Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for the best experience on this site.
Here are some we suggest:

“Internet Explorer is a compatibility solution. We’re not supporting new web standards for it… [developers] just aren’t testing for Internet Explorer these days. They’re testing on modern browsers.” – Chris Jackson, Principal Program Manager, Microsoft

see what we can achieve as your paid media partner

how to use app advertising to boost your return

Apps are unavoidable. An integral part of day-to-day life, people are spending more time than ever on them. At the end of Q1 2022, there were over two million apps in the Apple App Store and an even heftier two and a half million in the Play Store.

The volume of apps available is staggering and with this comes huge advertising potential. So, how can you get the most from app advertising? Implementing an app strategy is more than just getting the download.

In a vastly over-saturated market, having a well-crafted app strategy is integral to finding real and measurable success. In this article, we explore why uninstalls happen, why focusing on high-quality users is the key to success and how you can create an effective strategy.

why is having an app strategy important?

The revenue delivered from mobile apps is set to grow to $953 billion this year. If you’re not investing in your app strategy, the question is, why not?

The growing popularity of apps makes them a worthwhile market to explore. Would an app support your marketing strategy and where should you focus your efforts for maximum return? Apps can offer great potential whether you want to increase lead generation or sales. But with a high uninstall rate, you need to keep putting the work in after that initial install.

To make the most of your app investment you need to focus on what your app offers to your users as well as the quality of the user installing it. Failing to consider what your app can provide long-term, and why they should stick around, will likely lead to uninstalls.

why do people uninstall apps?

People uninstall an app when they don’t have a use for it. Both Apple and Google are great at generating enough interest for a user to install an app. But this doesn’t help users understand the use of the app and why they should continue to use it. Without a clear understanding of why your app serves a purpose, users will eventually move on.

As Gen Z and millennials' app usage continues to increase, it’s important to update your mobile-first strategy to reflect this trend. Solely concentrating your efforts on mobile web and ignoring the strength of your app proposition could mean you’re missing out on a lot of users who are highly relevant to your business. Simply put, if your app isn’t up to scratch, users will delete it and find a brand that delivers what they want.

break the uninstall curse

The app industry is a competitive place, there’s no doubt about it. But all is not lost. By harnessing your app’s capabilities, you’ll soon see an uplift in users who stick around for the long term.

Ultimately, it’s about improving the calibre of your users and creating a strategy with ‘audience-first’ at the very forefront of what you do. Focus on ‘quality over quantity’ when targeting new users, training the algorithm and Apple/Google bidding strategies to optimise in-app actions to support this. Let us explain in more depth.

in-app actions: what, how, why

In-app actions are, in simple terms, goals set up in third-party analytic platforms like Adjust, App Flyer or Google Firebase. Once you have a system in place and connected to your ad accounts, it’s time to use them to enhance the algorithm with in-app data action.

To do this, you need to start tagging up micro and macro steps, or conversion goals, within the user journey. This needs to be done from install all the way through to the actions you want the user to take. With your in-app actions synced with your various advertising accounts, you have the tools in place to start enriching your performance and strategy with that data.

understanding the levels of app interaction

To implement an effective strategy, you first need to understand how users interact with your app, and what you want to achieve at each stage.

  1. install (the very first action): The user has seen your ad which has evoked enough interest for them to click on it, install it and register.

  2. first open(the people who have installed and opened the app): A huge number of people download apps and delete them before ever opening it.

  3. micro-actions: after they first open the app, what do you want them to do next and how do you want to guide them through the app journey?

  4. macro-actions: the actions that are ultimately going to make you money. This could be a sale or a lead.

take a deep dive into micro and macro actions

It might be tempting to skip the hard work, prioritise downloads and watch the numbers pour in. But long-term, this is only harmful to your brand. Not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at how the different levels of in-app action tagging can influence your bottom line.

installs only

Here, the algorithm is set to focus on installs only, however, the journey shows a number of micro-steps after the installation before any sale is made.

When you choose to optimise tools to only target installs, your initial download numbers may look great, but what next? By targeting such a wide pool of users rather than focusing on a more relevant audience, your uninstall rate will skyrocket.

When looking at measures of success, it’s important to compare your cost per install (CPI) and your cost per acquisition (CPA). CPI is simply the cost of advertising the app divided by the number of installations. CPA in this context is the cost per macro in-app action. Simply targeting the install and nothing else, your CPI will be low, but your CPA will be extremely high.

installs and your end goal

The focus is on initial install and the end goal which means driving downloads and getting people to make a purchase. While a step above flow one, this option poses its own set of challenges. Essentially going from zero to 100, the algorithm doesn’t have enough data to help find those high-quality users.

The result? Your cost per acquisition is almost the same as inflow one and you’d be lucky to see even a 10 percent difference overall. To see real, measurable results, you need to enrich your data even further and feed this into the algorithm.

macro conversions

A more complex flow would start to look at macro conversions. By tagging steps along the way as markers of customer intent, such as ‘sign up complete’ and ‘add to basket’, you are feeding the algorithm with more information. Your bidding strategies can then use this as data signals to home in on the right type of user for your app.

micro and macro conversions

The most complex of the flows, this final journey requires developer or agency support. Here, all micro and macro actions are tagged and you’re controlling the algorithm to focus on the different steps a user may take as they go through your app.

All the data, from sign-up, add to basket and purchase, goes back into the algorithm. This huge bank of data enables the algorithm to learn and understand who your ideal user is and who is most likely to perform each of these actions. Taking all this information, it pushes your app to be more relevant and likely to convert users.

By focusing on micro and macro actions, your cost per install may increase but your overall conversion rates will also increase, and continue to do so, offsetting the initial cost spike.

use this data to take your marketing to the next level

Alongside the benefits that micro and macro actions can offer your app, the data you collect through this process is invaluable across your business. By tagging all the steps within your user journey, you have a bank of data on various audience pools. You can see users who engaged with your app at some stage of the user journey, even if they didn’t convert, to provide a wider business strategy.

Taking this information, you can start to remarket through social or video ads to encourage the user to come back and finish their journey with you.

don’t just take our word for it

At equation, we don’t just specialise in one sector, our knowledge and experience allow us to be industry agnostic. Our app strategies have been tried and tested across numerous industries from retail to insurance. And the thing that they all have in common? Clients who see the most success on apps are the ones who optimise in-app actions over installs. The results speak for themselves:

  • insurance clients saw a 50 percent increase in return on ad spend after we tagged their entire user journey and harnessed in-app actions.

  • working with a brand in the trading sector, we created a ten-step tagged journey and helped them decrease new trader acquisition costs by 20 percent.

  • in the eCommerce sector, our clients saw an 18 percent increase in new customers purchasing through the app as a result of implementing a fully tagged journey.

While it can be tempting to focus on initial installs and see the numbers of downloads flood in, prioritising your long-term strategy over quick wins will help fuel your business growth. Our team of experts can help you to take your app advertising strategy to the next level, all you have to do is get in touch.

read next

paid social media and retailers: a modern-day love story

9 steps to creating an effective paid media strategy

social and display: the start of your user journey