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Apps are an essential tool for marketers to drive business growth.

Increasingly, apps are where people are spending their time. In the U.S., for example, 80% of mobile time is spent in-app versus in web browsers. And when a customer has your app, they are more likely to be loyal and have higher lifetime value. According to a recent global study we performed with Kantar, 87% of retailers agree that their app users are more loyal and have a higher lifetime value than nonusers.

It’s no surprise, then, that marketers are adapting their strategies to prioritize mobile apps. Indeed, 81% of retailers and 75% of e-commerce companies plan to increase their investment in promoting their app over the next 12 months.1

Apps can be instrumental to building a foundation of consented first-party data.

Apps not only help you retain your most valuable customers — critical during an uncertain economy — they can also be instrumental to building a durable foundation of consented first-party data. As the advertising industry moves away from third-party cookies and other identifiers, a robust first-party data strategy is increasingly important to compete and win.

In a moment when marketers are keenly aware of competing priorities and trade-offs, here are three key ways to ensure your app marketing strategy delivers results today — and tomorrow.

1. Prioritize first-party data

It’s well established that companies that embrace first-party data are already outpacing their competitors. Research shows that companies that integrate first-party data sources can generate 1.5X the incremental revenue from a single ad placement, communication, or outreach, compared to those with limited data integration.2 And as personal identifiers continue to decrease, the gap is widening between businesses with a strong foundation of consented first-party data and those without.

Creating a compelling two-way value exchange with customers is essential to building first-party data.

Because creating a compelling two-way value exchange with customers is essential to building first-party data, mobile apps can play a significant role. Whether you’re offering a loyalty program or improving an omnichannel experience, like expedited in-store checkout, you must give customers a reason to share their information with you. A recent study by Boston Consulting Group shows that optimizing value exchange by consumer segment and offering relevant incentives can be even more effective. For example, Gen Z consumers and new parents are more likely to share their email addresses for lower value incentives than retired people.

To implement a successful first-party data collection strategy with apps, recent research with app developers revealed three common best practices. First, be transparent with users about how their information will be used. Second, show users how you will deliver a better experience for them when they share information with you. And third, encourage users to create an account in-app and sign in.3

2. Make web-to-app user experiences seamless

Another key thing to prioritize in your app strategy is omnichannel experiences. More specifically, these experiences need to be seamless, whether online or offline. While marketers rightly focus on optimizing online to offline user journeys, it’s also important to keep experiences between platforms — like a web browser and app — top of mind. The average consumer switches between mobile web and apps five times during a 30-minute session,4 so the web-to-app experience you provide customers can very much shape their perception of your brand and likelihood of converting.

Advertisers who have implemented deep linking see over 2X uplift in conversion rate.

Let’s say, for example, that a customer uses a mobile browser to search for a gift. The search leads them to see your ad, and, if you’ve implemented deep linking, the customer will be directed into your app, where they may have chosen to save their payment information and can check out faster. On average, advertisers who have implemented deep linking see over 2X uplift in conversion rate.5

But this optimized experience requires technical implementation that can be challenging, given silos that often exist between web developers and marketing teams. To simplify this workflow, we’re introducing Web to App Connect, a tool kit to help marketing and developer teams more easily set up deep linking. Web to App Connect will be available in beta early next year, and you can express interest in being a part of the upcoming beta here.

3. Adapt to shifts in platform standards on iOS and Android

While platform changes, like Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency framework and forthcoming updates to SKAdNetwork, Apple’s measurement API, have made app measurement more complex, there are steps you can take today to get ahead.

Marketers who prioritize apps and invest in their app strategies will be better positioned to drive meaningful business results now, and in the future.

To enhance conversion modeling and reporting accuracy for your iOS App campaigns, you should consider on-device conversion measurement, a new privacy-preserving solution announced earlier this year. You can also start setting up SKAdNetwork conversion values yourself or work with a measurement partner, such as one of our App Attribution Partners. For more iOS best practices, be sure to explore this guide.

And while nothing is changing today for Android App campaigns, Google Ads recently provided an update on our participation in the Privacy Sandbox on Android initiative. We regularly share feedback with Android about its public proposals so the new privacy-preserving technologies can help you reach the right audiences and more accurately measure your campaign results with less reliance on tracking identifiers. Throughout 2023, we’ll be sharing our learnings from the experiments we participate in.

Ultimately, as consumer behaviors and the privacy landscape continue to evolve, marketers who prioritize apps and invest in their app strategies will be better positioned to drive meaningful business results, now and in the future.