CEO of Kantaloupe | Roie has 20+ years of experience building companies from the ground up and is on a mission to revamp growth marketing.
As of the third quarter of 2020, there were 2.87 million mobile apps in the Google Play app store and 1.96 million in the Apple app store, according to data (subscription required). The tough competition means you can’t simply build an app, publish it and hope for the best.
What’s the best way to get your ideal audience to download your app?
Based on my experience, Facebook Ads is a channel you can’t afford to ignore. Here’s how to get the most out of your ad spend:
1. Establish your in-app user flow.
Facebook’s algorithm can show your ads to audiences that are most likely to take a specific action within your app. But first, you need to tell Facebook which in-app activities are valuable to you.
Plan how you track user activities within the app so Facebook can show your ads to the right audience segments based on your objectives.
2. Create an app ID on Facebook.
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Although you can promote an app without identification, you’d be limited to optimizing for link clicks only.
To take full advantage of the platform’s capabilities, you need to link the app with your Facebook Business Manager and Ad account. Follow the platform’s steps to register your app.
3. Implement the Facebook software development kit.
When added to your app, the Facebook software development kit (SDK) will track user behaviors within your app and collect data on in-app events. The information will then allow you to leverage Facebook’s targeting features to show your ad to the right audience.
This step is quite technical, so you might need the help of a developer.
4. Select standard in-app events.
While you can track usage with standard and custom events, you can only optimize Facebook paid campaigns toward standard ones.
Choose an event from the standard list that’s closest to what you want to accomplish, even if it isn’t an exact match. Facebook’s Codeless App Events feature enables you to add or remove app events without writing code or releasing a new version of the app.
5. Collect organic data.
Before launching your first paid campaign, give Facebook’s algorithm some time (e.g., around two weeks) to gather organic data about your app. The algorithm can leverage the information to figure out how to optimize your targeting and promote your app to the right audience.
6. Create a lookalike audience.
Next, you can launch a paid campaign based on the organic data you have collected. Create and target a lookalike audience based on those who have installed your app.
While a common recommendation I’ve seen is for advertisers to have more than 1,000 events of one specific type (e.g., app install) to build an effective lookalike audience, a fewer number of high-quality users could work equally well.
7. Fine-tune your targeting.
Focus your ad budget on reaching ideal users by targeting a “1%” lookalike audience. You can then gain insights from their activities to make improvements and add features to your app.
Also, avoid showing your ad to people who have already installed the app by using Facebook’s exclusions targeting feature so you can get the most out of your ad spend.
8. Update your lookalike audience.
Many people download apps without launching them. You should move away from simply attracting people who’d install your app to getting clicks from those who are most likely to launch it.
Switch your lookalike audience from “app-install” to “app-launches” as soon as you have enough data from your first paid campaign to refine your targeting.
9. Create a lookalike audience based on active users.
As you gain traction, you can identify not only people who launch your app but also those who use it frequently. These users are valuable because they’re most likely to go through the entire user journey, engage with your content and make purchases.
Identify these users and create a lookalike audience based on their data to improve your targeting.
10. Progress down your in-app funnel.
Apply the logic of the previous step to your entire in-app funnel by analyzing the events data of each stage and identifying people who are most likely to move further down the user journey, such as visiting a product page or setting up an account.
Create a new lookalike audience based on their information to further refine your targeting.
11. Adjust your optimization goal.
As you go through steps eight, nine and 10, you’ll home in on an audience that’s most likely to reach the end of the user flow — namely, a conversion event.
As you update your audience segment, you should also create a new campaign optimized for the corresponding conversion event to make sure you’re promoting to people who are most likely to get to that stage of the user journey.
12. Use retargeting to drive in-app purchases.
You can create custom audiences based on users’ interactions with your app using the SDK.
Show ads to people who have already downloaded your app or interacted with the content to progress them down the funnel and drive in-app purchases. For example, create a reengagement campaign to target users who haven’t opened the app for a while or promote a special offer to active users.
13. Don’t forget the basics.
As with any Facebook Ad campaign, you need to use high-quality creatives that speak to your target audience and clearly articulate the value delivered by your app. Also, experiment with using videos to demonstrate the app in action and show how easy it is to accomplish a task.
Promoting Apps On Facebook
Optimizing your Facebook Ads campaign is always a work in progress.
Besides tracking the right key performance metrics and using the information to fine-tune your creatives and strategy, you should stay current with the latest features offered by the platform so you can improve your results and maximize your return on investment.