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Mobile App Marketing : 3 Best Advertising Strategies

Mobile App Marketing 3 Best Advertising Strategies

Getting to get your App to rank organically is both time consuming and extremely difficult in view of the level of competition.

This is why you need to complement these efforts with the right advertising methods to optimize your results and increase your App download velocity.

Here are my best advertising strategies to use during the Acquisition Phase :

1.Paid advertising

Apple app store

The Apple App store uses Search advertising to help you promote your app.

Depending on the plan you choose, you will have the ability to either pay per install (CPI) of pay per action (CPA) in which case you will pay when someone on the App store Taps on your ad.

Apple calls it CPT (Cost per Tap).

What is search advertising?

Search advertising is a method of placing online ads on web pages that result from a search on a search engine such as Google or Bing. The ads displayed on the Search Engine Result Pages (also known as SERPs) are targeted to match key search terms (also known as keywords) entered in the search.

In this case of course the search engine is the apple search engine and the results will appear as a search is run on the App Store.
You have 2 advertising options to choose from:

Apple Search Ads Basic Plan

  • The advertising is based on a cost per install (CPI) basis which is a performance based system.

This means that you only pay if an install takes place.
  • This is an automated hands off advertising campaign that Apple will run for you.
  • Apple will build an audience based on historical performance of similar ads (ie. apps that are in the same industry)
  • Apple will create ads based on your App description and metadata
How to promote your app with Apple Search Ads Basic Plan

1. Choose the app you want to promote.
From the menu on your account dashboard, choose the app you want to promote.

You’ll be given the option to promote only the apps associated with your linked App Store Connect account(s).

If you’d like to promote more than one of your apps, you can do so from your dashboard later. You can promote up to 50 apps.

2. Choose countries and regions.
You can choose to either run your promotion in all the countries and regions where it’s available, or select specific countries and regions.

If you promote in all countries and regions where your app is eligible, you’ll automatically be added to new markets as they become available.

3. Select your monthly budget.
This budget represents the most you want to spend to promote your app every calendar month and is a single budget across all the countries and regions where your app promotion will run.

The maximum monthly budget for Apple Search Ads Basic is $10,000 (U.S.) per app, per month.

The number of installs is maximized up to the maximum cost-per-install (max CPI) and the total amount you enter for your budget.

4. Define your maximum cost-per-install
Apple suggests a max CPI based on what they know about your app and what other developers are willing to pay to reach the same users.

You can accept this amount, or set your own.

5. review your Ads performance
It comes with a basic dashboard to review the performance of your Ads.

Note: that you can only select the max Cost-Per-Install (CPI) pricing model. You cannot control the bid price

Pro tip: It is important to review your app logo and description to ensure they are accurate.
If not, your app will be promoted to the wrong audience and you will not get the downloads you want.

Apple Search Ad Advanced Plan

  • The advertising is based on a cost per action (CPA) basis which is set as the action of taping on your ad. Apples calls it CPT (Cost per Tap).
    This means that you pay when someone taps on your ad even if they do not download your app.
  • This is more involved than the previous plan. You select keywords and set your targeting audience parameters (ie. Geography, date/ time, device type).
  • You are responsible for the ad copy and ad creative
  • You can control the Cost-Per-Install and the bid price
How to promote your app with Apple Search Ads Advanced Plan

1.Add and manage keywords
Apple Search Ads knows a lot about your app and its genre, and it can provide a list of keyword recommendations to save you time.

To do so, toggle the Search Match option on.

You can also add keywords of your own, and Apple Search Ads will suggest a further set of keywords related to the ones you’ve provided.

Apple uses a search term popularity index to help you determine the most important keywords for promoting your app.

To add any of them to your ad group, simply click the plus sign next to them.

You can also bulk upload keywords in the Keywords tab by choosing Upload Keywords from the Actions menu.

Each ad group can contain up to 5000 keywords

2.Select the keyword match type
A match type is a keyword setting that helps you control how your ads are matched to user searches. There are two types you can apply: Broad match and exact match.

Broad match
This is the default match type.

Broad match ensures your ad will run on relevant close variants of a keyword, such as singular, plurals, misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and phrases that include that term, fully or partially.

Use broad match to save time on building keyword lists and think of every possible keyword combination.

Broad match also helps ensure you don’t miss out on relevant searches your exact match keyword list didn’t cover.

It reveals unexpected search queries which you can leverage as individual bid keywords, once you’re aware of them. You can find them in the Search Terms tab within your campaign.

Pro tip : When the system creates keyword list using Broad match, it can create keywords combinations that are not relevant to you. Save cost and mark them as “negative” so that they are no used in the biding process.

Exact match
For the tightest control over searches where your ad may appear, use exact match.

You can choose a specific term and its close variants, like common misspellings and plurals.

Your ad may see fewer impressions as a result, but your tap-through rates (TTRs) and conversions on those impressions may be higher because you’re reaching the customers most interested in what your app offers.

To indicate a keyword as an exact match, include brackets around the search term, like this: [keyword]

How to use negative keywords
Negative keywords ensure that your ads will not appear for certain terms and help control your costs and improve your campaign efficiency.

The default setting is broad match, and I recommend you change the setting to exact match.

You can add negative keywords during campaign and ad group creation, upload them using a spreadsheet in the Keywords tab, or add existing keywords as negative keywords to one or more ad groups or campaigns.

Negative keywords should be closely related to the keywords you are bidding on, but they should also indicate that the searcher is looking for something that your app does not offer.

3.Set your budget
Apple Search Ads Advanced lets you set a budget and time period for each campaign. Once you set a budget, your campaign will run until you exhaust your budget, pause your campaign, or reach the end date you set.

You can add to your campaign budget and adjust any daily spend cap at any time to ensure your ads keep running.

Note that you can’t decrease your budget once your campaign has started.

If you’d like your budget to last for a specific time period, you may want to add a daily spend cap to distribute your spend over your desired period of time.

Once you reach your daily cap, your ads stop appearing for that day, but will restart the next day, until your campaign-level budget is depleted.

Note : the daily budget cap might get over spent nonetheless your campaign lifetime budget will not.

Pro tip : If you find you’re hitting your daily cap every day and your ROI is meeting your goals, consider increasing your daily cap to see if you get additional impressions and conversions.

4.Set your cost-per-acquisition goal (CPA)
CPA goal is optional, but useful

It helps Apple to maximize your app downloads.

It also allows you to manage your profitability.

5.Create ad groups
Ad groups are collections of keywords relevant to the app you’re promoting in App Store search results.

You can set specific criteria and max CPT (cost per Tap)  bid amounts for each ad group within a campaign.

Ad groups are an effective way to define who sees your ad.
For example, you can focus an ad group on a common theme related to your app.

You might set that ad group higher than another with keywords related to a less common theme.

Distinguishing ad groups this way also allows you to track and manage your spend separately.

There are many ad group strategy you can use all with Pros and Cons.

For more details I would refer you to my Google Ads Made simple : the 2020 Guide where ad group strategies are detailed further and apply similarly to Ad groups for Apple.

Commonly though, It’s generally considered  best practice to create individual ad groups within your campaign for discovery, generic, competitor, and brand keywords.

Doing so can help make it easier to measure results, optimize performance, and scale campaigns.

6.Ad creation
Apple Search Ads uses the app name, subtitle, description, preview videos, and screenshots you already provided in your App Store product page to create your ad.

The first sentence of your App Store product page description is the most important.

However, you can also use Creative Sets to create more ad variations from additional App Store assets.

These will run in addition to the current image and text ads that Apple Search Ads automatically creates for your app.

You can have up to 20 ad variations per ad group with Creative Sets.

Pro tip: You have to do some additional work, but you can create ads that are better targeted compared to the automated approach.

7.How to duplicate campaigns
Apple Search Ads Advanced lets you quickly duplicate existing campaigns for different audiences, seasonal promotions, or new markets.

Campaign duplication saves you time and accelerates launches.

Once the duplication process is complete, your new campaign will appear in the list on your Campaigns dashboard. From there, you can make any adjustments needed, including entering budget order and invoice details, if applicable.

It’s important to keep in mind the following when duplicating campaigns:

Either add keywords or turn on Search Match after you duplicate the campaign.

If you don’t include keywords in your new campaign but you have Search Match on for select ad groups, only those ad groups will serve ads.

If Search Match is turned off for all ad groups, your campaign will not serve ads.

Duplicated keywords and negative keywords will retain their original status and match type.

You may adjust these after duplication.

Creative Sets ad variations are app-specific and language-specific.

If you have sets in your original ad groups, they’ll be shared if your new campaign uses the same promoted app and countries and regions.

If these selections are changed, Creative Sets may not be shared.

If your original campaign used location refinements for a single country or region, they’ll be lost if you change the country or region associated with your new campaign.

Your budget will default to the amount set for your original campaign.

You can keep your existing budget or increase it any time.

If you want to decrease it, you can do so during the duplication process or before your new campaign’s start date

8.Ad scheduling
Ad scheduling allows you to specify the times and days your ads run on the App Store.

You can schedule ads when you create a new ad group or by editing an existing ad group’s settings.

Ad scheduling options let you choose ad group start and stop dates, and set ads to only show on specific days of the week or times of the day.

The default setting is to start “today” with no end date.

9.Set audience refinements
Apple Search Ads Advanced gives you tools to efficiently drive app downloads or re-engagements.

You can use them to define when your ads may be seen and by whom.

Keep in mind that if you narrow your audience too much, you’ll reduce the potential impressions for your ads.

Audience refinement by device type
Apple Search Ads Advanced defaults to showing your ads to customers who use the device types your app is compatible with.

You can also choose to show your ads only on iPad or iPhone, or set different bids and audience criteria by device.

Refine your audience by location
Apple Search Ads Advanced supports location refinement within certain countries and regions.

If your app serves specific areas only, this feature ensures you don’t waste your budget showing ads for searches occurring outside those areas.

Location refinements can’t be set within campaigns that are running in multiple countries and regions.

Focus on specific types of customers
You can refine your audience at the ad group level by these customer types:

  • All users
  • New users
  • Returning users
  • Users of my other apps

Audience volume minimum
For ads with specified audience criteria to run, audiences must have more than 5000 customers

10.Use Recommendations
Apple Search Ads Advanced includes customized recommendations designed to help improve campaign performance. You can easily apply recommendations for keywords, bids, and daily cap.

You may see recommendations for:

Keywords: Relevant terms people are using to search for apps like yours on the App Store. Adding these can help boost discovery of your app. Keyword recommendations also include recommended max CPT bids.

Bids: Recommended adjustments to your max CPT bids for high-opportunity keywords. Applying these can increase the likelihood of your ad showing.

Daily Cap: Suggestions to help increase opportunities for app downloads.
Note that you may not always see recommendations for your campaigns, but we encourage you to check back often.

11.Review your ads performance
Within your Apple Search Ads Advanced account, you have three options for viewing performance data:

Campaigns dashboard
Access convenient, top level metrics at a glance within your Campaigns dashboard, Ad Groups dashboard, or Keywords tab. Performance data for keywords, search terms, and Creative Sets is also available at the ad group level under each element’s corresponding tab.

Charts dashboard
See data in bar graphs, in charts, and as trend lines to quickly visualize performance over time. You can view a variety of key metrics by date, ad group, or device, or according to specific audience refinements.

Custom reports
Create customized reports to see data the exact way you want it.

Choose report dimensions, metrics, and granularity; run expansive queries at any level within your campaign group; and easily schedule reports to run once, daily, weekly, or monthly.

Note that there may be a delay of up to three hours to view latest data. Reports do not include data for in-app purchases.

Also, Apple Search Ads doesn’t support the use of third-party tracking URL variables.

However, if you want to track the lifetime value of your customers, consider implementing the Apple Search Ads Attribution API.

Report definitions
The following terms are used in each type of Apple Search Ads reporting:

Average CPA
Average cost-per-acquisition (CPA) is total spend divided by the number of installs (downloads) received within a period.

Average CPT
Average cost-per-tap (CPT) is the average amount you’ve paid for a tap on your ad.

The conversion rate (CR) is the total number of installs received within a period divided by total number of taps within the same period.

A dimension is an element of your Apple Search Ads campaign that can be included in a custom report. For example, campaign ID or CPT bid. Dimensions appear as rows in your custom reports.

The number of times your ad appeared in App Store search results within the reporting time period.

The total number of conversions from new downloads and redownloads resulting from an ad within the reporting period. Apple Search Ads installs are attributed within a 30-day tap-through window.

LAT Off Installs
Downloads from users who have not enabled Limit Ad Tracking (LAT) on their device.

LAT On Installs
Downloads from users who have enabled Limit Ad Tracking (LAT) on their device.

Match Source
This identifies whether your impression was the result of Search Match or a bidded keyword.

New Downloads
These represent app downloads from new users who have never before downloaded your app.

Re-downloads occur when a user downloads your app, deletes it, and downloads the same app again following a tap on an ad on the App Store, or downloads the same app on an additional device.

Search Term
Search terms are keywords and phrases that people have used to find the particular type of app they’re looking for.

The sum of the cost of each customer tap on your ad over the period of time set for your reporting.

The number of times your ad was tapped by users within the reporting time period.

The tap-through rate (TTR) is the number of times your ad was tapped by customers divided by the total impressions your ad received.

2.Google Ads

When it comes to advertising a Mobile app, Google Ads offers an all-inclusive solution that covers both Search and Display advertising.

The set-up is similar to an advertising campaign for non-apps but does not allow you to choose what channel you will advertise on.

All you have to do is to provide text, images, and videos and Google Ads does the rest, placing ads on Google Play, Google Search, YouTube, in other apps via the AdMob network, and on mobile sites on the Google Display Network.

How it works

When you create your App campaign, you can choose to optimize your campaign based on your specific goal.

You can track a variety of action for both Android and iOS apps:

  • App installs

    Conversion tracking can measure how effectively your ads are leading people to install your mobile apps. There are a couple of different ways to track this:

    • Downloads from Google Play: For Android apps, you can track when someone who clicked your ad downloads your app from the Google Play store. 

    • First opens: For both Android and iOS apps, you can track the first time someone who clicked your ad opens your app after installing it.
You can use this option if you use Firebase, or if you use a third-party app analytics provider.

  • In-app actions, such as purchases

Before you can track these actions, you need to them set up as conversions.

How to set Mobile App actions as conversion events

Here are a few different ways you can track mobile app conversions:

How to view conversions

All conversions and view-through conversions

  1. Sign into Google Ads.
  2. Select App campaigns in the campaigns menu at the top left.
  3. Click Campaigns or Ads groups.
  4. Click on the “Columns” icon in the icon menu at the top right of the campaigns list.
  5. Click Modify columns.
  6. Click the down arrow for “Conversions” to see all metric options from conversions.
  7. Check the boxes beside “View-through conv.” and “All conv. (by conv. time)”
  8. Click Apply.

Now when you view campaigns or ad groups, you will be able to see all conversions and view-through conversions as metrics columns.

For select accounts: “Engaged-view conversions”, “clicks”, and “engagements”

  1. Sign into Google Ads.
  2. Select App campaigns in the campaigns menu at the top left.
  3. Click Campaigns or Ads groups
  4. Click on the “Segments” icon in the icon menu at the top right of the campaigns list.
  5. Select “Conversions”
  6. In the “Conversions” menu that opens, select “Ad interaction type”
  7. You’ll be able to see the number of conversions that resulted from “Clicks”, “Engaged views”, and “Engagements”.

Video ad conversion tracking for apps

Conversion tracking is unique for video ads.

A video engagement is counted when someone watches at least 10 seconds of your video ad on YouTube or the Display Network.

App download conversions are counted only if the install happens within two days of the engagement. For people who click on your ad, conversions are counted if they install your app within 30 days.

Billing for your video ad will vary depending on where it’s shown. If it’s on YouTube, you’ll be billed for each impression. If it’s on the Display Network, you’ll be billed for each engagement.

Do the prep work : Calculate your LTV

What is LTV?

LTV stands for Lifetime Value and represents the projected revenue that a customer will generate during their lifetime. Roughly speaking, it is the average purchase value, multiplied by the average purchase frequency and then multiplied by the average customer lifespan.

As an example, if you buy a Diet Coke every day of the year for $1.50 and remain a faithful customer for 10 years before you decide to buy a Pepsi instead, your LTV as a customer for Coke would be :
365 x 1.50 x 10 = $5 474

There are multiple ways to calculate LTV, from the basic version I just showed you to very complex predictive modeling.

Why is predicting LTV important?

Predicting your LTV and in turn your ROAS (return on Advertising Spend) will tell you if it is it worth investing in an adverting campaign for my app or not.

If ROAS is over 100% you should return a profit from a paid acquisition campaign. Less than 100% and you probably won’t see a benefit.

There are numerous models out there and I would refer you to a couple of articles :

  • 3 standard way to calculate LTV by Neil Patel
  • A specific model relative to Mobile App Marketing by David Yin

Bidding options (Target CPI)

Let’s take a look at how you can plan your campaign strategy around your bidding budget.

To get more installs

For campaigns focused on app installs, you’ll set a bid for app installs. This is called the target cost-per-install (target CPI).

It lets you choose how much you’re willing to pay to get a new user for your app.

To drive selected in-app actions (Target CPA)

This works the same way as the CPI but in this case the action is not an install.

For campaigns focused on in-app actions, you’ll set a bid for app events. This is called the target cost-per-action (target CPA).

It lets you choose how much you’re willing to pay for a new user for your app who is more likely to complete the event you selected.

When you set your bid, you’re telling Google Ads average amount you’d like to spend each time someone performs the specific in-app action.

Focus on hitting a return on ad spend (Target ROAS)

For campaigns focused on achieving a return on ad spend, you’ll set a target return on ad spend value as a percentage of value per spend. It lets you choose how much dollar value you want back for every dollar you spend.

When you set your target ROAS, you’re telling Google Ads the average value you want back for every dollar spent.

As an example, if you set your average daily budget for $100, and your target ROAS is 10%, you’re aiming for about $10 of value from your ads.

The Bid Guidance widget

The Bid Guidance widget is a panel that appears when you are creating or viewing the settings of an App Campaign. The widget shows you:

  • Your current target CPI or CPA depending on your campaign
  • Your current average daily budget
  • A chart showing the estimated weekly performance of your campaign at several different CPI/CPA levels
While creating an installs campaign, the widget will change based on the values currently entered for locale (country only) and language.
While editing an install or an in-app actions campaign, the widget will only change based on values entered for target CPI / CPA.
The goal is to help you anticipate the impact of bid changes, assuming the same campaign and conversion settings.

You don’t need to save the changes to see the new estimates. Seeing the estimates doesn’t mean that your changes are saved.

3.Social Media advertising

Social media channels are a very popular way to reach large audiences especially if you do not have a large audience yet.

There are 7 main factors you may want to consider when advertising on social media :

1.The reach of the channel

 This is  how many people your Ad can reach.
You can see below from this Hoosuite report below the shares of the main channels

2.The engagement level

This usually refers to any kind of reaction to your post : like, comment, thumbs up, shares etc…

These number also vary based on the type of post.

You can see from the example below, that the average engagement on Facebook is 3.39% overall but can reach 6.09% for video post

They also vary by social channel.
Check the same information for Instagram.

The numbers are significantly lower than Facebook

3.The demographics

As you can see from the table below, demographics vary depending on the channel.

Make sure you select the one(s) that match your target audience

4.The targeting capabilities

Various channels offer different options. For example, Linkedin gives you the ability to target by profession, Company or position which is unique and very useful if you are a B2B business.

5.The CPA (Cost Per action)

What is CPA?

CPA stands for Cost Per Action. Also called cost per acquisition, this online method of advertising is performance based as dependent upon a specific action. The action can vary based on your objective. Signing up for a free trial, registering for a free download, or buying a product are examples of actions.

The fee varies on the type of action.

It can be a set fee for sign ups or a percentage of the sales amount if your action is set as a sale.

The CPA will help you compare the various channels but also that you should compare to the LTV (lifetime value) of your customer to ensure you stay within budget and remain profitable.

Specifically, for Mobile Apps, the calculation of your LTV will heavily depend on your ability to retain your users once they downloaded your app.

We will cover more about retention strategies further in this article.

If you are interested to know more about bidding strategies across the board, you can refer to my Google Ads made simple : the 2020 step by step Guide.

It explains most of the Ad formats available on the web today that apply to Google but also to their competitors that have similar options on their platforms.

6.Two-way conversation

When establishing a social media presence, you are opening yourself up to a two-way dialogue with users.

You should be prepared to accept and respond to questions, as well as discuss your app and its features openly.

You should also look for mentions of your company or app name so you can be proactive about complaints, concerns, or even compliments.

7. Best way to Marketing an App on Facebook

With  more than 2.4 billion active monthly users, there’s no better place to promote your app than Facebook.

You can advertise your app directly in users’ feeds, and they can download your app without ever leaving Facebook’s own app.

Facebook offers a few dedicated options to promote your app depending if you are in the acquisition or retention phase.

Mobile app Install ads

This is great during the acquisition phase.

Using the App installs advertising objective, you can reach people across Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network, and make it easy for them to download your app.

These ads link directly to the Apple App Store, Google Play and Kindle Fire store.

App engagement ads

This is most useful for retention purposes as with the App engagement Ads,  you can drive app engagement for people who already have your app.

The traffic objective simply brings users back into your app, and the conversion objective drives specific actions like making purchases or playing a level of your game.

You can optimize these ads for clicks or daily unique reach.

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About Gilles Argivier

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He is an International marketing expert and visionary entrepreneur.

For over 20 years, he has been entrusted by world class organizations as a driver of top and bottom line growth through transformational business development, brand’s sustainable strategy, product innovation and powerful online customer centric experiences

He owns and operates his marketing consultancy firm out of the US.

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