The Ultimate Guide to Cost Effective Mobile User Acquisition 2018 - Branch

The Ultimate Guide to Cost Effective Mobile User Acquisition 2018 - Branch
The Ultimate
Guide to Cost
 Mobile User
The Ultimate Guide to Cost Effective Mobile User Acquisition 2018 - Branch
White Paper

From every standpoint, the mobile app market is increasingly    user experiences that inspire users to convert, while strategiz-
in the world’s spotlight. 2017 carried an astounding $77        ing more effectively around acquisition campaigns.
billion in projected mobile app revenue, with 197 billion

mobile app downloads (compared to 2016’s 149 billion).          With the goal of helping B2C enterprises and emerging

                                                                mobile brands achieve mobile app growth success, we have
Mobile app usage has skyrocketed in the past few years—in       put together this comprehensive guide with everything you’ll
fact, an estimated 89% of mobile media time is spent in-app.    need to know about mobile user acquisition in 2018.
A study by suggests daily time users spend

in mobile apps has more than doubled since 2012. The
                                                                Why is Mobile Acquisition So
average adult reportedly spent 3.1 hours per day on mobile

devices in 2017, while adult users on average spent less than
                                                                Damn Hard?
an hour per day on mobile in 2012.
                                                                Mobile Fragmentation
Not only did users’ addictiveness to apps increase, mobile

apps also produce better ROI for businesses. Mobile experts     What are the most prevalent issues plaguing mobile app

estimate that app users spend a whopping 20x more time          marketers, product managers, and developers in 2018? Let’s

in-app than mobile web users spend in the mWeb, and that        start with the undeniable fragmentation rendering the digital

mobile apps convert at rates 3x those of mobile websites.       ecosystem a series of isolated platforms, channels, and devic-

In fact, mobile app downloads are expected to surpass 350       es that don’t communicate with each other.

billion by 2021, nearly double 2017’s estimated app download

count. Suffice it to say, mobile is taking over the world—and   In this day and age, creating seamless cross-platform and

more quickly than almost anyone could’ve predicted.             cross-channel mobile user experiences is key, but—as a
                                                                result of mobile fragmentation—developers must consider

Given the $22 billion dollar gap between mobile time spend

and ad spend shown in Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Report,

it’s clear that the much-discussed mobile revolution is only

beginning. Yet despite the ever-increasing pool of mobile us-

ers, it’s becoming more and more difficult both for users

to discover new apps and for apps to attract new users.

To counteract the increased competition for mobile users’

time and attention, mobile marketers and product managers

must come together to plan and execute seamless, engaging

The Ultimate Guide to Cost Effective Mobile User Acquisition 2018 - Branch
quite literally thousands of possibilities. comScore suggests
                                                                    Walled Gardens
that multi-channel and multi-platform user activity is

steeply on the rise, with mobile accounting for nearly 70% of       It shouldn’t come as a surprise that social media platforms

total digital users among the top 1,000 digital media property      like Facebook, Twitter, and WeChat do all they can to hold

audiences. In fact, the majority of users today span mobile and     onto users and keep them interacting with their own

desktop platforms, not to mention many browsers, platforms,         content. With in-app browsers deployed in these and other

operating systems, and (of course) devices.                         high-traffic mobile platforms, external links (say, to your app)

                                                                    are no longer truly external.

For brands that engage less in the mobile space, this clearly

visible trend should act as an urgent call to action, if not also   This poses an earth-shattering problem for mobile brands who

a sobering wake-up call. In order to stay both relevant and         have depend on social media to drive mobile app downloads

competitive in the minds of mobile-first users, brands must         and engagement over the years. If you can’t get users out of

integrate solutions that take all permutations of digital user      in-app browsers into an owned digital property like your app,

experience into account.                                            how can you capitalize on your users’ value in the long run?

The Ultimate Guide to Cost Effective Mobile User Acquisition 2018 - Branch
The overwhelming pervasiveness of in-app browsers has           he calls the App Store 99/.01 rule. Austin explains, “The

ultimately created a deeper need for seamless and reliable      structure and layout of the App Store favors the discovered.

web-to-app solutions that offer users the opportunity to        The top charts are the biggest driver of the power law, as they

travel to your app to view their desired content and continue   are self-reinforcing.”

to engage with your brand. In fact, these solutions are

becoming increasingly integral to mobile brands in the wake     In his article “Mobile App Developers are Suffering”, Austin

of Facebook’s controversial “de-emphasization of content        shares the driving force behind the power law’s expansion in

from publishers and brands”, announced earlier this year in     the mobile app ecosystem: the fact that discovery favors the

the New York Times.                                             discovered. Specifically, Austin points to app store Top Charts

                                                                and restrictions of space on mobile devices as ways in which

                                                                apps that aren’t currently among the most discovered are

                                                                quickly disadvantaged. In a world in which downloading a new

                                                                app is in direct competition with (for example) storing photos

                                                                on phones, it’s difficult to drive increased mobile growth.

                                                                To make matters even more challenging for mobile-minded

                                                                app developers and marketers, time spent by users in apps

                                                                also adheres to this power law. Studies show that the App

                                                                Store’s top five apps capture 85% of users’ in-app time, while

                                                                the rest of the App Store’s apps compete for the 15% of in-

                                                                app time that remains.

The Power Law
                                                                The power law should be in the back (or front) of every mobile

Last March, Statista reported there were 2.2 million apps in    professional’s mind, and remains one of the primary reasons

the iOS App Store, and 2.8 million apps in the Google Play      why optimizing for organic and paid acquisition channels is so

Store. Taking into account the explosive growth the mobile      integral to the success of 2018’s mobile brands.

industry has since experienced, these numbers can only have
increased (likely by a substantial measure). Statista

estimates that the iOS App Store will see over five

million apps by 2020—but that doesn’t mean the

growth experienced by each app has been equal.

To the contrary, there exists an extremely harsh

power law in 2018’s App Store. App adoption and

monetization are heavily (and logically) skewed towards

the top few apps of each vertical. It’s no wonder Branch

co-founder and CEO Alex Austin has developed a term

The Ultimate Guide to Cost Effective Mobile User Acquisition 2018 - Branch
Paid Acquisition

These days, budgeted mobile professionals who believe paid

acquisition is not worth investigating are disadvantaging

themselves and their apps. The reality is that paid mobile user

acquisition in 2018 is an expensive but necessary endeavor—

not only to gain a continuous stream of app users, but also to

learn, grow, and refine overall mobile strategies.

There are a number of reasons some mobile professionals

choose to prioritize paid acquisition over organic acquisition.

For instance, Reach Mob, Inc. co-founder Billy Shipp says, “It’s   While social media platforms provide a relatively dependable

hard to understand the value you’re getting from any organic       source of traffic, getting users off social platforms—and into

channel, but paid is very, very consistent.” In this way, paid     your app—is as difficult and complex as it is necessary.

is the channel on which you can most depend—and, as

long as you optimize it, you can acquire high-quality users at a   A good first step to optimizing social media for paid user

relatively dependable volume                                       acquisition growth is to find which channel works best for

                                                                   your users—where they engage the most, and where they

                                                                   return to time and time again. Then, fight for your users!

                                                                   Leverage technologies such as deep linking to seamlessly

                                                                   route users to your own fortress—your native app, where

                                                                   users convert 3x higher and engage more. Click here to

                                                                   learn how brands like Airbnb, Under Armour, and Poshmark

                                                                   optimize social media campaigns in this way to drive mobile

                                                                   app growth.

                                                                   It’s also critical to find which social channel works best

                                                                   for your mobile growth objectives. Co-Founder & CEO of

                                                                   In/spree Brands Brendan Eapen writes, “Instagram is more
Optimize Social Media Campaigns                                    effective when selling lower-price point products, whereas

                                                                   YouTube is more effective when selling higher-price point
The mobile ecosystem is fragmented, and social media               products. Consider the extent to which each channel’s users
platforms like Facebook and Twitter are doing everything they      will want to invest in purchase decisions, and how certain
can to build walls around their ecosystems.                        marketing channels will or won’t accommodate them.”

The Ultimate Guide to Cost Effective Mobile User Acquisition 2018 - Branch
Another tip, from Facebook’s Hans Malzar, suggests that you         you’re after app installs, cementing a solid plan for mobile

watermark your brand’s logo across all paid social media ads.       growth via Instagram could be the answer. To optimize

Malzar writes, “We once worked with a company who saw               Instagram ads, it’s important to create a call to action (CTA)

little lift after spending $250,000 on a campaign, realizing        that resonates with your objective. For example, a CTA of

only after that they only had their brand name at the end           “Install Now” will target install rate, while a CTA of “Open

of the fifteen-second video ad trailer. When advertising on         App” or “Use App” will target engagement rate. Mobile-savvy

social media, you need to have your brand watermarked               brands such as TicketMaster has also married video features

throughout the entire video so the brand is immediately             like Stories on Instagram with a Referrals program by driving

recognized, and so the brand is driving awareness even              people directly to the app with the promo code automatically

when it’s not clicked.”                                             applied, boosting app conversions significantly.

Moreover, Facebook Dynamic Ads are a highly effective form

of retargeting ads, with personalized dynamic ad creatives

shown to a targeted, granular audience. Dynamic Ads can

be especially effective for eCommerce transaction-focused
campaigns. Hootsuite’s AdEspresso reports a 20% increase

in click-through rates for Shutterfly and conversion rate for

Target, and a simultaneous 34% increase in click-through

rate and 38% reduction in cost per purchase for The Honest

Company—all from Facebook’s Dynamic Ads. You can also

leverage this ad type to drive app engagement and conver-

sions with Deep Linked Feeds.                                       Instagram isn’t the only helpful tool for your social media

                                                                    paid marketing belt, however. Twitter Chats can connect

From a channel effectiveness perspective, data collected from       you with users and potential users who should be aware of

over 10 million installs shows that Instagram is the optimal        your app. They’re also an excellent opportunity to feature

social channel in terms of click to install rate. Particularly if   content and events pertaining to your app. Promoting

The Ultimate Guide to Cost Effective Mobile User Acquisition 2018 - Branch
these chats among prospective app users could be a recipe         mobile trends and practices, have changed. Enabling such

for enhanced acquisition success. For example, check out          pages to open in apps rather than in the mobile web is a must

#BufferChat, a weekly Twitter Chat run by Buffer.                 for mobile growth and development in 2018. In fact, the most

                                                                  recent comScore App Report suggests that app audiences

                                                                  are 20x more engaged than mobile web audiences, and

                                                                  convert 3x more in app than in the mobile web.

                                                                  A proven way of streamlining your users’ mobile experiences

                                                                  is integrating smart banners into your mobile website.

                                                                  This strategy works wonders for high-trafficked websites—

                                                                  rather than spending $7 dollars to acquire one app user, CPI

                                                                  from web traffic can be as low as $0.02.

                                                                  You are likely familiar with smart banners, a tool that appears

                                                                  at the top of a mobile website and that can be lead people

                                                                  to download or continue into the app. Smart banners are
Turn Low-Cost Website Traffic into                                intuitive and customizable, and simplify your customer’s path
High-Quality App Users                                            to purchase while effectively showing off your app.

For years, if you clicked on a link while browsing social media   In fact, studies show that there is a 70% higher in-app

on your phone, it would open in the mobile web—even if the        purchase rate for users entering the app directly from a

corresponding app was installed. Times, especially regarding      smart banner, compared to general app users—and that

The Ultimate Guide to Cost Effective Mobile User Acquisition 2018 - Branch
rate increases to 2.6x for users originally installing the

app from a smart banner.

You can master targeting custom audiences once and for

all—with Journeys, you can segment user groups based on

app installation, web and app visits, referring source, and

more. In fact, deferred deep link through the resulting

app install process can further encourage users not only to

complete onboarding, but also to convert. Brands such as

Airbnb, Foursquare, Under Armour, and many more rely on

Journeys to drive app growth from their mobile websites with

significant lift in conversions at much lower cost.
                                                                 Tools like Eventbrite and Meetup are great for helping to

                                                                 identify potential new users of your app through expressed

Leverage Events, Community, and                                  interest in your events. Eventbrite is a platform that allows

Field Marketing                                                  event organizers to plan, promote, and sell tickets to events

                                                                 and publish them across social networking tools directly

                                                                 from the site’s interface. Meetup is a social networking
“Mobile acquisition isn’t limited to the digital space—
                                                                 website and app that facilitates offline group meetings in
in-person events can play a big role in your overall marketing
                                                                 various localities around the world. Meetup allows members
strategy,” says Branch Director of Field Marketing Elizabeth
                                                                 to find and join groups unified by a common interest.
Kinsey. “By creating a memorable experience, you improve

the chances that you’ll build traction via word-of-mouth.”
                                                                 Ultimately, when done well, community building through

                                                                 the curation of relevant, insightful events can be a pivotal
If you have a big app update coming up, consider launching
                                                                 step in reaching business goals and defining your brand
it at a major industry conference. This could help you kill
                                                                 as an altruistic thought leader in your industry. As serial
multiple birds with one stone with press coverage and instant
                                                                 entrepreneur, mentor, and advisor Adam Toren writes for
awareness in front of a big audience. To keep building the
                                                                 Entrepreneur, “You’re responsible for bringing entrepreneurs
momentum for your app and your brand, try seeking out
                                                                 together to talk shop, and only a leader does that.”
opportunities and platforms to speak with perspectives

that are unique to your brand. If you’re feeling stuck and

devoid of such opportunities, try attending events that          Mobilize Your Email Campaigns
cater to your area of expertise and speaking with event

coordinators prior to or following the event. Be sure to stay    Email may not be the most exciting new technology that a
in touch—you never know when a seat on a panel or a slot         marketer can use to drive mobile user acquisition, but it
in a speaking series could open up. You should aim to be the     remains a key component of many a mobile marketer’s
first contact that comes to their minds.                         growth arsenal.

The Ultimate Guide to Cost Effective Mobile User Acquisition 2018 - Branch
Currently, when most mobile users click on links in emails,      One solution is Branch’s Deep Linked Email, which enables

they are sent to the mobile web web, where context is lost,      links in email campaigns to route users to relevant content

and the user experience is broken. Deep linked emails are        within mobile apps, and retains the ability to track clicks.

nothing short of essential for a positive user experience on     Branch has partnered with the majority of enterprise ESPs

mobile, and can drive users to a specific piece of content       to make integration as simple and seamless as possible, so

inside of a mobile app. For one thing, your users are probably   if you’re on the hunt for a scalable and easy-to-use solution,

not logged in to their account on the mobile web. According      Deep Linked Email could be an avenue well worth exploring.

to Conversion XL, 92% of users will leave a site if they’ve

forgotten login info. In fact, our research shows that $3,000

in revenue is lost for every one million emails sent without

deep linking.

                                                                 Enhance Native Ads Strategies

Incorporating deep links into the fabric of a brand’s email      Native advertising carries with it a high potential to convey
marketing allows users to freely and immediately move            value that can ultimately inspire your future best mobile
across mobile channels and platforms, directly from email        users to install and engage with your mobile app.
inboxes to specific content pages in mobile apps with better

user experience and higher conversion. Ultimately, creating      Publishers and advertisers alike have become increasingly
a truly seamless, streamlined mobile experience doesn’t just     enthusiastic about native ads as a form of promotion, given
build trust in your brand—it takes some work out of user         their superior user experiences (and thus superior return
conversion, engagement, and retention.                           on investment). In 2018, amid ever-expanding banner

                                                                 blindness, there is a greater need to provide compelling
Employing deep links can unfortunately be difficult, since the   mobile content in an amenable, user-friendly form today
infrastructure is fragmented and constantly changing. Apple’s    than ever before. In fact, Business Insider’s Margaret Boland
Universal Links break the click-tracking links embedded          reports that native ads will drive a startling 74% of all ad
in emails that many brands send to their users, forcing          revenue by 2021. Digitas VP of Strategy & Analysis Jason Klein
brands to choose between missing out on revenue because          suggests leveraging user-generated content for native
they aren’t deep linking into their apps, and missing out on     ads in order to maximize the perceived authenticity—and
attribution data that will optimize future campaigns.            accompanying loyalty—derived from them.

The Ultimate Guide to Cost Effective Mobile User Acquisition 2018 - Branch
3. Avoid Tricking Your Users

                                                                     Although native ads are meant to blend into the surrounding

                                                                     content, it’s important to draw a line and keep your eye on

                                                                     it—tricking your users into thinking that ads are website

                                                                     content almost invariably leads to diminished user trust

                                                                     in your brand, which (as we’ve already covered) can also

                                                                     lead to less ROI/revenue.

                                                                     To monitor the appearance of mobile ads in comparison to

                                                                     other mobile website content, AdPushup recommends that

                                                                     you “view your site from a visitor[’s] standpoint.” “If an ad

                                                                     is misinterpreted to the point where a reader will click on
To provide some helpful tips for optimizing native ads, we’ve
                                                                     it unintentionally,” AdPushup notes, “you’ll want to test out
brought together this list from AdPushup and this list from
                                                                     different ad placement options.”
3QDigital’s Dave Hennessey:

                                                                     4. Never Stop Testing and Engaging
1. Maximize the Relevance of Ads
                                                                     While AdPushup argues that “every [brand] will have a
If there’s one thing in the world of advertising that holds true
                                                                     unique way to optimize and increase native ad revenue,” it
across industries, it’s that the more relevant an a native ad
                                                                     remains true that the brands with the most successful native
is, the better it will perform. It’s critical to view relevancy as
                                                                     ad placements have one thing in common: continuously
the key to trust, which is the key to increased ROI/revenue.
                                                                     testing and engaging with actionable findings.

When assessing the relevancy of ads, experts recommend
                                                                     From headlines to ad color to font size to ad sizes and units,
actively testing copy and ad network selections, in order
                                                                     there are myriad factors of each ad placement that can be
to find what works best for your brand and your target
                                                                     tweaked to reach a more refined, enhanced, and ultimately
audience. As AdPushup argues, “If you’ve written a post on
                                                                     revenue-driving product.
gardening, your viewers wouldn’t expect an advertisement for

apartments to be displayed. These types of ads don’t convert
                                                                     5. Optimize Landing Pages for Conversion
well, and they harm the trust users put into your website.”
                                                                     You can have the best ad copy in the world, with optimized

                                                                     designs, placements, and network selections, but if your
2. Rotate Multiple Ad Networks
                                                                     landing pages do not present clear, compelling value
Studies show that the more a user sees a campaign, the less
                                                                     props, you may struggle to see the results that your ads
likely he or she is to click on it. Therefore, it’s important to
                                                                     deserve. Therefore, before you send your ads out into the
vary the content and design of your ads, as well as to plug
                                                                     world, be sure that you’re optimizing them for viewability and
into multiple ad networks and rotate ads among them, so
                                                                     readability, and that you’re designing and composing them
your ads stay fresh—and relevant—for as long as possible.
                                                                     with the key actions you want your visitors to take in mind.

Leverage Apple Search Ads                                           In “Apple Search Ads: What You Need to Know to Improve

                                                                    Performance”, JD Prater shares an informative checklist for

                                                                    optimizing the performance of Apple Search Ads:
Apple Search Ads display at the top of App Store search re-

sults, and can give your app an awareness boost to accelerate
                                                                    1. Build a strong campaign strategy involving branded,
its user acquisition rate. Essentially, Apple will bring top-bid-
                                                                    competing, and general keywords.
ding apps into the light at the precise moment users are

looking to install—for a price. Apple prides itself on Search
                                                                    2. Design an ad group and keyword structure—including
Ads’ flexibility, with no minimum spend and no long-term
                                                                    broad and exact matches, as well as negative keywords.

                                                                    3. Enable Search Match to target users searching for apps

                                                                    like yours, and cover keywords you might be missing.

                                                                    4. Set up bidding price, keeping in mind the Search Ads auc-

                                                                    tion is a second price auction based on a cost-per-tap model.

                                                                    5. Segment and target users based on gender and age.

                                                                    6. Segment and target new users vs. existing users.

                                                                    By practicing and optimizing for these mobile marketing
For Startup Grind, Kabam’s Holly Liu writes, “Paid user
                                                                    tactics, you may just find that Apple Search Ads become one
acquisition is reliant on arbitrage opportunity, and ar-
                                                                    of your most highly-performing weapons of 2018.
bitrage for acquiring users is usually dependent on the

ecosystem and platform.” Few embody this mindset better

than Mariya Katernyak, GoEuro’s Lead Mobile Marketing

Manager, who advocates for early and quick team responses
to emerging opportunities like Apple Search Ads. Katernyak

writes, “When Apple Search Ads launched, brands who got

involved and created ads early-on gained high-quality users at

a very low cost, as there was little competition. This shows the

benefit of being open to new opportunities and experiments,

and being ready to think outside the box. GoEuro supports

its advertising partners by testing the most relevant betas to

grow beyond competition across marketing channels.”

Optimize Mobile Retargeting Efforts

For many marketers, retargeting can be a leading strategic

mobile tactic. For one thing, BNP Paribas’ L’Atelier reports that

mobile retargeting carries a 46% higher click-through-

rate than desktop retargeting, and that sales conversions

for mobile retargeting are an astonishing 13x those for

desktop retargeting. It’s more important than ever before to

both prioritize and optimize for mobile retargeting.

There are a number of components of retargeting campaigns           In addition, mobile marketers should use burn pixels to

that can make or break their performance. Frequency caps            ensure that users who convert or purchase are no longer

can keep the number of times users see your ads both                being retargeted. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid

stable and reasonable. As Retargeter advises, “One or two           encouraging converted users to perform new actions—by

visits to your website doesn’t mean prospects want to start         using burn pixels will keep your users happy while reducing

seeing your ads everywhere they browse. Overexposure                ad spend—and that ad spend can add up.

quickly results in decreased campaign performance.”

Specifically, Retargeter suggests showing website visitors of       While presenting ads with the greatest relevance to each

this sort about 17-20 ads per month, but remember that this         specific users by targeting across demography, geography,

number may be different for every mobile brand.                     context, and previous web behavior can show substantial

                                                                    return, limit the number of providers with whom you

                                                                    run retargeting campaigns to one—another measure that

                                                                    will cut unnecessary cost and continue to streamline your

                                                                    retargeting efforts. Finally, as is the case with native ads, it’s

                                                                    beneficial to continuously and actively A/B test creative
                                                                    and product assets within retargeting campaigns, and to

                                                                    phase out chronic underperformers in favor of the content

                                                                    and creative that your audience finds the most compelling.

                                                                    Choose the Right Influencers

                                                                    Paying big industry influencers or affiliates to share your app

                                                                    with their followings could ignite your app’s growth. Whether

                                                                    early-stage or far along, this tactic can provide significant

                                                                    return on investment if executed optimally.

When choosing types of influencers to invest marketing              In March 2015, Lord & Taylor launched a campaign featuring
budget, and time, consider engagement level as well as              a new dress by partnering with fifty fashion influencers who
ultimate social influence, in addition to the tools you’ll have     simultaneously posted about it. Lord & Taylor found that by
to use and lengths you’ll have to go to in order to find suitable   partnering with so many influencers, they dominated the
influencers of each sort. Check out the above chart from our        social feeds of shared followers and sell out of the dress in a
latest Mobile Growth Handbook.                                      weekend. (Be aware, however, that paying influencers without

                                                                    a clear disclosure could lead to a sizable fine from the FTC.)
When deciding whether to partner with an influencer—

after you’ve decided to focus on, say, industry influencers, or     No matter how you discover and attract influencers, however,
brand advocates, or bloggers & affiliates—it’s helpful to consid-   Previous Head of Marketing at Life360 Ashley Ryon stresses
er the following factors:                                           the importance of giving the influencer(s) with whom you work

                                                                    at least partial control. She writes, “Always let the influencer

                                                                    create the content idea organically—but don’t be afraid to

                                                                    push them on how to make it work in the real world. If your

                                                                    goal is downloads, sales, or engagement—and you don’t

                                                                    seem them—who cares how many views or likes it has?”

By employing influencers for mobile growth, you should be

aiming to create a surround sound effect. Synchronous

influencer campaigns can create a surround sound effect that

mimics a retargeting campaign if they are planned, optimized,

and executed correctly.

Organic Acquisition

Contrary to what you might hear out and about in mobile, it

is possible to plan and execute a master mobile growth plan

without breaking the bank. Now that we’ve outlined a range

of paid acquisition methods, let’s take a look at some of the

most effective strategies you can implement to drive app user

growth organically.

Approach the Press the Right Way

Press coverage from the right outlets can also work wonders       different (perhaps even disruptive), and to make the story
to drive awareness of, conversation about, and installs for       you have to share timely—and don’t be afraid to make it
your app—especially for consumer-facing apps. Before you          weird, to be honest, to tug at your reader’s heartstrings, or to
reach out to a reporter at a tech, lifestyle, or (depending on    otherwise shock your reader a bit.
your type of app) other news site, however, you should make

sure there’s a fit between what your app does and what            To get you started on finding some appropriate app news
the press outlet covers.                                          outlets, you can check out app review sites like Product

                                                                  Hunt, 148apps, App Store Apps, and AppReviews.
Above all else, Entrepreneur’s Diana Spechler & Jim O’Grady

contend that it’s imperative to weave a narrative into your       Harness the Power of Social Media
press materials, to build the appeal and value of your news

into a story of sorts. They write, “‘My hangover-prevention       “People are talking about your brand on social media,
pill keeps you from getting a hangover!’ is not a story—it’s      whether you’re listening and engaging or not—but
an advertisement. As such, it’s not interesting to a journalist   your customers really do want you to listen. Nearly half of
(unless said journalist happens to be heading to Vegas for a      customers expect customer service via Facebook alone, but
bachelor party). Stories have a beginning, middle and end.        only 23% of brands provide it,” writes Shanelle Mullin for
They have tension. They have a personal element.”                 Kissmetrics. “The cost of not being involved with social

                                                                  media is rising.”
Spechler & O’Grady recommend building a story by first

identifying the event(s) that served as the impetus of your       In an article for Localytics, “Organic & Paid Acquisition: How
idea, then identifying the challenges the protagonist (founder,   to Put Together a Foolproof Plan to Gain More App Users (in
marketer, product manager, developer, etc.) faced in reaching     6 Steps!)”, Annum Munir suggests that mobile brands should
his or her goal, and finally considering the legacies of your     promote social media channels as a place for early adopters
journey. It’s also important to emphasize how your idea is        to congregate by integrating social sharing mechanisms into

your app. You want to make it easy for your first set of

users to interact with each other. You want to entice

them to help spread the word about your app.”

One specific way to catalyze growth through social media is

through leveraging user generated content. This can be

extremely low cost, while deepening the connection social

users feel towards your brand. Brands like Qatar, Red Bull,

and BMW repost user generated content 60+% of the time.

Perhaps surprisingly, levels of saturation and contrast for
                                                               Moreover, it’s important to emphasize that links that match
image-based content dictates its social performance. In
                                                               your brand matter. Any link posted on social media should
fact, studies show that warm tones (red/yellow) with high
                                                               have images, titles, and descriptions suited for sharing, plus
contrast draw up to 21% more engagement and 45% more
                                                               a short or vanity URL. To put it simply, our data shows that
comments. Cool tones (blue/green), artificially aged photos,
                                                               branded links generate double the number of click
and high saturation photos performed worst.
                                                               conversions than links with unbranded domains.

                                                               Make App Store Optimization Your
                                                               Best Friend

                                                               In “App Store Optimization: Maximize Your Organic User

                                                               Acquisition”, Leadmill’s Pavla Schlägerová explains that App

                                                               Store rank can be broken down into primary and secondary

                                                               factors. Let’s first take a look at a few of the primary factors:

                                                               Title: Apps rank higher in search results for terms in titles.

                                                               Keywords: Use the most relevant and popular keywords.

                                                               Icon: An icon that evokes attractive elements of an app does

                                                               first impressions right.

                                                               Screenshots: Move users through the your app’s story while

                                                               increasing transparency.

use your app, along with a deep view of your competitive

                                                               landscape.” Specifically, Sefferman suggests that mobile

                                                               professionals consider the following questions when laying

                                                               out strategies to optimize their App Store ranks:

                                                               •   What language do my customers naturally use?

                                                               •   How would they describe my app?

                                                               •   What are top reasons for downloading my app?

                                                               •   What is my competitive advantage?

                                                               •   What keywords do my competitors target?

                                                               •   How easily can I compete on the same keywords?

                                                               •   Should I target the obvious keywords or the less obvious
In fact, with the Google Play Store’s release of keyword
                                                                   (and less trafficked) keywords that better speak to my
data with its recent update, mobile professionals around
                                                                   unique offering and points of differentiation?
the world are now able to optimize for the Play Store with

unparalleled data-driven insight across up to one thousand
                                                               Furthermore, Emily Grossman’s Branchout 2017 talk, “Attract
search terms.
                                                               the Right Customers with Strategic App Store Optimization”,

                                                               covers a variety of ways you can optimize strategic App
There are also a number of secondary factors that can influ-
                                                               Store Optimization to ensure potential customers find,
ence search ranking when it matters most:
                                                               download, and actually use your iOS and Android apps.

                                                               Above all, it’s key to remember that App Store Optimization
Ratings & Reviews: These influence user downloads and
                                                               is an ongoing process—so naturally, the best strategies to
brand reputation, as well as search ranking.
                                                               optimize App Store Rank are ongoing.

Download Count: Though difficult to control, download

count has a sizable impact.                                    Leverage Instant Apps

App Updates: Updating an app is a sign of improvement,         Instant Apps is a relatively new technology that allows you
both of user experience and the app itself. The App Store      to segment portions of an Android app to load immediately
values freshness and strives to deliver it to users.           when a link is clicked.

In her ASO checklist, Moz’s Ashley Sefferman emphasizes        The user will still need to install the full native app to engage
the importance of understanding your customer set and          with the rest of the experience, however. As such, you need
your competitive set when approaching the task of forming      to design your user experience so that users can engage with
a solid ASO strategy. Sefferman writes, “A well-formed ASO     a portion of your app experience, all the while compelling
strategy hinges on understanding how your customers            them to download and install the full native app.

Neither the user’s journey nor the brand’s work end at the

                                                                      Google Play Store, however. When leading users from In-

                                                                      stant Apps to native apps, deep linking is a must, in order

                                                                      to preserve the context post-install and provide a seam-

                                                                      less, optimal user experience. In this way, users can browse

                                                                      and engage in the native app immediately where they left

                                                                      off in the Instant App, and can continue delivering value.

                                                                      Get Your Referral Program Right

                                                                      Referrals are the holy grail for every marketer—across every

If the full app is installed, the Android app will load instead of    industry and stage of growth, there’s nothing better than

the Instant App. Ultimately, you can consider Instant Apps            getting your users to tell others about your app or service.

as better-optimized mobile websites, only loading when                Your users know your app the best, so if you encourage and

a link is clicked if the full Android app is not installed. This is   steer them right, they can act as ambassadors and get their

significant because 53% of mobile websites are abandoned              friends started.

if it load time is greater than three seconds.
                                                                      Building a good referral program is important, but that’s

Jeff Kelsey, Ticketmaster’s Mobile Lead Engineer for Android,         only taking you half way. You also need to understand

says, “Instant Apps give developers a lot of power, and you           who the people are that are more likely to refer your app.

definitely don’t need a specific separate team to implement           Once you’ve identified the traits, qualities, and motivations

Instant Apps ... repackaging what you already have will               of the top referrers unique to your mobile brand, you can

allow you to reap the benefits of having an Instant App.”             nurture those types of users to encourage them to spread

You can learn more about Ticketmaster’s approach during               the word. After all, when it comes to referral potential, all

Branch co-founder Mada Seghete’s Branchout talk, “The                 users are most certainly not created equal.

Importance of Building a Cross-Platform Strategy”.

In addition to web-to-app smart banners like Journeys, Instant

Apps can convert low-cost web traffic to high-engagement

app users. Following the Ticketmaster example above, users

see an install prompt after completing a ticket purchase,

and clicking on it takes them to the Google Play Store.

Either way, in a world in which 77% of users discover new

apps from viral features such as word of mouth, it’s critical

that users understand your app and brand, and that they feel

compelled to spread the word. But how do we encourage

users to share mobile app experiences without becoming a

nuisance? How do we strike a friendly, effective balance?

In today’s world, users trust their own friends and family

more than the words of any brand. Smart mobile growth

experts will respond by incentivizing users to share elements

of an app or a brand across their social media platforms.
                                                                 In addition to social media campaigns like the one pictured

Brand marketing isn’t necessarily the least trusted source of    above, many mobile brands incentivize users to refer their

messaging, however. If brands can portray themselves as          friends by optimizing current referrals user flows and

bold and authentic, unconventional marketing tactics             processes. Integrating Branch’s deep links into your referrals

can pay off. For instance, Tinder tripled its app user base in   program enables link generation, referral tracking, reward

its early stages by focusing on marketing via college parties—   attribution, and credit balance, all without the user burden of

not your usual marketing channel, but in this case it worked.    promo codes to remember or write down.

                                                                 Bringing It All Together

                                                                 At the end of the day, no mobile strategy can control every

                                                                 variable, every potential mishap, and every outcome of every

                                                                 opportunity. Across industries and stages of mobile growth,

                                                                 today’s winning strategies are ones that have been rigorously

                                                                 tested and interrogated, ones managed with simultaneous

                                                                 confidence and open-mindedness to new approaches and

                                                                 new directions (as well as to what gathered performance

                                                                 data and metrics suggest).

                                                                 It is our hope that through this guide you’ve picked up a

                                                                 number of ways to enhance your mobile strategy, so you

                                                                 can implement optimized mobile acquisition strategies and
                                                                 provide personalized, compelling experiences for your users

                                                                 and prospective users, in 2018 and beyond.

For tips, tricks, and growth hacks pertaining to onboarding
                                                                    More Resources
and retention, you can check out our latest Mobile Growth

Handbook. You may also wish to check out “Web vs. App”,             We hope you enjoyed our Ultimate Guide to Cost Effective
our exploration of how both mobile web and native apps can          Mobile User Acquisition, and hope you will take the time
enhance the user experience.                                        to explore some additional content we’ve put together for

                                                                    mobile professionals like you.
Branch is committed to providing the leading mobile linking

platform that unifies user experience and measurement                        Why You Should Care About Deep Linking

across devices, platforms, and channels. Branch provides                    An Overview of Mobile Deep Link Standards

links for over 6 billion users across the globe, and is a trusted       The First Mobile Cross-Platform Conference Recap:
                                                                                   A Review of Branchout 2017
solution for Airbnb, BuzzFeed, Pinterest, Target, Tinder, Slack,

Starbucks, Yelp, and more than 30,000 more. To learn more

about our platform, you can click here to visit our website.          Click here to request a demo. We hope to hear from you!

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