Reaching the Mobile Shopper: How to Acquire & Monetize Customers for Your E-commerce App (Part 1)

Reaching the Mobile Shopper: How to Acquire & Monetize Customers for Your E-commerce App (Part 1)

By Arielle Vogelstein • April 29, 2015

E-commerce is undergoing a major and exciting shift. Not only are people migrating their attention and spending from their computers to their mobile devices, but once on their phones they are using apps (as opposed to browsing the web). In fact, of all the time people spend on their smartphones, a whopping 89% of that time is spent in apps, according to Nielsen.


Savvy companies are quickly adapting by publishing apps that drive mobile commerce. For many companies, getting consumers to download and use those apps to make purchases requires a new approach.


Facebook is a terrific place to start because it attracts nearly 800 million mobile users every day. That makes it an ideal platform for acquiring customers for your mobile app. It can still be a challenge, though, to pinpoint a sizeable audience that is both interested in your products and willing to install and make purchases with your app.


Here at Ampush, we work with e-commerce marketers to carefully craft campaign strategies that achieve app installs efficiently, and keep customers using the app even after they’ve downloaded it to their phones.


In part one of this two-part series, we look at targeting best practices that Ampush uses to both identify mobile audiences, and to monetize and grow them efficiently over time.

Start with purchase data to find people ready to buy

Think about it: plenty of Facebook users have indicated that they like particular clothing brands or traveling, but that doesn’t mean they want to buy clothing or book a trip this week. And even if they are ready to buy, it’s generally for a specific piece of clothing (like a leather jacket) or one of many travel-related purchases (a hotel versus a rental car or flight) in a specific location.


So how do we filter out the buyers from the browsers on a product-level? It’s all in the data.


Data from your website or mobile app is one of the most valuable tools you have. Use browsing information to determine where people are in the buying process and when they are ready to make the next move. Start by looking at who is buying what products on your site, then use these profiles to model new audiences of purchase intenders for specific products in your catalog.


At Ampush, we work with our clients to use valuable proprietary data to find the people most likely to buy. Specifically, we follow these steps:


  1. Collect information on visitors’ behavior on your mobile app or website (or both). Do this by integrating the Facebook SDK into your app or placing a pixel, which is code that collects users’ data and tracks conversion events, on your website.
  2. Use the data collected to create audiences of people who have performed specific searches, visited specific pages (such as the product category “dresses,” an individual SKU, or the shopping cart), and purchased one or more items.
  3. Create new audiences modeled after these segments, also known as lookalike audiences. These will contain new individuals whom you have not already reached, but closely resemble those who have viewed a certain product or made a purchase. This can be done with the check of a box on either Facebook or Twitter.


A lot of marketers will simplify this process and create an audience of everyone that has made a purchase in the last three months. This works just fine for companies with a very small product line whose audience is homogenous in nature. But for the many e-commerce companies whose product line is large and varied, greater granularity in targeting is needed to drive the same results. The people who bought a high ticket item – think a pricey purse or a new piece of furniture – will likely differ from those who bought something less expensive, such as a shirt or napkin rings.

Creating audiences based on the product viewed or purchased lets you target audiences with laser-like efficiency. For example, show someone who shopped for shoes another ad for shoes, or show someone who bought an expensive mixer an ad for compatible accessories. This level of personalization is the key to converting passive browsers into buyers. Once you’ve found the sweet spot of targeting and creative, the next step is expanding this audience so you can scale conversions.


Scale Audiences with Interest-based Targeting

To take your campaign to another level, it is important to use a mix of lookalike audiences and interest-based targeting to maximize the reach of your campaign. Lookalike audiences, generated off of user emails, phone numbers, Facebook user IDs, or mobile advertiser IDs, provide lists of users who are likely to download and engage your app.


Keep with the theme of targeting people who are interested in specific products or brands (e.g. Hunter boots, Gillette razors), rather than broad categories (e.g. women’s apparel, men’s grooming products). Targeting people who like competitors’ pages is a good place to start. For instance, an app that sells athletic gear might target competitors such as Nike or Under Armour, as well as specific articles of clothing (e.g. shirts, sneakers). As the campaign becomes efficient, the advertiser might develop new targeting based on what has performed well (tank tops, FuelBand) and look for new cohorts in which to explore (top athletes, sports). This should enable you to find the right audience(s) while sticking to your budget.


It’s important to use insights from previous campaigns, whether on Facebook or other channels, to guide your targeting. You will most likely find, however, some surprising results when launching any campaign. That’s why it is important to start with a smaller targeted audience and then expand once you’ve achieved the desired results. As you begin to find efficiency, you can iterate upon what’s been working and further increase your scale.
Pinpointing the people who are ready to buy and interested in your product line is the first step. In part two, we will look at how different types of ads and creative can be used strategically to connect the right messages to the right people and lead them through the buying funnel of their choosing.