By Terry Tateossian, founding partner of Socialfix Media, MIT blockchain and AI-certified consultant, speaker and activist.
The year 2020 was eventful for mobile app developers and publishers. The global pandemic forced businesses to look for ways to facilitate Covid-19 contact tracing, improve collaboration among remote teams and drive organizational performance. There will be even more changes in 2021, such as Apple’s identifier for advertisers (IDFA) policy, enabling users to opt-out of app tracking to take back control over their online experience.
To prepare for the changes, marketers will need to invest in brand advertising and product development, rethink their subscription marketing strategy and identify alternative app stores and advertising channels.
Brand Advertising And Product Development
Advertising in apps will become less efficient once the IDFA tracking policy changes take full effect. In the absence of targeted ads, advertisers will need to make more of an effort to reach online audiences and generate revenue streams. The time is now for app developers to revise their product budgets and focus more on customer engagement through flawless user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX), new features, consistency in app design and overall product improvement.
The role of brand positioning will also increase in 2021. To get inside the mind of customers, marketers will need to build a brand for their app or, “it will be perceived as a commodity by users,” says the founder of AppAgent Peter Fodor.
New Subscription Models
The subscription model has been a profitable one until recently, but users are now showing signs of subscription fatigue. At the same time, Google Play and the App Store seemingly prefer to promote subscription-based apps, thus putting free software at a disadvantage.
One way to go about this and drive engagement rates is to use bundled subscriptions that combine subscriptions from a variety of publishers. Instead of paying $50 per month to access app A ($20) and app B ($30), the user pays $40 for a bundled subscription. With the new tracking policy and limitations around retargeting, businesses are increasingly using bundles to optimize their pricing models and make them more attractive.
Alternative Advertising Channels
Marketers should no longer rely solely on paid app user acquisition, mainly due to the new targeting restrictions. To reach a wider audience, app developers should consider using alternative channels such as the App Gallery and Mac Store. The App Gallery features hundreds of apps as well as competitions, in-game events, prize draws and welcome gifts. As the competition for top places in the search results is not as fierce as on other platforms, publishing an app can help developers reach new audiences.
The Mac Store also allows marketers to submit an app, with a wide range of categories available (sports, social networking, games, news, health and fitness, etc.). While the Mac Store is still a market newcomer, it is worth learning and testing to see how it works.
In addition to using alternative advertising platforms, marketers need to invest time and effort in building a community of loyal followers around their apps. They can do this by investing in search engine optimization, influencers, social media, content and email marketing.
In 2021, successful mobile app marketers will excel in brand positioning and product development, user acquisition through subscription bundling and leveraging alternative advertising platforms. As developers attempt to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and prepare for Apple’s tracking policy, careful planning and strategy adjustment are the keys to minimizing uncertainty.
To plan ahead successfully and maximize their marketing ROI, app developers need to understand how consumer lifestyles, preferences and purchasing patterns are shifting. Changing user behavior, coupled with an increasingly competitive environment and saturated app market, has made success a challenge. App developers should be ready to fight. They need to find new ways to get attention to their product and keep users engaged despite shifts in consumer behavior and the ever-changing relationship between people and technology.