How do you launch an app in a country you’ve never set foot in? There’s a flurry of questions to answer at the outset—which parts of your mobile ad campaign do you localize for a given market? How do you optimize for the App Store? What benchmarks can you expect for a given market?
We recently spoke with Grégoire Mercier, the CEO of ROI-focused mobile agency Addict Mobile to discuss how to launch apps in Western countries. With extensive experience in mobile marketing, Mercier’s advice is especially for app developers located in Asia who are looking towards breaking into Europe or North America. We’ve broken down his advice on how to launch an app into a four-part plan for you below.
1.Before you think about user acquisition: Lay the groundwork
You have a very limited window of time for a big user acquisition push if you want to climb the App Store rankings - but according to Mercier, there are three things you must prepare ahead of time in order to capitalize on that burst:
Integrate a mobile app-tracking SDK
“You must absolutely integrate a mobile app tracking SDK” - Of course, it’s important to track where downloads come from. But the key here is to get set up to track what happens inside the app, post install, per traffic source —including in-app events. A tracking tool like Adjust is able to track key sources like Facebook or Google, Mercier points out, “and you must track everything happening inside your app that is relevant at key points inside your app and inside the lifecycle of the user”, including in-app events that happen during the acquisition phase as well as mid- and end-lifecycle points (for example, different levels in a game, the first in-app purchase, the renewal of a subscription or the referral of a friend).
The key to your app launch marketing strategy? Soft launches
“To make sure the app is of a good quality, we organize soft launches” — if you’re planning to launch in an English-speaking country, it pays to assess the potential of your app before you go big. The key here is to realize that it isn’t necessary to soft launch in another English-speaking country in order to test your app (if you’re unfamiliar with the term, check out our soft launch guide.
While you can focus on Canada, Australia, or New Zealand if you want to see how your app performs in an English-speaking country, you can also target other countries. For example, Addict Mobile recommends targeting Nordic countries in Europe - in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands. People in these countries are used to speaking English, Mercier told us, “and these guys also have a more European way of life and European tastes, and it allows you to test both English speaking countries, Anglo-Saxon countries and European countries. If it’s easier for you, can also target Asian countries like Hong Kong and Taiwan - and why not the Philippines?”
Make your App Store page attractive
“If your App Store page is not attractive, the users won’t download it” — Mercier ran us through the key points of what facets of your App Store page must be optimized pre-launch. The title, for starters, must be very clear, with simple keywords that describe exactly what your app is. Your description must also be localized and efficient, and contain the most relevant keywords for your vertical. Your screenshots must be clean, clear, and give users a complete understanding of what your app is.
If you’re not convinced that tiny tweaks to your App Store page can make a big difference, Addict Mobile provided us with this example to show just how much impact a few small changes can have. By optimizing their App Store screenshots, their client — car-sharing company CityGo — increased their commission rates by nearly twenty percent.
How did they do it? Here are Mercier’s top tips: “First, you are allowed to put up to five screenshots, so please do it! Don't put two, three, or four — put five. Your screenshots are not forced to be real in-app or in-game screenshots. You can mix artwork, fake screenshots, and real in-game screenshots. If you choose to put in some text - which is a good idea - put in short text, just two or three words, four words maximum, and localize it in every country. You can even do some A/B tests, especially on Google Play. You can put in different screenshots, different descriptions, and different keywords - and A/B test the variance.”
2. Be strategic with your creative
One of the most important things to keep in mind when launching in western countries is Western expectations and habits on mobile. Mercier’s first point is to remember that there are many different screen sizes, and western users often express a preference for simple yet flashy banners: “in Europe and in the US, users need to have very clean and clear banners with few elements on them, so make It simple. The second point is to make it flashy with some colors so that people see the advertising and can focus on it. Don’t forget to add in some text — but very short text. Once again, two to three words, not too much”.
There’s also no reason you shouldn’t A/B test small parts of your banners as part of your app launch marketing strategy. In this example, e-commerce retailer Vente-privee found that their clickthrough rate rose from an average between 0.6 percent and 1.1 percent up to 1.4 percent just by featuring a different shoe in their creative.
3. Launching your app: Maximize organic uplift
Once you’ve optimized, produced efficient creatives and implemented a tracking tool, you’re ready for app launch. Focusing on and optimizing organic user acquisition is essential to any UA strategy, as they tend to be more valuable than paid users, which helps improve ROI and boost engagement. Mercier explained to listeners of the webinar that the higher you rank in the App Store, the more organic downloads you’ll get - within the first few days of your launch, your goal is to get as high as possible in order to maximize your download volume. During your burst campaign, you’ll have to think about where to buy installs — Addict Mobile buys from a wide range of publishers in order to capitalize on the first early big push — over more than 500. Why? Mercier explained:
“You can expect additional organic installs because you’re higher in the ranking. For example, you can expect between thirty-plus and plus-100 percent downloads on the day of the user acquisition. And about a week after this big push, if you stop doing user acquisition, your app will still be visible in the app store, but you start decreasing in the rankings per day and will generate less and less organic installs…Of course, if your app is successful, you don’t do user acquisition only at the very beginning. You’ll try to sustain it - your marketing force - every day you’ll keep buying some installs and you will expect additional organic installs every day.”
How can you calculate this organic uplift? Here’s a quick way to do it: If you don’t buy installs, let’s say you get 30 in a single day in one country. Let’s also say that you were buying installs, and you bought 200, your amount of organic installs increases to 70 per day, up from 30. Let’s say that if you buy 500 installs, you get 200 organic installs. From there you can do the calculation to estimate the percentage of additional organic installs you’ll get, all thanks to your paid UA campaigns. In this case, if you buy two hundred installs, your organic uplift is twenty percent (seventy organic installs minus the thirty you would have had if you didn’t buy any at all, divided by the number of paid installs); if you buy five hundred, it increases to thirty-five percent.
The sources you buy from should depend on where you’re launching. Pinterest recently launched the capability to do paid user acquisition, alongside ad networks, affiliates, social media and more. But you have to know your market. For example, Mercier told us, “In Germany, YouTube is more popular on average than in other countries. Same example for Italy or Spain — Twitter is very popular there, whereas in France it’s not that popular. In Russia, Facebook barely exists or is very small, so you focus on VK” (Russia’s most popular social networking service). Performance can also differ by app. Addict Mobile found that while one customer found better CPIs on Twitter and Adwords, another had better results with Facebook.
4. Post launch: Assessing your performance
Here’s Mercier’s rule for assessing your performance post app launch: “Basically, the main rule for user acquisition is to go into the granularity of the performance — per country, per application, per source, but also on sub-sources based on demography, interests, per creative, and so on”.
What does that look like? Mercier showed us the performance of a quiz game that Addict Mobile worked on — maybe it appears that if you look at the overall performance, it appears that the game is not profitable. However, if you dig into the different sources, you’ll see another story.
Users from ages 18-34 had a fairly low CPI, which at first looked good. However, they noticed that these same users had the lowest ARPU (average revenue per user) than all other age categories. In fact, ARPU for users aged 35-44 was more than double what it was for younger users, with a CPI that was only slightly higher, making them a very profitable group to focus on.
Finally, Mercier showed us some example media campaigns and gave us even more pricing estimates for user acquisition campaigns during the question and answer portion of the webinar. If you’d like to hear more about what a burst campaign might cost over a few days, weeks, or months, Mercier’s insights are invaluable here. Catch the full webinar here, and happy launching! To learn all about user acquisition, user retention and more of the ins and outs of app marketing, check out our range of complimentary ebooks.