Apple Search Ads

Promoting your App through Apple Search Ads

Apple providers Apple Search Ads as an advertising service to help developers promote their apps. Developers can set up ad campaigns with predetermined monthly budgets and have them displayed to relevant users. With over 2 million apps listed on the App Store, gaining visibility is extremely difficult. A paid campaign allows developers to showcase the best features of their apps. With a steady funnel of users flowing to download their apps, an app can generate a critical mass of users, which then puts it on the road to long-term sustainability.

Basic vs Advances

When developers create their Apple Search Ads account, they can either choose to use a basic or advanced option. A basic account allows a user to set up a simple campaign where they just select the app they want to promote and their monthly budget. Apple’s technology uses the app’s metadata to automate how and where ads are displayed. The account owner, though, still gets a simper dashboard to track campaign performance.

An advanced account places more control in the account owner’s hands. The advanced account is more likely to be used by advertising professionals and agencies on behalf of clients. They can choose to have ads placed on search results, on the Today tab, and in other places for greater visibility. Whereas ads on a basic account are charged at a cost per install, the advanced account would have ads charged per tap. As expected, the account has a more detailed reporting tool and a myriad of recommendations for campaign improvement.

Why Is Search Ads A Must for Developers

Apple Search Ads is a powerful tool in the arsenal of any developer regardless of whether their app is a mass market product or a niche one. First, the tool is powerful in increasing the discoverability of an app. By just using the app metadata, Apple Search Ads will place an app in relevant search results. Users who are on the lookout for specific solutions are therefore likely to install and try out your app.

The pay-per-tap or install model applied by Apple Search ads is also quite cost-effective for developers who have great products. Users who click or install an app are considered high-quality leads. They are more likely to end up as customers. Paying for such leads only means that the cost of customer acquisition will be low in the long run.

Using Apple Search ads is a great way to create synergy with your app store optimization strategy. While app store optimization increases organic visibility and discoverability, ads serve to maximize the number of eyeballs on the app.  The two can complement each other. By taking feedback on which keywords and visuals are performing better, this information can be used for such things as app descriptions and product pages.

Making the Most of Apple Search Ads

Finding success through Apple Search Ads is a result of sustained efforts and well-planned strategies to build a brand, gain visibility, and convert leads into revenue-generating customers. The rest of the article dwells on specific best practices for developers using Apple Search Ads to drive new customer acquisitions.

Carefully Planned Campaigns

Great campaigns must be well orchestrated from start to finish. There are multiple constraints in any marketing campaign, and the plan must consider this. A recommended best practice is to have multiple campaigns under one account. You could have a brand campaign, a category campaign. competitor campaign, a discovery campaign, and a generic campaign. You then could have keywords and ad groups attributed to each campaign group.

Brand campaigns will have keywords that are specific to your company. Category campaigns encompass keywords relevant to what the app does and the genre under which it falls. Competitor campaign keywords will be mainly focused on other apps that provide the same service as yours.

A well-organized structure ensures your ads have specific and measurable targets and they complement each other. The structure also allows for the effective spreading of the available budget so that areas with the highest return get the most while also ensuring no base remains uncovered.

Thorough Keyword Research

A common mistake Apple Search Ads users make is to slack on proper keyword research. The result is often inefficient use of their advertising budget. Proper keyword research involves using a keyword planner to find statistics on keywords. It also involves looking at the keywords competitors are ranking for and the ones they are bidding on.

There is a feature called Search Match within Apple Search ads that allows users to connect ads with queries. This feature is helpful when attempting to choose which keywords to prioritize for a particular campaign.

Lastly, the use of synonyms is a proven way to expand the pool of keywords. Through this, you may find high-volume search keywords that competitors may not be focusing on.

Negative Keyword Research

You can use negative keywords to add precision to your ad campaign. A negative keyword prevents your ads from being triggered if a person includes the keyword in their search. It is sometimes a good practice to include certain keywords as negative keywords in one campaign when they are the primary keywords in another campaign. This could help prevent an overlap between campaigns and possibly improve overall budget efficiency.

Curate App Metadata with Care

As a developer, it is important to ensure your app’s metadata reflects what exactly the app intends to fulfill. The title, subtitle, and descriptions should not be intentionally misleading. The risk is that the app may attract a large number of people who are not the true target audience. There has to be a balance between the attraction or engagement garnered from ads and relevance. It is not beneficial for an app to appear in search results that are not related to the app’s core functionality.

Carrying out multiple A/B tests for variations of the metadata could help decide on what to settle on. For instance, you could have two versions of an app’s description displayed to separate audiences. Both descriptions would carry the same keywords but have different results in terms of engagement. The same goes for the choice of a name for an app. It should be powerful and memorable as well.  Carrying out empirical tests before launch would be ideal.

Multiple Product Pages

Just as with metadata, it is possible to have different product pages displayed in ads for different target audiences. It is possible to create up to 35 different product pages and this is now seen as a best practice in app advertising. It allows the developers to capitalize on the versatility of an app by showing its different pages and functionalities to relevant audiences.

While creating multiple product pages may seem a daunting task, it ensures that the return on the advertising investment is higher than it would be with just a single page. It may be worthwhile working with professionals to create the different variations of the product page.

Optimizing the Campaign

Apple Search Ad’s reporting tools should be used to continually adjust and optimize your campaigns. Monitoring impressions will reveal well-performing ads versus non-performing ones while you could also adjust your bids on important keywords. The keyword volumes are also changing every so often. As such, keyword research must remain a continuous process within the team so that the available budget is directed toward the most effective areas.

The development team should also review performance from a creative angle. See what creative material yields the best results and double down on it. Normally, the team would have to go through multiple iterations of creative approaches until they settle on one that seems to work best.

Studying the Competition

The competition in the App Store is fierce and only a small percentage of all apps end up as viable and profitable businesses. As such, the space can be seen as a zero-sum game where your success might push a competitor out of the market. It is imperative to monitor what other apps in your category are doing, both in terms of advertising and design.

Find out which keywords they are ranking for because this may help you find gaps to fill. Study their creative assets because new trends are always emerging. Your creative designs should help your app stand out.

Lastly, settle and double down on a bidding strategy. With a big budget, you may decide to bid higher for keywords that your competitor is using. However, a more realistic approach would be to go for variations that allow you to still funnel customers to your app but at a lower cost.

Post Install Performance

One way to further track the performance of a campaign is to monitor the post-install events. Certain actions would signal that a user is likely to keep using an app and can certainly be classed as a successful customer acquisition. Launching an app, completing the registration process, or watching an in-app user guide can all be tracked for a more accurate estimation of the cost of user acquisition.

Post-install events could help to identify specific issues with app features or performance. For instance, if a lot of users do not complete the registration process, it could be a result of the process being too long or the registration feature not working as smoothly as initially intended. This is how an app’s development roadmap evolves organically over time.

Staying Updated

Slight tweaks in Apple Search ads policies and industry trends could make a huge difference in the app advertising landscape. Developers have a responsibility to keep up with the changes both within the platform and the advertising space in general. Beta-testing new features ahead of the competition could give you an unbeatable lead.

A need to strongly focus on return on investment cannot be understated. With multiple campaigns in one account, funds should go towards ad groups and channels with the highest return.

A world-class user experience within the app strongly compliments the advertising efforts. A smooth registration and sign-in process helps to ease any skepticism that first-time users may have about an app. Quick responses to concerns about glitches and bugs have a strong bearing on brand perception. No amount of brand campaigns can paper over poor user experience.

Combining Search Ads with Other forms of Advertising and Marketing

An app listed on the Apple store could benefit from other channels of advertising besides Apple Search Ads. Social media channels are particularly effective because a user who clicks on a post lands on the app download page. Some apps would benefit from awareness campaigns done through influencers. Mentions on podcasts and videos go a long way in building top-of-mind awareness for brands.

Throughout any campaign, all decisions should be data-driven. Behavioral targeting has helped to make campaigns highly nuanced. Users can be re-targeted based on past actions, such as having installed an app before but not using it frequently.

Work with NS804

Creating successful Apple Search Ads campaigns requires a lot of planning and exquisite implementation. Careful thought must go into planning objectives and the metrics to track. The team must determine the different campaign buckets to use and the keywords for the different ad groups. As highlighted, Apple Search ads complement the App Store optimization efforts.

Throughout the Search Ads campaign, the team has to monitor metrics, iterate different versions of ads, and study the detailed reports from Apple’s Search Ads dashboard. They must see audiences through different targeting lenses including demographics, device types, and customer types. It is prudent to have ads that target users based on the different existing segmentations.

All promotional efforts are likely to fail if the app itself fails to meet customer expectations. Building a truly world-class app is the only way to guarantee sustainable success for an app. Finding the right app development partner is the first step in this journey. At NS804, we pride ourselves in delivering world-beating iOS and Android applications for businesses in all sectors. With decades of experience in our team, we deliver projects on time and budget. We advise on every stage of the app development process, including launch and promotion.

To discuss your app development needs, reach out to us today.

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