channel. But as long as you remain hype-focused on ROAS and LTV goals, you really can’t go wrong by diversifying your UA campaigns outside of Facebook and Google.
Keep in mind that these other channels should be in addition to -- and not a replacement of -- Facebook and Google. Sites like Reddit won’t offer the scale you need, and that can hinder your ability to understand the audience for your app and the best way to speak to them. Moreover, the more channels, the more complexity, so it’s best not to rely solely on smaller channels.
Consider Non-Advertising Tactics
Users are pushing back against advertising. According to Forrester Research, the advertising industry is experiencing an “existential need for change.” One way to reach new users without bombarding them with ads is pre-loads, meaning your app is pre-loaded onto a mobile device by the mobile carrier before it is sold to the user. This approach will allow you to get your app installed on tens of millions of devices without a single ad.
Obviously not all-new mobile phone owners will use your app right away, but many will test your app within the first few months of owning the device, and that may ultimately deliver great customer acquisition costs. Another benefit of preloads is that app-install abandonment -- the bane of UA ad campaigns -- just isn’t an issue, as the app is pre-installed.
But again, this isn’t a replacement to Facebook and Google, where results come in hourly or daily. With pre-loads, the horizon for new users is much longer. Users may not open your app until they realize they need a particular app category (e.g. a user realizes she needs to know the weather in another city and looks for a preloaded weather app on her device). If you go this route, set reasonable expectations.
Know When to Activate a Plan B
How do you know when you’ve exhausted Facebook and Google? Look no further than the ROAS and LTV you’re getting. No one knows their user base quite like an app developer. I know some who can accurately predict within the first seven days of acquiring new users what they’re total LTV will be. You’re a data master, so use that to your advantage. The second any channel begins to fall short of your ROAS or LTV goals, activate plan B. (The exception is pre-loads, which as mentioned above, have longer horizons. You may want to launch them at the same time as you launch your Facebook and Google campaigns.)
Finally, Match Ad Unit to Behavior
Many app developers have a straightforward approach to UA: Buy display ads on Facebook and Google, but a bit of nuance is in order. Display ads work best when someone clicks on the ad because he or she has every intention of installing it. Playable ads allow users to test the game prior to downloading, and if they like what they see, they have the potential to become a more valuable user. Video ads are like display ads on steroids, prompting users with intent to click and convert. Just note that if the actual experience doesn’t match the video, you’ll have a disappointed customer. Pre-loads are all about discovery and engagement.
Facebook and Google will always be terrific channels for UA campaigns, but all good things have their limits. Don’t panic if you hit a wall with these channels, there you have plenty of options to get incremental users. You can plan for success by planning a diversified campaign from the get-go.
This content is made possible by a guest author, or sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of App Developer Magazine's editorial staff.
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