How to create the perfect app

How to Increase the Volume and Quality of Your App Installs with Facebook Ads

April 4, 2017 by Gabriel Machuret

By Stewart Anderson

As Facebook and user attention shifts toward mobile, mobile apps will play a huge part in growing your business. They offer a better user experience than a mobile browser and allow brands to send pop-up notifications to a customer’s device.

Did your company create a mobile app but aren’t getting traction from your customers?

In this article, I’m going to discuss how you can drive more mobile app installs using Facebook ads.

Install the Facebook SDK


The Facebook SDK is basically the app version of a pixel. It allows you to:

  • measure installs
  • measure app events
  • deep link
  • retarget
  • measure in-app conversions
  • drive people back to your app; and
  • improve targeting.

Before you run a mobile app installs objective, add the Facebook SDK to your app. You can learn how to do this by clicking here.

Deep linking

Deep linking is the process of sending a user to a specific page after downloading your app, as opposed to the home page screen. For example, if you use a dynamic product ad that asks the prospect to install your app, once downloaded, through deep linking, you can send them directly to the product they viewed in the ad.

Deep linking offers a better user experience and gently pushes them into making your intended action. Deep linking is an integral part of running successful app campaigns.

Not everybody you target will download your app. Getting them to download it is only half the battle as it’s estimated that 80% of all mobile apps are deleted after their first use. So when a user does install your app, it’s imperative that you have set up the right funnel to increase their chances of making the intended action (purchase or sign up).

Your deep linking page must redirect to the product or message shown in the ad. For example, if you’re giving users a $10 discount off of their first order when they download your app, take them to your products page with a notification that the $10 discount will be added automatically at checkout.


Tip: Ignore the cost per install metric. To run successful app install campaigns, think beyond the download itself. Your cost per install (CPI) isn’t that important; it’s what they do after installing that counts. If 80% of users delete your app the same day, what relevance does CPI have? It’s what they do after installing the app that you need to measure. Do they make in-app purchases? If you have a gaming app, do they buy extra levels or refer friends? These are the metrics you should focus on the most.

If your marketing team is focusing on acquisition numbers for your app and ignoring retention, you will setup your campaigns for failure.


Get your targeting on point


After you’ve set up your SDK, you can create audiences of people who visited your website and mobile app. You should treat each set of users differently and serve them different messages.

For example, you don’t want to keep running a mobile app install ad to someone who has already downloaded the app, as you’ll waste ad dollars and annoy users.

Tip: You can exclude Facebook users based on their app ID. This will ensure anyone who has your app installed will not be shown an ad to download it. Campaigns targeting mobile app users should redirect back to opening the app, where website visitors should be redirected to your website. Simple audience segmentation like this in the middle of your funnel will increase app retention.


Get creative with your…creative

Great imagery/video isn’t just important on your app store page—it’s essential for your ads as well. While you’ll obviously use different dimensions for the images and videos in your ads than you do on your app store page, there are some other things you should keep in mind as well:


  • Test, test, test — You can test MUCH more with Facebook ads than you can with your app store page. Use this to your advantage to find the best creative for your ad campaigns and keep your costs low. You can even use this to inform other areas of your marketing—if a certain image works well in an ad, it will probably work well when adapted to your app store page, website, etc.
  • Eye-catching vs. informative — Ideally, you want to use images and videos that are both, but test several different approaches.

    Remember: the best images/videos are the ones that yield the lowest cost-per-install and cost-per-active-user, not the highest clickthrough rate.
  • You don’t need to break the bank — Successful Facebook ad campaigns don’t require big-budget, high-production value videos like the ones you see for games like Mobile Strike. There are plenty of apps running highly profitable Facebook ads without putting Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face in your newsfeed. Sometimes, all it takes is a quick, simple ad like this one from Chatter:


Think outside the box to drive more installs

From our own data, we’ve noticed that the conversion rate from mobile app installs directly off of Facebook is stagnating, which is no surprise as more and more businesses are using the platform to market their apps.

Here’s the thing: you don’t necessarily have to use the app installs objective to drive more downloads. What we’ve currently been testing is running a Facebook lead ad to collect a user’s telephone number and email address, and through automation we send an SMS or email asking them to download our app.

SMS is preferred as the user will be on their mobile, whereas emails can be read on a laptop. We don’t have enough data to confirm how profitable this is, but as initial tests show, it is quite successful with cheaper CPI compared to sending users from Facebook to the app.

To get ahead in today’s business world you always need to be refining your sales funnel and thinking outside the box. You could create a funnel by sending users to a blog post or landing page to collect their email, then send an automated email to download your app. Adding another step in your funnel weeds out weak prospects and increases retention numbers for your app.


If there is one thing you can take away from this article, I hope it’s that you don’t see your CPI as the primary KPI or goal for your next mobile app install campaign. The install is only the start of your funnel.


Stewart Anderson is the CMO of MuteSix and a serial entrepreneur. Stewart started his first business right after finishing an active duty tour as an officer in the United States Navy.