When is the Right Time to Automate Your Mobile App User Acquisition?

By Ran Milo

So you have a mobile app business which is doing pretty well. You’re happy with your app marketing in general, and your user acquisition specifically, but you keep hearing about AI, automation, machine learning and.. you know… a lot of these buzz words. You start wondering if you should start using automation in your paid user acquisition, and what your gain will be .

You’ve heard others praising AI-based user-acquisition management and automation platforms, but you are wondering what is it really all about, and who is it really for, and what’s in it for you

A similar question, maybe a better one to ask, is when should you start researching automation solutions for UA management. Wait – it’s really the same like asking when is the right time to scale your UA (user acquisition).

When is the Right Time to Automate Your Mobile App User Acquisition?


Because regardless of what people may tell you, you can’t really scale up your app’s user base via paid campaigns without getting AI and automation help.

What Does “Scale” Mean?

First things first, let’s clarify what I mean by scale.

Regardless of what the dictionary terminology for scale is, in the business industry, “scale” usually means significant growth in a relatively short period.

What is the Difference Between Running Mobile App Growth Activities and Growth at Scale?

It’s easy to be confused about the difference between mobile app growth and mobile app growth at scale. You may be wondering why scaling is any different from what every app marketer is already trying to do, namely running mobile apps or games, user acquisition organic and paid activities, to grow the active user base and the coordinated revenues. Here’s why.

When you run app marketing activities, particularly around growth and paid UA activities, you usually include these approaches:

  1. ASO (App Store Optimization) Activities: You pay attention to store search engine optimization, including local stores in multiple geographic locations
    A. Keyword optimization on Google Play and AppStore
    B. Localization- adapting your store materials to local languages: video, featured images, screens, texts and keywords.
    C. Running ASO conversion experiments, testing icons, screenshots, demo videos and more.
  2. Social Media: For some verticals, social media marketing is very important. Maintaining social media networks as an app opens up another channel for customer support, it supports your positioning and brand awareness, and some social channels are even valuable for Google Play ASO ranking.
  3. Traditional PR: Depending on which category your app operates in, digital press exposure in online publications raises customer recognition for your app’s brand, can help you complete investment rounds, helps you showcase an honorable “featured by” section in your digital assets (such as web landing page), helps with backlinks (Google play ASO is effected by backlinks, but that’s for another discussion) and eventually helps you get quality users.
  4. Blogger and Influencer Marketing: Reaching out to large blogs within your app’s category gives your app valuable backlinks which affect Google’s ASO ranking as well as feature your apps to many potential ambassadors (early adopters who love reading app reviews). Influencers bring your app to their followers and can generate a lot of traffic for niche apps.
  5. Paid UA: Since it’s almost impossible for an app to get traction by using organic channels alone, most mobile apps rely on paid app install campaigns to generate new users. Facebook and Google make up 90% of most paid campaigns, quite rightfully as these channels offer native ad formats and are known for the quality of the users that they bring, but recently Pinterest and Snapchat have also added new ad types to support mobile app acquisition.

There are probably many more activities that app marketers use that I didn’t mention here, but successfully running all the above activities doesn’t mean that you are ready to scale your growth.

How do You Know When You’re Ready to Scale up Your User Acquisition?

I believe that you are ready to scale your growth when these conditions are met:

  • You’ve learned a few things about your user acquisition flow, including:
    • The best in-app events to focus on for optimization, retention and loyalty
    • How to best target your optimal users
    • How to generate positive ROI or ROAS (or in some cases, optimal CPA)
    • What the LTV of your users is and how much higher it is vs. your CPA
  • Your marketing operations are established and running well, but reaching your future KPIs by continuing with manual campaign management and optimization feels inefficient and too time consuming.
  • Your media management team (in house or external) manages so many campaigns, ad sets (or groups) and different creatives that it is difficult to strategically analyze and optimize each one to reach team efficiency.
  • Your marketing performance and KPIs have improved, but now they are starting to plateau (either in terms of your ROAS or your cost per install). You find that you cannot make progress without putting a dent in your KPIs.

Other, non-marketing factors also play a role in determining whether or not you’re ready to scale such as:

  • Both your product and your back-office infrastructure are ready for the masses.
  • For certain verticals, such as Fintech and Ecommerce apps, customer support plays an important role and should be up and running effectively.

Once you can check off all of these factors, you are ready to scale!

Now that you’re ready to scale, you absolutely must automate app install campaigns management and look for AI technology to lean on.


Why do You Need an AI-Based Automation Platform in your Paid Mobile App User Acquisition Plan?

Even though you are already a very skilled marketer, automated user acquisition can do a few things that you can’t do alone. These include:

  • Monitoring bidding and identifying fluctuations as they happen, and then making changes to the campaign, ad-set or ad in real time.
  • Optimizing the targeting, dynamically, in real time, 24/7.
  • Running endless A/B tests, setting up multiple ad sets in parallel, differentiated by micro changes. This is such a wiring, time consuming task that no human being can do manually.
  • Automatically identifying lower-performing creatives, pausing it to prevent ad fatigue and automatically uploading new refreshed creatives.
  • Creative optimization that isn’t biased or manipulated by any form of personal preference.

And there’s more.

You already know that setting up, monitoring and optimizing app install, engagement or retargeting campaigns involves a lot of manual work. Targeting, creative and copy decisions involve a lot of time and human input, but there are some tasks which technology can do better. Technology is here to help us do a better job, and in the world of user acquisition it’s already making a big difference. Automated mobile app user acquisition management is becoming the standard for emerging apps or apps that are running UA at scale, just because, eventually, when it’s time, automation systems earn you money at scale 🙂

Published on July 11, 2017
Written by
Ran Milo

VP Marketing @ Bidalgo.

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