21 Lessons from 2021 Mobile Heroes

Mobile Heroes

James Haslam by James Haslam | December 13, 2021

2021 has been a challenging year. But our Mobile Heroes have been on hand to guide us through with valuable insights into every facet of mobile app marketing. With 2022 just around the corner, it’s time to round up the year with some top highlights from this year’s Mobile Heroes cohort. Discover 21 lessons from 2021! 

2021: A Year of New Challenges

Between the pandemic and iOS 14.5, marketers had plenty of new hurdles to overcome. Two marketers helped us navigate them by offering their valuable advice.

Establishing a New Baseline for Success

No case studies exist to help us through iOS 14.5 or how to effectively market during a pandemic. Instead, we need to lean into the research at hand, instincts from years of experience, and our trusted partners in the ad space. Take the practical learnings and weave them into playbooks as tried and true wins. Nadine Santana, Camelot Communications.

Find a Way to Overcome Data Scarcity 

How do you overcome the deterioration of ad platform optimization, resolve attribution problems caused by IDFA changes, and continue to acquire users efficiently and profitably? We started by retesting different types of ad campaigns outside the SKAD network with a series of marketing experiments with variables covering types of optimization, funnel approaches, and creative types. Our findings favored web conversion campaigns. Their main advantage was the ability to test and react to ineffective creatives quickly. Dariia Opanasiuk, Impulse.

Creative Testing Tips

Dariia wasn’t the only one with advice on creative testing—six other marketers had something to say on the matter, each with distinct perspectives on how to impact the most important lever in user acquisition.

Make Ad Creative Your Core Focus

Ask a mobile marketer what the most important part of their strategy is, and they’ll likely answer “creative.” With the right assets, marketers on a tight budget can compete with high rollers by reaching the same users at a more effective cost. But putting creatives at the heart of your mobile game strategy is no easy feat. Any sweeping changes to existing processes are bound to get pushback from artists, developers, and marketers—but the devil is in the data. Danika Wilkinson, Socialpoint.

Tips for Ad Creative Testing 

In an environment where measurement efforts have proved challenging, campaign successes come from having a clear and understandable process for testing and learning. To compare performance among different creatives, use the conversion rate between impressions to installs or impressions to in-app events. A helpful second KPI is the absolute number of events (installs, purchases) that each ad brings. Alessandra Miuccio, Glovo.

How to Balance Brand and Performance Marketing

Clear KPIs are instrumental in advertising, but brand marketing metrics must also be represented when evaluating an ad or a campaign’s performance. I tend to use a combination of direct and indirect metrics and weigh them according to the campaign objective, spend, and channel(s) used. Kyle Sausser, Acorns.

The Costs of Creative Testing

Being cost-efficient with creative testing enables you to test a higher number of creatives simultaneously and acquire more data points. This way, you can expect higher significance in a shorter period of time. Creatives with amazing IPMs are useless if users don’t engage with the game and have a high churn rate. Lídia Pérez, Socialpoint.

Rethink the UA Creative Process

Most creatives don’t perform. A few strong ones last for months and drive scale. The majority are underperformers that fatigue quickly or don’t generate enough volume to make an impact. As an app marketer, you need to build an approach to recognize high-quality creative concepts that meet Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS) targets and have scaling potential. Janice Gao, Big Fish Games.

Follow Your Hunches

The best UA Managers understand how to balance data analysis with their intuition. Generally speaking, your top creative performers are likely the top performers across all networks, but some adaptation might be necessary for niche ad formats. Intuition can go a long way, but it is more effective to build a campaign structure that can get you consistent insights without resorting to hunches unnecessarily. Make your campaign structure clean, lean, and organized. Lenette Yap, Inkitt Germany GmbH.

The Mobile Heroes Marketing Stack 

From pre-qualifying users to managing a remote team, our Mobile Heroes had insights into every step of the marketing journey that apply to everyone, from one-person teams to the largest user acquisition teams imaginable.

Why You Should Pre-Qualify

Pre-qualifying a user through your ad copy, creative, placement, or other levers will play a big role when granular targeting becomes less available in the future. We saw great value in pre-qualifying for user acquisition activities. Campaigns pre-qualifying users through ad copy alone offered 30% better CPPU than regular clicky ad copy (ad copy aimed at boosting click-through rates). We marginally increased the CPIs, which in the end provided an uplift of 40% for campaign ROAS. Alexey Gusev, Goodgame Studios.

Making Incentivized Ads Fair

Incentives can increase the possibility of bringing deal hunters. In our case, we had a referral program that brought low-quality users. Although we acquired a ton of new users, we were dissatisfied with the type of users we added. To improve, we now make new users take an action, such as making a purchase or providing a deposit, before they get a reward. In general, you can minimize risks by adding actions to optimize your incentive program. Constanza Alvarado Bernard, Albo.

Running UA and Engagement Together

Combining user acquisition and engagement might sound like an easy job, but the reality is more complex. Find a balance between UA and engagement: look into different bids, audience strategies across the board, and the visualization of your ads. Also, avoid comparing user acquisition and engagement campaigns. The goal of each campaign needs to be clear to optimize performance properly. Alexandra Blaisse and Victor Hernandez, Just Eat Takeaway.com.

5 Questions To Ask BI Vendors

There are many different business intelligence (BI) tools in the ecosystem you can choose from. Though, to be honest, none of them have it all. You should answer these questions before evaluating what is available:

  • What is your budget? 
  • Do you need access to real-time reporting? 
  • What is your team size (often required for several licenses)? 
  • What is your data visualization tool primarily used for – acquisition, activation, or retention? 
  • How many data analysts do you have, and what is your data volume?

Marta Fogel, 7Mind.

A Methodical Approach to Testing New Partners

As an app marketer, finding reliable media partners you can reach new users on is one of the biggest challenges. But with a diversified plan, you will diffuse marketing risk and set yourself up for future success. Preparation and research are key. Remember to ask questions and have transparent communication to help establish trust and a long-term partnership. Sally Chi, Chime.

Content Is King

Content alignment may seem obvious, but it requires a significant shift in how growth marketers are doing things. It calls for communication, collaboration, data collection and most importantly, making it accessible across teams. Sometimes, the most effective strategies are hiding in plain sight. Turner Kirk, Earnin.

The Power of Push

The standard benchmark for direct opens from push notifications is between two and three percent. Through careful targeting over the past few years, I have hit seven to ten percent. An excellent tactic to drive significant results is to call out further information in-app. Surprisingly, not many apps do this. Combining a push notification with an in-app message lets you provide additional information once the app is opened. This is easier than trying to cram excessive copy into the push notification. Iain Russell, Moneyhub.

Mastering Influencer Marketing 

Influencer marketing requires building a sophisticated process and overcoming the challenges of targeting and optimization. But if done correctly, there are two significant benefits of reaching new and current audiences with influencers:

  1. A new form of communication: An influencer will share your product directly to their audience with established personal connections.
  2. Extension of reach: A portion of your target audience is not affected by traditional UA targeting. For example, they use strict privacy protection frameworks on their devices and do not receive personalized ads.

Alexander Ruban, Product Madness.

Scale Campaigns in Global Markets

Check-in with your research team on local consumer sentiments toward your brand. Alternatively, search online for research papers and consumer surveys regarding your product category. Use these insights to craft your marketing messages. Messages should ideally be crafted or approved by someone who lives locally, is aware of current trends, and understands what appeals to local consumers. Zhi Wei Neo, Tinder.

Developing a Strong Brand

Knowing your audience is essential for developing anything: a brand, a marketing strategy, or a product. It goes beyond looking at the pool of users from competitors’ apps. There is research to be done using different platforms and methodologies. The more you can invest in this, the better. Melanie Zimmermann, Wooga.

Focusing on App Store Optimization

App store optimization (ASO) refers to using App Store-centric tactics to increase downloads without paying. It is the most important task I focus on on a bi-weekly or seasonal basis. The goal here is to have a well-optimized app store page that achieves high visibility and conversion rates, resulting in a larger number of downloads. The stakes are high: one winning icon or screenshot can uplift organic users up to 50%. Kate Duong, Amanotes.

Structuring Your Growth Marketing Team

Some teams are organized by games, channels, and platforms, and some combine all three. I can’t answer how to best structure your team since it depends on the organization, products, and budgets. We have a hybrid framework with a combination of game, network, and project owners. Depending on experience and expertise, each UA manager has a variety of responsibilities. We revisit this regularly (every six months or so) to ensure we are on the right track. It changes roughly every year, so be flexible—one size doesn’t fit all, and what works now won’t necessarily work in a year or two. Jason Conger, Wooga.

Tips to Managing Remotely

The pandemic has been a challenging time for many, but it’s been especially taxing for companies that did not already have a remote working culture. The lessons I learned from leading a UA team remotely—trust your team, limit unnecessary meetings, focus on transparent communication, rely on your leadership skills—have helped my career. I recommend leaders provide your team flexibility towards remote working. It can help improve your workflow and keep the motivation and happiness of team members high. Björn Videkull, PikPok.

That’s all our blog tips, but have you met the Heroes? Check out the Mobile Heroes site and find dozens of profiles featuring Mobile Heroes from all over the world. Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest updates as they happen.