App marketing boost 2023: 20 tips to kickstart growth without breaking the bank
Does your app need a kick in the butt? A marketing boost? A little bottle of app growth nitrous to pour into your mobile marketing engine and kickstart growth? Yeah. I thought so. Who doesn’t need an app marketing boost?
It’s a challenging time.
SKAN 4 is just hitting its inflection point, Twitter is becoming X, Threads is becoming Twitter, Meta and Google and all the other major growth partners are updating their algorithms to model iOS campaigns, and Privacy Sandbox on Android is just around the corner. So it’s a good time to reevaluate your app marketing strategy and find an app marketing boost for the second half of 2023.
Here are 20 app marketing strategy tips for kickstarting growth without breaking the bank. Even in a down economy.
Let’s dump some creative gasoline into your growth stack and fire up your installs.
1. Host an in-app event
Make Apple and Google your user acquisition partner by hosting an in-app event, competition, or challenge. Maybe it’s a tournament. Maybe it’s a virtual meet-up. Maybe it’s a debate. Maybe it’s a meet-the-allstars. Whatever: invent something cool.
Then, thanks to the magic of in-app events on iOS, Apple will surface your event in 3 places:
- Your app listing page
- Search results for relevant queries in the App Store
- Editorially-curated selections on Today, Games, and Apps tabs in the App Store
The hope: new user acquisition due to higher visibility.
Side benefits: better user engagement. More excitement for you, with something cool happening in your app. Social noise with possible virality.
In our recent webinar on aligning organic and paid user acquisition, GameHive’s head of growth Mary Kim told us that this strategy is particularly strong on Android, where they’ve used it to get featured on Google Play with impressive results. Google calls this Promotional Content, formerly LiveOps.
2. Curate country-specific app ratings and reviews
As you know, Android now has country-specific ratings and reviews. It’s not just one big bucket now. So decide which countries you want to focus on, and invest some energy responding to existing reviews and asking for additional ones where you need better ratings or fresher reviews.
A little effort can mean a nice boost in ratings, and that’s going to assist both in search ranking and in social proof for conversions from views to installs.
Engage local teams if you have them, or work with an agency.
3. Drop a segmented campaign straight to a custom product page
You know Apple enables custom product pages. You know that Google has up to 50 custom store listings. But if you haven’t yet quite got around to actually using them, you’re missing out on higher CTR and CVR.
So cancel the plans (sorry, dreams) for the Super Bowl Ad and build 5 segments of people that use your app or play your game. Customize a special ad/social/content campaign just for each one, and route the ads to the appropriate app listing page tailored just for the right segment. Boost the campaigns that convert, starve the ones that don’t, evolve those that look promising.
(Bonus points and a gold star if you can get a custom in-app onboarding flow to sync up to the ads and the app listing page.)
And voila: you’re finetuning your segmentation strategy, which the product team might like, and you’re growing your app with people who need or want what you’ve got, and you’ve boosted retention with higher engagement too.
Let me count on my fingers: 1, 2, 3 wins.
4. Get better data from Singular to boost your app marketing
I need worse data, said no marketing drone ever.
You need the best data, the cleanest data, the most actionable data. I kinda think we can help you with that. You need a mobile measurement partner, but not just any MMP: you need the next-generation mobile measurement partner for the privacy era.
So ask these people … they’ll know more about getting you exactly the intelligence that you need, for each team member you have, in world-class time, wherever you need data.
5. Model data to make up for privacy gaps
Getting better data sounds great, and it is. But anyone who’s tried to grow iOS apps at scale in the past year knows, missing/omitted/censored data is just a fact of life right now.
You can’t fix what you don’t have, right?
Actually, you can.
You can model for missing data using some smart AI and data science and privacy-safe first-party data that give you much better insight into what’s actually happening in your app. It’s called SKAN Advanced Analytics, and it’s available now. The key is: it makes SKAN performant. And to a higher level than any other MMP’s SKAN solution.
Need more details? Get the high-performance user acquisition on iOS guide today.
6. Differentiate your marketing
Why do 99% of car ads suck? Because they all look the same: roads, landscapes, vistas, red cars, and happy people doing things most worker bees like us rarely out and do.
Study the ads your top competitors put out. Find patterns. Realize that humans are pattern-recognition machines, and once we identify them and realize they’re safe, we start to tune them out. Yes: it’s possible to advertise in a way that accelerates ad blindness.
Make new patterns, and differentiate your marketing.
That way you break the mould and defeat ad blindness.
7. Farm, don’t hunt
We’re all very aware of the mobile’s massively leaky bucket problem. We’re pouring in users by the thousands on the top, and they’re flowing like sand through our fingers out the bottom.
Don’t just keep spending more money on acquisition.
Set a goal to improve retention by .5 % or 1% a month. (Maybe that’s low for you. Maybe that’s high. The point is: set a goal and track your progress.)
Then connect all the dots: why do people churn? What is common about people who don’t? Keep an eye out for different demographics, segments, or behavioral patterns, and build better onboarding. Build better initial app experiences. Build sequences for people to level up in your app.
The goal is to keep more of what you hunt. (Or, PG version: farm, don’t hunt.)
The benefit: much less wasted UA money. And over time, increasingly better LTV.
8. People don’t buy what they don’t know
Look, performance marketing is great, but sometimes you just gotta do some brand.
The typical marketing funnel, as you are painfully aware, is:
- Customer Relationship
Most mobile games blast straight to step 3, CONVERSION BABY. It’s the marketing equivalent of trying to hit a homer on your first at-bat, or sell the house with one sign, or win the lottery by buying one ticket.
Give people a minute! Let them get to know you!
If they don’t know your app at all, try a little brand marketing in the cheapest way possible. You want real ads that really show up for real people — check out Singular’s fraud protections — but you’re not looking to close the deal. You just want people to see your name, colors, logo in some relevant context … even if they see it subliminally.
Make it funky/fun/awesome, and make it memorable. Add some organic. Add some social. Offer tools for your users to share experiences or gameplay.
Then pair it with performance ads, and measure the organic lift your performance ads get when they’re delivered to a warmed-up audience versus served cold.
9. Surface your best content as native ads
Do people do amazing things in your app? Create cool art? Slay evil dragons? Say funny stuff? Make funky memes?
Make them the stars of your social, content, and paid ad campaigns. Capture some video, get permission, and share it as a native ad on a contextually-relevant platform … “So this just happened on [insert app name here] …”
10. Try podcast ads, but don’t make this 1 big mistake
Podcast ads are an undersaturated opportunity that you can exploit IF, repeat IF, you do it right.
You can tightly segment podcast audiences by the podcasts you promote, so that’s good. And when people are listening to podcasts, they’re often commuting or biking or working, so they’re a captive (audio) audience, which is also good.
Just one thing: don’t let the podcast host read your ad before the content with all the other ads. People know by now to skip 15 or 30 or 250 seconds forward until they get the actual podcast they want to listen to. For some of my favorite podcasts, it’s literally 3 to 5 minutes of solid ads, so I just fast forward.
If you’re contracting with podcasters either individually or via a platform, get them to drop it in 5 minutes in, 15 minutes in, or 30 minutes into the podcast.
Spotify, iHeart, and others offer programmatic placement and drop-in as well, and that can be much better for engagement than a beginning-of-show mention.
(Better yet, get multiple mentions in the same show, with different messages, each personalized by the podcast host.)
11. Pump your users up
Your app users are pretty cool people with pretty cool lives and pretty cool social lives. When they do something pretty cool in your pretty cool app … let them share it.
And not just with a generic text share to Twitter, but a full personalized not-too-cheesy award image that they can share to their IG story and celebrate knocking off 1,000,000 zombies. Or whatever pretty cool people do you in your app.
Happy users reproduce themselves by welcoming in others, and last I checked, that’s good for you.
12. 1000X your creatives to kickstart your app marketing success
Mobile marketing influencers agree: creative is one of your last levers for boosting app growth. You’ve heard it 100 times. So what are you going to do about it … work your designers and writers to the bone?
Offload creative to the machine. Use the generative AI tools that are available. I mean, you need that spark from a human, but talk to any of 10 different vendors who will take your app marketing ingredients and bake about 25 million different cakes (errr, mobile ads) with them. AI is a beast: make it work for you.
Or, if you’re a giant publisher and you have worker bees and cycles to burn, roll your own.
13. Back to the future, baby (WWW for the win)
Remember the World Wide Web when we called it that? And capitalized it. And told people we were surfing after spending an hour listening to the beeping and whistling of our crappy 33.6 baud modems?
Yep, the web.
Place app ads on websites that are likely to be accessed by people on mobile (quick hint: that’s most of them) and are contextually relevant to your app or game. It’s cheaper, so you can go broader (see #8 about brand marketing) and since they’re on mobile, you’re one deep link click away from another happy person installing your app.
Bonus: put a landing page in for extra insights, which might make up the extra step funnel loss.
14. Buy the dip
Economic dips suck.
But buying the dip is good advice for people who have dry powder (a bit of extra capital laid away for a rainy day) and the foresight to see that ads are now cheaper, and that makes acquisition more economical, meaning your LTV doesn’t have to be quite as high to justify your ad spend.
It’s essentially buy low, sell high for mobile marketing (except there’s no selling).
15. Boost engagement with rewarded ads in your app for your app
You can’t buy love, but you earn better engagement and therefore retention in your app basically for free. Didn’t know that, huh? Here’s how:
- People don’t know how to do everything in your app
- In fact, it’s almost certain there’s something cool they would do, if only they knew
- Share a tutorial with them, but do it differently
- Make it like a rewarded ad, so they earn a benefit for checking it out
- Like this: Check out this tip and get gems/power up/discounts/etc
Essentially it is a rewarded ad, in your app, for your app. Watching it makes your users/players/customers smarter about using your app, and shares cool stuff they can do with the app they already have. That might just head off app abandonment at the pass, it’s likely to boost engagement with more features and areas of your app, and it’s likely to increase retention.
Don’t believe me?
There’s a mobile game I play that I’ve spent about $250 with features I don’t yet fully understand. Things I have to collect to advance that I don’t know how to acquire. While it’s possible that I’m just a complete idiot … it’s also possible you have app users just like me. Boost their experience!
16. Let your app do the work
You’re not JUST a marketer, right? You’re also a strategist. A thinker. An executive. A keen observer of the mobile ecosystem, the human condition, and the deep mysteries of the universe. So you know that not all marketing problems need to be solved only by marketing solutions.
In many cases, the product can do the work.
I’m talking about PLG, AKA product led growth, and it’s about making your app so freakishly amazing, awesome, and wonderful that people can’t help but hear about it, search for it, install it, use it, and tell their moms and perfect strangers on the bus about it.
(Yeah, I know. This is one of those simple-but-not-easy tips. Sorry about that.)
17. Content marketing FTW via SEO
Why would anyone doing mobile app marketing concern themselves with content marketing and SEO? Because it’s worthwhile, for some apps in some verticals, to give people considering your app some additional evidence that it’s real, it’s big, it’s good, and it’s trustworthy.
Think subscription apps.
Think health apps, or fitness apps.
Think what it might take to convince someone that paying $5 or $10 a month is a good idea. They might need a little more information and little more persuading than you can easily fit in an app listing, or a mobile ad.
Boost your app footprint, your internet visibility, and your search engine profile with some content marketing that doesn’t suck. (In other words: actually useful, not formulaic, not essentially the same as 200 other brands, and not boring.) Better SEO ranking is going to contribute to better paid marketing performance.
18. Pause your ads, then burst them with a new campaign
If I see another Gardenscapes ad, I’ll probably die. The ad will reach through the fabric of space-time and literally tear my soul from my body, leaving me to float in existential angst for all eternity.
OK, that’s a bit dramatic.
But the point is, just like good speakers know how to vary volume, pitch, and intensity to keep people’s attention, good marketers know that a steady drone of advertising gets tuned out because it starts to fade into the scenery.
Don’t be that brand. Don’t be that app.
Sometimes, to boost your marketing impact, you have to pause your marketing efforts. Take a deep breath. Restart after a week or two. Then you can stand out from the walls and the screens and the other ads better, improving both clickthrough and conversion. (Oh, and it’s a nice incrementality check too.)
19. Calculate your organic multiplier
What you don’t know can’t make you smarter.
OK, that sounds obvious, but what would you do if you know that you generated 3 organic installs for every 1 paid install? Would it change how you did paid? Or, how you look at organic?
A user acquisition lead at a major studio just told me that they’ve seen this kind of organic multiplier, and it changed how they thought about ad pricing. Be wary, though: TikTok tends to have a larger organic multiplier thanks to a younger audience that shares more. Facebook tends to have a lower organic multiplier, but the users you get there tend to spend more.
So apply the organic multiplier with caution.
20. Oh dear, I only had 19 but already wrote the title
For some reason, 18 just doesn’t sound as good, so the 19th tip is one that you’ve already done: read this article.
(Insufferably lame, I know, but don’t you feel good for having already accomplished something today? Yay you. You totally rock.)
Here’s the challenge: implement just one of these tips. See how it goes. And let me know (Twitter is good) what changed, improved, or got worse.
Just one more thing …
If you need accurate marketing measurement that doesn’t suck, chat with Singular. Book a meeting here, and find out how Singular’s platform can gather all the data that’s possible, model the data that’s missing, and provide the insights you need to drive more profitable growth.