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10 Mobile App Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

jump over mobile app marketing common pitfallsMobile applications are not the future, they’re the present. However, marketing and tracking are still lagging to find the best way of maximizing revenue (or ROI in general, depending on each case). Having been in the industry for a long time, here are the most common pitfalls and how to avoid them to make sure your marketing plan is successful… or at least not fail for known risks! :)

Relying on Traditional Marketing Vehicles

This mistake is widespread, particularly among name brand companies trying to get their app into the hands of a large customer base. Marketers are too often relying on the traditional marketing activities they already know in an attempt to drive app downloads: online activities like banner advertising and PPC campaigns that target desktop web, offline activities such as TV and radio advertising, and even print marketing.

There are two reasons this approach isn’t particularly effective. First, these vehicles target large mass audiences, many of whom have no interest in downloading and using your app. Many people in these mass audiences may not even have the iPhone, iPad or Android device required to use the app! As a result, user acquisition cost through traditional marketing outlets is much higher than it would be through mobile-specific advertising.

Secondly, TV ads, banner ads or print marketing rarely offer an effective method to click through and download an app, as it requires work. Even if a potential user has a required mobile device on hand, it has been proven that the conversion rates are extremely low in comparison to in-app advertising through mobile devices.

How to Avoid this Mistake

Advertise where you know potential users have the appropriate device and where they can download your app immediately upon seeing your ad. Examples include:

• Mobile Ad Networks that display your ads on their network of mobile publishers.

• Social Media Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter provide tools to reach very specific audiences to promote you app.

• Real-Time Bidding Platforms that allow you to bid on mobile traffic in real-time.

• Incentive-Based Download Programs that allow you to bid on low-cost mobile app downloads from users who are incentivized to download your app.

This is not to say that you should shun traditional marketing. Social media, twitter, PR, PPC campaigns that target desktop web, and your website are important for reinforcing your marketing and generating awareness, but large amounts of downloads will come from the sources listed above, which are intended specifically for user acquisition.

Not Tracking and Optimizing Marketing in Real-time

App store dynamics and ranking algorithms can change by the hour. New traffic sources burst onto the scene every week, and strategies that were once effective often lose their luster over time. Nonetheless, most mobile app marketers either don’t or can’t stay on top of these changes, often rendering their marketing strategies obsolete before they even have a chance to use them. Marketers who are unable to track spend and optimize advertising in real-time are not just wasting their money, but they’re also losing opportunities to rise above their competitors.

How to Avoid this Mistake

To be successful, marketers should use technology to track their marketing data in real-time and optimize toward sources that are generating the most efficient results. At the same time, real-time optimization is often easier said than done, as implementing the appropriate technology can be a complex challenge that consumes both a marketer’s time and a company’s technical resources. If you don’t have the in-house expertise and tools to perform the required analysis and adjustments, you should strongly consider building out these capabilities in your organization or partnering with an outside resource that incorporates tracking technology specifically designed to optimize mobile app advertising.

Ignoring Post-Download Events

A common mistake made by mobile app marketers is to focus efforts on sources that generate brute volumes of downloads without paying attention to what happens next. When marketers clamor for low-cost downloads, certain publishers are happy to oblige, creating services that incentivize people to install the app, but never use it again. As a result, marketers who rely only on download metrics leave themselves vulnerable to spending a lot of money to get downloads, but these downloads do not necessarily translate into ROI. In fact, many people who download your app may never even use it.

There are metrics other than downloads that relate more closely to generating profits called loyal user metrics – and these are the events that occur after the user downloads your app. A few of these post-download events include ongoing app usage, registrations, reaching level 3 in a game and purchases.

Obviously downloads are important, however a download may not be the valuable end result the marketer was trying to obtain if the user does not engage more deeply with the app again and again. Rapid and sustainable app-business growth is all about finding loyal users who engage with your app. If you’re not tracking your users’ interactions with your app and targeting your marketing to the sources that generate these high-value users, you are likely missing an opportunity to acquire better users more cost-efficiently.

How to Avoid this Mistake

Start by identifying the post-download events that are most important to your business and establish metrics based on these events. Then, as you acquire users, track your post-download events along with the traffic sources that generated these users, and steer your marketing toward these sources. You are virtually guaranteed to get a better return on investment using this approach than focusing exclusively on low-cost downloads, which might also be low quality.

Follow these 5 Steps:

1. Define the characteristics of your loyal user

2. Automate the tracking of these loyal user characteristics

3. Track all of your users’ interactions with your app

4. Identify the traffic sources that generate these loyal users

5. Steer your ad spend toward these traffic sources

Employing too Few Traffic Sources

One of the most frequent mistakes mobile marketers make is employing too few traffic sources to acquire new app users. There are numerous sources available and marketers run a considerable risk of achieving subpar results if they do not take advantage of whichever traffic sources perform best for their specific mobile app. While site optimizations within key networks and an occasional creative refresh also drive performance improvements, identifying over-performing mobile sources and exploiting those networks can often be the single biggest driver of app marketing success. In addition, by working with too few traffic sources, marketers are at risk of subjecting their app to audience saturation.

How to Avoid this Mistake

Successful app marketers have found that working with a large number of traffic sources to identify those, which are most effective, can improve performance by 3x to 5x. In addition, by working with a wide range of sources, marketers can avoid audience saturation and maintain a more consistent stream of traffic in the face of inevitable traffic fluctuations.

Successful mobile app marketers should consider a traffic plan that includes:

• Several Mobile App Ad Networks

• Social Media Platforms

• Real-Time Bidding Platforms

• Incentive-Based Download Programs

Relying on Traditional Agencies or on Direct Interactions with Ad Networks

Marketing a mobile app requires approaches that are different than traditional marketing approaches, yet a common mistake marketers make is to rely on traditional ad agencies or marketing firms that may not have specialized expertise in the nuances that are unique to mobile app marketing.

In many cases, traditional agencies will rely on one or two preferred mobile app ad networks rather than trying a broad base of sources to determine which perform best. Even if you sidestep traditional agencies and work directly with ad networks, you should be aware that ad networks have an incentive to provide the best possible results for you…within their own inventory and in conjunction with meeting publisher fill rates to display your ads.

While ad networks should be a key part of your marketing mix, it is a common mistake to rely too heavily on a single network’s advice. Inherently, the ad networks serve two masters – advertisers and publishers – thus, cannot focus solely on your needs as an advertiser. It is in the networks’ best interest to give business to each of their publishers, and this could be in direct conflict with your objectives.

How to Avoid this Mistake

Successful app marketers have found that working with a large number of From an advertiser’s perspective, it is better to rely on an outside partner that specializes in mobile app marketing and only represents the best interests of advertisers. Ideally, your partner of choice should enable you to benefit from custom-built tracking technology, allowing your advertising dollars to go as far they possibly can. Be sure to interview the firm based on known mobile app marketing best practices and choose a firm that has experience with organizations similar to yours.

If you’re not using a mobile app marketing agency, strongly consider doing so. Even if your in-house marketing team does have the expertise, they probably do not have access to the best ad-optimizing technology available, and they may not have the time to manage campaigns the way they’d like to.

Not Having a Mobile App Brand Plan

You’d be amazed to learn how many apps are launched without an effective brand plan tailored specifically to mobile apps. Investing a little bit of time to optimize the app’s landing page correctly can significantly improve mobile app marketing performance. For iOS apps, you should include as many keywords as possible directly in the app title to help improve organic search visibility. For Android apps, you should work to make sure the landing page copy contains optimal keywords and track referrer search information over time to improve your results.

Optimizing category selection, designing banner ads specifically for mobile and not for desktop, and making sure you have a base of positive reviews can also go a long way toward ensuring your mobile app brand is as polished as possible.

Focusing too much on rank

A higher app ranking doesn’t necessarily translate into incremental organic downloads. By simply targeting the highest rank they can afford, marketers might be spending more money than they have to. Every app has an optimal rank position that delivers incremental organic downloads at an efficient cost – and the optimal rank is almost never “as high in the app store as possible”. Gain an understanding of your incremental organic users based on different rank levels and track performance continuously to ensure that you are not spending more than you need to spend.

Not identifying sources of loyal users and marketing to those sources

At the end of the day you want downloads by loyal users who engage with your app repeatedly, make purchases, and spread the word on your behalf. It is loyal users on whom you build your business. A download, or even an app launch, does not mean that you have a loyal user.

Not defining clear success metrics

Some businesses launch their apps without defining clear success metrics. This is especially true at big-brand companies where marketers may not have the time to focus on marketing their apps. Without understanding metrics for success, marketers have no way of knowing what they really should be investing to acquire new users, and don’t have a true big-picture benchmark for whether or not their app marketing is succeeding.

Simply throwing money at it

A mistake made by marketers with larger budgets is to simply throw money at the problem with no regard to performance tracking. Spending more does not always lead to better results and can sometimes be an inefficient allocation of a limited budget. It’s important to establish a target cost per user and to develop a traffic plan that will get you the most loyal users at the lowest cost possible.

via Fiksu

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