We have tons of happy customers and then we have a few unhappy ones. Every time someone is not getting the expected results we feel bad and would love to help you succeed in every possible way. While every situation is different there are quite a few common tips that can help you get the best results and I wanted to share them here.
Advertising is not a suitable user acquisition strategy for every single app or game out there.
The most common source of advertiser unhappiness is campaigns that just can’t achieve positive ROI “by definition”. If you are advertising a paid app or game with no extra sources of income, most likely that it would be very hard for you to profitably acquire users via paid advertising. A free-to-download Windows Phone app/game can acquire users for about $0.5 or more per user (depending on a lot of factors). Industry data says that only 1% to 5% will ever pay for anything in a free game/app. So even if you get downloads at $0.5, convert them at 5% and you can only do it once you are looking at a ~$10 price per buyer. Clearly this doesn’t work for a $0.99 app. Unless, obviously, you believe that your app is so good that one “bought” user will bring 10+ organic users via word-of-mouth.
Now if your app is a free-to-play game or is monetized with advertising (meaning you monetize every user) or other ways of recurring revenue, it could very well be a different story.
This topic, obviously, deserves a separate long-form blog post, but the point is that you should think about the reasons you invest in the campaign. You may want to do a burst campaign to boost your store rankings and disregard the ROI in such case, but if you advertise to acquire users, just make sure that the math works for you.
We are all about helping indie developers succeed and we are happy to help you be successful. Even if it means that you don’t spend your money with us.
Test your ad copy before running a full scale ad campaign
We see many developers creating campaigns with just a single ad. While a few of them have tested this ad elsewhere, the vast majority are just willing to place the whole bank on their gut feeling about a single banner ad.
The reality is that your gut feeling is more wrong than right. So you should allocate a small portion of your campaign budget to figure out a couple of “winning” ads. Run a campaign with 5-6 dramatically different ads for a couple of days to figure out a couple that produce the best results before you set out to do your “real” campaign.
General “winning” ad copy tips
We’ve seen quite a few successful and unsuccessful campaigns and here are a few things that we’ve noticed:
It’s not about the beauty
Most of the times (for an indie developer) the same person who designed your app will design your ad. While you can be sure that they will make an ad that is as beautiful as your app or game is, it doesn’t mean that it will be the most effective.
A good ad attracts attention. So in a way you can say that the ugliest ad attracts the most attention. Obviously “ugly” is not the message you want to send to your potential users, so you have to find a great balance between representing the aesthetics of your game and attracting user’s attention with bold statements and calls to action.
Try text ads
Initially we’ve started as a text ads only network and when we introduced support for image ads, graphical banners were few and far between. But right now it’s text ads that are more rare. Additionally, unlike image ads, they are animated. So try including a couple of text ads in your test run.
Ads are not books, they aren’t articles or even tweets. People don’t read sentences in your banners. Try to distill your message into as few words as possible. Shorter ads get more clicks.
Include a store logo
Including a Windows Store logo/badge in your banner ad sends a signal to a user that this is an ad for an app. They are more likely to pay attention to app or game ads, than to random stuff they’ve learned to ignore. They will also know what will happen after they click on the ad (they’ll be taken to the store) which gives them more confidence.
Run a separate campaign for each of your goals
While it’s easier to manage a single campaign targeting all the regions and store categories you care about, it doesn’t give you actionable insights into what is going on and where.
Define granular goals and create a separate campaign for each of them.
For example, if your goal is to reach English-speaking users, running a single campaign targeting all the English-speaking countries could be fine. But if your goal is to move up the charts in all the English-speaking countries, targeting all of them at once doesn’t give you enough control of what happens in every one of them. So in this case create a separate campaign for each country and adjust them as needed.
The rule of thumb here is this: your ads should be as localized (or more localized) as your app is. If you’ve invested time and money into localizing your app, screenshots and store listings it doesn’t make sense for you to undermine these efforts by promoting it with a “generic” English ad.
This is a list of tips I wanted to share at this point. If you have any other tips we, and the whole community, would appreciate if you could share them in the comments below.