Mathieu Nouzareth of music trivia game SongPop was recently quoted on TechCrunch on the subject of app discovery, saying “There are only a few ways you can have your app discovered:
a) You pray and hope that a miracle happens
b) You are featured by Apple
c) You reach out to journalists
d) You take matters in your own hands and you decide to invest in marketing campaigns.”
Nouzareth hit the nail on the head. In a single sentence, he both raised a major concern for app developers – broken app discovery, but also talked about the opportunity that today’s app marketplace has for the takers.
Indeed, the app space is flooded, and that’s an understatement. Apple just announced that there are more than 2 million apps in the App Store, while Google Play is not far behind. Add to that the fact that users are downloading fewer apps than ever, and only regularly use a handful of apps, which in turn dominate the top charts (Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Clash of Clans, and the like). So it’s a vicious circle if you’re a smaller app developer looking to grow your user base.
That’s why relying on Organic installs through app discovery is no longer a viable strategy for growth. Having understood that app discovery is broken, Apple, in its recent WWDC event, announced App Store search ads – a very smart move that gives developers hope of discovery, not to mention the potential to find quality users captured through powerful intent signals. Google launched its own Play store search ads late last year.
From the above options listed by Nouzareth, the only one that’s truly in a developer’s control is point d: “You take matters in your own hands and you decide to invest in marketing campaigns”. Realistically speaking, an app must invest in marketing to grow, and it must be done intelligently based on data and analytics. Lots of it. You need it if you have a small budget, in which case there’s very little room for error and every cent must be well spent, or if you have a large budget in which case a huge amount of money is on the line.
In addition, know that quality-driven factors like app usage, uninstalls, ratings and reviews are gaining ground in the app store’s algorithms, while total downloads is losing ground. This is why buying incentivized aka rewarded advertising through burst campaigns can no longer be the only or even the largest method of paid user acquisition. It has its benefits but should be part of a diverse marketing mix.
Ultimately, assuming that having a good product (app) is a given, buying smart becomes the most important factor of an app’s success or failure, especially amid rising costs.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing like the power of organic users. They are high quality, which is exactly what apps need nowadays as retention rates dwindle. But as a developer or a marketer, there’s not much you can do about it besides “pray and hope that a miracle happens,” as stated by Nouzareth.
But don’t despair! The truth is that this is the golden age of mobile marketing. There are two reasons for this: first, the decline of Organic as discussed, and second, the fact that mobile marketing measurement has come of age (I’m talking about measurement within a device, not across devices or channels which remains a significant challenge – but that’s a subject of its own).
Accurate measurement at scale is the foundation of smart marketing. It’s about collecting the right data and then pulling the proper insights to take action and optimize. By tracking mobile impressions, clicks, installs, uninstalls, practically any in-app events, and cost, app marketers can build proper funnels, for both their paid and owned channels.
Granted, as in any saturated marketplace, achieving success is tough. But it is possible! As a data-driven marketer, your role is becoming increasingly important as is your potential impact on the success of the business.
With all this data available, there are really no more excuses for half of mobile marketers who are not measuring their ROI! When more and more of them utilize this data and become sophisticated buyers, the market will change dramatically. It will force the sell side, which is still non-transparent in many cases, to open up and provide buyers with the insights they need to make smart marketing decisions. Which is exactly what they need amid the decline of the Organic channel.
The writer is Content Marketing Lead at AppsFlyer – the leading Mobile Attribution and Marketing Analytics firm