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Understand the stages of an app's lifecycle and learn tips & tricks as to how you can promote your app through a Google Apps Campaign.

The Mobile App Lifecycle Marketing Guide

Mara Heathcote

You need more than just a mobile website for your business.

Contrary to popular belief, mobile apps aren’t exclusive to big-name brands. Many small and medium-sized businesses are beginning to follow the mobile trend, but an effective mobile strategy involves more than just a mobile-friendly website.

From Bird & Bird’s Digital Marketing Law Guide app to the Egg Farmers of Canada's official Egg Timer App, mobile applications are impacting customer experiences and are helping to achieve business goals across an array of industries. Regardless of which brand is tied to an app or how well it’s marketed, if it’s something people need or deem useful, they’ll express interest. With the number of mobile users growing each year, connecting with consumers via mobile apps is a huge opportunity for businesses worldwide.

Whether your company is more focused on business or pleasure, if your app is more than just an extension of your website and you’re taking action to attract and benefit the general public, maybe it’s time to consider marketing your app to drive user discovery and engagement. According to App Annie, app downloads have grown 35% in the past two years while consumer spending grew 75% globally. Needless to say, adapting to an efficient mobile-first model will help meet customer needs and drive business growth.

What are Google App campaigns?

When executed correctly, Google app campaigns assist with driving app installs and in-app conversions across 2 million websites covering 90 percent of internet users. Google app campaigns analyze over 300 million potential signal combinations in real-time and use machine learning to rotate your promotions to ensure they reach the right people at the right time.

There are many advantages to running a Google App campaign including the ability to view insights on app behaviour, usage, drive in-app conversions, and re-engage your users to improve retention rates and increase long-term revenue.

One of the unique benefits of running a Google app campaign is that there’s no need to design individual ads. Resources from your app’s store listing including your text and assets will be used to design an assortment of ads to best suit a variety of formats and networks. Although for the best possible results, it’s recommended that at least one landscape image, one portrait video, and one landscape video, are provided in addition to HTML5 assets where applicable.

According to AppsFlyer, Google is now the #1 network for app installs having delivered over 17 billion downloads. Whether you’re focused on driving more installs or are looking for more ways to engage with your audience, Google app campaigns offer a variety of solutions to achieve your business goals. Your ads are guaranteed to be shown to people searching for terms or apps that are associated with whatever your app has to offer. In addition to reaching out to in-market audiences, Google will promote your app across a plethora of Google’s properties including Google Search, Google Play, Gmail, YouTube, the Google Display Network, AdMob, Discover on Google Search, and many additional partnered publishers who also host app ads.

How to hit targets for growing your app’s user base

App promotion will surely assist with discovery and engagement, but by taking the time to understand the apps ecosystem and establishing a strategy specific to your industry, you will be able to set the course for a high-performing app campaign in no time.

The first step to any successful campaign begins with identifying the specific marketing goals that you want to achieve before investing in any marketing efforts such as app installs or in-app actions. A conversion action shows what happens after a customer interacts with your ads, but since a variety of in-app actions can be defined as conversion events, determining the event will differ between verticals. Although, if you can’t decide which in-app actions are most important to your industry, you can track multiple conversion actions such as “Add to cart”, “Join now”, “Level X reached”, or whatever you deem valuable to your campaign.

Three key factors should be considered when determining the objectives for an upcoming campaign: app-specific goals, stage of app maturity, and business goals, in addition to determining the primary focus; installs or in-app actions.

Before preparing to run an app campaign, take the time to indicate your area of focus carefully. Determine whether acquiring new user installs, in-app actions, or simply engaging with existing users matters most to your business. From there, identify which specific actions are most beneficial to your business. For example, if you decide app installs are your primary focus, do you care more about installs by users who make specific in-app actions such as signing up for a subscription, or completing their profile set-up; or do you care more about the total number of installs?

When defining your goals to help better the odds of reaching your primary campaign objective, your goal should be dependent on where your app currently falls within its lifecycle. These phases include Pre-launch, Launch, Growth, and Maturity.

  1. Pre-launch: Up until the Launch phase, your objective should correlate with user volume, but before you go diving in, testing prototypes with potential users can be vital for a successful launch. Users may not use your app the way you intended or may be unclear in certain aspects that may seem obvious at first, so dipping into your target market for early conceptual feedback can help iron out any errors early on and authenticate a positive user experience.
  2. Launch: An app in this stage requires a heavy focus on attaining daily or monthly active users. Upon entering the launch phase, your objective should be parallel with acquiring new users and encouraging installs. Within this phase of your app‘s lifecycle, it’s crucial to establish a concrete target cost-per-install (CPI) goal. Upon choosing your CPI goal, evaluate how much a new user or an app install is worth to your company overall. It’s also rewarding to consider all monetization and profitability (ROI) options before your app enters the growth phase.
  3. Growth: The growth phase is where you'll notice a jump in revenue and usage, which may even continue to grow while the number of downloads decreases. Within this stage, it’s recommended you maintain your focus on driving installs, but it’s also in your best interest to hone in on the actions that users are taking while interacting with your app. Providing an in-app feedback channel will support communication and conflict resolution while decreasing the chances of negative user experience which will, in turn, support app retention. At this stage in your app’s lifecycle, it may be beneficial to consider a “burst campaign” to help delay the inevitable decline of downloads. A burst campaign provides a “burst” of exposure over a short period through purchasing paid media to attain as many paid installs as possible while simultaneously improving your overall store ranking. According to Leanplum, 75% of users will stop using an app after 3 months. While you approach the end of this phase, encourage users who haven't interacted with your app in a while to re-engage by sending personalized push notifications, messages, and calls to action.
  4. Maturity: The maturity phase is the longest in an app's lifecycle. Here you’ll notice the number of downloads will begin to flatline or decline, which is entirely natural. Due to the inevitable tail off, it’s vital to establish a “Churn Management Plan” and consider any cross-promotion options. Upon entering the Maturity phase, your objective should correlate with finding new users to complete valuable actions within the app. It is around this stage you should work to refine your original cost-per-acquisition (CPA) goal and consider introducing alterations and innovations to keep long-term users interested and engaged.
  5. Engagement: When entering the engagement phase, it’s vital to ensure that users stay involved and keep coming back. Consider reaching out to your user base through compelling and personalized messaging based on timing, shopping patterns, location, and past in-app behaviour. It is at this stage where executing an app engagement campaign can assist with re-engaging various types of users such as those who have downloaded but have not used the app in a while. App engagement campaigns allow you to encourage users to take specific actions within your app to increase long-term revenue.
The Importance and Benefits of Conversion Tracking

Ensuring that the right methods of measurement are in place to track the events that matter most to your business are essential to maintain any successful application. As you know, an event can be anything that you deem useful such as watching a video to completion, signing up for a mailing list, or completing in-app purchases. This data can be used to better understand user behaviour and improve the performance of both your app and marketing campaigns.

You can track almost any action using conversion tracking through Google Ads. Android apps are tracked through the Google Play Store while iOS apps are tracked through the Apple App Store. It's important to note that iOS app tracking is only available for ads that are served in mobile apps through the Display Network, not Google Search or Google Display.

When it comes time to run a campaign or begin analyzing user behaviour through conversion tracking, it’s crucial to ensure that your event is meeting the minimum number of conversions needed for a successful campaign. You will need at least 300 unique user-completed conversion events over 30 days to run effectively.

We could go into depth and explain how to implement conversion tracking, but you can always reach out to your friends over at Hotspex and we’ll take care of the nitty-gritty for you. Not only will your advertising be planned, executed, and measured all in one place, but you can surely trust us to make informed decisions regarding your app’s marketing and performance optimizations.

Tips & Tricks from the experts

It’s often forgotten that running a campaign can directly resolve your app-related issues. For example, say you want to keep growing installs but pay closer attention to new users that you know to be valuable. To achieve this, consider launching a campaign that’s focused on high install volume but that is optimized for users who interact with your app in its intended way, at least weekly.

Say you have a high number of downloads, but people just aren't opening your app. To resolve this, create a campaign that’s focused on existing users who have downloaded the app but haven't opened it yet. By targeting those users with captivating creatives, you can drive these users back into the app, thus providing you with an opportunity to convert these inactive users into active users.

If you need assistance in marketing your mobile app, social marketing, media buying, paid media management, or just need a friend, feel free to contact any of the experts at Hotspex Media. Our full-service programmatic advertising agency will ensure that your optimization objectives are met. Whether your objective is app installs, conversions or target return on ad spend (tROAS). We’ll be there applying insights and optimizations every step of the way and will keep you informed through a centralized and customizable reporting dashboard.

We’re ready to help take your marketing efforts to the next level, so contact us today and let us know how we can help.

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