Some of you attended a mobile app tracking webinar series we held last week entitled, “Is Time to Fix Your App Conversion Funnel.” For those mobile device marketers that didn’t, we thought we’d provide a couple of blog posts that summarize the findings of the research we did in prep for the sessions, as well as the best practices tips we outlined to address the key bottlenecks in the conversion process for your apps. Whether you are new to cell phone app marketing, or a veteran, we hope these mobile app tracking insights will be useful to you.
OUR STARTING POINT
The initial impetus for this mobile analytics presentation was an email that we received from a prospective client about 60 days ago. This was from a company that already had a mobile app attribution provider, who we were hoping to switch to Apsalar. I won’t take you through the entire message, just the key sentence. The prospect said,
If you guys just count, we don’t need to talk. I already have an app tracking company to count. But if you have ideas and ways to grow my mobile app business, then I will make time to talk.
This was an important sentence because it helped us underscore how mobile app tracking and attribution providers can unlock more customer value by doing more than just counting installs. And one of the ways we at Apsalar try to do this is to provide mobile app industry and category level insights that give marketers actionable solutions to the major growth challenges and opportunities that they face every day. It’s all about making mobile app tracking insights as actionable as possible.
So what are the common challenges people in the iOS, Android and Windows mobile app business face? To find out, we examined the conversion processes or user flows of dozens of the largest apps worldwide. In addition, we interviewed more than 40 marketers over the course of several months, and more than two dozen vendor partners, to figure out…
- Are app businesses facing common issues or challenges?
- Are there patterns and what are the causes of those patterns?
- How do conversion funnels differ in different categories, global regions, and countries?
- What strategies can eliminate the common barriers?
And then, even more importantly than finding the answers to those key questions, how can we help app marketers fix their buying funnels? What strategies and tactics can we identify that address the common challenges and drive extraordinary growth?
CAPSULE FINDINGS – 4 FUNNELS
Not to oversimplify our findings, but to keep the length of this reasonable and to keep the primary focus on actionable solutions to problems, we essentially identified four common “problems” or challenges in their mobile application buying funnels, which we codified into four key visual funnel shapes. We’ve discussed a couple of these mobile app conversion funnel shapes in the past, but here’s a capsule description/reminder:
Each mobile app conversion funnel has four different stages or levels of involvement.
- Install, which is self-explanatory
- Engagement, which is any action that a user takes in an app to demonstrate interest or involvement
- Intent, which is any action that shows progression toward a purchase or conversion,
- And then a Purchase itself
Let’s briefly take a look at each of these four problem funnels. And as we’re are doing so, I’d like for you to think about which if any describes your app business.
BLOWN-OUT UMBRELLA FUNNEL
The name, I suppose, is pretty self evident here. 😉 Here you see a funnel where the app has loads of installs, but relatively low forms of app engagement, intent, or purchase.
This funnel pattern is most common in Asia, Latin America. A good way to know if your app falls into this bucket is to check and see if >30% of apps launched only once. The pattern common for extremely well-funded app businesses and especially games. Often, the companies that experience this pattern spend 99+% of budget spent to drive installs. They also tend to have higher than average use of incentivized, APK, side loading. Of all of the four funnel patterns we saw, this was most common.
WHERE IS IT? FUNNEL
This one we call the Where is it? funnel because it shows reasonable conversion to engagement, intent, and conversion, but on a tiny base of installs. Essentially the brand appears to have a good app experience and conversion rate, but not enough money or installs to grow the business.
This funnel pattern is most common in the US, Canada, EU and tends to be a “big brand” phenomenon. We see it in busiensses like CPG companies and other indirect sale categories, where apps are a secondary communications or business channel. When we aks people who had this pattern about their busiensses, we found that >30% of budget spent developing the app, which ultimately led to limited dollars to drive trial and adoption. Often, brands with this pattern place a BIG premium on “look and feel” to the detriment of utility. We also see a high incidence of one-time only usage
Third up is the bulging funnel, in which installs, engagement, and intent events seem to occur at decent levels, but final conversion rates are low. This funnel pattern is found all over the world and is most common for high-ticket, considered decisions, especially in personal finance and travel. Often consumers use apps with this pattern for exploration, but choose to convert online. That leads to high incidence of mobile app engagement and intent events but a very low purchase rate. To add insult to injury, many mobile applicaition publishers that find themsleves with this conversion pattern report “losing” a high percentage of users when they change screens
Finally, we have the python funnel, in which an app that has great engagement, intent and purchase RATES, but also on a small base. The big difference versus the Where is it funnel here is that the mobile app engagement rates are quite high. Which suggests that the brand has attracted its highest opportunity customer group, but hasn’t expanded beyond that bulls-eye target to others that may still be profitable customers but who aren’t in the hard core.
This funnel pattern is found everywhere but especially in Latin America. It appears to signify that the business is very strong at attracting its “best” customers but small target audiences limit scale of total sales. This pattern is frequently experienced by businesses that target higher net worth customers only, and often demonstrates declining marketing efficiency over time and high and climbing cost per new user.
Now, there is a generous dose of subjectivity in any analysis like these. But as we’ve talked to app marketers, most are usually quick to recognize their funnel type.