Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

A winning approach for non-gaming app growth

By Andrey Kazakov, Vice President of Demand at AppLovin

As the largest and most rapidly growing category of mobile apps, it comes as no surprise that mobile gaming has historically paved the way in best practices for successful app growth. Despite this, non-gaming apps are increasingly demonstrating similarly strong results. In fact, Sensor Tower reported that in Q2 of 2022, app store revenue from non-game apps exceeded gaming app revenues for the first time ever, presenting a new and unique opportunity for non-gaming app marketers to capitalise.

In an effort to understand what is behind the growth of non-game apps over the past year, AppLovin noticed some key similarities between the ad tech strategies used by both counterparts to reach new audiences. What we found is that with the help of the right ad partner, there is vast potential for mobile marketers to successfully scale their app – whatever the vertical focus.

Adopting the right ad tech strategies for success

To begin, let’s take a look at some of the key similarities we have noticed between the ad tech strategies that have been driving the growth of both gaming and non-gaming apps…

  1. Effective channel acquisition – Acquiring high-value users begins with an effective channel acquisition strategy.
  1. Timing and expectation setting – Marketers need to understand industry benchmarks for how much they will need to spend to learn before they can start setting and hitting performance KPIs.
  1. Channel allocation optimization – Budgets are usually allocated across channels in a way that will deliver particular payback within the required timeframe, allowing you to analyse individual channel performance at a particular scale and combine it with others to complement each other and reach the overall goal.
  1. Test and improve creatives – Trial and error is necessary at this stage to see which aesthetics and creative elements are working best, with the help of data analytics. 
  1. Prioritise predictive analytics — Predictive lifetime value (pLTV) models drive the goals and actual buying decisions, meaning the more accurate pLTV models get, the more efficient UA. 
  1. Continuous experimentation – All of the above depends on continuous experimentation in creative, UA, and predictive analytics.

Acquiring profitable first-time users in a crowded market

One app business taking a leaf out of the book of non-gaming apps is Yemeksepeti, the Turkish subsidiary of food delivery app Delivery Hero. As an established market leader following consistent organic growth, the team at Yemeksepeti faced the new challenge of acquiring new high value users through paid channels.

Supported by the guidance of an ad partner, the team leveraged Cost-Per-Event (CPE) campaigns to optimise user acquisition for first time orders. This enabled them to target and acquire paying, new users at a profitable price point, while controlling scale and spend.

As a result, Yemeksepeti increased unique first-time orders by 54% and significantly reduced CPE – all while maintaining its spot as the number one free iOS app in Turkey.

Breaking through competitive app categories

Another non-game app to benefit from rethinking its user acquisition strategies is Picsart, one of the world’s largest creative platforms. As well as looking to reach new audiences and expand into untapped markets, Picsart also faced new acquisition challenges following the introduction of iOS 14.

By recruiting the right ad partner, Picsart could leverage their automated, machine learning-driven CPE campaigns to test new strategies that were optimised for their most valuable down-funnel conversion event: free trials. Within months, Picsart was able to reach new users, grow installs by 39%, improve conversion rates, and drive down the CPE – leading to higher overall performance across all mobile ad network sources.

What’s more, Picsart maintained a top 5 position in the highly competitive Photo and Video category for iOS in the U.S.

Reaching budget-conscious consumers

For some app businesses, the challenge is reaching the right kind of audiences – and that was exactly the case for Mode Mobile’s rewards-based app, Mode Earn App.

Mode Mobile wanted to grow its loyal user base and reach budget-conscious consumers eager to earn rewards through everyday mobile activities, all at a reasonable cost. They needed to discover new networks with advanced targeting capabilities that would enable them to grow sustainably.

With the support of an ad partner and by using event optimised (CPE) campaigns, Mode Mobile was able to focus their marketing efforts on targeting users that were predicted to reach their target milestone, which directionally indicates a strong return on ad spend through high ad engagement.

Within three months, Mode Mobile increased their number of milestone events relative to ad spend, while decreasing CPE by 26%. Over the course of a year, the platform drove a 74% increase in install rate.

Predictions for the future of mobile non-gaming

We’re increasingly seeing more consumer mobile businesses explore new channels in order to compete in today’s competitive app market. Every consumer business that is mobile enabled can take advantage of these app marketing strategies.

Regardless of an app’s vertical focus, by perfecting these strategies, app marketers and developers have the potential to acquire and retain high-value users that ultimately drive long-term, sustainable and profitable growth.