A Holistic Multi-channel Approach for Mobile User Acquisition

By Annica Lin | July 20, 2020

Annica was first featured as a Mobile Hero in 2017. At the time, she was focused on lowering CACs as a Senior Acquisition Manager at Stash. She later moved to PolicyGenius as Associate Director, growing paid acquisition. Throughout the years, Annica learned the in and outs of engagement and retention to improve customer LTV. Annica is now Director of Performance Marketing and CRM at Thimble, a leading on-demand insurance service provider.

Learn more about Annica on her Mobile Hero profile.

Take the words from someone who has been working in the field of user acquisition for several years, I recognize UA platforms in the blink of an eye, from prospecting, remarketing, networks, programmatic, to affiliates. I regularly read channel performance index reports from major mobile measurement partners (MMPs) to see if I can identify some new channels to test. As a mobile UA manager, I actively test creatives and messages to ensure that I bring the best practices to user acquisition. At the end of the day, I often ask myself, “Is that all I can do? There must be something else that I can do to improve performance.” Here’s how.

Start thinking holistically about user experience, not just user acquisition

Customers are not spending their time on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or Youtube all day. They are real humans who check their text messages, push notifications, and regularly look at emails. While many companies have engagement and customer relationship management (CRM) teams that work separately on these nuances, we ought to work more closely to reach customers with a 360 approach. Mobile UA marketers should be incorporating SMS, push notifications, and emails as our extended arms to grab (and convert) more customers.

How or where to start? And what?

Almost every mobile app company acquires installs that do not result in the user taking the desired action (purchase, registration, or starting a trial), even if the users are exposed to a ton of remarketing ads. So, I suggest starting from these types of installs. The goal should be “taking the mobile install to the next step,” whether it is to collect an email address, mobile phone number, or to successfully complete an account sign up.

The first step in achieving the desired action from users is an install engagement flow. Work with your engagement team to initiate this, it could look something like 3-4 sequential push notifications designed to be delivered within 7 days. These push notifications can collect phone numbers or email addresses that ultimately enable mobile app marketers to generate more post-install conversions—like driving installing users into paying customers.

Make emails fun to read (please!)

More often than not, ad copy is limited by character counts, and app store descriptions rarely cover all of a product’s features and benefits. Utilize email to communicate product features and benefits. For many people, reading emails is the first thing they do at the start of the day and email engagement could be very effective if done right. Users love to read fun and creative copy, so make sure those UA engagement emails are fun and get to the point within a 5-minute read. At Thimble, we try to keep it under 1 minute!

Track conversions from engagement campaigns

Thimble’s MMP provider has a deep-linking product known as OneLink that provides unique attribution links, allowing us to see important features with a single click. I always set up individual media sources with a unique OneLink and create different campaign names under each OneLink. The product solution enables me to use a specific OneLink for the SMS or email campaigns I run with a CTA. It is also a great tool for mobile app deep-linking to push notification engagement too. And with everything set up properly through our MMP provider, it is easy to see all overarching in-app actions for each engagement channel and campaign. 

Think long term—the compounding improvements will pay off

It will take some time for user acquisition professionals to get the engagement flows established and the results may not come immediately. But remember: this process is created for the long term. As you build the infrastructure of your acquisition and retention strategies, you can start to make micro improvements from conversion and create real compounding growth.