Apple Search Ads Optimization Based On User Acquisition Funnel

Different kinds of apps may have different kinds of Key Performance Indicators to be utilized. How can you do your Apple Search Ads Optimization Based On User Acquisition Funnel?

Gizem Bugdayci
February 25, 2021

Apple Search Ads, undoubtedly, is one of the most-effective user acquisition channels. You can promote your app by ranking at the top of the search results and gaining qualified users accordingly. Of course, there are some important metrics you need to consider while determining your strategies. Different kinds of apps may have different kinds of Key Performance Indicators to be utilized. However, the strategies are mostly based on choosing keywords carefully as they determine whether you will be at the top or not. How can you do your Apple Search Ads Optimization Based On User Acquisition Funnel?

In this article, we are going to discuss the flow of the user acquisition process. This will allow you to make better optimization decisions accordingly. Let’s get started by looking at the user acquisition funnel:

layers of the funnel Apple Search Ads Optimization Based On User Acquisition Funnel

Although every single layer is essential, you cannot optimize your Apple Search Ads campaigns by only considering one. You need to keep an eye on each as a whole. Both the lower and upper-funnel. This way you can optimize your campaigns wisely.

Having a Smooth App User Acquisition Funnel in Only 4 Steps

Firstly, every layer in the funnel affects the subsequent layer. The first influences the second, which influences the third, and so on. If you want to identify which keywords bring you conversion, you must look at each level of the funnel. 

Let me clarify: some keywords might bring impressions, taps, and even installs, but are not well-performing according to your goals. There might be other keywords that bring more trials and subscriptions despite having lower impressions and taps. 

1) Find the right keywords and give them the right amount of bids

You should include brand, generic competitor, and discovery keywords. Fulfilling each of these categories should ensure that you are casting a wide enough net to reach any potential users. You should optimize your keywords according to their performance. Place the most importance on the lower funnel.

Let’s see how we can understand our funnel better:

Assume that you have an education app and your generic keyword is “piano play and learn”

This keyword brings 100 trials and 15 subscriptions. And your competitor’s brand keyword is “piano teacher app”, and this one brings 125 trials and 10 subscriptions. And you spend the same amount of money on both keywords. 

keyword comparison

The first keyword brings 100 trials with a cost-per-trial of $10 whereas the second one brings 125 trials with $8. The second one might seem to perform better. But once you take a look at the funnel, the second one brings 10 subscriptions with a $100 cost per subscription while the first keyword that we thought didn’t perform, gains 15 subscriptions with $66.66. 

keyword comparison 2

2) Create well-structured campaigns with the right match types 

It doesn’t necessarily mean that the low-performing keywords should be avoided as you saw in the previous example. At this point, you need to group your keywords under the right campaigns/ad groups so you can optimize the keywords having the same metrics with the same actions.

To have better Apple Search Ads optimization, you need to have an ideal campaign structure with the right match types.

  • Brand campaigns with an exact match to protect your brand name to win the right users with the exact keywords.
  • Generic campaigns with an exact match for being seen for relatively related keywords
  • Competitor campaigns with an exact match to gain users of your competitors
  • Discovery campaigns with switching search match on to find out user behavior so optimize your campaigns accordingly.

Your funnel would look like down below:

How you User Acquisition Funnel should look

To improve the performance of your campaigns, you need to observe the funnel and decide which steps need to be optimized. If you think you have enough impressions, focus on the next step which is generating taps. When you are done with taps, you can focus on the keywords that are bringing the most installs. And so on. 

PRO TIP: You can track the performance of piano-related keywords and tutorial-related keywords separately by utilizing’s labeling feature. In this way, you will be able to optimize your campaigns without missing out on the performance of any keyword.

3) Apply automation rules by considering your funnel

Once you are done with the funnel, it's time for the next step. You don’t need to adjust your strategies manually and check the keywords in the funnel one by one. Assume that we took a look at your funnel and realized that your generic campaign is performing well and more than 50 keywords bring the cost per goal. You don’t need to deal with all these keywords one by one. You can automate the process with the help of so you can cut down on the manual work and focus on developing your strategy.

If keywords are performing well, you should increase their bids and if they are not performing at the desired level, decrease their bids to see if they will perform better. If you still cannot spend money on those, pausing them would be a better idea.

Let’s say the cost per subscription is $15 so the keywords bringing goals less than $15 are well-performing ones so increase their bids. The condition should be that keywords bring more than 0 subscribers and the cost per subscription last one day is less than $15. When the condition is met the bid will be increased automatically.

Next  is to apply some automation rules to optimize your campaign:

automated rules User Acquisition Funnel

So what should I do if the CPG exceeds my KPI? Let’s keep the bids of the keywords that are bringing goals between $15-25 to see if they are promising for us or not. And decrease the bids of the ones bringing subscriptions when the condition is more than $25 by %15.

 Acquisition Funnel

4) Find close variants of the keywords working at the desired level 

We have optimized quite well until this point, but we need to have an infinite optimization cycle in our campaign management. Say that “piano play and learn” related keywords performance in terms of cost per subscription is 30% lower on average than other keywords. So, it would be a great idea to find more piano-related performing keywords.

Here is a good use case for finding a close variant of well-performing keywords:

  1. You should create Broad Match Campaigns/ Ad Groups for “piano play and learn”. Related keywords will help us catch the close variants of this keyword (which is relatively well-performing for us with a cheaper cost per subscription.) 
  2. The keywords which are set as Exact Match under your other campaigns (brand, competitor, generic) should be added as negative in our well-performing keywords Broad Match Campaign/Apple Search Ads Ad Group to protect our budget and to have granularity in the account structure. In that case, you’ll be able to get new search terms that are quite similar to well-performing ones 
  3. Since we cannot see any app events of those search terms generated from those new broad match keywords, we don’t know if it assists trial/subscription since Mobile Measurement Partners won’t be able to report these insights at the search term level. So we add them as an exact match to track what users are doing after the installs.

*Keep in mind that we can create an automation rule for the Broad Match Campaign / Ad Groups to add well-performing search terms as keywords to an exact match ad group with rule will help you examine the search terms performances under a separate campaign/ad group and expand your keyword pool without wasting your time!


You should understand the user journey, find out which events are important for you to track on the funnel, and figure out what is working accordingly. You shouldn’t exclusively take CPA, CPT data into account, the most crucial metric is conversion rate.

Once you have an understanding of your conversion funnel, optimize your campaigns accordingly. Increase the bids by helping you reach the lower funnel and decrease the bids that are not performing well.

With the help of the Search Ads Funnel Tracking feature, you can track your entire user acquisition funnel with ROAS, ARPU, CPI, and revenue, and other related metrics that are essential for you. The only thing you need to do is to choose an in-app event that you want to set as a goal.

Schedule a demo with our dedicated Apple Search Ads experts to see how you can customize your user acquisition and how to optimize your campaigns with the help of our best practices.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our Apple Search Ads blog for the best tactics and insights into campaign optimization. 

Contact Us

Ready to revolutionize your app downloads, boost user retention, and achieve consistent performance in all ad placements?
Book a Demo
Recent Blog Posts
See All