Mobile Hero AJ Wang GCash - Blog

3 Fundamentals of Marketing Mobile Apps

By AJ Wang | August 17, 2020

AJ Wang manages app acquisition and performance optimization at Mynt, focusing on GCash, the leading mobile wallet platform in the Philippines. Passionate about the intersection of marketing, data, tech, and social good combined, AJ is building a career in the dynamic field of mobile marketing.

Learn more about AJ on his Mobile Hero profile.

I hadn’t heard of the term ad tech until I had to know almost everything about it.

And I had no idea what I was getting into, coming out of university with a degree only tangentially related to digital marketing. All I knew was that I wanted to be a part of something at the intersection of marketing, tech, and data. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that performance marketing and ad tech fit perfectly in that little niche. Imagine thousands of transactions happening on servers across the globe in real-time, all in order to pinpoint with surgical accuracy what ad a mobile user will see for a few seconds.

What I learned on my journey into mobile ad tech is that everything boils down to three things: marketing, tech, and data. Understanding how these pieces fit into each other is the key to making the ad tech space a lot less scary. 

1. Simplify: App marketing is just marketing

One of the most challenging things about app marketing is, ironically, how easy everything is. Setting up an app marketing campaign demands a few things: your mobile app, creatives, audiences, bids, and your money—less than ten clicks to set you up on the path to scale. After setting up a campaign, everything digests into neat acronyms and numbers that look too big or too small, which often leaves room for confusion. 

It is best to take a step back and break down the data into a strategic thought process. For example:

  • What do you want to market? I want people to use my mobile wallet for their digital payment needs.
  • Who do you want to talk to? Teens are more likely to use it, especially if they also like online shopping.
  • Where are you reaching them? On their phones, checking out e-commerce websites.
  • What do you want to tell them? Maybe I should tell them about the discounts that we have on our app!

Answering these four answers will give you a more complete picture of your marketing strategy: from the app to targeting to your communication plan. All it takes is a little translation for our machines to turn it into a performance campaign. But after you have started running the campaign for a while, the next question to answer is: How do I know I’m doing a good job?

Performance campaigns provide a suite of metrics like click-through rates (CTRs), cost-per-installs (CPIs), cost-per-action (CPA) and the like, each of which seems to be entirely different KPIs. However, at the core of it all, they speak the same language: efficiency. These metrics inform you of how well-optimized your campaign setup is, making it easy to compare to industry benchmarks. 

2. Scale: Let the power of technology accelerate your learnings

Now that we have a good idea of what we are doing and how we are faring, we need to learn how to improve: how do we turn efficient into optimal? Enter ad tech, one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. To understand how it works better, follow me on a quick thought experiment.

Let’s say that I want people to install my mobile wallet and use it to buy things from their phones. Walking around the city, I stumble upon ten people in a coffee shop whom I think could be interested, so I tell them how they can get discounts when they buy things through my mobile wallet. Unfortunately, only two of them download the app—and one of them doesn’t even bother buying anything! It looks like a pretty bad day for me. But beyond gaining only a sole user, I also acquired an insight: maybe there is something about this buyer that makes them more likely to purchase something. 

Assume that they are the only person in the group who is drinking their coffee black. It might be a wise choice for me to talk to more people who have black coffee to improve my chances of getting more people to use my app. The trouble is that I will have to crawl through more coffee shops to find ten more people—but lo and behold, of the ten that I do see, this time, three bought something! It sounds like an excellent strategy to me, so I begin to limit my marketing efforts to these types of people exclusively. 

Is there a strong connection between how you like your coffee and how much you like to shop? To prove a relation, I will have to do iterations repeatedly to arrive at a reliable insight. By the time I accomplish this, I will have uncovered too many duds and spent way too much time. 

Remember the thousands of transactions I mentioned earlier? The power of ad tech allows you to optimize your campaigns through machine learning algorithms, speeding up the trial-and-error process, and leading to better results quickly. Do you need to know what phrasing of your app’s value proposition works better, or what types of audiences are more likely to install and purchase something? Ad tech gives you the power to derive those insights effectively.

3. Strategize: Use data to direct tech and inform your marketing

After running through hundreds of permutations of your creatives, audiences, and more, you will have arrived at several things: robust metrics for a more efficient campaign, a level of scale, and a better understanding of your customers. We have been able to turn insights and strategies into scale through technology, and what we have in our hands now is data. What better way to close the loop than to use that data to derive more insights.

The beauty of performance marketing and the level of scale it enables brings efficiency and insights to your fingertips. With ad tech, we have access to growth accelerators and entire industries built around supporting precisely that. But in a world of optimized conversion rates and artificial intelligence-piloted campaigns, it becomes too easy to get caught up in intricacies and too complex to return to the foundations. 

It is at the intersection of marketing, tech, and data where you find ad tech and performance marketing. Success doesn’t come from algorithms alone but through testing and generating authentic and meaningful insights.