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Mobile App Marketing Made Simple : The 2020 Guide

Mobile App Marketing Made simple the 2020 Guide

What is Mobile App Marketing in Digital Marketing?

Mobile App Marketing is one of many Digital Marketing practices. It regroups all the interactions with users of a mobile application (app) through their entire lifecycle from when they first discover the app, to when they become regular users. It is composed of 5 phases : Awareness, Acquisition, Activation/Retention, Monetization and Nurturing


Phase 1 : Awareness Phase.
This is where you make yourself and your App known.
Phase 2 : Acquisition.
This is where you convince to download and install your app.
Phase 3:  Activation and Retention.
This may vary depending on the app but it is usually when the users either provide their email address or when they make making their first purchase, followed by all the activities turning your app into a regular destination for your user.
Phase 4 : Monetization

This is where you make your App profitable. It is not a stand-alone phase. Instead it spreads across the Acquisition, Activation and Retention phases and takes multiple forms.

Phase 5 : Nurturing

This is the phase where you help your lead/user mature towards the next phase of the Mobile App Marketing Funnel. Like Monetization, it happens in multiple places between Acquisition, Activation and Retention phases.

Each stage requires different strategies and tactics, and each is required for a successful mobile app marketing strategy.

What’s the difference between Mobile App Marketing and Mobile Marketing?

Mobile App Marketing solely concentrates on promoting an App, whereas Mobile Marketing is a broader term that refers to any marketing activity occurring on a mobile device.

Why is Mobile App Marketing important?

There is a major difference between using the web and using an App : Personalization.

That’s right, whereas the web is for the masses a mobile app is personal and convenient to us.

Think about the Starbucks App for example,

It remembers your drinks or snacks of choice,allows you to order them at a push of a button directly from the App,and even tells you how long it will take for your order to be ready and even tell you there is a Starbucks around based on your geolocation.

Can you do this through a website?

Personalization rules and is here to stay!

The numbers speak for themselves :

  • There are 5.19 Billion mobile users today, that’s 67% of the total world population!
  • 204 Billion Apps were downloaded in 2019 (+6% Year over Year)
  • Consumers spent $120 Billion on apps in 2019 (+20% Year over Year)
  • Each consumer spends an average of $21.62 on Apps.
  • Average online user spends 3H40minutes each day using a mobile device and mostly on Apps, an increase of 43% in the last 2 years.
  • Google Play store and Apple App store own 76% of the App store Market

(Sources : GSMA intelligence January 2020, App Annie “State of Mobile 2020”, Adobe Analytics, AppsFlyer, Smart Insights 2019, Comscore, Multi-Platform, Total Minutes from June 2019)

It is easy to understand then, how Mobile App Marketing can improve a business by being present where your audience is.

Finally, despite the tremendous growth of the time spent on Mobile apps, only 33% of us downloaded a new app in the last 3 months vs 49% 2 years ago.

This means that we stay more attached to the apps we already have and that a successful launch of a new mobile application requires further investment in advertising through Mobile App-Marketing

And that’s why Mobile App Marketing is so important!

Is Mobile App Marketing effective?

Yes indeed, without Mobile App Marketing, it is more than likely that the launch of an App would be a waste of your time and money.

These are the 5 reasons why :

  1. You need to identify your target audience, its’ volume potential as well as intent; Information that competitive analysis and App Store Optimization (or ASO) will give you.
  2. With the App market saturated by over 5 Million Apps, it is unlikely that you App will get discovered without any multi-channel organic and paid acquisition strategies.
  3. Using the best Communication Channels as well as Activation and Retention techniques have shown to reduce churn rate and increase in some cases the Lifetime Value of your users by 33%
  4. Deciding on the right monetization strategy and running profitability simulations and analysis are critical even before you start developing your App.
  5. And Finally, Without any Marketing Analytics and the right stack of tools, how would you know if you App is performing the way it should and maximize its Market penetration?

What are the trends for App marketing?

How are people discovering the apps they are downloading?

In Comscore’s August 2019 MobiLens® Plus survey, of the people who had downloaded any number of apps, 40% stated they discover apps through app store searches and 27% through top lists in the app store.

But non-app store sources such as TV ads, mobile ads and old fashioned word of mouth play a vital role in app discovery in todays’ market.

The App install Ad spend is increasing

The advertising for Mobile apps at both the user acquisition and re-engagement levels has now reached $50B, a 30% increase from 2018 to 2019.
In fact, according to Appsflyer, over 35% of app installs in 2019 are due to advertising.( these are also referred to as Non Organic Installs : NOI)

Here’s how it gets split by vertical according to the Adjust App trend report 2019:

There are a number of factors that explain this increase in mobile ad spend :

  • Increased competition in developed markets increasing the advertising cost.
  • Booming developing countries forcing marketers to maintain market shares.
  • The App stores (Apple Store and Google play) carry over 5 million apps (76% of the total app store market). It is nearly impossible for any app to be discovered organically and advertising is therefore necessary.
  • The sophistication of Programmatic enables buying in-app inventory at scale, hence increasing demand and cost.
  • The decline of in-app fraud protection is inspiring more confidence as a channel to advertise in.
  • The improvements of the ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) increases demand and therefore costs.

Retargeting campaigns continue to grow

By the end of 2019, over 30% of Mobile apps Marketing campaigns are running retargeting, a 16% increase year over year.

No wonder, when you know that retargeting campaigns in some cases reached over 50% conversion rate in 2019.

In-App advertising is booming

Until 2018, the main revenue source for Mobile apps was the In-App Purchase (IAP).
But IAP (In-App Advertising) had a low relevance rate of 5% to 10% it was difficult to turn a profit quickly.
Additional revenue streams were consequently investigated and developed such as In App advertising (+ 127% YoY) or Subscription revenue models.

Both contributed to an increase of the LTV (Lifetime Value) of an app user, and of the ROAS (Return On Advertising Spend) making in-app advertising more attractive

Gaming apps will continue to explode

In 2019, 40% of the Apps installed are Game apps, a 30% increase in 2 years.
The expansion of subscription models through Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass will contribute to a continued growth.

Finally, 5G networks will render the gaming apps even more capable and attractive.

How to measure the Performance of you Mobile App Marketing

Needless to say, that measuring the performance of your Marketing efforts is critical across the 5 phases of your mobile app life cycle.

For this, there are 4 tools that you can use and that I would suggest you combine for maximum results :

  1. Google Play Console for Google
  2. Firebase
  3. Apple Store Connect for Apple
  4. Third party Tools that complete the picture

Introduction to Google Play Console

Google Play Console is a very powerful tool and does far more than just Analytics.

With Google play console you can upload an Android app, create a store listing and easily publish it on Google Play.

For a complete picture of all its capabilities I would refer you to this article

Let’s now discuss specifically how the Google Play Console can help you with your analytics.

As you click on the Hamburger icon on the top left of your Google Play Console, you have access to many menus, one of which is the Acquisition reports that will help you understand user acquisition and retention.

Acquisition report

There are 3 tabs with various reports you can toggle between:
  • Retained Installers: shows the number of visitors to your app’s store page, how many installed your app and kept it installed over 30 days.
  • Buyers: shows the number of visitors to your app’s store page, how many installed your app and ended up buying one or more in-app products or subscriptions.
  • Subscribers: shows the number of visitors to your app’s store page, how many installed your app and ended up activating an in-app subscription.

Each report includes a graph that with the number of unique users during the reporting period (which you can adjust), the number of installers, and one of the 3 dimensions we just covered.

You can also break down the information using the “measured by” dropdown to look at:

  • Acquisition channel: shows where visitors come from, such as the Play Store, Google Search, AdWords, etc.
  • Country: total number of visitors for each country.
  • Country (Play Store organic): only shows visitors coming to your store listing organically by searching and browsing on Google Play.

On all the reports, you can toggle the option to view installers who didn’t visit the store listing page, such as those installing directly from Google Search results or on

Depending on your app’s category and monetization method, you’ll be able to view average revenue per user, conversion rate, retention benchmarks.

This is very useful to benchmark how your app performs against similar ones in the Google Play Store.

If you have decided to run some Google Ads campaigns to support the launch of your app, you are able track its performance from this section.

One of the options in Google Ads is a universal app campaign to find the best acquisition channel for your app and target cost per install (CPI).

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.

For more tracking details, you will need to review the reporting in your Google Ads account.

In order to make for a successful launch, you also might have decided to create some promotions

From the Google Play console you can create promotion codes and manage promotion campaigns, so that you can give away copies of your app or in-app products for free.

You can use the promotion codes in your marketing on social media, for example, or in an email campaign.

Finally, you will notice that Google Play Console automatically gives you some optimization tips.

They are self-explanatory and includes instructions to help you with implementation.

Store listing experiments

This section is a great optimization tool.

The Store listing experiments section is where you can test many various of your store listing, such as its descriptions, app icon, feature graphic, screenshots, and promo video.

You can run global experiments on images and videos and localized experiments on text.

When you run an experiment, you specify up to three variants of the item you want to test and a percentage of the store visitors who will see the test variants.

The experiment runs until results are statistically significant before they get presented

Upon reviewing the results, you can choose to apply the best performing variant to your store listing and display it to all visitors.

Effective experiments start with a clear objective.

Pro Tips : Test your app icon first because it’s the most visible part of your listing, followed by the other listing content.

Where store traffic is low, and to minimize the risk, keep the experiment percentage low  and only test one iteration at a time.

Financial reports

If you sell your app, in-app products, or subscriptions, The financial reports are the ones you want to use.
The section’s first report provides an overview of revenue and buyers. The report shows how your revenue and buyer performance has changed compared to the last report period.

Average Revenue Per Paying User (ARPPU): This is the average of the revenue expected from each user who makes at least one purchase between their first and last use of the app.

These are the additional information you can access as you dig deeper :
  • Additional breakdowns of revenue, buyers, and conversions are available here.
Each of them shows data over the last 7, 30 days of the entire lifetime of the App.
  • You can also dive into device and country data on the revenue and buyers reports.
  • The conversions report shows what percentage of your audience is purchasing items in your app.
  • You can also follow the evolution of spending per buyer.

Subscription report

Finally, if you offer subscriptions, the dashboard gives you a comprehensive view of how subscriptions are performing to help you make better decisions about how to grow subscriptions, decrease cancellations, and increase revenue.

The dashboard includes an overview, a detailed subscriptions acquisition report, a lifetime retention report, and a cancellation reports. You can also see how successful features such as free trials, account holds, and grace periods are in acquiring and retaining users.

With this information, identify opportunities to optimize your marketing and in-app messaging to drive new subscribers and reduce churn.

Introduction to Firebase

Firebase is a comprehensive app development platform for both Android and IOS specialized in 3 main areas:

  • Mobile and web apps development
  • App performance and stability insights
  • User Engagement and retention.

The user engagement and retention functionality covers an array of tools to help you analyze, predict and optimize the performance of you app.

Firebase has 7 functions related to Engagement and Retention:

1.Google Analytics

User insights from Acquisition to app usage

Analytics surfaces data about user behavior in your iOS and Android apps, enabling you to make better decisions about your product and marketing optimization. View crash data, notification effectiveness, deep-link performance, in-app purchase data, and more.

Attribution across dozens of sources

Analytics integrates with dozens of ad networks, making it easy with one SDK. Close the loop and send conversion data back to those networks to track and attribute app campaign performance across sources with postbacks to optimize campaign performance.

Segmentation and optimization in one dashboard

Define custom audiences in the Firebase console based on device data and user behavior by utilizing events and user properties, and then use those segments for notifications, A/B tests (via Firebase Remote Config), and Google Ads remarketing.

With Google Ads, insights become actions

Google Ads helps you advertise your app to the billions of people that use Search, YouTube, Google Play, and more. In just a few minutes, you can use your Analytics data to understand campaign performance, unlocking optimizations to find more engaged and valuable customers for your app via App Campaigns.

Realtime Analytics

Understand user behavior and view live usage data with realtime reporting. Use StreamView to get a live, dynamic view of your analytics data, and use DebugView to validate your analytics instrumentation by visualizing the stream of events logged by your development devices. Want custom reports? Stream your events to BigQuery in realtime, and create custom dashboards in Google Data Studio.

Seamless integration with AdMob

When you link your AdMob app to Firebase, your Analytics reports incorporate ad metrics and AdMob revenue, giving you a richer view of the Lifetime Value of your users and the performance of your in-app advertising strategy.

2.Predictive Analysis : Predictions

Harness the power of Google’s machine learning to get insight into which segments of users are likely to churn or spend (or complete another conversion event). Use these smart predictive segments for targeting in other products like Remote Config, Cloud Messaging, and In-App Messaging.

3.A/B testing

Improve your app by running product and marketing experiments, without worrying about setting up the infrastructure to run A/B tests. Customize experiments to suit your goals. Test a variety of updates to your app, like message copy or new features. Then, only roll-out changes proven to move the needle on your key metrics.

4.Remote Config

Customize how your app renders for each user. Change the look and feel, roll out features gradually, run A/B tests, deliver customized content to certain users, or make other updates without deploying a new version—all from the Firebase console. Monitor the impact of your changes and make adjustments in a matter of minutes.

5.Cloud Messaging

Send messages and notifications to users across platforms—Android, iOS, and the web—for free. Messages can be sent to single devices, groups of devices, or specific topics or user segments. Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) scales to even the largest apps, delivering hundreds of billions of messages per day.

6.In-App Messaging

Engage and nurture your active users with targeted and contextual messages that encourage them to complete meaningful actions within your app. You have the power to trigger messages based on user behavior and interests. You can also customize the design of in-app messages to fit your brand. In-App Messaging supports a variety of use cases and formats.

7.Dynamic Links

Dynamic Links are smart URLs that allow you to send existing and potential users to any location within your iOS or Android app. They survive the app install process, so even new users see the content they’re looking for when they open the app for the first time

Introduction to Apple Store Connect

The apple store connect is the platform used by Apple to Easily upload, submit, and manage your apps on the App Store on the web or on iOS.

Included with the Apple Developer Program membership it also contains a suite of tools to analyze the performance of your app : App Analytics, Sales and Trends, and Payments and Financial Reports.

Let’s review each of them and their functionalities.

1.App Analytics

App Store Sources

See how many users discover your app while searching or browsing the App Store, including tapping on Search Ads for your app on iOS to gain insight into how your marketing and metadata impact downloads.

App Referrers

Counts users who visit your app’s product page on iOS or tvOS from a link within another app.

Optimize your marketing campaigns by focusing on the apps that drive the most App Store impressions, downloads, and billings.

Web Referrer

Blogs, websites, and other online sources that link to your app’s product page, are critical in driving user acquisition through word-of-mouth marketing and PR.

With App Analytics, you can see which organic marketing channels drive the highest traffic, downloads, usage, and revenue for your app.

App Store Impressions

See how many times your app’s icon has been viewed on the App Store, including in search results, Featured, Top Charts, and your App Store product page.

With App Store Impressions, you can calculate how often users click through to download your app from seeing it anywhere on the App Store.

User Engagement

App Analytics provides user engagement metrics, including number of sessions, active devices, and retention for your apps on iOS and tvOS.

With these metrics, you can evaluate the impact of product changes such as modifying the initial onboarding experience to see which changes improve engagement with your app.

Deletions New

See how many users remove your app from devices running iOS 12.3 or later. Measure App Deletions to better understand how users react to changes in your app, such as content updates, price adjustments, or crashes.

Compare App Deletions by sources or groups of users to see which types of users are more likely to uninstall your app.

Marketing Campaigns

App Analytics lets you measure your marketing efforts so you can focus on the campaigns that are most effective. Create unique links for each marketing campaign to gain insight into which campaigns drive the most downloads and average spend per user.

The Apple Search Accounts Attribution API enables you to track and attribute app installs that originate from Apple Search Ads campaigns. You can implement it directly from the Apple Ad search account.

By doing so you can easily understand the value of different customer groups over time and the keywords that drove their downloads. Then you can use the information to optimize your CPT and CPA targets for different keywords, ad groups, and audiences.

App Store Product Page

You can calculate how effective your product page is by tying the number of downloads to the number of product page views.

Paying Users

App Analytics counts users based on Apple ID instead of device type, giving you a more precise look at paying user data. See how many paying users you have in a day to assess whether any changes you make impact spending within your app.

You can also filter by source to see if users are coming from a particular campaign or website.


Find out how many times your app crashes each day on iOS or tvOS.

You can filter crash data by platform, app version, and operating system version to pinpoint the cause, helping you create a better experience for users.

Segment by Download Date

Only Apple can provide the date that an Apple ID first downloaded an app from the App Store.

You can filter groups of users based on their purchase date to form a more complete picture as you compare and analyze user behavior.

Apple TV Data

Measure user engagement and monetization for your tvOS apps. In addition to seeing data on product page views, downloads, and engagement, you can see how many iOS users that were acquired with your marketing campaigns opened the same app on Apple TV.

You can also promote your tvOS app in another tvOS app and track the results using campaign links.

2.Sales and Trends

Understand Business Drivers

With Sales and Trends, you can view app units, proceeds, sales, pre-orders, and re-downloads to understand which of your apps or subscription in-app purchases are most popular.

You can also filter data by selected date ranges, transaction types, subscription offerings, territories, and more to get an in-depth look at your business.


By understanding your redownload data, you can gauge the effectiveness of your reengagement marketing efforts.

Sales and Trends shows you the transaction type of app downloads, including redownloads, free downloads, paid downloads, refunds, and updates.

Active Paid Subscriptions, Units, and Sales

For apps offering in-app purchase subscriptions, Sales and Trends tells you how many active paid subscribers your app has, how many new subscribers you’re getting each day, and how much you’re making in proceeds.

Subscription Activity

Find out how subscribers are moving between introductory pricing, paid subscriptions, reactivations, and cancellations.

You can view the daily totals for these key subscription events for the seven days preceding a selected end date.

Subscription Cancellation Reasons

Sales and Trends can help you understand why users cancel a subscription. You can view the percentage breakdown of reasons for a cancelled subscription for a selected end date, including billing issues and price increases.

Subscription Conversion and Retention Rates

View monthly introductory price conversion rates and retention rates for the 12 months preceding a selected end date. With this information, you can gain a better understanding of the introductory pricing offers that are most effective in converting users.

You can also see how effective you are at retaining subscribers, and whether the retention rate differs based on your app, the subscription start month, or the subscription offerings.

3.Payments and Financial Reports

Break out your earnings by product, territory, currency, price, and more with Payments and Financial Reports.

You can see how much was paid each month, the rates used to convert your earnings from each storefront currency, and any adjustments or withholding taxes that have been applied.

You can also download a single financial report that shows all currencies in which your app is sold.

4.Apple Search Ad dashboards

If you are using Apple Ad Search advertising, additional dashboards are available and I would refer you to the related section.

The depth of these reports will vary depending on the Apple search Ad Plan you selected

Best Resources for Mobile App Marketing

In Addition to the tools we just covered there plenty more you might want to consider.

Each has its own specialty, Pros and Cons and most of them offer free trials.

But since it might be difficult to choose what Stack to start with to have a strong analytics base for your App, here are some of my recommendations organized by Categories.

Quantitative Analytics

Adobe analytics

Qualitative Analytics



A/B testing

AB Tasty

Push Notification


Crash Analytics

Workspace One
Microsoft App center



Payment solutions


User Testing






Location data


You will find that using a couple of analytical tools simultaneously offers a better picture that will benefit you in the long term.

I have compiled a more complete list of these Applications in my toolbox section of my website.

What is the estimated cost for Mobile App Marketing?

If this is your first time in Marketing an app, this is probably one of the main questions you have.

Truth is, it depends greatly on many factors like the industry you are playing with, the type of App you are intending to Market, the size of your targeted audience, the competition level as well as the monetization strategy you have decided upon.

But in the spirit to give you a starting point I will attempt to break down for you in some key categories :

App Pre-Launch Costs

App Market Research Costs

$5,000 and $15,000
Source :

App Beta Testing Costs

Up to $5,000
Source :

App Store Optimization Costs

If you use in-house resources, an ASO tool would cost you from $25 to $,1,500 per month.

If you decide to hire an ASO agency instead the cost would vary from $1,000 to $25,000 per App.

App PR Outreach Costs

On average a PR agency would charge $100 – 300 / hour for media outreach.

Influencer Marketing Costs

An Influencer Marketing platform may cost to a brand $10,000 and up for a campaign to connect an app with its audience.

An Influencer Marketing agency management fees may reach $10k to $18k per month

Website and Social media set up costs

A website would cost you between $5,000 to $25,000 if you hire an agency.

Of course, if you build it yourself using online website builders such as WordPress, cost would be around $20 per month.

Content creation cost

Once you have your website and social platforms set up , you may want to have a strong content strategy and budget accordingly.

Identify the content you need to create on a regular basis and accrue for them.

Some traditional costs would be :

  • Copy writing ($100 to $1000 per 1000 words)
  • Video production and editing ($500 to $100,000 depending on type of video)
  • Graphic design ( $10 to $80 per piece )

Source :

App Launch & Post Launch Costs

App User Actions Cost

Between the Acquisition, Activation and retention phases, there are many actions you might want your user to take.

Here some benchmark to help you budget accordingly:

Source : Statista, Average mobile app user acquisition costs 2018-2019, by user action and OS

As you can see cost also vary greatly depending on the operating system.

Since operating systems vary in market shares geographically, this also translates in cost variation by regions as shown below.

So, as you target certain devices and geographical areas, make sure you accrue for these 2 factors in your budgeting process.

Push Notifications Platforms Cost

Depending on a number of subscribers that specific plan supports, as well as extra features and API access, the pricing for Push Notification services may lay within $30 – $250 / month.

So, That;s it for our introduction to Mobile App Marketing.

If you wish to dig deeper into certain advanced subjects, check out the related articles below.


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About Gilles Argivier

picture of Gilles Argivier standing with crossed arms

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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