App marketers gain higher-value users via subcategories

July 16, 2013

Apple App Store boasts
more than 50 billion app

As the application market continues to grow, marketers are increasingly looking to rank well in smaller subcategories as a way to stand out in app stores.

New ad formats such as video and focusing on finding a lifetime value for app users are increasingly important for marketers. Marketers should also start gearing up for expected changes with Apple’s iOS 7.

“As the App Store gets more crowded, success within a category or subcategory is becoming more important,” said Craig Palli, chief strategy officer of Fiksu, Boston.

“Subcategories tend to produce higher-value users than overall listings, and it’s more affordable to generate the paid downloads needed to climb up the ranks of a subcategory than a major category or the top 25 overall,” he said.

Mobile rankings
Both Apple and Google claim to have roughly 900,000 apps in the App Store and Google Play, making it more challenging for brands to make a dent in app stores when launching an app nowadays.

Driving downloads

Focusing on subcategories or categories helps marketers get in front of consumers who have shown an interest in one particular category and therefore might be more willing to download a mobile app.

Additionally, subcategories make it easier for marketers to tailor their app marketing initiatives because there is a smaller, more targeted goal.

Marketers looking to get the most bang for their buck should not only look at how to stand out in subcategories, but should also understand how to focus their App Store marketing around downloads, ratings and rank.

Google Play

Using these three guidelines can help brands improve organic app store downloads, which can be more valuable than racking up downloads from paid marketing campaigns via real-time bidding, ad networks or social media, per Mr. Palli.

Similarly, the ideal app store ranking is not necessarily the highest ranking. Instead, it is one that returns the optimal ratio of organic downloads to marketing dollars spent to maintain a specific rank.

The upcoming changes from Apple include tracking additional user behavior encompassing app launches with the newest edition of its operating system. This will impact how consumers discover new apps.

In particular, it has the possibility of shaking up the top-of-the-charts apps.

Keeping it fresh
New findings from Appnation last week revealed that consumers value another consumer’s opinion more than a brand’s marketing efforts when it comes to picking an app from the app store.

For example, reviews and download rank were rated as more important in driving an app download than seeing an app in the new and noteworthy section.

Even further down the list of download triggers are screenshots and videos that explain an app.

Therefore, marketers should leverage in-app messaging and social media to drive consumers to app stores to trigger ratings.

“App publishers need to leverage data they have about end-user behavior to understand who is most likely to give them a high rating and then message them to encourage them to visit the App Store and leave a rating,” said Raj Aggarwal, CEO of Localytics, Boston.

Another way that brands can leverage the app store is by frequently rolling out both major and small app updates.

For example, Rovio continuously rolls out new versions of its Angry Birds franchise games, which keeps the company at the top of the App Store.

However, marketers also need to focus on creating more sustainable marketing strategies via the App Store versus solely focusing on amassing app downloads.

“Marketers need to spend a proportionate amount of their time and effort not only on acquisition, but also on engaging existing users to drive customer happiness and, therefore, higher app ratings, which will ultimately drive stronger organic acquisition,” Mr. Aggarwal said.

Gaining scale
According to Todd Fitzgerald, vice president of sales at San Francisco-based <ahref=””>Flurry, Gilt, and Bank of America are all examples of brands that have leveraged the app stores successfully for downloads.

This is because the companies have focused on scaling up their efforts to drive big numbers of app downloads but are also targeting their efforts to particular groups of consumers that are likely interested in the apps.

Similarly, being able to track and attribute downloads is important for brands to understand the lifetime value of their app users.

One of the newer ways that brands are doing is this is through in-app video ads that give consumers a sneak peek on what to expect when they download an app.

“One of the products that has rapid growth is video,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.

“The ability to show a consumer a video of your app typically delivers a much more qualified user than a standard banner creative or a text line,” he said.

By Lauren Johnson


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