App marketing: Strategies, campaigns, & more

What is app marketing?

In today’s market, there are millions of apps on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. That makes it very hard for app developers to get their apps discovered organically. App marketing is the solution for this problem, helping developers stand out from the sea of competition to increase awareness and installs for their apps. 

Building your app marketing plan

There are numerous ways to market your app. However, before you begin running campaigns,  there's a few critical things you need to do first. One is to do market research to answer key questions like, "who uses your app?" and "how are your competitors reaching them with ads?". Once you do your research, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions about which marketing channels to use, and how to use them to get the results you want. 

That brings us to the next task you need to complete before actually launching any campaigns - determining your key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs measure the success of your various marketing campaigns and help you understand where to allocate your budget. Metrics like Cost Per Install (CPI), retention rate, Lifetime Value (LTV), Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) are good starting points. 

Once you have these foundations in place, you can begin testing out different channels for marketing your app. Some of the main ways include using traditional social media channels such as Facebook, which offer tremendous scale and access to a broad audience; search advertising on the app stores, where your ads appear when a user types in a certain keyword; and App Store Optimization (ASO), which is the business of perfecting your app store listing in a way that captivates users and gets them to install your app.

In addition, you can use in-app ad networks, which serve your ads in other apps, and traditional preloads, which pre-install your apps on new mobile phones via the manufacturer. Alternatively, you can partner with third-party solutions like Aura, which also connect you with users directly on their devices via the manufacturer or carrier - but in a much more personalized and sophisticated way.  

When building your marketing plan, you should spread your budget across a variety of channels, and build up enough data to understand which channels perform the best for your app according to your KPIs and align with your resources. 

App marketing strategy

Here’s a full list of the potential marketing channels you can choose from:

  • Social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter
  • User acquisition campaigns on ad networks like ironSource, Unity, and AppLovin
  • Device manufacturer and carrier channels, like Aura 
  • Search advertising, such as on Google
  • App store optimization on Google Play or Apple App store
  • Influencer marketing, such as Youtubers and Tiktok creators
  • Email marketing 
  • News resources and blogs for app reviews 

Stay on top of users' minds by running an OEM and carrier campaign with Aura today 

Launching your app marketing campaign

Before you launch your app globally, make sure your ad creatives are fully optimized so they can deliver you the best results. To ensure this, prioritize A/B testing. On a limited audience, test out different versions of your ad creatives: you could play with the visual components like colors and copy, and the ad creative itself - for instance full screen offers on a channel like Aura. Part of your A/B testing should also be dedicated to determining which channels show the best results and should be included as part of your global launch strategy. 

Aside from pre-launch optimization, it’s also important you partner up with a Mobile Measurement Platform (MMP), sometimes referred to as attribution platforms. An MMP tracks your app’s UA campaign performance across all the media channels you're running your campaigns on.

Insights like how many installs you’re driving, how people are interacting with your ads, and what platforms your target audience is on, are all parts of the puzzle you need to put together to see the bigger picture of overall performance.

The value of MMPs is associating this data with the specific media source or advertising channel that drove the install. There’s no blind guessing with MMPs - you can see at a glance how well your campaigns are doing with real-time data.  

Once all of this is in place, it’s time to globally launch your app across the marketing channels you’ve chosen. 

However, make no mistake - this is far from “job done”. Once your app is in the wild, it’s crucial you continue to optimize your performance to make sure you meet and exceed the KPIs you already set. From the ad creatives you're using in UA campaigns, to your app store listing, there is plenty of work to be done - again, A/B testing will be key. Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing and let the data inform your decisions. 

App marketing services

There are a number of services you can use to maximize the performance of your marketing campaigns. From market intelligence tools like App Annie and Sensor Tower, to mobile measurement partners (MMPs) like Appsflyer and Adjust, the market has a solution for pretty much every need you’ll encounter in your app’s lifecycle. 

Third-party marketing platforms are also hugely valuable. Aura, for instance, connects app developers to mobile manufacturers and carriers. When you partner with Aura, you can tap into the tremendous value of marketing campaigns directly on the devices of users. High impact touch points, such as during the onboarding flow of new phones, lets you get to users before your competitors and retain them long-term, which in the competitive landscape of mobile apps, is very valuable.

App marketing 2021

Mobile apps are continuing to take up a central place in the lives of billions of consumers all over the world. As app usage rates and spending continue to rise, there is a great opportunity for innovative new and existing apps to succeed in this competitive ecosystem. Underpinning any successful app will be savvy marketing - the insights shared in this article provide a solid foundation of knowledge for building a winning strategy.

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