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Organic vs paid: collaboration, not competition

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Four ways that your user acquisition efforts can benefit from synergy between organic and paid optimization in mobile marketing.

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 organizations 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 customize product pages on Apple, so different ‘store fronts’ 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 customized 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 – 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 category ranking  

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 cannibalization of organics in app store advertising (ASA) 

If you’re running paid campaigns, how do you make sure they’re supporting your organic growth rather than cannibalizing 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 cannibalizing it. 

The importance of shared reporting for organic and paid UA 

Analyzing combined data from organic and paid strategies can help make sure that each is working optimally. It saves you time, and money by leveraging insights from ASO to UA, and vice versa. 

The best course of action for any business is to keep your ASO and Paid UA completely aligned. If you need any help in achieving ASO and UA synergy – then reach out to hello@consultmyapp.com 

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