A few years ago, app marketing focused solely on driving massive install counts. But the industry has since matured, and I’ve seen that many brand leaders now focus on attracting fewer but higher quality users.
Why? High-quality users stick with an app. Most importantly, they make purchases and drive revenue. After all, 100,000 regular buyers beat 10 million installers that don’t ever use the app. Marketers can leverage media partnerships to promote an app and drive high-quality users to install. Here are five strategies to get you started on improving your app user quality:
1. Focus on revenue, not install counts.
Every marketing program goes through a process of optimization to improve performance. In the past, many app marketers optimized by seeking media partnerships that drove the most installs. But cheap users aren’t necessarily quality users. The best media partners attract users who stay with an app and buy.
Two years ago, I worked with a company with great install counts, but flat revenue. The problem was that they were optimizing to focus more spending on vendors that drove cheap, low quality installs. When the company adjusted its optimization models to favor slightly more expensive media partners that drove quality users, revenue grew.
2. Be cautious about incentivized users.
One way media partners drive lots of app downloads quickly is via incentivized install programs. These campaigns offer users rewards for installing an app. For example, a farm game might offer fast-growing “atomic seeds” if the user downloads an app for a muffler chain. Many people might install the app – but most probably wouldn’t become regular muffler app users.
When a partner gets incentivization right, they find users who are predisposed to wanting a related app, i.e. a hunting game that offers a discount if the user downloads a sporting goods app. Be wary of programs that pair your app with unrelated properties because you won’t see quality installs.
3. Collaborate with media partners to improve uninstall rates.
By comparing the rate at which users uninstall your app across partners, you can identify media companies that deliver durable users. But don’t automatically flush companies at the first sign of high uninstalls.
By partnering with media providers, you may be able to identify the sources of lower quality users. For example, an ad network may unknowingly work with a specific publisher engaging in fraud. If you alert them to the issue, you can work together to see if one or a few publishers in that network are the responsible parties. The network will cut the site(s) from your plan and campaign performance will improve.
4. Monitor and respond to signs of fraud.
As media spending in our category has increased, so has fraud. You can often easily spot fraud in your campaign data. Look for disparities between metrics that are easy to fake – like ad clicks – and metrics that matter, like installs and purchases. For example, keep an eye out for a campaign that drove huge numbers of clicks but relatively few purchases.
About a year ago, I worked with a retailer that was testing a new media partner. In one week, the partner generated 6 million ad clicks, but only 100 app installs. Clearly, 60,000 clicks per install showed that something fishy was happening across the network. Naturally, the brand cut the media company from their plan.
5. Recognize that many quality users are made, not born.
An install is just the first step toward cultivating a profitable long-term user relationship. Craft a marketing program to keep users engaged and buying. Perhaps most important is asking users for permission to deliver push notifications – those little messages that tell you about app news and offers. People who opt in to receive push messages are much more likely to stick with an app.
You can also use re-engagement advertising to reach users – and not just those who opt in to push messages. For example, you can deliver ads to people who have placed items in your app shopping cart but left without buying.
These are just a few strategies you can use to attract and monetize quality users. Consider the unique characteristics of your app and define a broad set of tactics to get the job done. In apps, quality trumps quantity every time.