How to Set App-Based Campaigns Up for Success

Liz Kremer
April 19, 2021
Growth in the mobile and app world will continue as consumer habits permanently change as a result of the pandemic, leaving the door wide open for marketers to champion their app-based campaigns and for apps to tap into growing revenue from in-app advertising. Read more below.

How to Set App-Based Campaigns Up for Success

How to set app-based campaigns up for success

One year after the iPhone was first released in 2007, consumers had their first App Store experience. Launched with 500 apps, users at the time felt as though they had endless possibilities to find entertainment at their fingertips. Fast forward 10+ years, and today users how have millions of apps to choose from — 1.96 million in the Apple App store and 2.87 million on the Google Play Store.

While the number of apps may be at an all-time high, app usage is also making a resurgence. According to eMarketer, the average U.S. adult spent an additional 25 minutes per day on mobile apps in 2020 compared to the year prior and predicts that users will clock an average of almost 4 hours of app usage per day in 2021. And for marketers trying to capture their attention, it’s projected that mobile app revenue will grow 19% to reach a whopping $693 billion by the end of 2021.

But why have apps seen a resurgence in 2021? Is it just a symptom of the pandemic, or does it signal a more permanent change? If app usage continues to rise and marketers invest in mobile and app spending, what makes a successful app campaign? Here are several core factors we’re keeping tabs on to help answer your burning questions:

Why app usage will continue to surge

As the pandemic drove users into the safety and comfort of their homes, eMarketer reported mobile and app usage grew 13% in 2020. Consumers experienced this in a multitude of ways. For example, apps are responding to consumer needs as they evolve by creating more streamlined and engaging experiences for a truly captive audience. Workplaces and education went remote onto apps like Zoom and maintained productivity, pointing to a hybridized future of work and school to split time between physical spaces and digital screens. And many users turned to mobile shopping for socially distanced convenience, with buy-online, pickup-in-store (BOPIS) and delivery options right at their fingertips. This trend alone drove mobile e-commerce to grow 25% (reaching a whopping $2.91 trillion in sales in 2020), accounting for 73% of all e-commerce sales according to Statista.

But many of the consumer habit changes that we have seen throughout 2020, like increased mobile usage, were already projected to occur pre-pandemic. For example, Statista projects e-commerce sales to grow another 22% in 2021. As we look to the year ahead and beyond, app usage will continue to rise as we leverage technology for increased convenience and personal connections.

Key criteria for app success

As app usage continues to rise, marketers must be strategic in their efforts to capture users’ interest and attention — there are only so many hours in a day to divide between apps. To maximize digital efforts, stand out among the competition, and increase app usage growth, there are four key criteria to keep in mind:

  1. Prepare for i0S 14 as privacy becomes an element of choice for Apple users

Every app installed on a device with iOS 14 will require explicit permission from the user to share data and allow ad and location tracking. Concerns surrounding user privacy have reached an all-time high, so many users will choose to opt out of data collection on certain or all apps on their devices. Apps should follow the criteria for software development kit (SDK) and app programming interface (API) updates to ensure back-end tech is in lockstep so data from those who choose to opt-in can be properly collected.

  1. Incentivize users to download and voluntarily share data

It is imperative to communicate the benefits and added value that your app will provide to the user throughout their consumer journey. From the first time they open the app lies the opportunity to become a valuable asset to the user. And now that iOS users will have a choice in the matter, after download, users will inevitably decide to opt out and withhold their app usage data. While marketers and app developers cannot do much about the choice itself, there is an opportunity to recapture data by providing users an incentive to choose to opt in to sharing their data. Encourage users to share their data by offering or showcasing benefits in exchange for opting in to continue to capture and use their data to provide an optimal experience for their individual needs. For example, reminding a user that setting their location sharing to “always” instead of “never” or “only while using” with your app will allow the app to make more refined and relevant recommendations in the moment.

  1. Evaluate app content to maximize organic visibility

Seamless user experiences are now required rather than appreciated for heavy mobile users, and search engines have adapted to these demands. Google’s algorithm now ranks mobile-friendly pages higher to assure the highest-quality mobile usability for users. While Google Play and the App Store have less advanced search algorithms of their own, it is essential to optimize efforts for each app store’s individual standards to maximize visibility and drive downloads. Users are inundated with a growing number of apps to choose from, so completing app store optimizations is essential to position your app for maximum visibility.

  1. As competition increases, invest in paid efforts to break through the clutter

The app marketplace is cluttered as advertisers fight for visibility to drive app installs and vie for slots of in-app advertising. In order to compete, paid efforts are becoming essential. Best practices for paid efforts vary by channel, and each channel has its own merits for specific goals. For instance, app store advertising is optimal for driving app installs and typically generates a lower cost per install (CPI) than paid search because the user often has a higher intent to download when going directly to their app marketplace. To strengthen paid efforts, leverage first-party data, when available, to ensure paid tactics are informed by data that reflects the category and target audience of the respective app to drive performance. 

What should marketers do?

To help navigate increased data restrictions and ensure your app maintains visibility, marketers should consider the following:

  • Ensure apps are updated for iOS 14 to allow available data to be easily and properly collected.
  • Clearly articulate the value a user gains by sharing their data with you and using your app to encourage continual usage.
  • Optimize organic listings to maintain visibility in the search engine results page (SERP).
  • Supplement organic optimizations with paid efforts to break through the clutter.

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