Kate Varadinova blog

How to Improve User Acquisition with an In-App Events Map

By Kate Varadinova | August 31, 2020

Kate Varadinova is the Head of Mobile Media Buying at IQ Option. She began her career in mobile user acquisition as a Junior Marketing Manager at IQ Option and quickly progressed to her current role at the online trading platform. With six years of driving growth for IQ Option, Kate is an all-star mobile expert. 

Learn more about Mobile Hero Kate Varadinova.

Mobile marketing is much deeper and more complicated than just a chain of impressions, clicks, or installs on the app stores. There are millions of apps competing to gain high-quality customers, not only among their app category but beyond it.

Technology continuously evolves as advertising platforms offer new solutions to acquire traffic, with different optimization approaches that marketers should consider to take advantage of new opportunities. And perhaps, the most crucial tool here – post-install (or in-app) events. In this blog, I will explain how to design the structure of in-app events suitable to your product, avoid common missteps, and, most importantly, what to do next.

Set mobile KPIs to measure and ask probing questions along the (user) journey

Let’s start with the basics: a post-install (or in-app) event is any customer interaction with your app that takes place after the install. Although there are common events that most app marketers measure, there is no list that’s universally applicable to all apps. With a well-designed in-app events map, you gain an essential tool for successful user acquisition (both programmatic and manual buying), retargeting and retention, and product marketing.

To design a post-install events map suitable for your product, you first have to decide what questions you want to answer and what app metrics you want to measure. Here are common mobile advertising metrics to consider and base your questions on:

  • Registration rate
  • Purchase rate
  • Average Revenue Per Unit (ARPU)
  • Weekly Average Users/Monthly Average Users (WAU/MAU)
  • LTV-7, LTV-14, LTV-30
  • Day 7, 14 and 30 retention rate

The best way to build upon your list of questions is to walk in your customer’s shoes. Go through each stage the user might encounter using your app. These stages are when a potential customer has to decide on events such as registering, trying or skipping a trial, sharing the app with friends, completing an in-app purchase, and more. Collaborate with your team and get as many different people as you can to go through the user journey to ensure you consider every possible scenario. As a result, your list will grow and contain events unique to your app.

Here are some example questions to ask when going through the stages of using an app:

  • How many users rejected a registration?
  • How many customers completed the tutorial?
  • How many users did not complete the tutorial?
  • At which stage of the tutorial did they leave?
  • How many customers reached level 3, 10, etc.?
  • How many customers subscribed?
  • How many customers shared the app?

Draft your post-install events map–it doesn’t have to be perfect

Now you are ready to start drafting your map. First, define the most important metrics and decide which events will help you answer your questions. Find a balance: you don’t need to map every in-app event, but also don’t limit yourself to the most basic events such as registration or purchase.

As this will be a work in progress, don’t try to design the perfect event structure in your first attempt. As you start to collect data, it will become easier to identify metrics that are of greater value to measuring the performance of your marketing, and revise your map to reflect this–you may even decide to add some parameters or rules to the events.

Keep some of these tips in mind 

I encourage you to collaborate with your developers on what you need exactly from each event–what is the logic, what are the rules for triggering each in-app event, and what insight do you want to gain? Give your developers a clear direction. And of course, do I even need to say anything about testing before a release? (Duh!)

And Pro Tip: keep in mind that mobile fraud can take the form of fraudulent in-app events, which can both skew your data and hit your budget. Resolve this by implementing server-side validation for revenue-generating events.  Next, set up a connection with any of the customer identifiers.

OK, I have my in-app events map. Now what? 

Let’s look at some examples.

1. User acquisition

After you have your in-apps event structure designed, start thinking about using it for more in-depth insights. One approach is to analyze all of your in-app events–this is where you find user behavior patterns. Take the organic traffic data, define the key metrics of your app, then make adjustments to your initial user acquisition KPI benchmarks. In the future, it will help you measure different channels’ traffic performance. 

You could also use the post-install events map to find an event, or a chain of events, that are precursors for key conversions. The map helps predict a key conversion with a certain degree of probability. Target your CPA campaigns towards these “precursor events” to gain higher volumes of traffic at a lower price. 

Let’s imagine, the key conversion in your app is a purchase. And, let’s consider that your product is complex and the in-app flow from install to purchase is long and deep. One approach is to run a CPA-targeted campaign that optimizes towards your key event. This strategy works if you have enough data to build your customer’s journey on an in-app level. However, with a post-install events map, you can quickly identify the in-app event that’s a stepping stone for a user purchase.

For example, 80% of users who added to cart and shared your app on social media led to a purchase in the next 2 days. Add a custom event to fire when both actions have taken place and test switching the campaign’s optimization towards this new event. You will likely gain more traffic that will convert to your goal event, and it will be at a lower cost than directly optimizing towards your key event.

In manual traffic acquisition, where you buy traffic based on non-algorithmic impression-to-impression levels, in-app events also play a pivotal role. Based on your funnel, you can measure the quality of your campaigns, optimize the events, define good and bad sources and sub-sources, find fraudulent activity, and establish KPIs. The value of revenue events for ROAS campaigns is indisputable.

2. Retargeting & retention

An in-app events map is also useful for retargeting and retention. You can build custom audiences based accurately on the actions taken in the app (or cross-device) for starters. There is also the opportunity to effectively retarget users by offering exactly what they need when there is an increased chance of a conversion. 

For example, if a user added to cart but didn’t make a purchase during a certain period of time, remind them about their cart or offer something extra. In another scenario, a user might have taken the event “finish tutorial” but hasn’t started playing the game. Try a push notification. 

3. Product marketing

For product marketing, you can create dashboards for different metrics from varying categories. These help product marketers find correlations between updates, releases, and changes in users’ behavior in the app, while also helping explain these changes.

Say, for example, you make an app update and everything seems ok. Later you notice your metrics declining. Finding drop-off events is not a cure-all, but it is one way to find the issue. Another method of using in-app events for product marketing is by building the customer journey of all users, or a customized group of users in your app and using it to find weak points in the product – the places in the journey where you lose users. It’s an excellent way to improve your product.

To conclude, a well-designed, in-app events map is a powerful tool that will help every marketer on your team. The more effort you put into customizing your map, the more accurate your data will be and the more useful the map will prove to be.