Marketing & Metrics, Subscriptions

How to Succeed With Apple Search Ads: 3 Tips for Subscription App Owners

apple search ads

In 2016, Apple introduced Apple Search Ads, an ad network that has since become one of the most useful tools for app promotion. It allows developers to advertise via ads that appear at the top of the App Store’s search results page so users can find your app more easily when looking for similar apps. Thus, it provides app marketers with an opportunity to make contact with the user at the most opportune time. In this article, we cover the benefits of Apple Search Ads and three tips for maximizing campaign effectiveness.

Benefits of Apple Search Ads

Using Apple Search Ads for your app has some advantages. “First, App Store algorithms take into account all traffic beyond the App Store. So, despite showing your app to the masses across different channels, Apple Search Ads will enable better organic results.” According to Apple, the average conversion rate for search ads is more than 50%, and about 65% of all downloads happen after search.

Moreover, you’ll get a motivated audience — according to Statista, it’s predicted that App Store users will spend $112 billion on IAPs, subscriptions, and paid apps in 2022 while Google Play users are predicted to generate “only” $58 billion in 2022. And one more advantage that distinguishes ASA from other marketing tools is the fact that it’s the only platform that’s not affected by iOS14 privacy policy enforcement, which means that ASA has access to first-party, on-platform data for ad targeting — including, but not limited to, keywords and search data that others simply don’t have. This leaves you with the ability to more accurately track the efficiency of your marketing spend.

How to maximize Apple Search Ads

Depending on your needs and level of expertise, two versions of Apple Ads are available: Apple Search Ads Basic and Apple Search Ads Advanced. Primarily with ASA Advanced, you have greater control over how your campaigns are managed. Let’s discuss some tips on how to succeed with Apple Search Ads, how to optimize marketing costs and how to boost revenue.

1) Track the right metrics

    In any mobile app business, keeping track of performance is imperative. The first thing you should think about is how to choose the right metrics. The Apple Search Ads analytics will give the best visibility on average CPA, CPT, installs and other basic metrics. However, this data may not cover all your needs.
    It is evident that subscription-based apps differs from other types of apps, so marketers need to go deeper on data. Apple Search Ads analytics is not configured particularly for subscription apps, so you can miss data that might be valuable — the most crucial metrics aren’t presented there, such as conversions to trial, to subscriptions, ROAS, revenue and ARPU. Learn more on what metrics are important for subscription apps in this article.
    Imagine you’re running a marketing campaign and decided to bid on competitor-related brand keywords. This decision brought you a lot of installs because people decided that you may be a great substitute for the popular competitor app. However, despite the amount of installs, you couldn’t see whether people who installed your app are actually bringing money back and converting to subscriptions. In this case, you need to know cost of converting a user to a subscriber.
    Churn rate represents the percentage of unsubscribed customers. It is vital to know how many customers unsubscribe from your app’s full features because it signals you that you need to think about creative ways to retain subscribers.
    With a subscription app, you charge your client on a monthly, semiannual, or even annual basis. That’s why it’s also valuable to look at LTV estimate over a set time period. What are your users’ six-month LTV, one-year LTV, or two-year LTV? Calculating LTV for a subscription business is fairly simple. The most important metric you need to know is your users’ retention. Depending on these insights, you may decide what time period is acceptable for you to break even and have a positive return on advertising spend.
    If you want to get a comprehensive view on your subscription app analytics, Qonversion can help. Qonversion is a subscription data platform for mobile-first companies that provides cross-platform backend infrastructure, integrations, analytics, and growth tools all in one place. You’ll get access to the most useful metrics that subscription apps require and can attribute your marketing campaigns more effectively.

2) Choose keywords carefully

    To get the maximum benefits from your Apple Search Ads campaign, you need to define a keyword strategy that helps you analyze your campaigns and get the best results. You can set up to 5000 keywords for each campaign, and this is where usually budgets are losing. To ensure the best bid results, bids should be changing constantly, even after they’ve already found effective words.
    One of the most useful frameworks for a keyword strategy is Brand – Competitors – Generic. Brand keywords are usually utilized to protect specific words associated with a brand, while competitors try to acquire competitor’s keywords with the right bids. Generic keywords are aimed at capturing keywords that belong to your industry or to what your app does. These keywords need to be categorized properly under respective campaigns. In addition, Apple Search Ads suggests creating discovery campaigns with the Broad Match and Search Match features to capture keywords that might become profitable. Generally, using Search Match type brings better TTR (tap-through rate) and install rates, because exact matches are meant to target high-intent users.
    For better reach, it’s also recommended to use keywords based on your USP (unique selling proposition) because these keywords are what your audience will likely search. Such keywords are usually more specific, which helps differentiate you from competitors and gives you a better chance to win these bids.
    In addition to your Broad Match and Search Match keyword set, you can use negative keywords. This will narrow the option for your targeted ads, restrict terms that you don’t want to be included for your bids and ensure you aren’t bidding against yourself.
    You can use special instruments that allow you to track the efficiency of each particular keyword and, moreover, see how much revenue this keyword will bring to your business. This information is extremely useful when analyzing ASA campaign potential and allows you to effectively distribute your budgets.

3) Experiment with your creatives

    Apple Search Ads Advanced allows you to create new ad variations based on custom product pages (CPPs) that you set up in App Store Connect within your search results ad group. Each element of a custom product page is made to drive app downloads, so the details matter! Custom ads allow you to align particular creatives with specific keyword themes and audiences to help provide more relevant and engaging App Store experiences to different customer groups.
    A helpful strategy is to align CPPs to audience type or customer segment. For example, if you have a shopping app, you can create custom product pages with women’s clothes for a female audience and another custom page featuring clothes for men. Each user will only see their targeted page.
    Another good strategy is to create different product pages for each target keyword or keyword theme. For example, if you have a travel app covering hotels and tours, you can use CPP, presenting specific offerings to determine your ad creative: for an ad group with keywords about hotels, there will be a custom product page with hotel booking, and for an ad group about tours, there will be CPP featuring tour options and prices. Following the same logic, you can create custom product pages to highlight separate app features.
    If you’re using a platform like Qonversion, get deeper insights by tracking performance on Custom Product Pages. Use Apple Search Ads Attribution tools for a holistic view on performance across ASA campaigns and the CPPs associated with them. If you want to see how well your CPP performs, you can create separate ad groups with identical parameters but different CPP versions. That works on the same principle as A/B tests, and you will see which particular ad group with a unique CPP generates more installs, trials, and revenue.

Apple Search Ads deliver industry-leading performance and value for advertisers while ensuring an experience that customers love and trust. Remember to always be testing and optimizing campaigns; once you understand what brings results, it’s time to scale your campaigns! If you’re ready to scale, consider adding a little boost to your growth by working with a funding partner like Braavo that provides nondilutive capital to help you achieve revenue goals.

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