Seven user acquisition tips for effective mobile app marketing

Markus Malti, CEO of WeQ, offers his expert advice on the key ideas marketers need to bear in mind when it comes to user acquisition, and how existing strategies can be tweaked to ensure youre getting good value and finding long-term users.

Developing a tailored and successful user acquisition (UA) strategy is a requirement for any business looking to grow their mobile app with new loyal users globally. It’s important for mobile advertisers to start on the right foot by setting clear goals ahead of planning, in order to deliver and scale campaigns in different markets.

Ready to grow your mobile app user base? Here are our most effective and proven best practices for creating effective UA campaigns at scale:

Tip 1: Set the right KPIs for your campaign and segment accordingly
Start by setting the KPIs you want to achieve and ensure it’s a level playing field for all channels by allocating specific sets of KPIs: one for search, another for social platforms (like Facebook), another for your mobile ad networks, and so on. There is no one-size-fits-all.

You’ll need to segment your user base around your KPIs, as the metrics vary by app and user base. For example, with retention, people that are using the app monthly might not become whales (heavy-spending users), so you have to gradually grow and nurture the relationship, without expecting them to jump a bar that’s too high for them. Then adjust your expectations accordingly.

Tip 2: Focus on long-term goals
Although it’s tempting to focus on short-term volume gains early in the campaign, being more focused on the one-year and two-year end goals yields more value. Scaling too fast can be risky when building a long-term UA strategy. Over-optimizing and narrowing down the user pool early in the campaign can lead to poorer performance and losing out on better opportunities in the long run.

Start by developing your campaigns on a lower scale, across different sources. A/B test campaigns to get a first impression of user behavior and find your user flow. This enables you to review results early on, then scaling across multiple touch points at the right time.

Once you have built a significant user base, start optimizing it according to where you know your high-value users are based.

Tip 3: Choose transparency with your mobile partners – it works both ways
Trust and communication lead to fruitful partnerships, which usually result in successful campaigns. The more campaign insights brands share with agencies (and vice versa), the better agencies can provide hassle-free user acquisition program management: with access to direct insights, they are able to function as an external UA department, micromanage and optimize campaigns, while brands can focus on top-level management.

Tip 4: Leverage burst campaigns to increase your user base cost-effectively
For quality organic growth, you’ll first need to develop bespoke campaigns tailored to increasing your app’s visibility in the app stores. It is possible to jumpstart your organic growth through paid burst campaigns, which push a high volume of targeted users to your app in a short period of time. At the same time, this will give you the added benefit of also jumpstarting your app monetization with a flood of new users. Optimize your burst campaigns by fine-tuning your targeting settings (region, audience, device, platform, etc.) to reach the elusive balance between making your advertising budgets go further, and ultimately, acquiring quality organic users.

Tip 5: Make sure your app is go-to-market ready before advertising
Timing is key. Your app should be fully functional and glitch-free before the campaign launch, with a carefully thought out and easy to understand user flow and monetization process. A glitch or bug can lead to losing valuable users in a matter of hours, which impacts negatively on retention figures, return on advertising spend, and even app store ratings that further impact organic growth. If there is a glitch, communicate this with your UA managers immediately so that they can factor this in when analyzing campaign performance data.

Tip 6: Take a scientific approach to data analysis
Dig deeper into your data and don’t rely solely on a top-level view. Work with your UA managers to compare benchmarks and have a more rounded view of your campaign’s performance.

Also, comparing results across acquisition channels, like with Google and Facebook campaigns, is like comparing apples to oranges. For an accurate comparison, test your campaigns with multiple partners instead and take it from there.

It’s easy to get lost in numbers and jump to conclusions, so it’s important to look at all your data scientifically. Also, beware of making the wrong correlations as this could lead to dismissing a user base that is making smaller payments, but could have a higher lifetime value in the long run. Instead, gather more data over time and let the campaign develop organically.

Tip 7: Don’t jump too soon on the bandwagon of new advertising trends
Ask yourself: are you spending your budget on a new trend to be seen as one of the first or will this initiative really help you achieve your goals? Hold your horses. Try to understand if the traffic source fits your product, before making a decision. Being a trailblazer is valuable if you have the right kind of brand and budget, but sometimes it’s best to leave the trend-testing to the big guns, while you invest on more rewarding tactics that may be less trendy.

Markus Malti is CEO of WeQ