Organic User Acquisition vs. Paid Strategy for Apps

paid organic ua

This week we’re excited to share an article from Taptica’s Marcom Manager in the US, Carly Morris. Taptica is a global end-to-end mobile advertising platform that helps the world’s top brands reach their most valuable users with the widest range of traffic sources available today. To learn more about Taptica’s performance mobile advertising solutions, visit their website right here. You can also keep up with the team on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram for the latest in ad tech insights, best practices, and behind-the-scenes action from all their global offices.

For most app owners, the ultimate measure of success is the curation of an expansive and highly engaged userbase. To that end, it’s no secret that the key to a strong lifetime relationship is to convert the right users from the get-go.

When it comes to audience growth strategy, far too many marketers still see paid and organic user acquisition as two separate entities, when in reality, they’re two sides of the same coin.

In fact, not only are both essential aspects of a successful growth strategy, but each channel also directly impacts the performance of the other when run in tandem.

When it comes down to it, the best way to ensure a consistent influx of new app users is to strike a steady balance between your organic and paid acquisition strategies.

Why Go Organic?

In a word, organic user acquisition is any marketing effort that drives app installs without the use of paid ads. A few of the more universal applications include things like web referral strategies, app indexing, app store optimisation (ASO), optimising for app packs, search engine optimisation (SEO), press coverage, and PR.

The beauty of a great organic UA strategy is that the end-user has shown a demonstrated interest in your app, and thus has a higher propensity for downstream engagement, retention, and monetisation. Because they had to put in the effort to find and download your app on their own, they’re immediately more invested in making the most of the experience.

While organic user acquisition is perceived as low-risk and totally cost-free, the reality is that this strategy still demands a designated team of experts to execute successfully, and that these initiatives do carry just as much weight as any other when it comes to brand safety and messaging.

Why Go Paid?

Unlike organic acquisition, paid strategies focus on driving installs and engagement through targeted advertisements across the mobile ecosystem. As the Google Play and Apple App Stores become more and more crowded, most app marketers need to rely on more than organic downloads alone to stand out above the noise.

A common misconception when it comes to audience growth is that organic installs are automatically more valuable than paid installs. The truth is that people who convert from paid ads can be just as likely to be relevant and engaged as those who find your app organically. Because paid advertising offers the ability to target new audiences with an extremely high level of granularity, you can immediately increase your chances of reaching the right person, with the right message, at just the right time.

Think of paid acquisition as a means to expand your organic user base by successfully engaging even the most niche of audience cohorts who may not have come across your organic promotions otherwise.

Two Halves of a Whole

While the two may appear to run opposite ends of the spectrum, they’re actually far from separate.

In fact, new research from TUNE finds that every paid install ultimately drives an additional 1.5 organic installs on average. Here’s why:

Every app marketer knows that the most efficient way to spike installs is paid UA. But, what most of them don’t factor in is that after these installs start flooding in, the Google Play and Apple App Stores also adjust your indexing accordingly. This rapidly increases your app store ranking and boosts your placement in search listings, putting you at massive advantage over your competitors. And of course, the closer your listing is to the top, the higher your chances of securing new conversions from hyper-relevant users at the peak moment of intent, without ever paying a penny for search ads.

On the other side of the equation, organic acquisition can have a massive impact on your bottom line when it comes to paid placements as well. Keep in mind that the higher your organic ranking, the less you’ll need to pay for top placements in search ads.

Keep in mind that search ad placements favor the contextually and organically relevant over those with lots of money to blow and little true relevance. So, the higher your organic ranking, the less you’ll ultimately have to pay when vetting for these top spots in your paid initiatives.

All things considered, it comes as no surprise that paid app installs can boost organic ASO by up to 148%, while paid social ads can boost organic web traffic up to 35%, and paid mobile banner ads boost organic SEO 10X.

Blending Organic & Paid UA Like a Pro

Organic user acquisition is strong on its own. Paid user acquisition is strong on its own. Bringing the two together is a surefire recipe for success.

Combining your organic and paid UA strategies is all about extending your message to reach every potential user, wherever they’re most actively engaged on mobile. After all, it doesn’t matter how the message gets to them, so long as it gets to them in a way that’s personal, relevant, and brand safe.

Our best tip for intelligently combining the two? Measure, measure, measure.

Without knowing what kind of results each initiative is driving, there’s no way to understand their value and optimise your strategy accordingly.

By keeping a close eye on KPIs like conversion rate, cost per install, retention, and lifetime user value, along with critical downstream engagement behaviours unique to your app, like registrations, referrals, product views, or purchases, you can easily identify your highest quality users and where they’re coming from, so that you can focus your efforts in the right direction at all times.

And regardless of where your audience comes from, it’s still up to you to make sure they continue coming back for life. It’s always smart to experiment with re-engagement campaigns, special perks or gifts, member discounts, flash sales, or any other strategy that rewards loyalty and entices your users to keep engaging long after the initial install.

Want to find out more about optimising your app and keeping up with the latest OS capabilities? Make sure to subscribe to our Mastering Mobile Marketing video series. You can also get in touch by visiting the Contact Us page. Follow us on LinkedIn, chat with us on Twitter @yodelmobile, and join our #AppMarketingUK LinkedIn group.

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