Organic vs paid app marketing: collaboration not competition

Organic and paid road sign

Organic vs paid app marketing: collaboration not competition

It goes without saying that you want your app to get noticed and downloaded. Visibility leads to downloads; more downloads boost visibility, which leads to more downloads, which leads to… you get the picture. 

Broadly speaking, your new users – aka User Acquisition (UA) – will find you through organic search, paid UA and wider brand awareness campaigns. The right mix gives you the best chance of building your brand and protecting your budget.

Getting the balance right between paid ads and organic search

Most organisations will need a combination of well-placed ads and great App Store Optimization (ASO) to get the best response to their app. But how do you know when you’ve got the perfect blend?

The cost per install (CPI) is often used to monitor success: what you’re spending versus the number of people who ultimately install your app. But, depending on what you offer and your goals, your primary measure should be the cost per acquisition, where ‘acquisition’ is a metric you’ll need to determine such as a purchase, deposit, registration etc. 

However it’s measured, the correct mix will help you use budgets efficiently and effectively. But that’s not all. When your organic and paid strategies support each other, you’ll reap other rewards too.  

Four benefits of synergy between ASO and paid UA 

1. An increase in conversion rates

The user journey will often start with brand awareness campaigns and paid UA: a well-placed ad will draw people to the app store and ready to download. But your app needs to work hard to hold their attention and stand out from the crowd – which is where your ASO and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) efforts take over. You need engaging messages and unmissable features so that your app gets chosen and installed. 

Since December 2021, it’s been possible to customise product pages on Apple, so different ‘store fronts/app landing pages’ appear for different queries. Just imagine that you’re a food delivery company. When someone searches for fresh food, your app pops up with an eye-catching image of fruit and veg. But when they search for pizzas, they see a mouth-watering pic of cheese and pepperoni. In this case, you’ve paid for the keywords to boost your app’s visibility, then delivered customised ASO so your content hits the spot – making it much more likely that they’ll download and engage with your app.

2. Higher keyword rankings and search improvements

Brand campaigns and paid UA can drive traffic to your app from multiple sources – and more sources give your app more strength. Especially if you’ve been clever with keyword bids and your app is starting to convert well for a particular query. If this happens, the app store algorithm will pick up on your success and download velocity, and support you for that phrase – and this will boost your ranking organically. As your app climbs higher in search results, people will perceive it to be more relevant, which leads to (you’ve guessed it) more downloads.

3. Lower CPI

By applying what works well in your paid UA to your ASO and vice-versa– perhaps creatives, images or messaging that’s proving popular – and boosting your organic search traffic and conversions, you’ll bring down your overall CPI.

4. Increase in browse traffic

Increasing your installs via a successful campaign of paid UA will boost your ranking in your relevant app store category, and increase your chances to appear on featured pages such as trending apps. These get your app in front of more users – where your ASO takes over to convince people to download it.

If your category ranking is above 200, you’ll find your actual chart ranking displayed on your product page. This has an impact on how you’re looking in-store, which could further improve your conversion rate.

How to avoid cannibalisation of organics in apple search advertising (ASA)

If you’re running paid campaigns, how do you make sure they’re supporting your organic growth rather than cannibalising it? If a user sees your paid ad at the same time as your organic listing in the app store, and clicks the paid ad, it will nudge your CPI higher. This can often happen if you’ve spent money on your brand terms, as there are likely to be some people searching by your name who already have high intent to download your app. In this case, there’s no point wasting your budget on it. However, there may also be circumstances in which it makes sense to defend your brand, and stop your competitors from stealing your traffic.

You’re often better off bidding on competitor terms and generic keywords that can hook in people who are still exploring their options. By finding new terms and channels to use, you can direct your paid UA so it adds to your ASO audience, rather than cannibalising it.

The importance of shared reporting for organic and paid UA

Analysing combined data from organic and paid strategies can help make sure that each is working optimally. Traditionally, this kind of analysis has been time-consuming and complicated, often involving many, many spreadsheets. So to save you drowning in data, we’ve developed the most sophisticated AI and rule-based bidding engine out there – App Marketer Pro (AMP).

With AMP, you can save time and money by analysing real-time traffic score data (aka keyword popularity score), rather than with the two-day lag you’ll find with other providers. You get a greater depth of data too: we use organic search data alongside that from Apple Search Ads. 

How does all this benefit you? It means you can adjust bids with the ultimate agility, optimise your campaigns more efficiently, push spending to key times and maximise seasonality, and scale your activities easily. In short, it’s a simple but dynamic way to reap the benefits of getting the balance right between paid UA and ASO. 

We’ll be talking about fusing ASO and ASA strategies and a whole lot more at the App Promotion Summit (London) on 24th March 2022. For more information or to find out more about AMP, get in touch today.




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