“Build it and they will come” just doesn’t work when it comes to mobile applications. With 1.2 million apps available to download in the iTunes App Store, the competition is fierce. And to generate revenue via advertising, app developers must first drive users to download their apps.
But when developers don’t have multi-million dollar advertising budgets, a few basic rules can set them on the right path to maximize return on advertising spend.
First and foremost, know your users
Your most powerful weapon in your advertising strategy is understanding your current users. So, how is this done? Through personalization.
First-party data from the application can allow developers to better understand their users, and thus target advertisements to audiences with greater efficacy. According to Guy Rosen, CEO of Onavo Insights, people are drawn to different kinds of apps for different reasons, and it’s useful to know the best way to reach your target audience.
App developers can leverage their customer data to identify their most valuable customers. From there, they can segment their user base to understand customer lifetime value for different audiences. Once you have identified your most valuable user segments, you’re on the path to identifying what type of new users to target to achieve the greatest return.
Go beyond the click
View-through rates and click-through rates are not the only – and not necessarily the best – ways to track performance of your ad campaigns. The most sophisticated advertisers tie campaign performance to downstream events that go even beyond the install, such as an in-app purchase, deposit or milestone level.
Team up with advertising partners that can optimize and track towards the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter most to you. Over time, you'll be able to determine which post-click events correlate with higher customer lifetime values, and optimize towards those value-maximizing events.
Plan for long-term engagement
A mistake that many app developers make is focusing solely on user acquisition and disregarding how to retain that user once they’re in the door. What is your plan to engage your users after one month of usage? The average smartphone has around 42 apps. And of the smartphone and tablet users, 84 percent said they use less than 10 apps daily and 55 percent said that they only use between one and four apps daily.
Do you have a plan to re-engage your users if app usage lapses by two weeks? Do you reward your top users? Once you net the new users, make sure you have plans in place to keep them engaged and drive long-term loyalty. Leverage your tool kit of push notifications, in-app rewards and re-engagement ads to keep users coming back to your app.
Lastly, multiply your data
Advertising is a data game, after all, and the more data you have, the smarter you and your advertising partners can be in creating and serving ad content. Your own customer data will always be the best, however you can also enhance this data by weaving in second and third-party data.
This creates holistic customer profiles of your users’ location behaviors, mobile phone usage, offline and online patterns and more. Put your data to work for you by selecting a partner who can help you identify “look alikes” of your most valuable customer segments. This requires a deep understanding of the attributes shared by your best customers, and then defining custom segments that you can target against.
Especially when starting small, targeting is the key to maximizing your chances of success. But it is important to think of your user acquisition strategy not as a one-time decision or effort, but an ongoing campaign that should be refined over time. Advertising is an iterative process, with each iteration factoring in new data points on ad performance and app usage to guide the next round of targeting and content creation.
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