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Marketing an app is a complex task; you must acquire customers, keep them engaged, understand their lifecycles, maintain healthy retention rates, measure the success of your app, and more. Luckily, there are a ton of tools and resources available to optimize your efforts. But how do you know which tools to use?

We sat down with Nikisha Reyes-Grange, Principal of akaNRG, to get her thoughts on how app marketers should approach selecting the right app marketing tools. Nikisha is the former Head of Mobile Marketing at Starbucks and has launched and rapidly grown digital, lifestyle, and entertainment brands and products for Virgin, Xbox, and Starbucks. Throughout her career, she’s driven app marketing strategies for companies big and small, and has deep expertise in selecting the right tools to get the job done.

Here are Nikisha’s thoughts on how to select the right app marketing tools for your strategy.

Q: There are a lot of app marketing tools out there. How do you know where to start?

The tools you use will depend mostly on your goals, but also on your capabilities and resources—what you’re able to implement, maintain, and use effectively. I advise clients to prioritize tools related to app experience and user engagement. Only after you have a solid, well-functioning app that customers will enjoy using should you shift focus to acquisition tools.

We all know that user retention is challenging and many users will churn within the first week, so it can be tempting to just work on filling the top, but you’ll only make these issues worse if you don’t address the leaks in your bucket.

Q: Once you have your goals, what metrics do you use to measure success?

At the most basic, you’ll want to track metrics related to:

  • Acquisition
    • # Downloads
    • Downloads by source, channel, or tactic
  • Engagement and Retention
    • # Active users
    • # New users
    • # Engaged users (those who completed key actions/goals)
  • Monetization/Conversion
    • $ Total in-app revenue
    • # Transactions/conversions
    • # Users who transacted/converted
    • ARPPU (average revenue per paying user)
    • ATPPU (average transactions per paying user)
    • % of All Users who transacted/converted
    • Note: Many industries and app-centric businesses focus on ARPU (average revenue per user) and ATPU (average transactions per user) to measure ROI and overall app performance across all app users. Since I work primarily with retailers and restaurant chains, focusing on ARPPU lets me compare monetized app users with the broader in-store customer base. If this isn’t your concern, use ARPU and ATPU.
  • Experience/Performance
    • App ratings
    • App reviews
    • Bugs
    • Crashes

Q: Onto the tools. Please share which tools you think are best (and why, of course!) for customer acquisition and customer engagement.

Customer acquisition

Measure downloads and figure out when (and from where) they’re coming. You’ll get some of this from iTunes Connect and Google Developer Console, but the best and easiest tool is AppAnnie.

Tracked links to know exactly which placements are driving traffic and downloads, you can create custom links in iTunes Connect or Google Developer Console, or use a platform like TUNE.

Bad reviews and low app ratings impact acquisition because prospective customers are often turned off by them. Make sure your app’s reputation is top-notch by using Apptentive.

Customer engagement

For user behavior analytics, Amplitude, MixPanel, and even Google Analytics will do the trick.

To keep customers engaged, you’ll need to put a thoughtful marketing content plan in place, through in-app messaging, overlays, and push notifications. Urban Airship is an industry leader with great user segmentation capabilities, and Leanplum is a growing platform that can drive engagement across multiple channels, including email.

Apps with eCommerce capabilities and menus or inventory will want deep-linking capabilities. Though you can have your developers build this themselves, you could also simply use the best in the industry, Branch.

Q: How do you get buy-in from your boss to invest in app marketing tools?

Don’t go at it alone. Build a joint recommendation with your development team and prioritize your requests. Also, lean on your favored vendors to share business cases, ROI calculations, and crawl > walk > run scenarios to help you build a solid recommendation and roadmap.

Q: Any additional resources you’d recommend?

For more info on these tools, I invite you to check out my quick guide to essential app marketing tools.