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7 user acquisition strategy tips for mobile apps and games

How to acquire users for your app

Want your game to make it to the Top Charts? Today, user acquisition plays a key role in any mobile marketing strategy. As the need for discoverability in the App and Google Play stores increases, the business of generating a user base for new games has erupted. So what’s the best UA strategy? And what’s the best creative to acquire high value users for your mobile app?

ironSource LevelUp sat down with mobile industry titans to get advice for any developer to handle their user acquisition strategy like the top game companies do. Hear from the experts behind chart topping games like Homescapes, Cut the Rope, Angry Birds, 1010!, and Adventure Capitalist, to learn how to increase mobile user acquisition while successfully acquiring users through cross-department communication, data analytics, creativity, innovation, and most importantly, a focus on player happiness.

1. Maintain a strong relationship between marketing and monetization

Kongregate’s Jeff Gurian, VP Ad Monetization and Marketing

“At Kongregate, our [combined] monetization-marketing approach has helped give our UA team perspective on what our CPMs are and how competitive they are in the marketplace. If we’re primarily buying on a CPI basis, the amount of inventory we get is dependent on the CPMs that are being driven within the apps we’re buying from. That’s imperative because if the UA team doesn’t know what those CPMs are, they don’t know how much they really need to move the needle to get more volume.”

Listen to the full podcast here.

2. Your user acquisition strategy should focus on communication and creation, rather than exclusively focusing on the data

Warren Woodward, Director of User Acquisition at Nexon

UA is a communication discipline. While there’s a tendency in user acquisition to build teams mostly with people with mathematics, data or finance backgrounds, at the end of the day, UA is doing marketing, so you have to have creative skills within your team. Your UA team needs to be able to understand messaging – what’s going to connect with people and and what is going to turn them off. The UA team here at Nexon has a very complementary set of skills- we have some people with finance backgrounds, some people with analytic backgrounds, and some people with marketing backgrounds, so it all comes together. Everyone helps out with their strength, which creates a good atmosphere of mutual respect on the team.”

Listen to the full podcast here.

3. Increase mobile game user engagement with storytelling and always question the data

Carissa Gonzalez, Senior Marketing Manager at Pixelberry

“You can’t do user acquisition without taking a deep dive into your numbers. One of the first things I learned early on was to “never trust the data” – if the data is good question it, if the data is bad question it too, if the data is out of trend question it. No matter what, always question the data.”

“One of the main things that I love about the gaming industry is the storytelling aspect of it. There’s so many psychological factors that go into game design and so many psychological triggers that developers can place in a game’s UX design. There’s this amazing storytelling opportunity in every part of a game and it’s incredible to see companies in the industry take the time to put value into what they’re developing. In terms of UA specifically, I love that we can track all of our results. That trackability and instant response allows us to see immediately what kind of impact a feature had.”

Listen to the full podcast here.

4. Approach your mobile app user acquisition strategy knowing that high-quality users are limited

Artur Grigorjan, Head of Growth at Playrix

“The second challenge resulting from the rapidly-growing industry is quality user acquisition. Increasing UA costs combined with reduced user quality and reduced retention means it’s getting harder to find quality users at an affordable cost. Game marketers should approach user acquisition knowing that perhaps only a portion of their acquired users will be high-quality or with high LTV-potential. The trick to acquiring quality users is to see which traffic sources are bringing in the highest volume of quality users, and then double-down on them.”

Read the full post here.

5. Mobile advertising has become essential to in-app experience and app user engagement.

Jane Anderson, Head of Ad Monetization at Zeptolab

“Across the whole industry there's been a shift to focus a lot more on data to see how it can impact gameplay. Today, game developers are much more precise in terms of estimation and analytics - they actually compare if advertising changes something in app retention. Before that advertising was more like an inevitable evil that everybody had to put in order to survive in the market. Now it’s the source of product improvement, not only the source of incremental revenue. Mobile advertising today and game advertising today is shifting to being a part of the engagement strategy and an integral part of the in-app experience."

Listen to the full podcast here.

6. Focus on player acquisition instead of user acquisition for mobile games

Tatyana Bogatyreva, Head of UA at Gram Games

“It's not really user acquisition, it's more player acquisition, especially when you're looking at the ad driven side of things. We're looking to engage players into the idea behind the games. Gram is making games that are very appealing and addicting and have a low barrier to enter. UA is about figuring out the right approach and allocating the limited resources of the UA team (at Gram we only have four UA people and two marketing artists). So we need to split our time wisely.”

“Creatives, specifically on the CTR and IPM side of things, play a very very important role. Playable ads are a very core part of our creatives because they’re representatives of gameplay and users are able to immediately understand gameplay and their objective. Playable ads have been a key driver as we're seeing some of the highest retention come in from the playable units on both sides of the business.”

Listen to the full podcast here.

7. Mobile app engagement and acquisition strategies are built on player feedback

Nate Barker, Director of Business Development at Fluffy Fairy Games

“One of the most important things about the game industry is maintaining a tight focus on what actually makes your players happy, and not just on the metrics. Things like DAU, MAU, and ARPDAU are important but you can make better decisions about the right way to drive your monetization or UA based on your players.

Listen to the full podcast here.

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