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2 easy ways to use Google AdWords in your app marketing strategy

Simply developing a great mobile app for your customers is not enough to guarantee downloads or maintain user engagement. Beyond that initial app development project, you need to think considerably about the whole app lifecycle – everything from optimising your app store description, screens and keywords to make your app discovered, to the user onboarding plan, analytics and most importantly, your app digital marketing strategy. 

When it comes to marketing an app, content marketing, social media, email marketing and AdWords are just 4 essentials for mobile app digital marketing. AdWords can be used as a cost effective part of your app marketing mix and the great thing about Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is that the benefits, such as increased downloads, can be noticed immediately. So, let’s look at 2 easy ways to use Google AdWords in your app marketing strategy:


  1. AdWords campaigns to acquire new mobile app users
  2. AdWords campaigns to engage existing mobile app users


1: App Install Campaigns aka App Promotion Ads

Are you having difficulty acquiring app users? If so, don’t worry, the greatest thing about Google AdWords Mobile Advertising is that you can focus your campaign on getting more people to download your app, reach your target app users wherever they are, at any time of the day and on any device!

With a variety of advertising formats there’s no better way to promote your app to users who are already actively seeking your app or apps similar to yours. And, since app promotion ads let you add a direct link to the Google Play or Apple App Store, it’s so easy for potential users to download the app. It’s literally one click to download! It’s well worth remembering that more downloads could improve your app store ranking too…which will also result in more people installing your app.

Here’s where it gets really interesting…did you know you can target your app within other apps? You could create a mobile display campaign to target users who use an app similar to yours and this is a great way to increase your downloads. With recent stats proving that over 80% of mobile users’ time is spent in mobile apps, it’s well worth considering this targeting option within AdWords.

If you’re already using AdWords for your business, then why not use the Ad Extension facility to promote your app with a link just below your existing ad. There’s even a bonus to using this strategy – ad extensions are part of the ad rank calculation which means you could increase your quality score and generally improve all of your campaigns.

2: App Engagement campaigns aka App Engagement Ads

If your marketing strategy is working well and you’re convincing people to download your app, what should you do if you’re having problems engaging current app users? This problem is not uncommon with recent statistics saying that only 16% of people try an app more than twice.

Lots of marketers will tell you that the real marketing work starts after you’ve convinced someone to install your app and even the owners of the most amazing apps will still need to prod and encourage users to repeatedly use the app. It’s not much different to demand generation marketing and subsequent customer marketing.

Mobile app engagement campaigns in AdWords are just what you need if you’re trying to get people to open and try your app again. Driving users back into your app with deep linking is a sure way to bring your customers back to complete any activity they’ve already started! For example, if you’ve a shopping app you might want to remind people to purchase items they’ve abandoned in their basket. To do this, you just need to set up remarketing for your app, and create a targeted campaign. It can also work well if you want to recommend that certain app users try specific features. Ultimately if you want to increase how often people use your app then this type of campaign will do just that.

Onboarding – don’t forget about App experience after the ad!

Don’t forget that getting the right users to click on your ad, install your app or re-engage with your app is only the beginning. Make sure you think about the user experience of your app. 

Using Data to Optimise all AdWords campaigns

Finally, by using Adwords, you can test various campaign content but to be really great at mobile user acquisition and engagement you need to know your data. So make sure you take time to analyse your campaigns and use data-driven insights to decide on future ad content, targeting and segmentation. And, we don’t just stop at AdWords data, we’re pretty passionate about big data and analytics too.

So, start thinking about your app marketing strategy today. 

Do you have an app that you already promote using PPC? What have been your experiences? Or perhaps you don’t yet use AdWords, is it something you would consider? I’d love to hear your thoughts.



Comments: (3)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 19 April, 2016, 13:44Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

This post explains the theoretical capabilities of AdWords very well. Coming to real world use of AdWords:

  • AFAIK, AdWords links must point to the advertiser's website, which, in this case, is the app owner's website. AdWords does not permit links to point to third-party websites such as the app's page on Apple and Google app stores (which are owned by Apple and Google, not the app owner). I just did a quick Google search for a few shopping apps. I couldn't find a single app owner's ad pointing to app stores, with all of them uniformly pointing to the app landing pages on their own websites. That said, I'm happy to hear of examples of AdWords app owner ads that point to their app store pages, as you've implied is possible in "And, since app promotion ads let you add a direct link to the Google Play or Apple App Store..." 
  • Every app owner I've come across engages directly with its existing app users via PUSH / SMS notifications. Because it's feasible, better targeted, and much cheaper. I've also heard companies say they're prioritizing apps over web so that they can stop paying Google to engage with their own app users. That said, I'm happy to hear of examples of your second use case of app owners using AdWords to engage with their existing users.
A Finextra member
A Finextra member 19 April, 2016, 16:24Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Hi Ketharaman,

Thank you for reading and taking time to comment on the blog.

App Promotion ads do let you add a link directly to the Google Play or Apple App Store so that customers can download the app. To make sure they are reaching potential customers at the right place and time, with Search ads, Google only show app promotion ads on the mobile device from which the app can be installed. 

Yes, completely agree that push notificaitons are a great way to engage users with relevant content. However, I also think that Display network  or Search App engagement campaigns which allow you to show ads within other apps, specifically to people who already have installed your app are an efficient way to target users to return and take a specific action. 

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 19 April, 2016, 17:30Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Hi @CarolineMcClelland:

TY for your quick reply.

TBH, I didn't know about App Promotion Ads. Now that you've mentioned it, I clicked the hyperlink in your comment and clicked through to a few more pages. I couldn't figure out how to set up such a campaign in my AdWords Dashboard. Would be great if you can point me to the right place. TYIA.

While the app retargeting option may be technically available in AdWords, I personally doubt its effectiveness and ROI compared to more direct and customizable channels viz. PUSH. I'll take a couple of personal examples to explain why I think this way: 

  1. I installed this food delivery app. I opened the app. I could find and add sides to my shopping cart. I simply couldn't find Roti (Indian bread) anywhere! So I abandoned my shopping cart.
  2. I installed this mall app. I opened the app. I saw a registration form. I bailed out. Like many others, I too refuse to fill a form before playing around with an app. More on this topic in my blog post titled When Should Mobile Apps Ask Their Users To Register? (hyperlink removed to comply with Finextra Community Rules but this post will appear on top of Google Search results).

You can find more examples on Twitter here and here.

While it's dangerous to jump to conclusion from a data point of one, if a person takes the trouble to download and install an app but then does not use it, the above examples show that the reasons for such a behavior are usually deeper than mere forgetfullness, being distracted, etc. Ergo, to "activate" such users, it requires a more nuanced approach. It might involve analyzing their clickstreams / tapstreams and tailoring a fairly customized message to suit their exact situation. Even PUSH notification may not work all the time. I've come across one or two app owners using conversational approaches like chat or telephone call to engage app users under this situation. Which is why I doubt if Google Retargeted Ads will work under for this use case.

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