app recommendationRecently I got back from ad:tech in San Francisco where I spent the day with one of my clients, youAPPi, in their booth. If you’re not familiar with ad:tech, it’s a technology and advertising conference and exhibition, with 10 annual events happening throughout the world. And for those of you unfamiliar with youAPPi, they’re a premier mobile application marketing company based in Israel.

I decided to head out and spend the day with them to better understand the intricacies of their business. As we spoke with the hundreds of folks coming by the booth, I noticed a common question they had about growing app installs: “How do you balance scale and quality?” I was shocked that this was such a common questions, mostly because these people are “marketers” and their job is to grow the user base of the app.

The more I thought about it, I believe the problem lies in their marketing strategy. As we chatted with these marketers, I learned that their only strategy was setting up app recommendation campaigns on Facebook and letting it rip. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, stop reading, pick up your phone, open your Facebook app and within a few flicks of your home screen, you’ll probably see a nice widget listing apps you’d enjoy using.

The problem these marketers faced was, they didn’t quite understand the nature of the app recommendation beast and they went really broad in their targeting. By doing this, they acquired users like crazy, but at the end of the day, these users weren’t engaged.

After that massive fail, they setup an extremely narrow campaign in hopes to acquire the right users and it was extremely successful to a degree… however, they couldn’t acquire enough of their ideal users to generate a return on their investment.

For these unfortunate marketers their problem was twofold. First, they didn’t take the time necessary to identify their ideal users, and second, they didn’t find the right platform(s) or network(s) to acquire the right users at scale.

Let’s first look into their problem with user identification. In order to find your ideal users you must know what a persona is and how to build one. A persona is an in-depth profile of your potential users containing characteristics and behavior patterns of those users. These profiles help marketers better visualize and understand the needs of their audience so they can create a campaign geared toward those needs.

Building a persona requires researching and gathering a substantial amount of statistical data. The best research method is interviewing your real users because it’s best to go right to the source. Other ways to gather data to build a persona are surveying your existing audience, researching your competitors, recruiting additional research participants to survey and analyzing your analytics.

Lastly, I think it’s also important to note that it would be advantageous to create multiple personas, if you feel you have several audiences.

Now that we know about building personas, let’s discuss how to counter their second problem with user acquisition strategies. One strategy uses targeted Facebook ads. Facebook offers various ads for apps depending on what your marketing campaign objectives are. Most mobile app ads help drive engagement and conversion to your app by taking your users to a personalized location inside your app. Each ad uses a call to action that you choose based on what actions you want your users to take and what actions fit the functionality of your app, like “Use App”, “Play Game”, “Watch Video”, etc.

Another awesome user acquisition strategy is tap into the different app recommendation networks. These networks operate very similar to affiliate networks, where their publishers recommend a set of mobile apps (hopefully yours is one of them) to their readers or users.

The reason why these networks can help you get distribution is because they are not limited to one site… like Facebook. You can push your app via thousands of sites and reach millions of targeted users. How fantastic is that?

In order to not be biased to my client, here is a list of five companies to help you better market your mobile applications through app recommendation strategies:

  1. youAPPi
  2. AppTap
  3. InMobi
  4. mMedia
  5. Flurry

Want to know what else is great about growing your installs through app recommendation services? Increased download volume is a ranking factor for the mobile app stores. Everyone who has a mobile application wants it to rank higher in the App Store, and by following these strategies above it’s possible. They help you gain more users, get and keep those users engaged, and then they rate your app high, all helping improve your rankings in the different App Stores!

In closing, if you want to be the marketing all star in your organization and want to grow the number of quality installs of your mobile app, you need a better way of approaching it. If you have any questions about app marketing, let me know in the comments or connect with me on Twitter.

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