A 5-step process for scaling paid user acquisition

Lorenzo Rossi, Co-founder at REPLUG, offers a detailed guide to scaling paid user acquisition.

Lets face it: paid user acquisition is a debacle. However, if you dont agree with this, youre either fooling yourself or have been stuck for the previous three years and have just awakened.

Nevertheless, after the pandemic and tracking limitations introduced with iOS14, paid user acquisition risks becoming more and more effective. However, many people wonder: is paid user acquisition dead?

There are two possible answers to this question:

  • Yes, it is dead: if you continue to live in 2019, if you wish to pretend that nothing occurred and execute performance marketing campaigns as if nothing changed, attempting to interpret the data as it used to be understood, utilizing the same advertising channels, disregarding the testing.
  • No, it is not obsolete: if you choose to adapt to the changes and see them as opportunities.

But what do we do now?

The Growth Rocket Model: a holistic approach

We should start thinking about adapting. That necessitates altering our approach to paid user acquisition, first by viewing it as part of a holistic marketing strategy and then by following specific procedures and frameworks that can assist in overcoming data and targeting restrictions.

At REPLUG, we saw the importance of reimagining the approach to paid user acquisition and app marketing as a whole as early as the beginning of 2020.

We created the Growth Rocket Model because we think that app marketing success results from a holistic approach to growth activities.

The GRM appearing as paid UA is only one piece of app growth—and, just like a real rocket, it must function in collaboration with all of the other elements to ensure a successful journey to space.

A methodical process: the paid user acquisition process
Considering mobile app paid user acquisition as a standalone strategy is insufficient. We should also begin utilizing a systematic plan to identify obstacles and possibilities. At REPLUG, weve concentrated the majority of our projects – from various industries – on precise operations.

Weve already highlighted the 5-step CRM process that enabled us to expand CRM efforts for numerous customers, and in this piece, well go through our 5-step paid UA process in depth. Furthermore, we prefer to refer to it as Procework since we perceive it as a hybrid of a process and a framework.

The five areas are illustrated below.

Its vital to note that the last three steps define a continuous process that we call the “Optimization Loop.”

Paid UA Phases: structured activities
We can establish the objective for each area and determine what sort of tasks we will need to conduct by asking ourselves the correct questions. In this section, we will go through practices that, if implemented, will boost the possibilities of achieving the goals.

Our paid user acquisition involves a series of activities segmented by area, as shown in the graphic below. These elements are repeated in each phase.

The primary areas of activity are:

  • Tech: all actions linked to the technology stack required to launch Paid UA campaigns (for example, MMP and analytics)
  • Campaigns: all operations related to campaign plan, management, and optimization across various ad platforms
  • Creatives: all actions associated with the creative side of paid UA
  • Cross-area: any actions that are not directly related to paid user acquisition but can have a beneficial influence on results (e.g., App Store Optimization and mobile CRM)

Now well review the different actions for each paid user acquisition phase.

1. Setup and Audit Phase Activities
As the topics imply, the major tasks of this phase are connected to a health check of present and former activities, and they are separated into three areas. 

  • Tech health check: this box contains all the operations necessary to determine whether we are ready to perform paid user acquisition from a technical standpoint.
  • Campaigns health check: these are all the actions intended to determine what sorts of previous activities have been operating, which channels were used, what forms of targeting, optimizations, and others.
  • Creatives health check: these activities related to the previous batch allow us to determine whether the messaging and creative kinds utilized were appropriate and whether any possibilities were missed.
  • Cross-area check: this is not in the illustration, but as paid user acquisition marketers, we should constantly analyze the complete app marketing spectrum. In this step, we should examine the App Store and Google Play Store sites, the onboarding process, and any obstacles to achieving paid UA targets.

2. Activities for Strategy Phase
The major actions of this phase, as the topics imply, aim to develop a strategy for attracting customers through paid channels based on the study we performed in the first phase. The activities are grouped into two major categories.

  • Campaign strategy: All actions related to paid campaigns are covered here, from the channels we want to employ at the start to the target population, budget distribution, retargeting requirements, and more.
  • Creative strategy: those are paid UA creative planning actions. We must plan our messaging, formats, assets, and App USPs based on our channels.

3. Activities for Implementation Phase
The third phase aims to implement the strategy we developed in the previous user acquisition phase. The activities are organized into two categories here as well.

  • Campaign management: this category contains all operations connected to campaign creation. Depending on the KPIs we wish to analyze, we need to pay special attention to budget allocation, naming architecture, testing structure, and reporting structure preparation.
  • Creative production: those are visual asset creation tasks for paid user acquisition campaigns. The graphic designers begin with briefs to create materials. In the case of user-generated content, the briefs for creators and influencers also include the research phase.

4. Activities for Analysis Phase
As the primary question implies, the fourth phase involves analyzing the first outcomes and determining their origins. Those activities fall into the same two categories as phases two and three.

  • Campaign analysis: this is vital to paid user acquisition and involves all paid campaign analysis actions. We analyze all relevant factors to gain complete insight and improve performance.
  • Creative analysis: the creative process necessitates a thorough examination of the outcomes. We must evaluate not just the various messages transmitted but also the different forms, layouts, call to action, and so on.

5. Activities for Optimization and Testing Phase
We said it earlier. Still, we want to emphasize that this is generally the most fun and satisfying stage since we can “play” and explore many areas outside paid user acquisition. This areas three key activities aim to increase outcomes.

  • Campaign optimization: all of these actions are aimed at discovering and testing new audiences, channels, demographics, and optimization approaches.
  • Creative optimization: this section includes all improvements and testing of new creative forms, messages, creators, and so on. We should have various things to test depending on the channels we utilize.
  • Cross-area optimization: those actions might create a significant difference compared to your competitors because, in this situation, we are evaluating all areas that are not directly related to paid UA, but that may impact the results.

We should have a good idea of what the whole concept is about at this time. In conclusion, we will explain how the process works and how we should apply it.

Our systematic approach to paid user acquisition may be used for various mobile apps and verticals.

Therefore, it doesnt matter if youre advertising a delivery app or a subscription-based fitness app, for instance. If you follow the procedures for each phase and complete all of the activities, the odds are that you will be able to reach your objectives.

When you see it for the first time, it may seem complicated. However, it is not. Its simply a matter of following the steps.

If you want to scale paid user acquisition in 2023, start by clicking here and getting in touch with our team of experts!