Eight tips for a healthy mobile partnership programme

David Murphy - Member Content

Daisy-Blue Tinne, Agency Development Director at Impact EMEA, offers advice on how to make your app perform better and how to attract the right sort of users.

All over the world, the time we spend on mobile apps grows unabated. There were over 194bn app downloads worldwide in 2018, and according to AppAnnie’s State of Mobile 2019 report, the average user spends three hours a day on their mobile devices. eCommerce apps in particular have seen a massive increase, with more than 18bn hours spent in shopping apps in 2018 –  up 45 per cent from 2016. Globally, mobile is expected to capture nearly 75 per cent of total eCommerce transactions by 2021.

In the face of all this growth, brands who rate mobile as a low priority may very well be making a major mistake. Companies who failed to drive traffic to their mobile apps risk being disrupted by more agile competitors that do. Ultimately, this lack of action may lead to a loss of market share and a slide into irrelevance.

The flip side is that mobile partnerships are primed to boost enterprises that grasp the opportunity. This is what we call a ‘blue ocean’ moment – an unknown market space, vast, deep and powerful, unexplored and untainted by competition. With that in mind, here are eight tips for building a healthy, thriving mobile partnership programme. 

Simplified deep linking
It’s not rocket science to suggest that you will probably enjoy a higher conversion rate if your users click on a partner link to Product X and are actually taken to Product X on your app – just like in the web world. Often however, consumers are gracelessly dumped on the homepage of your app, requiring them to go searching for the product. In-app deep linking isn’t a complicated concept, but the technology can be, so look for a mobile partnership solution that allows you to support app-to-app or web-to-app scenarios with a single click, while shielding you from the complexities.

Dealing with “app not present” 
Suppose you are in the business of selling cinema tickets, and a consumer reads about a new film on a news app that is a partner of yours. There is a link to buy tickets from your app, but the user doesn’t have your app installed, so they are put through to your less-streamlined mobile website, and unfortunately abandon the transaction. This is the ‘app not present’ problem. In a nutshell, the solution is an interstitial that lets users select between installing the app – and then routes them to the right place in it – or deep-linking into the mobile web. Look for a mobile partnership platform that can offer all this seamlessly, to ensure the best user experience as users travel between apps.

APIs over SDKs
For tracking purposes, an app developer will usually have to integrate either an SDK (Software Development Kit) or an API (Application Programming Interface) into their app. Of the two, we recommend APIs. They are platform-agnostic, so they can be easily and rapidly deployed across any environment, whereas SDKs may in some cases be hampered by deployment, propagation and performance issues. Use a solution that leverages API-based integration, for more control and better performance.

Deferred app install verification
Aggressive cost-per-install (CPI) programmes that focus on getting users to install an app are common. But not only do bad actors attempt to defraud these programmes, also, real users are highly fickle, and many end up using an app only once. It’s important to pay attention to the quality of installs, and one way to do that is a CPI+ programme. These can contract and pay out based on deferred actions that can be validated after app install – a product search, for instance, or an “add to cart” or “add to wish list” action. In this way, you only pay partners for higher-quality traffic.

Protection against install fraud and install attribution fraud
This year could be the one in which the global app install market hits $64bn, according to AppsFlyer, and the bad guys have taken notice. Fraudsters run illicit operations to defraud marketers with fake or low-quality installs, using techniques such as install farms running device-reset marathons. The same kind of characters also deploy unscrupulous methods to take credit for driving an install in which they played no part. So your mobile partnership solution needs to have an intelligent, automated way of flagging sources of fraudulent installs and attribution fraud. Use it to clean up your partner pool, and use the money and time saved to find more reliable partners.

Tracking with others
If you’ve been in the app game for a while, the chances are your mobile app-install programme uses a mobile measurement provider (MMP). MMPs are highly useful solutions that primarily track and measure your mobile marketing efforts and aid attribution, though they won’t handle discovery, contracting and pay-outs. It makes sense for MMPs to exist in conjunction with a mobile partnership platform – which will handle those roles – so it is important to pick a well-integrated platform that plays well with others.

Flexible contracting
Mobile websites have an abandoned shopping cart rate of 97 per cent. On a mobile app, the equivalent rate is 20 per cent. So obviously it’s important to encourage your partners to funnel their valuable traffic into the app, and flexible contracting and innovative incentives are the key. Savvy partners set up contracting rules to pay out their partners a greater percentage of revenue if the transaction occurs on the mobile app. Others have created contracts that pay out an additional bonus if the partner drives the user to install the app and complete the transaction.

Cross-device insights
With such a large share of purchase journeys spanning several devices, it is important for a partnership manager to understand the role a partner has played in driving a conversion, even if they touched the user on a different device from the converting one. So use a solution that can dependably recognize users across all their devices and provide trustworthy cross-device pathing and insight, enabling you to measure the true value of each mobile partner with confidence.

Having grown up in the old, familiar worldwide web, partnership teams often put off dealing with the mobile app opportunity because of its unfamiliarity and complexity. But the technology is now on their side, and it is time to embrace mobile partnerships as seamless and powerful experiences for your users and your revenue. With the right mobile partnership solution in their corner, marketers can quickly absorb the unique capabilities needed to support the full mobile partnership lifecycle and thrive in a channel full of potential.