What we’ll cover…

  •  Why App Downloads Matter. 
  • The Good – Sponsored App/Play store results & sponsored events. 
  • The Bad – Magazine and Radio advertising. 
  • The Meh – Social media and infuencers. 
  • We also talk about how we did our research using A/B testing. 

Why Downloads Matter 

When you develop and app, downloads matter. 

Perhaps you want to monetise your app by showing ads, offering in app purchases or subscriptions. Perhaps you are selling your app as a premium option.

Maybe your app is a useful add-on feature for your customers and you want to get new customers on the back of this and introduce them to the app. 

For all these scenarios – it’s about getting downloads.

Increased Ratings

Getting app downloads also increases your app’s ratings in the charts and in the listings shown to users when they search for terms related to your app.

Basically, the more genuine downloads an app gets (among other things), the better your app will do in search results and charts leading to even more downloads. 

This Blog Series begins..

This blog post is the first in a series of blogs looking at app downloads and how to get them.

Today, we focus entirely on paid advertising approaches (sponsored store results, google search, social media, magazine ads, radio ads, sponsoring events and influencers). We look at the options that we have tried and what works for us or doesn’t work. 

The Good 

Sponsored Store results 

You might have noticed when you are searching for an app on Google Play or the App Store, after you type in your search terms e.g. wedding invitation app that there are sponsored results which appear at the top of the list. 

These apps have paid to be in that spot and they pay a certain amount every time someone clicks on their app search result.

You only pay per click. This sponsored result advertising is done through Apple Ads (for the App Store) or Google Adwords with the Google Play Store option for Google Play. 

How it works 

For Google play, create an Ad Words account and make sure that you are using a computer rather than the Adwords app (the Adwords app, ironically, doesn’t seem to include the option for Google Play campaigns).

Choose to create a new advertising campaign and select Google Play from the different options (instead of web, YouTube or search results).

You will be guided through a wizard where you add a selection of images or videos, different titles and summaries which Google will use in different scenarios, etc. Next, you must choose where in the world your ad is shown. 

Once you’ve added your details, you need to choose how much you are willing to spend per click.

Your ad will be auctioned by Google play and depending on what other ads are available, which essentially means that the lower the price per click, the less likely your ad will be shown. Google will give you a suggested amount for this for your region. 

Around the World

If you are targeting a certain group of customers e.g. locals in your home town or county, you can select only your own country and limit your ad so it will be only be shown to people who are using their own in your country.

Different countries accept different average costs of advertising. If you want your app to be downloaded as much as possible but you don’t care as much about the region (it’s literally about getting the download numbers), you can do this more cost effectively by selecting countries that have a lower average per click fee.

Countries in Africa, Asia and South America tend to offer a lower average click rate fee, so you can get downloads for 10c a download or so. 

Sponsoring an Event

Sponsoring an event an be a useful way to get a spurt of downloads.

If the event is online, make sure that it is very easy or necessary for users to download your app. Provide direct app links or a website link.

If possible, tie in your app with the event. You can do this by requiring attendees to register through your app for the event, offering a prize or exclusive discounts to users through your app or offering extras related to the event e.g. an AR treasure hunt through your app.

Prizes or Offers for Downloads

Give people another reason to download your app by offering them an immediate prize.

This can be a discount on your products or services. It could be a freebie. 

You might even enter them in a draw for a big prize and select the winner once you get, say, 5000 downloads. 

The Bad 

Magazine Advertising 

Magazine advertising is simple. You find a magazine where your potential customers reside and advertise your services or products their usually with a nice visual design.

These can be expensive – for us they were around 500 euros per ad. We focused on wedding magazines.

We saw absolutely no increase in either website hits or downloads on the back of this. In fact, this was worse than social media and more expensive!

The problem is that when a customer hears about your product in a magazine, they have to go to the effort of grabbing their phone or computer and typing in your website to find out more.

We found that this method was a waste of money for us and we would not recommend it. 

Radio Ads 

Much like magazine advertising, this is straightforward. You find a radio station or a podcast where your potential customers reside and advertise your services or products.

We saw absolutely no increase in either website hits or downloads on the back of this. A

gain, the problem is that when a customer hears about your app on the radio, they have to go to the effort of grabbing their phone or computer and typing in your website to find out more and they need to remember your website or app name after the ad has finished.

We found that this method didn’t work well for us. 

Directory Listings 

We found sponsored listings in directories, even online directories, just didn’t work for us.

We had paid listings and never saw an increase in either website hits or downloads as a result. 

The listings were in wedding specific areas targeting our ideal customers and with direct links to our website but we did not see any increase in website clicks, even when the directories themselves seemed to get a list of hits. 

The problem was that we were often too far down a big list of results!

The Meh

Adwords/Google Search results

If you are looking for both app downloads and website hits or you feel that it would benefit you to have your users check out your website first – then Google Search ads might work well for you. 

Google Search ads are related to the store results in that they are also AdWords.

But instead of seeing results on Google Play, your customer will see them on their browser when the search for key words on Google.

Much like the Play store, your ad will appear at the top of the screen in the sponsored results area. 

How it works 

For Google Search, create an Ad Words account  (if you haven’t one already) and in this case you can use either your computer or the handy the Adwords app (remember, the Adwords app, doesn’t seem to include the option for Google Play campaigns, but it works well for search results). 

Choose to create a new advertising campaign and select Google Search from the different options. You will be guided through a wizard where you add a selection of images or videos, different titles and summaries which Google will use in different scenarios, etc.

Like with Sponsored Store ads, you must choose where in the world your ad is shown and choose an amount to pay per click. 

Social Media

If you have a business outside of your app, creating a social media presence is important for building your brand and helping customers to learn a bit about your business.

You can organically gain followers by posting regularly  (every few days) and by following other people who follow similar accounts.

You can also offer to repost your followers posts. We found that Instagram accounts, Facebook groups and LinkedIn posts to be somewhat effective.

These were a good way to get customers seeking app development, for example, but not a great way to get tons of app downloads.

Paid Social Media Posts

We spent money on three types of social media advertizing – getting facebook page likes, promoting direct ads explaining what our app does with a direct link to our app or promoting blog posts with a link to our website.

The outcome

We found social media to be much less effective than sponsored results for either Google Play or the App Store. 

Social media results were better for us than magazines, radio, directories or influencers. 

The ‘Likes’ issue

Mostly we ended up paying for ‘likes’ and that was a problem because the likes did not lead to increased downloads either immediately or over time. 

We did get website hits when we released sponsored blog posts but there was little or no increase in app downloads.  

Since then, we got a slightly better app download result by making our ‘Getting Started’ (download the app) button the first thing that users see on our Be Our Guest Wedding App website (www.beourguest.app).

The hidden Benefit – analtyics

Social media sponsored posts are a great way of finding out what demographics will click on your post, like it or go to your website. 

This information is extremely useful and this kind of advertising is a relatively inexpensive way to get this detail. 

For example, we found out that our Fiction App Bubblegum was most popular with women aged 30 or under and based in the US or Canada.

We found that our Wedding App Be Our Guest was most popular with younger couples (aged 18 – 25) and equally popular with men and women and we saw a strong response from South Africa, the US and India. 

Influencers

We have only dabbled with influencer marketing and based on conversations with other people who have used influencers.

I would say that this is a hit or miss method. Like all networking, it is not about the amount of people in the network, the amount of followers, but about engagement – how many people like and comment on the influencers posts.

For example, I got an offer of promoted tweets from an influencer who has absolutely tons of Twitter followers. But I noticed that he had little or no comments on any of his tweets and when I examined the retweets (which were high), I realised that he was simply retweeting other people tweets which already had high results.

A good influencer for you will be someone who has a good following but also gets tons of comments and likes on their posts, has a voice of their own, cultivate their own identity with their particular likes and dislikes or their own niche area of interest and is a curator who, rather than simply reposting other people’s stuff indifferently, reposts selectively and only chooses certain posts that tie in with their identity.

Needless to say, find an influencer that you actually like, who has opinions you agree with and who focuses on a topic that matches your customer base!

This is based on our Experience 

We have spent the last six years developing apps and releasing them to Google Play and hte App Store.

We’ve advertized our apps on a shoe string budget and because every cent counts, we really took time to see where our money was going and what worked or didn’t work for us.

A/B Testing

We were quite scientific about our research (of course!). We carried out a method called A/B testing where you make one change at a time in order to see the results of that particular change without any other changes interfering.

We focused on each advertising method one at a time with a gap in time between ending one method and adopting a new one.

We did this so that we could see the effect of each method on our website hits and app downloads without accidentally seeing a result from other methods.

Combinations

The next step we are going to try are combining methods. This could work really well for a business with a slightly higher advertising budget.

For example, you might combine influencer advertising with an incentive like a prize or discount for downloading the app.

Take away

Every business is different and has different needs. Apps are much like this. What works for one app will not work for another.

If you need an app developed or you have an app and you want to talk to us about paid advertising or even just how to promote your app, give us a shout!

Written by Laura Cavanagh

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