New to Mobile App Marketing? Here’s How to Attract Users Like a Pro

New to mobile app marketing? Here's how to attract users like a pro

Ever wonder how apps grow to have millions of users?

App-install marketers are among the savviest marketers, combining their knowledge of human nature, passion for their app’s mission, and the ability to harness data to make powerful decisions designed to capture our attention and inspire us to download their apps.

This Valentine’s Day, the Leadbolt team offers an overview of the art of attraction and the science of user acquisition, for app developers and app-install marketers who are just getting started in the business:

Love is a Battlefield

Attracting high quality users to your app via User Acquisition campaigns is one of the primary methods of growing a healthy app.  Mobile apps rely on a steady pipeline of new users – to amass a loyal base, and continually replenish users who have left.  This is especially important for mobile multiplayer games that rely on having a community of players available to compete against each other at any given time, shopping and deal marketplace apps that rely on a built-in base of shoppers and sellers, dating apps that offer a community of singles available for matching up, and so forth.

In fact, mobile measurement and attribution company, AppsFlyer, predicts ad expenditure for app install campaigns will grow 2.3x between 2019-2021, as advertisers compete for user attention and downloads in a very saturated market. (Apple’s App Store currently has 2.1 million available apps. As of January 2019, Android users can choose between 2,579,496 apps – with an average of 6,140 mobile apps released through Google Play Store EVERY DAY (Q2018-Statista).)

Choosing a Mobile Advertising Partner

An ad-delivery partner (such as an ad network like Leadbolt) uses advanced technologies to serve ads into the right place at the right time, reaching quality audiences on a global scale.  App marketers can choose a company that will handle the campaign from start to finish, or select a self-serve platform product that allows them to manage campaigns at their own pace, controlling the audience targeting, budgeting, and optimizations decisions themselves.

When choosing a partner, pay attention to reputation.  The partner you choose should be vetted for having quality traffic, and very low instances of fraud, by a neutral third party such a mobile measurement and attribution company.

Developing Ad Creatives That Works

Creating winning campaigns is a process that often involves brainstorming initial ideas, and then testing and refining those ideas in a series of iterative stages based on data.  As you brainstorm ideas, it’s a good idea to outline production requirements to determine if you already have assets you can use, or if you will need to create new material for a specific purpose, goal, or channel.  (Before repurposing existing creative to use across many environments, consider whether or not each channel has unique characteristics.)

Campaigns tend to focus on a specific objective. For example, one campaign might be aimed at increasing overall awareness of the brand, while another campaign may have a goal of educating users about a newly available feature in the app, or a time-sensitive app event related to a sale, holiday, or season.  The creative evolution of each campaigns is informed by data.

A campaign consisting of a few creative variations can be deployed to a sample group for AB testing. The AB Test quickly identifies elements of the creative that achieved a higher response rate from the audience, to allow for iterative optimizations.  After AB test results come in, the campaign creative may be tweaked with changes being made to colors, word changes here and there, and image swaps … until the ad reaches the highest performing version of itself.  Once app marketers are convinced that the ad is the most effective it can be, the campaign can be run for a while… until it loses its potency with the audience, and the process begins anew.  Pay attention to how long the creative runs, as users become desensitized to seeing the same creative over a length of time.

Preparing the Right Amount of Ad Creative Formats

Most mobile ad platforms require 3-4 creatives in the most common sizes to get started. App marketers are advised to take it one step further by preparing additional ad options, sizes, and specs, including native ad placements and video ads. Having a variety of ad sizes and configurations at the ready promotes optimal ad fill rates, and ensures a seamless user experience across a variety of channels and operating systems. Of note, Rewarded Video ads and interactive Playable Ads are seeing higher impact and often outperform more traditional ad formats.


Games, Entertainment, and many other app categories may be universal, but local customs and traditions should never be ignored.  Advertising an app to users in different parts of the world requires knowledge about local customs, and regional sensitivities.  Language, imagery, hand gestures, and even colors can have different symbolic meanings.  Do your research and adapt ad creatives to appeal to the market you are going after.  Consider the legend of the Chevy Nova vehicle that had trouble selling in Latin America.  When Chevy launched their new car called “Nova” into the Spanish-speaking territories, it just didn’t work, as “No Va” translates to “It Doesn’t Go”.  Do a little homework, it will be appreciated by your new users.

Targeting Users

App marketers tend to have a very specific idea of who they want to target, after all, they are the experts of their business. However, when starting out, running a campaign to reach a broad target offers the most opportunity to reach a wide variety of mobile users. At the very early stages of user acquisition for your new app, don’t be too quick to count out the masses in favor of an audience that has the potential to be too niche or limiting.  The more an audience is refined, the narrower the pool / supply becomes.  Refining your audience will come with time as you are able to gain insights about your most valuable users.  In fact, allowing your ad network to find quality new sources and tracking post-install data to drive targeting decisions will uncover even more opportunities.

Doing the Math for ROI

There are many media buying and bidding models.  Whether you pay for installs using CPI (cost per install), or buy media based on CPM (cost per thousand impressions), CPC (cost per click), or Cost per Action, the basic rule applies:  The goal is to make more money as a result of the campaign, than the cost of running it.  Not all users are the same. Paying for an install only to have new users delete the app a moment later is wasting money. Defining what in-app actions or behaviors signal a quality user for your specific app business is important, and it is vital to share this metric with your ad partner, so they can help achieve your key performance indicators.

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MarketingNew to Mobile App Marketing? Here’s How to Attract Users Like a Pro