How to Determine if Your App Acquisition Campaigns Are Working

acquired-usersAll app marketers know: you need to acquire users in order to have any user analytics to track in the first place, right?

The goal of any good acquisition campaign is always to drive app downloads and new users. If your app isn't being downloaded, you need to go back to the drawing board to design a more alluring acquisition strategy.

But when it comes to tracking which campaigns are the most successful, you can’t stop at downloads.

If you like to frequent restaurants, you’re a prime example of this. Maybe one day on your way to work you see a sign advertising a newly-opened restaurant in your town. A couple of nights later, you decide to stop in for a meal. While the meal isn’t terrible, it’s also not spectacular, so you don’t plan on going back.

If you were a restaurateur, would you call that one visit, that one transaction, the activity that should determine the profitability of your business? No chance.

So, why would you count downloads, the first introduction to your app, as the primary metric for success? Someone can download your app without ever opening and interacting with it. Unless the user is engaged, returning again and again and actually using the app features, their download counts for nothing.

That’s why, when it comes to tracking attribution, you need to go further in determining if your campaigns are actually working. Here’s how:

Segment by acquisition channel (and keep an eye on behavior)

Segment the users you gain from different campaigns by channel, like Facebook, Greystripe, or Impact Radius, to see which source brought in the most new users and has the highest sessions per user. You'll also want to track other metrics per user that demonstrate campaign value. The goal here is to gain insight into how your paid-to-acquire users act in-app (versus your organic users) and to see which groups of users from particular channels use the app more - or better.

Are people from certain channels becoming power users? Are they more likely to rate your app positively or have 3+ sessions per week? Pinpoint your most important app metrics and employ those to evaluate user ROI and determine worthwhile channels. For example, Facebook-acquired users may come from more expensive ad campaigns, but end up making more in-app purchases, or become loyal customers across your other brand channels. 

In creating your user segments, ask yourself:

  • Are they paid or organic users?
  • What are the key metrics, characteristics or in-app actions do I want to use to evaluate users?
  • What time frame do I want to measure on?
  • What is my ideal cost per user?

Always measure LTV

The lifetime value, or LTV, of your user is going to be your #1 ROI metric. When deciding which acquisition campaigns were worth their salt, pair engagement metrics (number of sessions, session length, conversion events, etc.) with the user LTV broken down by each channel. Essentially:


It’s entirely possible that one campaign delivers a higher number of downloads and new users, but ends up with users who have a lower LTV than a campaign that resulted in fewer users. That’s why it’s so easy to misjudge an acquisition campaign early based on preliminary data. If you have a figure in mind, particularly a number of desired acquired users, it can be easy to write off a channel that didn’t deliver based on your initial goals. Don’t count your eggs before they hatch (or your downloads before they launch): always measure LTV.

When you take into account all of the metrics that impact your acquisition strategy, you can determine results like:

  • Users acquired through Facebook are more avid social sharers than organic users

  • Your Greystripe campaign resulted in more male users than female

  • The total revenue (based on LTV per user) of your Millennial Media campaign is 5% higher than that of other channels

Analyzing your ad campaigns is just the first step; next, you need to optimize your strategy according to your findings, goals, and changing priorities. 

To learn how to do this, and to go in-depth with other key app metrics and marketing tactics, download your free copy of The Advanced Guide to App Analytics & Marketing: