How To Advertise Your Mobile App Online

Posted on 21/04/2016 by Team Hallam

Mobile Apps offer a unique way to engage with your best customers while targeting and converting new customers. This could be in the form of social networking, gaming, aiding the offline experience, and driving ecommerce loyalty.

As of June 2015, more than 100 billion apps were downloaded, with $41.1bn of revenue generated from apps worldwide.

Apps have been a successful channel in various verticals such as:app-store-apple-google-logo

  • App-first companies (e.g. Instagram)
  • Multi-channel retailers (e.g. Walmart)
  • Sophisticated etailers (e.g. Amazon)

The Challenges You Face

Alongside the many success stories, there are a number of failures in the app world. 95% of apps are abandoned within the first month and 20% are used only once.

The stats for the successful shelf-life of an app aren’t reassuring. From looking at this data there are two key challenges that you will need to overcome to keep your app dream alive:

  1. People finding your app (app discovery and installation).
  2. Getting people to use your app (once downloaded).

How to Advertise Your App

So how do you turn your app in to a success story? Google’s AdWords network offers you a wide range of advertising opportunities, including:

  • YouTube
  • Search Network
  • inApp
  • Display Network
  • Gmail

The challenges highlighted earlier show the need to focus on two specific types of campaign to promote your app across these networks

  • App Installs
  • App Engagement

Lets look at each of these in more detail…

App Install Campaigns

downloadAs the name suggests, this campaign is aimed at driving more installs of your app.

  • Advertising goal: To increase app downloads with ads that send people directly to the app store to download your app.
  • Campaign type: Use search network campaigns, display network campaigns and video campaigns.
  • Ad formats: App install ads, image app install ads, video app install ads.


Other key things to remember include promoting ads on compatible devices and targeting relevant people in search with relevant keyword research. So think about which keywords best describe what your app does.

When writing ad copy, remember to keep it short, snappy, and benefit or action driven. The example below highlights how hotel apps have done this to drive downloads:

Example of hotel apps using short, benefit driven copy in ads

App Engagement Campaigns

Once your customer has downloaded your app, how do you encourage them to use it, and to continue to do so?

  • Advertising goal: To re-engage people who use your apps with ads that deep link to specific screens within your mobile app.
  • Campaign type: Use search network campaigns and display network campaigns.
  • Ad formats: App engagement ads.

Deep linking to relevant screens within your app is vital to the success of your app engagement campaign as it engages people at the first moment of intent.

For example, say you’ve created the official Wimbledon app. In 2015 your customer attended the tournament and downloaded the app to keep up the date with the latest news and book tickets. Since the tournament ended, said user has not used the app again.

In the run up to Wimbledon 2016 your customer may start to look in to purchasing tickets again and finding out the latest Wimbledon news. Target this customer with ads that deep link to a relevant part of your app, e.g. the “buy tickets” or “ticket prices” screen.

Similarly, you may also want to target frequent users by creating ads that specifically target in-app purchases.

Measure the Performance of your App Marketing Campaign

How do you know your app advertising campaign has been successful?

Google AdWords – Measure click and conversion reports to understand which campaigns are driving the most clicks, and more importantly, conversions.

Track installs and set up conversion tracking – AdWords integrates with Google Play to track installs. This will allow you to track when people open your app for the first time after install and in-app actions e.g. purchases and other conversions. Unfortunately there is no codeless solution for iOS, but instructions for tracking installs can be found here.

Measure customer lifetime value in Google Analytics – Use the Lifetime Value report in Google Analytics (reporting>audience>lifetime value) to understand how valuable your users and visitors are to your business based on their lifetime performance across multiple sessions. This helps you to attribute a value to each acquisition source and determine your marketing budget for forthcoming activities – in this case, paid search.

Key Takeaways

To summarise, here are my four key tips to successfully advertise your mobile app online:

  1. Target your app ad to the relevant audience (one size does not fit all).
  2. Create benefit driven ads to increase app-installs.
  3. Use deep linking in app engagement campaigns to drive users to the most useful app screen.
  4. Regularly track campaign performance to measure success.

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