When building user acquisition (UA) and product launch campaigns for mobile games and apps, there are numerous processes, such App Store Optimization (ASO), that developers need to incorporate into their strategy in order to be successful. Here are some important questions to ask yourself:
- Am I maximizing my ability to drive valuable users to my app?
- What can I do to ensure I’m showcasing my most optimized product?
We recently sat down with longtime gaming executive Mike DeLaet, Founder and CEO of mobile game publisher DOD Media Group, to answer these essential questions. With over 18 years of experience, including SVP roles at global mobile game publishers Kabam and Glu Mobile, DeLaet shares his advice on how developers can effectively optimize their UA and launch strategies to scale and grow their businesses.
1) From an acquisition standpoint, what are the major elements of a successful launch?
One of the most important aspects, besides having a great, fun game or strong mobile app with good retention and monetization, is getting the App Store Optimization (ASO) correct. Good app icons, screenshot gallery, description text, etcetera, will impact your click-to-download (CTD) for both paid and organic traffic once you launch. This can literally save you millions of dollars in the long run on your paid UA campaigns if you get this right from the start.
Additionally, what you think is appealing isn’t necessarily what other people, namely potential users, find appealing. This is why I think pre-launch testing is another major element of a successful launch. With effective pre-launch, you’re able to identify what elements to highlight on your app store beyond creatives. You’re able to identify the key messages and ideas you should convey, as well as understand what aspects of your game/app visitors most strongly respond to. These particular insights can shift marketing strategies, ASO strategies, and even the game or app development.
Prior to launch, the ability to evaluate your CVR or marketing asset performance by audience segment is also a huge advantage. You can separate your audience by demographics—gender, age, geography, etcetera. Men and women behave differently on the app store, and even varying age segments display distinct behaviors. For example, people over the age of 18 earn you more money in the long-term, but this audience group may not be as large as another segment. This makes it essential to identify who your most valuable users are and how you can effectively optimize for their individual values, interests, and behaviors.
2) Facebook and Google attempt to level the playing field by making advanced targeting technology available to everyone. What are ways companies can differentiate themselves?
Since Google’s Universal App Campaigns pulls creatives for ads directly from the Google Play Store Page, the best way to differentiate yourself is to constantly optimize your store assets. It’s important to keep up with current trends, popular art styles by country, great preview videos/video ads, etcetera. Good creative assets will go a long way in making your game or mobile app successful.
In addition to focusing on current trends and optimizing your creative assets, it’s important to understand the industry itself—what your target users are looking for, what they value, how you compare to other companies in your industry, industry best practices, etcetera.
Beyond that, you also need to understand your visitors and how they’re currently interacting with your store so you can identify areas of weakness and opportunity. The more you know and understand your visitors, the more you can optimizing accordingly and distinguish your game or app from other competitors.
3) How do you help your clients grow their business beyond the traditional paid UA campaigns or organic downloads?
We help our clients with ASO, SEO, platform relationships, product feedback (UX, UI, monetization, retention, etcetera) and can even help license IP, among other things.
4) What are some UA challenges facing app marketers and developers today?
The biggest challenge I see is the ability to do both creative asset optimization and campaign optimization in real-time, in a self-service dashboard. There are still quite a few ad networks that simply require you to email a campaign manager to make manual changes, which is frankly too slow for today’s UA environment. We are working closely with TapHeaven to help with this by using their AI and machine learning to optimize these campaigns for UA managers and ultimately improve ROI while reducing fraud.
5) How does localization play a role in user acquisition or launching new products in different markets? What tools do you use for localization?
Localization is extremely important for any game or mobile app to be successful on a global basis. The best solution is to leverage native speakers of the local language to do the translations so that they consider the proper context and meaning to ensure nothing is lost in translation.
Once you’ve localized for a specific language, it’s important to take it one step further. Culturalization, or adapting your app store to the specific values and cultural differences of varying regions, is imperative if you want to reach and be successful with global audiences. Each region has its own competitors within your industry and user preferences that differ to what you’re familiar with in the United States.
You need to understand these local markets—what’s different about this user base, what are these users’ unique interests and behaviors, how do the app stores of your competitors in this region look, what messaging do they use, etcetera.
One of the most helpful tools for doing app competitor research across different localizations is the ASO Tool Box Chrome extension, which lets you preview the creatives of app stores in any country and language, from your computer. Many successful apps don’t use the same creatives or messaging in the U.S. app stores as they do in other global regions for obvious reasons—what works in one country doesn’t always work in another country. Learning what established players are doing across geos, will help you differentiate your app globally.
6) What role does competitive research play in launching a new product or creating a UA strategy? What tools do you use for competitive research?
Competitive research is extremely important. It helps you identify gaps in the market and know what types of apps are doing well versus others. It can also play a role in your UA strategy as it helps identify what your competitors are doing. Then you can dig in to see if their UA strategy is actually helping the performance of the app or not. As we all know, any competitive advantage you can get over someone else is always a win.
A key aspect of competitive research is monitoring conversion rate and visitor behavior by industry. It’s important to constantly track these industry benchmarks to know how you compare to top performing apps in your category and to identify whether you’re falling behind and need to alter your ASO or marketing strategies. It’s also crucial to understand best practices within your specific industry (e.g., games, travel, news, entertainment, dating, e-commerce) so you know which concepts, creatives, and messaging strategies work within your category.
App Annie and Sensor Tower are great for understanding who the leaders are in different categories, Storemaven helps with identifying industry best practices, and the ASO Tool Box is useful for researching app store marketing assets.
7) What products do you recommend your clients use as part of their growth stack?
The two products we’ve seen make the biggest impact for our partners are StoreMaven and TapHeaven. Both of these will help you scale your business and achieve amazing results. Again, StoreMaven is essential for optimizing your creative assets, which leads to higher conversion rates and lower costs per installs, while TapHeaven helps automate the UA process with live campaign monitoring and fraud detection.
If you would like to learn more about how DOD Media Group can help you with your game publishing needs, please contact us at [email protected] to discuss more. To start optimizing creative assets as part of your UA or launch strategy, feel free to reach out to [email protected].