Mobile ad spending in the UK alone is set to hit £7 billion this year, reaching more than a third (36.6%) of UK media ad investment, according to eMarketer’s latest UK ad spending forecast. The number of apps available also continues to rise, hitting well over 2 million in the Apple store in January. If you’re launching an App or trying to promote an App, it can be both a daunting and confusing task in such a competitive space. 

I have discussed top seven latest things to consider and do to boost your app installs in a cost-effective way, in less than a day.

1. CPI range

Define your cost per install (CPI) range – do the math and you’ll never get caught out. Ask yourself, what is the top amount you could pay in advertising for one user to install your app? What would be your ideal amount? This will differ depending on your sector and how you plan to monetise your app. 

Some useful questions to ask yourself would be:

  • What is the average price per purchase?
  • On average, how many purchases are made by each unique customer?
  • What is the profit margin I can work with?

Having a target CPI to work towards will make it easier to create ads and work with partners. To give you a benchmark, some common CPI targets Digital Willow work with range from about £3 – £10 for a smaller purchase item.  

Getting the lowest cost per install may not always be the best lifetime customer, however, it is a good starting point.

2. Apple Search

Create an Apple Search campaign – launched just two months ago in UK, Australia & New Zealand. This new format is a huge opportunity to push your app to the top of the Apple Apps store. The advertising interface, true to brand values, is simple, clean and easy to use. It is like the Google Universal App campaign (more on this later on), but with fewer features. You can create ‘keywords’ to associate with, and ‘negative keywords’ to avoid. There is also the flexibility to show your App ad on iPhone and/or iPad. Like most of our suggestions, you can schedule ads on days or times that are more important to you.

Tip: Start using this ad format now while the product adoption is still low, and the cost per install (CPI) is still competitive.

3. Google Universal App campaign

Create a Google Universal App campaign for superfast results to prove ROI from the get-go. In a hurry to see results? This advertising format is likely to get it done, and fast. The only tricky factor is that you will need an Adwords account and an understanding of how to use it. You will then need to create a “Universal App campaign”. This type of campaign enables Adwords to promote your app across Google Search, Play, YouTube, as well as inside other applications and related websites. We’ve seen some of the cheapest cost per install figures at scale come from this format.

Tip: To improve your results, include some images.

4. YouTube ads

Create YouTube-promoted app install to harness the power of video to attract customers. What a mouthful of a name! This is just a YouTube ad format that encourages the viewer to download your app after your video content has been viewed. Again, you will need Adwords, but this time to create a video campaign.

Tip: YouTube has pre-programmed certain audiences already for you to select, such as Gamers, Foodies or Travel buffs to narrow in on an audience more likely to purchase your App.

5. Bing ads

In March 2017, Bing released an app install format very similar to Google’s Universal App campaign. With lower competition, now is the time to try Bing advertising. This format is currently only available in four countries: UK, Australia, USA and India. So far, we’ve seen a 15% saving on cost per installs this way, compared to Google.

6. Facebook/Instagram install

Set up a Facebook or Instagram app install ­– for better optimisation, do these separately. Since Facebook acquired Instagram, both these formats are conveniently accessible through a dashboard, the Facebook Business Manager. Both are worth a try, however, we recommend setting up your campaigns separately – one for Instagram, one for Facebook – as this will allow better optimisation down the road.

The targeting capabilities via Facebook Business Manager really make the platform extremely exciting and useful. There are countless ways you can cut and cross-section the 1.86 billion users (Quarter 4, 2016) and we suggest you test multiple audiences and different creative messages.

Tip: By selecting the option of “only showing your ad to those on Wi-Fi” you will increase the likelihood of users completing an installation of your app.

7. Twitter App Card

Twitter for business is your friend – according to the social media platform, 66% of users have discovered a small or medium-sized business there. This provides a further opportunity to reach an explorative app-using audience.

The Twitter App Card is an ad format that includes images, app ratings and a button which can link to app stores and encourage downloads.

Once you have experience with the cost of buying app downloads and reducing your CPI, it’s time to optimise your campaigns to a more important metric, deeper in the customer purchase journey. Using all the above advertising ideas I have mentioned, you can – with enough volume – optimise towards:

  • Customer more likely to buy items regularly in your app
  • Customers more likely to spend in your app
  • Lapsed customer who have downloaded the app, but not used it since

With all these formats, there is the option to be charged on a cost-per-install basis. However, beware, this may not always be the best method, even if intuitively it appears to be so.