Organic vs. Paid App Marketing: Managing Organic Growth Expectations for Your App

Post-app launch, every decision made impacts the success of your app in an over-saturated marketplace. One of the most important decisions will be how you plan to acquire new users. That leads us to this pivotal question: is it better to use paid or organic channels?

Inevitably, marketers are drawn to the appeal of the “free” organic approach. They’re dazzled by stories of companies making it big through word-of-mouth. The reality of the situation is that organic growth alone is not enough to compete in today’s market. Many of these success stories are the exception, not the norm.

In reality, the solution is a little more complex. Great app marketing involves a mix of both paid and organic efforts. By understanding the synergy between the two, apps can maximize the campaign’s performance potential.

Organic Doesn’t Mean Free

One of the most common misconceptions seen around organic growth is that it’s the “free” way to acquire users. Most likely, this stems from the common comparison of “organic” vs “paid” user acquisitions. Many marketers categorize paid acquisitions as those connected to a click from a paid ad… and organic as everything else.  

This falsely implies that everything other than paid ads is free. That means the results of more traditional, wide-reaching, harder-to-attribute forms of advertising (such as television, radio, print, and some forms of internet advertising) are part of “free” organic growth.

Outside of the users that are influenced by traditional above-the-line marketing, there are also the users acquired from word of mouth, and those who are already on the market for your product and are actively searching. These also get pushed into the organic category. As you can now see, what you’re calling free users are really just users that are hard-to-attribute – some being “free”, and some the result of paid efforts.

Organic vs. Paid Comparison is Too Simplistic

Once you understand that organic users are not only those that come from truly free efforts, but also the users that are harder to attribute/part of above-the-line marketing – you can see that measuring paid vs. organic splits is inaccurate.

When comparing the two it’s important to remember some in-house marketing efforts (blogging, SEO, social) are contributing to organic growth. Realistically, the split should be viewed more as performance marketing vs. everything else.

Unfortunately, there are still aren’t many perfect attribution options for PR and Marketing efforts, but there are some tools that should be utilized. A CRM tool can help track leads from marketing efforts, market research can help determine whether messaging is reverberating with the audience. Such efforts can provide helpful comparisons between performance marketing and organic marketing strategies.

Organic and Paid Install Synergy

Despite the hurdles in understanding organic and performance marketing splits, both are incredibly important to your app install campaign. The marketing methods used to garner organic installs are a vital part of establishing brand image, search optimizations, and increasing long-term brand visibility.

As many leading marketers know, paid performance marketing and organic marketing work better together. The results of their synergy are powerful. A recent study by TUNE has shown that paid app installs increase organic installs by 1.5 times, across the board. In some app categories, paid advertising has been shown to boost organic installs by as much as 16 times!

How exactly do paid campaigns boost organic installs? The Apple App Store and Google Play both use several factors to determine rankings in app categories and keywords. These include reviews and engagement – factors you can use to influence the design of your app. App stores also look at install volume and velocity so paid campaigns can boost your app’s ranking and discoverability. When your app is highly ranked, it has more visibility for organic installs to take place.

The Takeaway

Although there are many myths about organic install methods, organic strategy remains a pivotal piece in the user acquisition process. The industry as a whole needs a better definition of what exactly makes up organic marketing and its associated costs. Organic marketing methods are expansive. To claim that all organic methods are “free”, then compare them to paid performance marketing, is not realistic.

The reality is both involve some sort of monetary component – whether it be direct or indirect. Successful app install campaigns employ a balance of paid and organic strategies, not simply one or the other. Organic methods around your app’s launch are crucial to establish your app among the competition. Simultaneously paid channels are key to increasing your app’s immediate visibility and providing tangible data for decision making. The proper use of paid mobile performance marketing and organic strategies will drive your app install campaign to success.

Are you ready to ramp up your mobile performance marketing campaigns? With over 24 years in the business, we know how to propel mobile growth. Contact Adperio to find out how we’re redefining mobile performance marketing.

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