The Fundamentals of Mobile Growth and Apple Search Ads: Series Prologue

Mobile growth includes everything that can contribute to scaling opportunities and long-term growth of a sustainable user base, which naturally includes the UA efforts.

Ahmad Hejazy
December 8, 2021

As everyone would agree, the more connected the growth strategy of a company is, the better. Here, many factors come into play such as how the organic side is connected with paid search, viral phenomena, branding, niche dynamics, and much more. Within this context, it is important to distinguish between User Acquisition (UA) organic or paid, and the overarching concept of mobile growth. 

Mobile growth includes everything that can contribute to scaling opportunities and long-term growth of a sustainable user base, which naturally includes the UA efforts. This series of articles will discuss the fundamentals of Mobile Growth and discover how Apple Search Ads can be a crucial component for your mobile business and its goals. 

So, say in an alternate universe, global warming is not an issue, and Musk has moved after PayPal sale into more ventures within the internet ecosystem. He, as Musk shall always be, decides to tinker with UA and mobile growth after Apple's privacy-oriented changes. Now, I don’t have the IQ of our eccentric tech overlord, but we should take it from the man himself when he said that “ it's important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy.”

Impression Inventory and Seasonality on Mobile Growth

To start from the atomic level, the funnel of mobile growth starts from the user base, its properties, impression inventory, nature of niche or category. This part can be expanded into endless blogs but in the spirit of brevity, we could sum this into the impression amount available to certain classes of keywords, and the seasonality of increases in amount impressions according to different cases. 

For example, a business app would have seasonal drops in impressions over the weekend while a dating app would experience a spike in the search volumes and thus impressions available over the weekends. 

In the upcoming parts of this series, we will expand on this within the context of building brand awareness, capturing UA opportunities through automation, and other tactics. 

But as a rule of thumb, by using market insights from a tool like MobileAction, we can detect great opportunities, such as seeing seasonal increases in search volumes of a keyword, learning about the UA strategies (paid and organic) of your competitors, and analyzing market trends. This will be one of the first steps you will take in your journey to getting to know your audience and niche. Once you have a solid understanding of the competitive landscape, you will have a robust foundation from which you can start building your own Mobile Growth blueprint.

impression inventory seasonalitymobile growth
Keyword Trends Sample

As we are on the topic of impressions and seasonality, let’s demonstrate how Apple Search Ads can allow you to capitalize on opportunities by considering Grocery Apps. With Search Tab Ads, it is possible to reach users before they even search for a keyword. Now, this can be a great tool for apps with wider audiences, such as Grocery Apps. By using the dayparting option on, these apps can increase their bids during certain hours (e.g., 6-9 PM) in order to take advantage of the larger impression inventory during dinner time.

The Synergy Between Apple Search Ads & App Store Optimization

As any Apple Search Ads UA manager would know, this subject is quite rich with details and has central importance for users' acquisition efforts on iOS. When we look at a category or a sub-category on the app store, we will have a pool of search terms, some of which will be high search volume established terms, and some are low volume and new searches which evolve along with all the changes that happen to everyday language.

These terms each will have impression inventories corresponding to them, naturally with varying consistency, which is rooted in seasonality and even temporary viral phenomena or events. 

ASO comes into play in order to make our metadata precise in terms of the keywords we rank for, and how they align with core services or the nature of the app. ASO doesn’t only depend on metadata and keyword rankings, but also on all the aspects of the app store listing, such as the icon,  screenshots, description. These sides of ASO improve the tap-to-install rate which in turn would create more favorable odds to acquire users organically and through paid acquisition with Apple Search Ads. 

mobile growth apple search ads app store optimization

Here, the need for the holistic mobile growth approach becomes apparent, the ASO work along with paid UA efforts using Apple Search Ads should align with a long term strategy for brand positioning, where any of the actions taken on either the organic side of the product page, or the keywords an app is ranking for using metadata, or paid UA, it is all connected, and it should tell a story. This story should be attractive, honest, and accurate as to not lose conversions, but also to establish a sustainable, loyal user base. 

Mobile App Retention, Monetization and Long-term Sustainability in User Acquisition

Retention and monetization are the ultimate goals of an app as they drive growth and justify any expansion in terms of UA scaling efforts from a business point of view. Retention variations can come from different sources. The exact reasons pinned down to their statistics could be discussed in a different series, but as we cover ‘first principles’, it would come down to the quality of impressions, the users they are corresponding to, and their behavioral patterns. Naturally, retention would have to do with the app itself and product dynamics as well.  

Talking about retention would make the most sense within the context of monetization, whether it is future plans of monetization of an app or direct revenue coming from subscription, purchase events, or ad revenue.

Striking a balance between the factors of retention and their impact on revenue generation could be tricky. For example, a game company might want to keep their monetization model the same and not use ads aggressively or at all in their games, this would translate into UA strategy to try to build a correlation from current campaigns data, as to which users coming from which keywords (intent-themes), and to expand on the pool of such keywords.

Here, a great strength of is that it actually combines the Apple Search Ads data with in-app events from attribution partners, and by having all of it in one snapshot, you have total control of your user acquisition funnel. Additionally, the keyword-level data that you will collect will also allow you to better understand your user base. Applying this knowledge will increase the effectiveness of your other UA campaigns as it will enable you to reach higher-quality users who will not only have higher LTV, but carry the potential to become the ambassadors of your brand.

UA Funnel

In the simplest of terms, focusing on keywords that have great ROAS, and increasing their bids to get more impression share, while at the same time having automation that will decrease bids for under-performing keywords will create a balance in how the overall account performs.  

Moreover, to combine the retention and monetization approach into the product, some apps inherently have dynamics that encourage user-to-user interactions and engagement which when capitalized on can take retention levels much higher than other apps.

Examples of the idea of harnessing the power of group connections could apply to different categories: from gaming apps, say PUBG, to messaging apps like Telegram, and even niche meditation apps, like Hallow for example. The core idea would be to create dopamine-rewarding dynamics that will create a positive neural association with the app usage experience, starting from the product being user-friendly, up to the idea of belonging to a group, for fun, for learning, or for sharing experiences and interests. 

Takeaways on Mobile Growth and Apple Search Ads

In conclusion, it would be good to bring all the ideas together, in order for them to be used by UA managers with apps to be launched or to improve their current vision of UA efforts. 

  • The big picture starts from the atoms: Impressions, that is the foundation, the sea from which UA managers would hunt for desirable outcomes, be it install traffic, users with high retention rates, a good volume, and so on. 
  • Then the lines of the picture are drawn with how well Apple Search Ads is used along with ASO, the strategy connecting ASO with Search Ads, so we get more than the sum of separate efforts. Also, that strategy should be geared towards well-defined goals based on a good understanding of the competitive landscape within a given category. 
  • And Lastly, retention and monetization should inform the actions relating to previous levels, with such positive\negative feedback loops and testing, UA strategy would certainly bring highly desirable results within the context of medium to long term UA sustainability. 

Upcoming next, How to apply these ideas using and the slew of powerful features it has!

Meanwhile, you can always schedule a call with our experts to learn more about how can help you reach your mobile growth goals.

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