Using Data-Driven Marketing to Grow Travel Apps – Post 2 of 4


Our first travel app marketing post focused on setting a data collection strategy for travel apps. Today well discuss how to measure and optimize your mobile travel app and marketing programs more effectively. We discussed the four types of iOS and Android in-app events and how each class of events provides valuable information for your marketing efforts.

KPI-Based Measurement and Optimization Versus Install-Based

You and your brand probably expect more from your mobile app than “just” a colossal number of installs. You likely need to drive strong bookings and realized revenue with your mobile application. Given that, it’s a bad idea to just use install counts and CPI as the only measures of media partner effectiveness. Media companies that drive dirt-cheap installs often deliver the lowest quality users. That’s because the least expensive ways to drive an app install (like incentivized downloads, side-loading and APK) often garner lots of “users” who actually have no interest in what you sell.

Lots of app brands also try to use time spent as an indicator and optimization vector. The thing is, in most cases time isn’t directly related to the KPIs of an app; so it’s not something we usually recommend as a primary measure of app vitality. In addition, time is also a potentially deceptive metric because often teams are inclined to compare app-time-spent to web-time-spent, when the two experiences are fundamentally different. The other thing is that more time spent isn’t always a good thing as it can mask real problems like poor app responsiveness.

The first thing we ask mobile app marketers when they tell us they want to measure time is to ensure that time is directly related to their KPIs. I prefer hard metrics to surrogate metrics. If you have an ad-supported game app, for example, time may be a useful measure, though often it is the number of rounds played that relates directly to ad views, not time. For apps primarily designed to sell goods, I would recommend customer actions versus time.

The point is to measure the right things, not necessarily the easy things; though in reality, mobile app measurement tools should make it pretty easy to measure whatever you need to. For travel apps, the key KPIs are typically revenue/bookings or (in the case of companion apps) certain forms of engagement and user satisfaction.

As you can imagine, iOS and Android mobile app installs tend not to be terribly good indicators of success with revenue or engagement. An example: If I agreed to download your app in exchange for an hour of free Wi-Fi, am I likely to be a high-potential-revenue-user? Probably not. If it sounds too good to be true from a CPI perspective, it probably is. That’s not to say that every incentivized install program is bad. But you should dig deep to find out whether it’s realistic to expect quality users from a program before you sign the contract.

One of the most frustrating things we see from our view into hundreds of app businesses is that lots of mcommerce companies still optimize to cost per install instead of revenue per marketing dollar invested.. Doing so often drives exactly the wrong allocation decisions. Here’s an example. According to Liftoff’s Mobile App Engagement Index, the average travel app CPI in the US is about $6 – $5.58 for a male user and $6.42 for a female.

Given this, should travel apps then focus solely on men? NO! Liftoff reports that women buy the majority of travel offerings, so acquiring female users may make more sense. They may cost a little more to acquire, but they will generate lots more revenue.

Net: always evaluate vendors based upon the extent to which they help deliver your KPIs, not surrogate measures. Ensure that the measurement tool that you choose can provide a precise measure of the return on ad spend for mobile app vendors and campaigns, not just basic CPI metrics.

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