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Facebook User Acquisition Tips: Getting Your App’s Best Users

App Annie

When we talk to mobile app advertisers, we usually hear one of their biggest challenges isn’t just getting their ad seen, but getting it seen by the right people at the right time. Luckily for us, ad-targeting sophistication has evolved considerably over the past few years. When it comes to Facebook, the depth of user profile information can help you aim ads at your ideal user like a trained sniper, but without the years of field training.

Sure, you could just target based on gender and location and get your app in front of hundreds of millions of eyeballs. You could use your gut to pick a few apps and pray the relation has an impact on your conversion rate. What if there was a more scientific way?

We think there is. Below we explain how to define your app’s ‘best’ user, how to get to know them, and then some campaign execution tips for Facebook.

Your App's Best User
(Image Credit: Startup Stock Photos)

So, Who’s My ‘Best’ User?

Before we get started, we need to take a step back and identify just who we’re idealizing. Who is the person we think, upon downloading our app, will go running to their friends demanding they download it or give it a spot on their device’s first page?

Here are some ‘best user’ definitions. It can vary by app type, lifecycle stage, campaign goal and other parameters, so you’ll need to think what fits for your app:

  • An Installer – When you’re testing out new creative or ad strategies in general, your best user is probably one that just decides to click “Install.” It at least proves you’re on the right track from a creative perspective.
  • An Engager – This user, upon interacting with your ad, did some kind of engagement activity, whether it’s opening your app once, registering an account, or pressing a button. These are users you’d aim for early on when you’re testing to see if the user experience is good or in-app call-to-actions work.
  • A Re-Engager – This user did whatever the Engager did, but then proceeded to do it again. Maybe they uploaded another image, streamed another video, or ordered food for the second time. These are users you’re looking for once you’ve established your ad campaign works, but want to hone in on your app’s core concept and “stickiness.”

Researching Your ‘Best’ User (AKA, Googling Your Crush)

Yes, demographical data is nice. You can say your ideal user’s a guy aged 18-34 that makes $40,000 or more and resides in western United States. However, half your workplace probably falls into this category. Do you think they honestly all like the same things?

The more you know about your user base (their interests, psychography, life stage, lifestyle, etc.), the better you’ll be able to focus your ads, meaning you’ll be reaching the people you want with an efficiency that less-savvy competitors can’t match. Focused ads mean less spending, higher conversions, and possibly even higher engagement. If you’re new to this, here’s how to start looking into your users:

Updating the Traditional Approach

Market research is still big for a reason. The first step to finding out more about your user is researching them and painting a clear picture. With Facebook, we have a few more elements we can target against. Get specific on the following:

  • Demographics – Gender, age, income, and other standard characteristics.
  • Region – Target as broadly as a country, or as precisely as a city.
  • Interests – One of Facebook’s key benefits — since so many interests, apps and events exist on its platform — is the ability to target based on what people like. Dig into things your user would be prone to engage with and leverage that to improve your ad targeting. (Sidenote: Audience Intelligence can tell you related apps, allowing you to find apps similar to yours and target against those apps’ pages).

You can dig into a lot more, so we suggest looking at Facebook’s Ad Targeting Details subpage to get the full list.

Getting Into Their Head

Think about the things they’d be weighing when deciding if your app is worth space on their phone. Set yourself apart by highlighting features they like or dislike about apps similar to yours, or aligning your marketing message with their interests. The options are endless, so just put yourself in their shoes as much as you can.

Once you know what your user cares about (either in a good or bad way), craft your app’s unique selling point (USP) and brand message around it. Hit Facebook with these messages in your copy, imagery and targeting criteria.

Get Scientific

Once you’ve collected a shortlist of possible campaign materials, test them vigorously. Monitor your installs, CTR, and CVR per campaign and per ad. This way you can create new campaigns with only the strongest creative and message. Find your most effective campaign in the data and put your budget towards that.

More Ways to Find Best Users

Lookalike Audiences

You can leverage Custom Audiences on Facebook to target similar – but otherwise hidden – users with its Lookalike Audience feature. This will be easier if you already have email lists of users interested in your app. You can upload these emails and let Facebook match the profiles for you.

Here’s how to set one up to find your best future users:

  • Build a Custom Audience profile using your top 25% of users.
  • Watch as the installs roll in as you target new users who are very similar to some of your best users.

Facebook Lookalike Audiences
(Image Credit: Facebook)

Target Smarter

So, who do you want viewing your ad? Facebook offers some targeting options that can help you hit audiences with a high degree of granularity:

  • Target ads only at users connected to your app’s (or company’s) Facebook page. Maybe you want to re-engage with past users and show them new and exciting features, or maybe you’re trying to build brand recognition. Either way, getting the right person to view your ad at the right time is the best cost-saving method no matter the marketing strategy.
  • Target people who like your page, plus their friends. If you’re a sports lover, there’s a good chance your friends are too. Leverage similarities to plug the gaps while still attracting good users to your app.
  • Exclude users who have previously engaged with your page. Save marketing budget by only delivering your ad to new unique users.
  • Focus on new device owners. People upgrade phones, switch OSes and receive phones as gifts all the time. Capitalize on users that need apps on their phone – they’re hungry for apps.

Optimize Your Designs

This might come as a surprise, but through our own testing in App Annie we’ve found 80% of users decide to download an app based on the creative alone. Images and copy are powerful tools in your toolbox. Here’s your instruction manual:

  • Make sure there’s a clear message in whichever images and copy you choose. This filters out users you don’t want. For example, someone who exclusively likes 5-star hotels isn’t likely to respond to a motel ad.
  • Avoid posting clickbait or ‘exciting’ creative that has no relevance to your product. You might get more clicks, but that doesn’t mean more installs. Your goal is to drive conversions. (High CTR is ideal for promotional landing pages, but if you’re looking for quality app installs, a strong conversion rate (CVR) and lower cost-per-install (CPI) should be your primary goal.)
  • Use three to four creative variations per ad set for optimal campaign optimization. Facebook makes it easy to A/B test campaigns, so take advantage of it.

Tying It Together

So you’ve defined your ‘best’ user, looked into them more than you did for your last crush, and obtained key tools (and best practices) to find them. Now it’s time to get those users. The sooner you start, the sooner you can test. The sooner you test, the sooner you see results. And those results are the foundation for many campaigns to come. Good luck out there.

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April 15, 2015

Market Data
Mobile App User Acquisition

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