5 Ways to Rock a Mobile App Launch with Facebook Ads

5 Ways to Rock a Mobile App Launch with Facebook Ads

April 10, 2014

According to Flurry, over 1 billion phones and tablets use apps worldwide every month. So it makes sense to be excited about launching your newest mobile app. Your app is tested, tweaked, and primed for downloads, but the difference between top-ranked success and obscurity can be tiny. Follow these five steps to rock your mobile app launch and sit atop the leaderboard of any category.

Use Your App

It sounds like a pretty obvious step – of course you’ve used the app you’re launching – but have you really used it like a new user would? All the research in the world won’t help unless you know the product from the user’s perspective. Open it, tap it, flap it, play it, change the settings, add features – do it up. Know which screens or game levels feature the most compelling imagery and would therefore be good to feature in your ad creative.

Interaction spurs creativity and will give you a better idea of what makes the app special. If you become your target audience, the rest of this launch process will be a breeze.

Research Your Competitors

Ask yourself, “What are my competitors doing?”

Once you’ve spent time interacting with your app, take some time to cruise your competitors’ Facebook Pages and (if you’re lucky) stumble upon one of their ads on Facebook or Twitter. Some things to look at:

Who are they targeting? Based on their messaging, you can get a pretty good idea of their target customer, be it multiple groups or one highly specific group. Knowing who your competitors are targeting may introduce you to an audience you hadn’t previously considered, or stem the realization that they are missing out on a key market – one that you could be taking advantage of.

What does their creative look like? Is it all screenshots of the app or people using the app? If all of your competitors are using images of in game play for a gaming app, or pictures of people shopping specifically on tablets for an e-commerce app, this likely means this strategy is proven and worth trying out for your app.

What is the objective they’re driving? Are they employing one central strategy like mobile app installs – or a handful?

You need to know the answers. For a deeper dive, go beyond your immediate competitors to evaluate strategies of the wider app market. For example, take a look at what apps are at the top of the charts across different metrics (make an actual list of at least ten) and what similar app is at the top of your category. Who are these companies targeting and what does their creative look like?

As nice as it is to see who’s doing well, it can be valuable to see what fails. In a sense, unsuccessful apps have done the market testing for you – don’t let that free service go to waste!

  • What similar app is at the bottom of your category? – Find at least 3-5 competitors to avoid

  • Who are they targeting? – Is it age/gender inappropriate to the vertical?

  • Who are they not targeting? – Is there a targeting gap you can drive a bus through?

Finally, it’s tricky, but rewarding to ask, “What is nobody doing?”

  • Who is no one targeting?

  • Why not?

  • Is there a market there?

The last question – Is there a market there? – is often the hardest to determine if no one is there yet, but can yield amazing results. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel if your product has a tried and true demographic, but take the time to research if your product has an underreported niche market.

If it does – Congratulations! Audiences that are “less in demand” usually have great engagement rates for the right product, and go for a lower price.

Pinpoint Demographics that Monetize

Not all demographics are created equal, so not all are right for your mobile app. Apptopia researched more than 200 successful apps with a total of 465 million monthly users and compiled an average user profile for gaming apps – a vertical that comprises over 88% of iTunes top grossing apps.

Their graph suggests that “males tend to prefer competitive, player vs. player games, while females tend to gravitate towards games that are less competitive and tend to be played in a more enduring way.” While this isn’t ground-breaking news, understanding the predominant demographics informs the advertising, and can even expose new markets of potential players. Apptopia mentions that their research uncovered a glaring lack of older male gamers – the only exception is poker.

For the right mobile app, research can uncover a huge untapped market. Here are their general game demographic breakdowns to get you started:

Men 20-35: Shooter, Racing, Action RPG, Card Battle, Strategy

Male 35-50: Casino/Poker

Women 20-35: Brain/Quiz, Mgmt/Sim

Women 35-50: Slots, Solitaire, Social Turn-Based

That being said, certain target audiences won’t just install your ad, they’ll also make in-app purchases – Apptopia again sites “Slots, Solitaire, and Social Turn-Based” games as the leaders of in-game purchases – a predominantly older female demographic. Engagement rates may differ, but keep in mind that not all demographics monetize equally.

Test Outside the Box with CPA Bidding

CPA bidding allows you to only pay when someone installs the app rather than when they see or click on the ad, which makes it a fantastic way to test ideas without breaking the bank. Ampush recently found that campaigns using CPA bidding resulted in 65% lower CPC and 51% lower CPI than campaigns using CPC or oCPM. This bidding style with an informed demographic research (see above) your campaign will get direction on what works and what doesn’t. The right target – like older female gamers renowned for in-game purchases – can justify the higher cost per acquisition.

Keep in mind that while CPA bidding may appear more expensive than CPC, CPA bidding generally reduces the negative impacts of poor-performing ads and can make running a campaign less expensive overall. A good CPA strategy will also increase an app’s ranking in the category, which will lead to more organic installs thereby increasing the overall effectiveness of the campaign.

Note that CPA bidding (or CPI for installs) is only available on apps that Facebook has information about, so it might be unavailable at the beginning of a campaign. After a few conversions, the CPI option should “unlock.” Until then, you might be stuck with just CPC.

Engage Past Monetizers and Acquire New Ones with Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences

If you have a user base – use it! Facebook allows advertisers to create Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences of mobile app users. If you did your competitor research, this last step practically does itself.

Custom Audiences also let you exclude users that already have your app – you wouldn’t want to pay for an app install ad when the person is already playing your game!

Launching your app is an exciting time, and if you put the research into defining your target, identifying your demographic – and their ability to monetize – your bidding strategy and Audience creation tools will complement your winning mobile install campaign. Good luck!

Want more strategies for driving success with Mobile App Ads? Check out our infographic Facebook Mobile App Ads Best Practices