Industry Insights Gaming Acquisition

10 things you need to know about paid user acquisition for mobile apps

By Pavel Belov, Account Director



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May 11, 2022 | 8 min read

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Quite often app developers and publishers launch paid user acquisition for their products, hoping for the best. But it’s not that simple, not at all.

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AdQuantum shares 10 key facts about user acquisition that you need to know before starting to work with paid user acquisition

To achieve performance and recover marketing investments, it is vital to understand the rules of the market, monitor changes and be able to analyze ad metrics. Pavel Belov, account director at mobile performance marketing agency AdQuantum, shares 10 key facts about user acquisition that you need to know before starting to work with paid user acquisition.

The breakeven period: do not build castles in the sand

Look at the situation realistically: no mobile application (with extremely rare exceptions) pays off in the blink of an eye. On average, acquired users pay off in six to eight months after their acquisition. After this period, only 10% of subscribers remain on any subscription, so new users need to be attracted constantly.

Paid user acquisition in these cases is practically a necessity. It would allow you to not only keep your project afloat, but also to consistently bring in a good profit. When it comes to mobile games, the payback is more unpredictable. Everything depends on the genre of the game.

Get reserve capital to scale your project

Before starting a full-blown user acquisition launch, make sure you have funds to spare for scaling and running UA tests. Aim for a budget of $30,000 for tests and $100,000 for global scaling.

If you cannot assign a budget, find an investor or contact factoring services. With factoring, you can get your revenue from app stores with no deferral. The received money can be put to use right away.

Focus on benchmarks

After a soft launch of your app, it is important to bring the metrics to a sufficient level. This way, you can easily and quickly recoup your marketing investments.

What metrics to improve? At first, it is important to focus on such metrics as: install rate, conversion rate to trial (purch), rebill, refund rate, lifetime value and retention rate. To bring them to a level where your app pays off and earns money, watch the benchmarks. Benchmarks are a level of app metrics from the same vertical as yours, at a similar launch stage and with the same level of marketing.

But where can we get benchmarks, you ask. The answer is plain and simple: from reputable performance marketing agencies. Since hundreds of mobile projects are contacted by agencies every year, they have accumulated expertise on the benchmarks for different applications at different stages of launch.

Implement a quality MMP

A tracker, or mobile measurement partner (MMP), is a third-party service that attributes, collects and organizes app data, and provides a summary of the ad campaign’s effectiveness. Don’t skimp on the tracker. It allows you to receive reliable data and make informed decisions on further traffic buying. Our top MMPs are AppsFlyer and Adjust. As for the analysis of subscriptions within the app, it’s best to use Apphud.

Engage in brand activity for your project

Influencer marketing would be a great addition to paid user acquisition. Brand activity will help warm up the audience, increase brand awareness and make use of another ad channel.

A life hack: you don’t have to exclusively work with gaming bloggers if you promote a mobile game, or fitness bloggers if you have a fitness app. Your audience exists everywhere: on blogs about cooking and cars, fishing and parenting. The main thing is to know your app’s audience perfectly. When you have this knowledge, you only need to turn on the logic and ask yourself a question: what might be of interest to these users? Where can they be? It’s the same as ‘to catch a criminal, you need to think like a criminal.’

Explore the traffic channels working for your project

By knowing your product’s audience, you can easily determine which traffic sources are more suitable for you, which ones are less, and why.

For example, TikTok may perform very well for your project, but Snapchat may not be suitable at all – and that’s fine. But without knowing this information in advance, you will simply lose money.

As a rule, the traffic source that is suitable for the vast majority of projects is Facebook - the most controlled and predictable channel.

Don’t forget that paid and organic traffic behaves differently

Do not compare organic and paid traffic metrics. The users who come to your app from paid ad campaigns and the users who find your app naturally behave in completely different ways. The main difference between them is that from the UA campaigns come users who pay in apps (if everything is done correctly), while organic traffic mostly makes up non-paying users. But there definitely are exceptions, depending on the app vertical and GEO that is used.

Set up an analytics system and marketing predictions

If you self-publish, take care of your analytics – predictive analytics, in particular. If you work with an external publisher, make sure they have a set-up analytics system in place.

Predictions help you to see how users behave in the app in real-time, and on this basis how they will behave in the future. When you don’t have an understanding of how traffic will behave, at least in the near future, you won’t be able to scale the purchase correctly. You will just go blind having to constantly adjust your approach. Scaling with this approach turns into maintaining user acquisition.

Collect feedback from your audience – get a community manager

To continually grow your app, it’s important to take feedback into account. Listen to users who leave their comments in the social networks of your app and on the app pages in the stores. As for the latter, it is important not only to know what users think of you, but also to be sure to respond to their comments, both good and bad.

Pay special attention to reviews that stand out above the rest – the so-called featured reviews. This affects the user’s decision to install the application. If you, on behalf of the app, do not respond to negative feedback such as: “I wanted to get a refund for an app purchase, but they did not return my money. Waste of money,” any user who reads it can easily decide that the application is really bad, and just pass by without installing it.

​​Get a second opinion

To make informed marketing decisions, it is important to seek a third-party opinion. When you work on a project for a long time, you become desensitized and you may no longer notice obvious mistakes. Moreover, in some areas, you might simply lack enough expertise. An audit that AdQuantum will conduct for free will help you identify growth points and weaknesses in your application’s marketing funnel and help you save a lot of time and money.

Industry Insights Gaming Acquisition

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AdQuantum is a performance marketing agency. We help mobile apps and web projects reach new revenue streams and scale their businesses with new paying users. We...

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