10 tips for optimizing your growth loop

By John Koetsier March 8, 2022

Mobile app growth marketers live and die by their growth loops. Apps that get to the Google Play and App Store top charts and stay there have figured out how to sustainably acquire, engage, monetize, and retain their users, players, or customers. And they know how to make each step in the cycle amplify the next, building an ongoing and ever-increasing growth loop.

Growth loops, however, thrive on predictability.

That’s just what Apple’s App Tracking Transparency additions in iOS 14.5 and iOS 15 challenged, and what Google’s coming Privacy Sandbox for Android will imperil. The rules of app growth changed on iOS, and they will change in a few years on Android.

So how do you optimize your mobile growth loop?

We recently asked 4 mobile marketing experts exactly that question in a webinar on optimizing the entire growth loop (check it out here). The experts included:

  • Irem Isik, Director of Operations for Storyly
  • Liz Emery, VP Mobile + Ad Tech Solutions for Tinuiti
  • Anurag Agrawal, VP Product for Moloco
  • Victor Savath, VP of Solutions Consulting for Singular

With over 1,000 signups for the webinar, there were far too many questions to answer live. Here’s the answers to attendee questions, including those we didn’t get a chance to answer during the webinar. 

(Note: both answers and questions may be edited for brevity and clarity. Also, despite the fact that the webinar was on the entire growth loop, when you get mostly marketers in the audience you’ll have more UA questions than lifecycle questions!)

[We’re seeing] a shift from acquisition teams and lifecycle teams to now what we call growth teams. And it’s really a testament or a nod to the fact that you really need to think about the time horizon of the users that you acquire … it’s a recognition that the creation of loyalists, advocates, whales are really just growth multipliers.

– Victor Savath, Singular

10 questions (and answers)

1. App name: brand vs app store optimization
Q: We always have discussions between the brand team and the app store optimization team on our app name. The ASO team wants to make our app name long for visibility, keywords, searches, and ranking, but the brand team wants to keep it short and simple and clean. What are your opinions?

A: Liz Emery answered this one live, arguing basically that while she understands where the brand team is coming from, “it doesn’t hurt to include some keywords because that metadata does help your ranking.” Irem from Storyly? Totally in agreement.

2. Cross-device and cross-platform flows

Q: It’s getting hard to measure marketing on mobile. What are some creative ways to incorporate cross-device flows into our retargeting and re-engagement strategy?

A: Victor Savath from Singular answered this one, saying that “the bridge between your mobile website and your mobile app needs to be seamless.” You’re adding an additional step — always dangerous in onboarding flows — so it has to just work perfectly every time. The second thing to keep in mind here is that if you are using web-to-app flows, you can test different landing pages on your website with different ads and calls to action — and even different App Store product pages now — to see which are most effective.

3. Brand versus performance marketing

Q: Attendee Grace Liu asked about “consideration campaigns” and how they fit with brand and performance, which she said were still siloed at her app publishing company.

A: Irem Isik from Storyly answered this one, arguing that consideration “doesn’t feel like a third silo” to her, but part of brand. Then, she adds, “if you have established your brand in the minds and hearts of the consumers, then you can actually incite them to go through the consideration loop, and then comes the performance. And then it’s also about the measurement … you need to have the key metrics, key milestones in mind already set with your team for both branding and for the performance side.”

Having a unified measurement plan between all the different components of your marketing is instrumental in succeeding in marketing [and] not just burning your money …

 – Liz Emery, Tinuiti

4. Deferred deep linking

Q: One iOS, is it possible to enable deferred deep linking for customers who don’t opt in?

A: Without an IDFA, you won’t be able to connect a specific person and a specific ad view. (So … no.)

5. Identity resolution

Q: How should my team think about targeting iOS users now? Should we invest in identity resolution software? Are there other effective methods?

A: A number of companies have created identity graph technologies to replace device identifiers, but all of them have serious issues, ranging from privacy concerns to effectiveness. The more reputable among them rely on logged-in users, which a) you won’t always have and b) you won’t always be able to match as a part of an exported audience on an ad platform. Less reputable ones try to use a variety of technologies to track people without their knowledge or consent. View them all with suspicion, and focus on optimizing the tools that you do have at your disposal.

Getting customer feedback through the experience they have in your app will make your re-engagement activity more clever, more to the point, more personalized … use in-app tools, polls, feedback, questions … to bring out that first-party data.

 – Irem Isik, Storyly

6. LTV calculation on iOS

Q: How can measuring LTV improve in the current scenario for iOS campaigns? As of now, there is a 24-hour window which results in less accurate lifetime value calculation.

A: There are three technologies that can help: predictive analytics, modeled data, and mixed SKAN conversions. Singular has incorporated sophisticated modeling techniques using machine learning to account for missing data due to privacy thresholds. In addition, as you’ll see more about shortly, Singular has mixed models for SKAN that provide better LTV insight. Finally, as you learn more about what works for your specific app and users, you’ll have the data you need for increasingly accurate LTV predictions.

7. OTT/streaming/over-the-top/Connected TV

Q: Are you seeing good results for OTT? Is it primarily for branding or can you run acquisition campaigns?

A: OTT is getting increasingly more measurable. For same-device conversions you can clearly supply a Singular Link. 

When the conversion happens on a different device, like a smartphone while a person is watching streaming media on their living room TV, methods need to adapt. In addition to probabilistic methods like split testing and geotargeting, there’s old-school methods like providing a unique mobile web landing page which then forwards people to the relevant app store. “Use coupon code” is as old as the hills and still reliable. 

And, of course, there’s all the high-level, top-funnel, aggregated data that the streaming platform will provide.

“The growth loop is a never-ending journey with lots of learning opportunities.”

 – Irem Isik, Storyly

8. TikTok

Q: How should we approach advertising on TikTok?

A: In a previous webinar, Eddie Garabedian, VP of marketing at Electronic Arts, said that “Snap and TikTok creative should be very different from what you put on the Instagram feed or Facebook feed.” That’s the first clue.

Historically, TikTok advertising has been more on the brand side. Now, with more platform tools and Singular’s deep integration with TikTok, we’re seeing more and more conversions on TikTok. 

Ultimately, you want a campaign that aligns with what TikTok users want to see. That’s going to hit the brand side. But if you pair it with a strong call to action, you’re going to see performance at the same time.

9. Marketing analytics

Q: What analytics stack do you use to track data?

A: Well, Singular is the easy answer 🙂 

But there’s more to track than marketing data. There’s also in-app engagement and activity, and a good live ops platform can help there as well. Particularly when we’re talking about the entire growth loop, you simply need a CRM-type tool like a CleverTap or Braze that helps you understand what your users are doing.

10. Channels for brand

Q: What channels do you specifically recommend investing in for brand, and why?

A: The traditional standby is old-fashioned TV, and that can still work for some apps in certain verticals, like crypto apps advertising in the Super Bowl. But for a longer-lasting hit display targeted to apps and websites where your desired users or customers are likely to be can be a good way of ensuring that they don’t see your name for the very first time in an expensive targeted performance ad.

(That said, brand is performance, and performance is brand, so while there’s a continuum, you should still see impact.)

Anything visual and/or video is a good way to do brand, as long as you can tell compelling stories in pictures about your brand proposition.

And social media can be important. Some apps have been able to generate sizable quantities of their installs via organic social, which can provide more opportunity to tell a brand story as well as provide a performance opportunity.

Watch the entire webinar for much more

Check out the entire webinar here for much more information. And, as mentioned off the top, it’s about acquisition as well as engagement and retention, so there’s a lot more to dig into.

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