With nearly 4 million apps available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, users have plenty of options for mobile shopping, entertainment, health, productivity, finances, and other services.
As more and more apps become available on the market, it's more important than ever for small business owners and marketers to create marketing strategies specific to their mobile apps.
When you've invested a significant amount of time and money into a mobile app, you want to make sure that it's getting downloaded and seeing engagement. Fortunately, both Facebook and Instagram Ads can be particularly useful when it comes to increasing mobile app downloads.
Since mobile apps increase functionality for users while simultaneously giving brands a way to stay in touch with their target audience (including push notifications, of course!), it's clear that apps are inherently valuable.
Getting users to download your apps, however, can be a little tricky.
This is true whether you're trying to connect with cold audiences or to get existing customers to download a mobile app. You need to convince them that it's worth the effort to download the app, taking up valuable space on their phone.
The enormous opportunity of Facebook for your apps
Facebook has 1.56 billion daily active users. Let's put that in perspective. That's nearly 5X the population of the United States, 20% of the world population … and still climbing.
So imagine the social influence achievable through Facebook in terms of your peer effects, eCommerce business, referrals, customer relationships, reputation, brand awareness, and much more (let alone, in combination with other social media platforms you market through).
It's not only the sheer number of people but the amount of attention Facebook owns. Globally, the average user spends almost an hour per day on Facebook. Considering the average person sleeps eight hours a day, that means about 7% of our waking hours is spent with our eyes glued to the social network.
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Target existing customers
While some apps are an entire business (like Candy Crush, which is the entire product the business stands behind), many apps are designed to offer additional services or convenience for customers. Stitch Fix's mobile app allows users to take a sneak peek at their upcoming fix, for example, and bank apps let you make transfers and deposit checks remotely.
If you're a business whose app is an extension of your site or your products or services, you should start by targeting existing customers. Use custom audiences to show ads to users who have purchased from you within the past 30-90 days, depending on your customer lifecycle and typical buying periods. (Note that you can change these timeframes more, depending on your business, and they'll still be effective. If you're a dealership who just rolled out an app to view a car's metrics, show the ad to anyone who owns a car with these capabilities).
You can also use your new app to reach out to long-lost customers, seeing if they're interested. Let's say that your business offers a financial spending and tracking tool to customers. Past customers may have left for other mobile-friendly tools that would allow them to scan receipts. Reaching out to tell them about your new mobile app may help win a few of them back, and increase overall usage in your product across the board.
Focus on lookalike targeting for cold audiences
Lookalike audiences are a safe bet for most campaigns when you're trying to reach cold audience members or those who have never heard of you. They allow you to reach users who are demographically similar to specific custom audiences, so we recommend focusing on audiences that are high-value and who use the app regularly.
In order to do this, you'll want to set up Facebook's SDK within your mobile app. This works like the standard site tracking pixel, but for apps. It helps you create retargeting campaigns or lookalike audiences by anonymously tracking who is using your app and how. You can see exactly how to do this here.
You can create lookalike audiences off of those who are just engaging with the app regularly, which would indicate that the app is valuable. If you're trying to reach customers who are most likely to opt for in-app purchases, you can also create a campaign retargeting users who have made in-app purchases in the past.
Segment audiences based on mobile devices
Want to increase mobile app downloads? Do everything you can to make it as convenient for the user as physically possible. This includes using audience segmentation to ensure that you're showing the right app store landing page to the right users based on the device they're using.
As an iOS user, I've clicked on mobile app ads before only to be taken straight to the Android store. This doesn't do me any good, and I've clicked away every time and never converted. Most users will follow suit; you want to strike while the iron (and interset!) is hot, and if you don't, they'll trail off and you'll likely lose the chance to get the download.
Show images & videos of the app in use
Your customers may be overwhelmed with apps and a little over trying to find new ones right now. So many businesses have apps, after all, that they really only are interested in downloading the ones that will be valuable to them.
You'll see the best results with Facebook and Instagram Ads when you focus on demonstrating value both in the copy and the visual components of the ad.
Your images and videos should ideally go beyond just showing a person holding a mobile app; it should show how the app works, highlighting different use cases along with how easy it is for people to use. People want to see the interface and functionality so they know that it can deliver, and the copy should reinforce this.
Let's look at an example. This first ad for Freshbooks is a video ad that simply shows someone scrolling on their phone, listing benefits like "Track your invoices and record payments all in one place." It implies that there's a great mobile app and that it's convenient, but it never says this, and it definitely won't encourage mobile downloads.
Prioritize app store optimization
Most marketers know about search engine optimization (SEO), but app creators who want more downloads need to get up to speed on app store optimization (ASO).
The two are similar, but ASO is specifically tailored to increase the visibility of your app in the marketplace.
- Keyword relevance: One of the most important things you can do is optimize the keywords you use in your app's title and description. Use Google's AdWords keyword tool or a keyword tracker like Sensor Tower or App Radar to identify the most relevant search terms.
- Categories: When you submit your app to an app store, choose your categories wisely and strategically. Make sure you select a category that's relevant to your app but not overly saturated.
- App downloads: The number of people who download your app is going to affect your overall rankings.
- Positive reviews: As you get more positive feedback about your app, it will be ranked more highly, which will naturally improve download numbers. Prompting in-app reviews at key moments can help boost those reviews.
- Location: Consider where your target audience is located and tailor your app description for those areas. That might mean translating your app store description into another language or selecting images that are relevant to and appropriate for that region.
- App use: Your app ranking is impacted by how many people use your app, as well as the percentage of people who download it and then uninstall it. So make sure you're engaging with your app users on a regular basis.
- Social proof: The popularity of your app on social media can affect its ranking. Build a new social media account for your app or incorporate it into your company's posts.
Use mobile communication channels
Another technique you can use is connecting with your existing users directly on mobile. Whether it's in-app messaging or push notifications, mobile-specific channels allow you to reach your users at just the right time with a targeted message.
Consider pointing them to a new feature you've released or prompting them with tips in a part of the app that may be hard to navigate. You can also have current users help you market your app by using in-app messaging and push notifications that encourage them to share on social media, refer a friend, or leave feedback in the app store. These are great ways to continue engaging users and promote your app, giving it the boost it needs to go viral.