On April 13th, 2022, App Growth Summit hosted their second in-person event of the year in New York City. The conference was an intimate, invite-only occasion with multiple opportunities for networking breaks in between the many discussion panels. Nancy Roberts, Chief Marketing Officer at YouAppi, moderated a panel discussing how to leverage the right app growth marketing mix and the importance of having a solid marketing foundation. Alethia Halbig, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Natural Cycles, Hiatus’ Head of Growth Marketing, Jeff Wang, and Jampp’s Global Head of Sales & Marketing, Andrew Whiteside, explored different ways organic, brand traffic, and other mix strategies can amplify your paid performance efforts. This session at AGS NYC 2022 looked at ways you can leverage your brand to help increase conversion on your paid campaigns and increase awareness to lead to a direct, positive impact.

Nancy: A media mix encompasses all of the possible ways your mobile app reaches your target audience. What does your primary source of acquiring users look like? Is it paid or organic and brand?

Alethia: Predominantly I focus on all the paid channels, but organic plays a huge role as well. We invest a lot of time in our social media channels and blogs – our blog gives a lot of great education and content to create a cohesive sense of what Natural Cycles is and what we stand for. The blogs do get a lot of traction on our website as well. We try to diversify within paid social and search channels since our product is so niche, we want to make sure the right audience is engaging with our ads.

Jeff: We find the most powerful advertising is when we mix content with paid media. For us, it’s less about where our media is but about the quality of the content we are putting out there. Our motto is content is king. Whether video, graphic, or long form copy. There’s a lot of value in entertaining content such as TikTok. 

Nancy: It’s all about engaging your audience and being where they are. Find out where they live and breathe!

Nancy: What are some ways you can do brand storytelling without feeling too contrived? 

Alethia: There is a huge element of transparency and education as a lot of people might not be familiar with what our app does. Hearing from other customers too about how the app works and their story is really important for us to have that trust with newer users.

Andrew: It is common to have preconceived ideas before really understanding. It is really important to understand who the user is, why did they come to the app, etc. We try to translate that into the creatives and then run tests and see what works best for those individual personas.

Jeff: Branding is very different for us than Natural Cycles. It’s more of bringing attention to what we are doing since everyone has a use case for our app (since it’s personal finance). That’s why the entertainment aspect of marketing and content is so important rather than just “click-bait” content.

Nancy: The new generation are digital natives, they need to see the facts and feel the emotions your brand evokes. How do you blend this into your marketing mix?

Alethia: As a birth control app, this is a line we have to walk within our advertising. Creating educational, engaging, and emotion-evoking content within a short time span is an ever moving target. Thankfully, we have a large number of positive user testimonials and reviews to work with on top of supported efficacy claims. There are a lot of different use cases when it comes to our app and having real customers give their stories really speaks more than us dictating to the consumer. It’s our job to educate the user to help them realize that this is the right app for them.

Jeff: We spend a lot of time analyzing elements of our messaging that entertain the most (reflected in higher hook rates and CTR). We also analyze how we can effectively weave in the facts via seeing which pieces of content have high CVR. We really try to show the information of how much we have saved users and it’s a lot more than most people would think. Our company takes the content quality of our ads really seriously. 

Andrew: Audiences are often analyzed in terms of demographics such as gender, age gaps, and even device ownership, but behind every screen there’s a person with unique goals and motivations. The first step toward building an effective creative strategy for example is understanding what drives your users and how can your app help them feel accomplished. In other words: what do users see in your app? Why do they choose your app instead of others? Don’t stick to just one idea. Try to generate multiple creative concepts instead. You can always choose which ones to test first based on the potential impact they’ll have on your marketing campaign. Create multiple ad variations for each creative concept to understand which visual elements are more appealing to your audience. 

Nancy: How do you think organic and brand add success to your paid media campaigns? 

Jeff: Organic is the more patient path for its own stream of revenue. It’s also a form of creating content that bolsters our other content. It theoretically can help with conversion rate too. I personally believe brand and performance are the same thing. Both have to be attributed to revenue or it won’t be run. Brand is just a more complicated media brief.

Alethia: There’s a number of ways to look at this question. Strong SEO plays a huge part in paid search for relevance within our terms. Having strong brand awareness means warmer audiences when they interact with your ads. 

Nancy: Which channels does your brand use to engage with your users? Where does web marketing fall in this? 

Jeff: We’ve tested a dozen or more but have spent the most time with FB, IG, Google, TikTok, Snap, and Affiliate.

Alethia: Agreed with testing, as a start up our main focus will always be new user acquisition but we’ve tested a number of experimental channels as well as our tried and true. Facebook, Google, Pinterest, and Influencers are strong channels for us given our key demographic. 

Andrew: It might sound self-serving, but in the new privacy era we recommend programmatic because some of us have been focused on contextual optimization rather than the behavioral user graphs other channels relied on. Last year we participated in the AGS NY panel “Mixing it up: How Diversifying Your Media Mix and Acquisition Channel Usage is More Important Than Ever!” The original idea was to discuss mobile marketing KPIs and strategies for budget allocation across all marketing channels, but looking at the highlights, most of the focus was between Programmatic and TikTok. 

Nancy: There is an old brand marketing saying that for something to be recognized as a brand, a user needs to see it seven times. What is your brand story and which channels do you use to tell that story? Do you believe it has helped to increase your social and brand awareness? 

Jeff: Yes, as we’ve scaled up, we’ve gained momentum from users seeing us on multiple channels or frequently on one.

Alethia: This is a tale as old as time in terms of marketing. Sometimes users see us through an influencer post and come back to us via Facebook remarketing, some come to our website from a paid search ad and then convert once they read more about how the product works. 

Nancy: When you are evaluating the success of your paid media campaigns what metrics are you looking at? Do you separate the user attributed vs. user organic? 

Alethia: If only organic was free. Even if you have $0 in media spend running, the labor hours it takes to create organic pipelines to drive revenue is extensive. As we as marketers face challenges with conversion tracking and attribution, I think the conversation around organic is going to change. In terms of what qualifies a user as truly organic or not, well that depends on the channels and touchpoints they interact with before they reach that final purchase. 

Jeff: Yes, organic is absolutely not free. But it is an investment we are working on. We have one standard for all of marketing which is maximizing scale while staying within LTV/CAC constraints.

Andrew: I believe Incrementality would probably be the most important one as you need to make sure that the investment you are making on each channel is actually contributing to your growth. You can measure incrementality "top down" by doing media mix modeling (measuring all your marketing efforts/channels together and finding which is the most effective strategy “mix” driving conversions). Or you can rely on each channel's capabilities to measure “bottom up” incrementality (each channel can be tracked independently to understand its real impact). At Jampp, we have our Always-on Lift Measurement feature which allows any advertiser to automatically measure lift in real time in any campaign. 

Nancy: Does your marketing mix include re-engaging your organic users to maximize value?

Jeff: Yes, we use CRM onboarding flows. Paid media retargeting has been less effective.

Alethia: Of course, while we still run paid media for remarketing predominantly on social media alone, we engage with our users via CRM and SMS, and sometimes those who have installed the app but have not fully converted. 

Andrew: At Jampp we cover the entire user funnel, from discovery to re-engagement. Each vertical is different but in Shopping apps for example, 80% of customers don’t return the day after installing the app, unless they are re-engaged. Combining programmatic technology with smart segmentation and creative strategies can help achieve success. Strategic A/B testing will give you the data to back up your business decisions instead of relying on a gut feeling. 

Takeaways from Apps Growth Summit NYC 2022:

  • Listen to feedback - Hearing from other customers about how the app works and their story is really important to have that trust with newer users.
  • Understand the user - It is really important to understand who the user is, why did they come to the app and their goals going forward.
  • Get creative - Try different social media channels and play with fun, unique messaging or videos to stand out among the noise.
  • Test, test, test! In order to find out which channels are bringing you the highest quality users, A/B testing is key. Segment users and start feeding them different ads or use different platforms for each group to discover what is working best and stop putting energy into channels that aren’t performing. 

Going to the next AGS event? Let us know! We’d love to connect with you.