Of all the consumer digital behaviours we’ve seen accelerate and strengthen during the pandemic, one of the most significant shifts is in the role and value of apps.
Consumers spent a record $32 billion on them in the first part of 2021, up 40% on the previous year. Globally, we’re now spending an average of 4.2 hours using apps on our smartphones every day — a level of demand that shows no sign of abating as lockdown restrictions lift.
These figures illustrate why a sophisticated app marketing strategy has never been more important. Below, we’ve highlighted three imperatives for an effective plan to capture every profitable click through your app, with success stories from U.K. and international category leaders to help.
Take a holistic view of app and web for long-term growth
The modern shopper is increasingly an omnichannel one. They jump from one platform to another, expecting a seamless experience in an ever-more complex purchase journey.
U.K. based retailer Moonpig, which recently floated for over £1.2 billion, shows what can be achieved with a holistic approach to web and app. The online-only card and gift company brought in a number of best practices for their app marketing strategy:
- Took an ‘always on’ approach to paid app acquisition and engagement strategy: Google App Campaigns for install and engagement were used to scale app downloads and app usage prior to the key retail period.
- Utilising deep links for a seamless omnichannel experience: Directing users from Shopping ads directly to specific, rich in-app content.
- Measured across touchpoints to inform campaigns and ad bidding: Switching to app plus web attribution to ensure ad bids are based on a holistic view of conversions, capturing the full value of spend across Search and Shopping campaigns.
This approach delivered on multiple metrics across the second half of last year: Moonpig’s return on investment via Shopping ads increased by 24% and via Search by 19%, while in-app web-driven conversions were up an impressive 94%.
Action for marketers: Link and direct customers to your app at every given chance
Use deep link ads to create the frictionless omnichannel experience customers now expect by engaging high-value users on the web and directing them to your app. And be bold in your communications. Apps can offer a rich and rewarding experience for users as well as help drive business growth, so use prominent calls to action to encourage installs and drive engagement.
App users spend and shop more — invest in recruiting them
App users produce 3.5X more revenue than other shoppers and are three times more likely to make a repeat purchase.
Yet investment in app promotion is often a low priority within marketing plans. The siloed nature of organisations, questions over cross-channel measurement, and the sheer pace of technological change contribute to this.
As app technology moves forward, so does the quality of attribution. And brands ready and willing to invest in promoting their app to recruit new customers are seeing the rewards.
Zaful, a rapidly growing pureplay fashion app, used Google app campaigns for install (ACi) to find valuable customers across search, YouTube, and the Google Play store.
The automated tool takes basic assets from your app’s store listing to produce a variety of ads. Bids and distribution are then optimised based on targets you define, such as in-app conversions or, in Zaful’s case, target return on advertising spend (tROAS).
Marketers should be reassured that as app technology moves forward, so does the quality of attribution.
This investment strategy saw the retailer recruit an additional 34% of high-quality app users and gain a first purchase conversion rate increase of 36% — a great example of how effective app marketing is in driving profitable new business.
Action for marketers: Establish a flexible budget to capture growing demand
To avoid putting an artificial cap on your recruitment strategy, consider switching from a fixed app marketing budget based on revenue to one based on profitability. This allows you to flex investment up (and down) in line with market demand and avoid missing profit opportunities to the competition — a strategy we recommend across all paid media. Encourage your finance and marketing teams to collaborate to maximise profitable demand.
Re-engage and retain your most profitable shoppers through your app
It can be easy to see high installs as a job well done, but it’s crucial not to lose momentum. We know app users spend more, and more often, and businesses who benefit from these high-value customers have cultivated this loyalty.
On mobile, churn can be an issue — 71% of people stop using an app within 3 months of download. But with a retention strategy to complement your recruitment one, this business challenge can flip to be a significant profit opportunity.
Sendo, a leading ecommerce site in Vietnam, demonstrates how loyalty can be driven, even with lapsed users. The online retailer used App campaigns for engagement (ACE) to re-engage with customers who already had the app but were dormant.
It can be easy to see high installs as a job well done, but it’s crucial not to lose momentum.
The team utilised renewed creative assets, with different combinations automatically tested through App Campaigns for engagement and the better-performing ads shown more often across Google touchpoints. This boosted orders from lapsed app users by 400%, while maintaining Sendo’s number of active monthly users.
Action for marketers: Tune your engagement strategy to build enduring loyalty
Set up your App Campaigns for engagement to drive specific actions aligned with your business objectives, such as re-engaging high-value customers that haven’t purchased in a while, or reminding users with items in their basket to complete checkout.
It can be particularly valuable in reaching shoppers during crucial trading periods, such as Black Friday, sales, or when you have stock to shift. Whatever your KPI, how you invest in your app can be crucial in helping achieve it.