The name of the game in mobile app user acquisition used to be, well, trying to acquire users—the more, the better. The ethos behind this strategy was that getting more people to install your app increased the likelihood they’d become active users. Acquisition strategies primarily focused on driving installs embody the phrase “throw it to the wall and see what sticks.” Sure, you wouldn’t retain every user—or even most of them—but you’d be starting with a larger user base right off the bat.
However, marketers are increasingly shifting their focus toward acquiring quality users, meaning those most likely to go beyond installation to actually convert. It’s always worth asking: Is it time to update your mobile app user acquisition strategy? This is the only way to make sure you’re utilizing all the tools at your disposal to optimize how you’re building a user base for your app.
Installs Only Tell Part of the Story
As AdWeek writes, “While installs are important metric for apps, it isn’t a reliable indicator of user behavior. Users routinely purge apps in search of better alternatives, and many apps are never used at all after install.”
In other words, an install doesn’t guarantee continued engagement. This is especially pertinent when you consider the fact many apps are free, meaning there’s no risk for consumers to install it, look around then leave. Making installs your leading metric for measuring your app marketing campaigns fails to show whether or not mobile app users are taking the crucial next steps—otherwise known as “post-install events.”
Post-install events define what it looks like when a user truly engages with your app. Some post-install events generate revenue directly, while some lean toward fostering retention and loyalty. Here are a few examples of post-install events across different types of apps:
- Gaming apps: Users make in-app purchases or pay to unlock premium levels.
- Dating apps: Users create a profile, swipe, match, send messages and pay for premium features or enroll in a subscription.
- Travel apps: Users compare deals, book flights and reserve accommodations.
- Entertainment apps: Users consume content and subscribe for premium perks like ad-free content.
- Ecommerce apps: Users add items to their shopping carts, store payment information, complete transactions and sign up for future notifications.
- Social media apps: Users create a profile, “like” or “favorite” content, comment, send a message or share something with followers.
Above all, post-install events are “the best indicators for future conversions and revenue.”
Marketing to Drive Post-Install Events
In terms of acquisition strategies primarily focused on driving installs, this means marketers should strive to attract the users most likely to engage in post-install events over time. Accurate audience targeting is key; you need to understand which types of mobile users derive the most value from your app, as evidenced by their in-app behavior.
Once you’ve honed in on the demographics and mobile usage habits of these “ideal users,” you can target other people like them. This is common sense. If your app gets the most frequent and valuable post-install events from iPhone users in their 20s living in major cities with income exceeding $50,000, it only makes sense to target this subset of users—and with highly personalized ads, to boot.
This is where target lookalike audiences come in: Modern mobile app marketing platforms like Liftoff have access to billions of user profiles so you can create campaigns targeting those lookalike audience members with key characteristics in common with your proven target audience. Then you can serve these prospective engaged users personalized ads assembled to reflect their actual lifestyles and online behaviors.
It’s time to update your mobile user acquisition strategy to drive post-install events by attracting the users most likely to engage meaningfully with your app.