[New Podcast] 4 Easy Steps To Increasing App Store Conversions

With so many apps, going from search to conversion is huge.

In our recent podcast with Fabien-Pierre Nicolas, we learned how he doubled the app store conversion rate at SmartNews, Inc. in just 30 days.


We also got his perspective on creative, attracting new users, fast iteration framework, and the future of mobile.

Fabien used four steps to double conversion rates:

  1. Process
  2. Targeting the Right Audience
  3. Diversify Your Audience
  4. Ad Spend Dashboard

1) Process


When Fabien came to SmartNews from the gaming sector, his first step was putting a process in place. This meant ensuring they had good, market-level information.

His team reevaluated key words and competitor screenshots to take a fresh look and determine what they could do differently.

Fabien utilized two tools for App Store Optimization (ASO). To attract the best users, they used AppTweak and Mobile Action in their ASO stack.

Experiments by Google is great for testing. You can test virtually anything with the Experiments tool. However, he suggests only testing one asset at a time to determine if that asset has an impact.

2) Targeting the Right Audience

Fabien started by evaluating his competition. He used Facebook Audience Insights to get data on broad audience demographics. It’s a free tool and useful if your audience has scale or if you have first-party apps, like CNN for SmartNews.

They took all the competitive audience data and uploaded it to their attribution partner. With that custom audience, they pulled demographics of the users who spent two hours on their app.

By doing this, they learned that their most engaged audience members were 35 - 65 years old who were independent or liberal leaning and had bachelor's or master’s degrees. While it wasn’t surprising, it’s still relevant.

Once they were clear on their primary audience, they built specific user profiles and targeted through Facebook and Twitter.

3) Diversify Your Audience

When it comes to experimenting and trying to diversify your audience, you can’t rely on Facebook and Twitter to bring you users. The spend per user is too high.

SmartNews had to dig deeper. To do so, they used AppLovin and App Colony.

They learned what those users were doing with their day. Beyond just the news that they were targeting them for.

4) The Return on Ad Spend

Fabien developed a dashboard that provided a return-on-ad-spend mechanism. They utilized tools called “Acquired” and “Singular” to do that.

How to Approach New Users

We asked Fabien how he approaches new users.

He said, “I think ‘always be testing’ should be a motto that every mobile growth team has on their wall. It’s hard to keep this discipline. But I think it’s very important.”


At SmartNews, they run one to two user segment tests a month. They look at the funnel and ask questions like, “Would the gaming audience be interested in SmartNews?” Then they develop new creative and run those on gaming ad networks.

They tested and learned that those in the gaming audience didn’t retain and engage like they wanted. Nevertheless, they needed to experiment outside of their core market and have logic behind that experimentation.

Fabien’s Take on Creative

Fabien provided great insight when he said, “It all comes down to the math.”

Cost per unique user is a mathematical function of: Click Through Rate (CTR) x Conversion Rate (CR) x Cost Per Install (CPI) = Cost Per Thousand (CPM) paid to the ad publisher.

As a marketer, your impact should focus on click through rate and conversion rate. The key is making sure you invest in finding the right creative resources.

When doing so, consider two things.

  1. Bring in another team member to evaluate new graphic designers.
  2. Have one point person when working with the graphic designers. You don’t want to overwhelm your great designers.

Fast Iteration Framework: How Can We Apply This in the App World?

Fabien alluded to the old Facebook motto, “Move fast and break things.”

At SmartNews they apply it through their approach to launching ideas or creative. Instead of multiple iterations, he suggests launching creative at 80% completion. If it performs, then refine it. If it doesn’t, then you haven’t wasted time.

The same is true for keywords and top-of-funnel ads. Take creative risks. Sometimes it will work out. Sometimes it won’t. And that’s OK.

Future of Mobile

In all of our Appy Hour Podcasts, we ask our guests their perspective on the future of mobile.

Here’s a summary of what Fabien had to say:

Google is fully into Universal App Campaigns (UAC) and Facebook is into some similar tools. All of this automation and machine learning is requiring those who are in manual user acquisition to find ways to diversify their skillset so they are ready to take on new roles when processes are fully automated.

He also mentioned that there will be a growing need to have local country marketers.

Finally, he believes that voice control influencers like Alexa could have some impact on mobile, but he feels a bit more bullish on AR. There’s potential with mobile and AR to allow for more information about our world. It will make us a lot more productive.

He went on to laugh and say, “This is where the battle between man and machine is.”

This post is based on an interview with Fabien-Pierre Nicolas from SmartNews, Inc.. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Appy Hour.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.

New Call-to-action