Appia’s Guide to User Acquisition for Mobile Marketers

Appia has launched a comprehensive guide to mobile user acquisition, which is an area that challenges even the most veteran of mobile marketers out there. The sections within Appia’s guide cover the key points for planning a successful user acquisition strategy – a must-read for marketers that are kicking off a new mobile campaign. To make things a little bit easier to digest we’ve summarised the sections, covering the main topics such as choosing the right network to the importance of acquiring high LTV users.

Appia’s guide covers the following areas:

Four Things to Consider Before Kicking off a Mobile Campaign

These are the four things mobile marketers should think about before they leap into their mobile campaigns:

  1. Context: Contextually relevant ads are far more interesting and helpful and don’t disrupt the user experience. Personalising the messages means they get the content they want – make sure you deliver this content at precisely the right time as well. Relevance is good for the overall user experience, and that means more return users as a result.
  2. Operating system: Most users are loyal to their devices and the OS that comes with this – Android and iOS users also behave differently. Android is best for companies that are trying to get brand recognition, while iOS is where purchases are driven; a good choice for companies looking to move into the world of online and mobile commerce. Think about which of these applies to the goals you have for your app.
  3. Reach vs Accuracy: Always be aware that reaching a highly targeted and highly specific audience can significantly cut down your overall reach.
  4. Engagement: Identify what time and the place your users are the most engaged. What specific action do you intend to drive – think about behaviours and preferences when planning. Measuring your user engagement is crucial to success because it will help you to target and acquire similar users.

Incentivised Traffic Vs Non-Incentivised Traffic

Overall the mobile industry has moved away from incentivised traffic – but it is still an important area to scrutinise. Incentivised traffic means an audience engages with an ad for some sort of reward for doing so – for example, watching a video for virtual currency. The advantages of using incentivised traffic are:

  • Fast and easy user acquisition
  • Drives installs or increases exposure
  • Relatively low cost-per-user

The disadvantages for using incentivised traffic are the following:

  • Acquired users generally have a lower lifetime value for an app developer, known as LTV
  • Audiences may not engage as much with an app after they have already gained a reward for doing so

Naturally then, non-incentivised traffic offers no reward for users that engage with ads – the traffic is therefore considered to be organic because users have chosen to engage with ads based on their own personal interests instead. Non-incentivised traffic can be targeted specifically just like incentivised traffic, with categories like geo-locations, device type and gender. Networks that offer non-incentivised traffic often do so exclusively. The advantages of using non-incentivised traffic are:

  • Organic traffic means higher quality users
  • High LTV customer acquisition results in higher ROI over time and increased value for the app or advertiser

The only real disadvantage for using non-incentivised traffic is that the organic traffic gained as a result may be more expensive than the lower quality, yet cheaper incentivised traffic. Appia recommends taking the time to think about which of these types of traffic is best for your mobile campaign goals and the resources you have.

Targeting Capabilities

Targeting is a widely discussed and focused on area among mobile marketers – with even more emphasis this year. Defining targeting goals is important because users need to have a good experience in order to enhance overall brand affinity. A different type of targeting can be hugely beneficial for marketing purposes.

Loyal users is what you should be aiming for – this can be achieved by using smart data to find the most relevant and targeted audience. Appia believes that hyper-targeted and localised campaigns are essential to cut down on wasted marketing spend.

Ad Formats

There is a consistent flow of new ad formats for advertisers to test out in the constantly evolving industry and each has their own set of pros and cons. Some ad formats may be disruptive to the user experience and gameplay, while others have the quality of being native to the app itself.

App walls are one of the least disruptive ad formats, but they normally drive a low amount of revenue. Banner ads sit in the middle and are not generally detrimental to the experience, while driving a slightly higher amount of revenue. On the other side of things, interstitials and video ads are normally very disruptive to the user experience, but they tend to drive a high amount of revenue.

Native ads have emerged as the new, potentially leading ad format because they are discreet but have also been shown to drive very high revenues for mobile marketeers – the best of both worlds. In the end, it comes down to advertisers testing which ad formats work and which ones don’t, maybe a combination of formats is the optimal solution for high quality user acquisition.

Pricing Models for Mobile Advertising

In the expanding world of mobile advertising there are various pricing models and each have different rates:

  • Cost Per Impression (CPM): Cost per impression has the acronym CPM because advertisers pay on a cost per mille basis, in other words, the cost per thousand impressions.
  • Cost Per Install (CPI): Cost per install normally brings in users that are higher quality. CPI models only charge advertisers when an app is installed and opened.
  • Cost Per Click (CPC): Cost per click is simply where an advertiser pays every time an ad is clicked.

Choosing a Network

The idea of choosing a partner can be a daunting one because the mobile ecosystem is so fragmented. A good idea to start with then is to spread your spending across a selection of networks and see which one brings a good return. Once you know which network is consistently meeting your goals, cut the spending on the others and reinvest in that particular one. For user acquisition needs, a network that can bring high LTV users and a good level of ROI is going to be the ideal choice.

Mobile Search Strategy

There is a growing need for a mobile search strategy – an increasing number of the population is moving to mobile-first behaviour, but many consumers are still using search engines to inform their app purchasing decisions. As a result, leveraging mobile search can help to encourage incremental app discovery for those that prefer to search before they buy.

Market research company Forrester states that 89% of users have performed searches on their mobile device – for tablet users, the figure stands at 91% performing searches. App tracking platform AppsFlyer says that search has a low conversion rate but normally brings in some of the highest quality users of any app discovery channel. While eMarketer, another market research company, estimated 51.5% of all mobile ad spending went toward search last year. Search is therefore an important acquisition channel that should be part of a marketer’s strategy.

Appia recommends that marketers should have a mobile-optimised website where users learn more about an app – an optimised website will rank highly on search engines because of certain keywords and a responsive mobile design. While mobile search may account for a small percentage of overall user acquisition, marketers may still be missing out if they don’t take advantage of a mobile search component as part of their app discovery strategy.

Leveraging Social Media

App discovery is still a huge challenge for developers when there are so many other apps out there – getting creative is the only option to combat this. A study showed that social networks are actively used by Americans on average for 3.2 hours per day – meaning leveraging social media is a very important part of your strategy.

App developers should be using their own accounts on Facebook and Twitter to create excitement about their app. A good way to do this is to publish exclusive news and information about the app on these social media sites – the aim is to generate discussion that might even end up trending online. App discovery isn’t easy, you have to be creative and maximise the social media around you to get ahead.

The Importance of High LTV Users

The topic of LTV, or lifetime value, is a particularly hot one at the moment in the mobile industry – advertisers want quality users and not just a large quantity of them. So what does LTV really mean? It’s a combination of two elements: engagement and value. Users that find great value in your app and are consistently engaged by it are going to bring the most revenue over their lifetime.

Engagement can simply be measured through metrics such as usage, level ups, social sharing, app purchases and sign ups. While value is more of an abstract concept and can be difficult to measure. Appia believes there are four possible ways to measure it, however:

  1. Ditch channels and creatives that are not performing: Users will let you know what creatives and channels they like and which ones they don’t. By testing with multiple channels, you can see what works and what doesn’t – cut the spend and reinvest in those top performing outlets.
  2. Brand Affinity: Loyal fans of you and your app are going to bring you the highest LTV. These are your most engaged users that share their enthusiasm with others – you can be sure that they will be first in line for the next special offer or game.
  3. Monetisation: Monetisation is an indication of engagement and value – users are not going to spend their money on something they believe is a waste of their time and holds value to them.
  4. Virality: Virality is when something becomes very popular because it has quickly circulated among many people who value it – becoming or going viral with your app exposes you to some of the highest LTV users out there.

LTV is therefore one of the most important KPI’s to closely monitor – the higher the LTV, the more revenue you will see from loyal users. Always make sure these most valuable of users are nurtured with special campaigns and exclusive offers. Measuring LTV is one of the keys to success in the mobile ecosystem.


Final thoughts

There you have it, a summary of the key sections in Appia’s user acquisition guide. There are many things to consider when we talk about user acquisition, but building a solid mobile advertising strategy is the most central aspect of all. Primarily, mobile marketers need to incorporate a strong mobile search strategy while leveraging social media channels and platforms to enhance their overall marketing campaign – the real goal is all about acquiring high LTV users that truly value the app that is in front of them.

Remember, there is always more to know about the challenging area of user acquisition and the full details can be found within Appia’s free guide here.