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How to Choose An App Marketing Agency

Detail Blog | todo Mobile

Finding an app marketing agency to work with for your brand can present its challenges. With so many options available, it’s hard to navigate and find a partner that can really add value to your marketing efforts.  

If your business has an app, mobile site, or wants to reach users on their mobile devices than you might have considered working with an agency. In this article, we explain in more depth what an app marketing agency is, who their typical customers are and recommendations on how to select one.  

What is an app marketing agency?

App marketing agencies are companies that partner with businesses in order to succeed with marketing efforts on mobile.  Typically, these businesses may refer to themselves as a “mobile marketing agency”, “app marketing agency” or even a “mobile marketing consultancy”. At the end of the day, the main strategy is to execute mobile first solutions for their clients. These firms offer services in the following categories:  

  • Mobile app user acquisition and retention 
  • Mobile web customer acquisition and retention 
  • Mobile-first awareness and branding (in other words how offline brands engage with their customers on mobile devices).  
  • Mobile app design and development 

Who are their typical customers? 

Unlike other digital marketing agencies that might specialize in certain verticals, app marketing agencies don’t have a specific customer type. Since they specialize in mobile first marketing they work with businesses of all types to help them specifically on mobile.

Traditionally, advertisers hire an agency where they lack expertise, resources, or buying power. Depending on the size of the advertiser, an agency might work completely independently or integrated with the client’s marketing team.

Clients rely on agencies to dictate marketing strategies with the objective of boosting their organic traffic. An audit at a product and marketing level would take place and then various recommendations would be implemented. More established clients may rely on an agency to focus on paid channels and to allocate specific budgets towards new acquisition or engagement.   

What services does an app marketing agency offer?

Person holding pencil near laptop

App marketing agencies typically offer a wide variety of services in the marketing and advertising space.

Niche mobile agencies focus on only one or two of the below service types. For example, an App Store Optimization (ASO) agency would be good at ASO. However, their skill set would be lacking on Facebook Ads.

Full-service mobile agencies specialize in all of the below. They would use this cross-functional knowledge to adapt to their clients needs and help them maximize return on investment.

Media Planning and Buying

The largest service offered by an app marketing agency is typically media planning and buying. As the app universe is expanding and mobile adoption increases these types of agencies are even buying across desktop, TV and out of home placements to drive app growth.

Social Media

All paid efforts on social channels but can also include owned channels. Agencies will buy on all the major social networks to work towards client goals.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Snapchat
  • TikTok
  • Pinterest
  • and more.

As new social media platforms emerge, agencies are typically ahead of the curve in terms of understanding and executing efficiently.

Search

Including Google Universal App Campaigns, Apple Search Ads, and even long tail search partners like Bing or Yahoo. Increasing your search efforts helps your app be found and supplement your overall growth strategy.

Programmatic

Programmatic advertising is the automated buying (and selling) of ad space. On mobile, there are various platforms and technologies available to maximize the benefits of this type of buying. This is a purely data driven approach to buying.

Video

Video is one of the more engaging formats on mobile. Advertisers are investing more in video as consumer attention moves towards the format.

Rich Media

Engaging playable formats allow advertisers to create positive brand experiences with their customers.

Retargeting

Retargeting brings customers back to your product, decreasing churn rate and increasing revenue. Whether you have an app, e-commerce store or physical location, reengaging with your customers on mobile can be an effective strategy to drive business growth.

Premium Direct

Direct and private marketplace buying is making a resurgence in the ecosystem as advertisers work directly with publishers for the best pricing and access to top quality inventory.

Ad Networks

For advertisers looking to maximize their reach there are partners outside of Google, Apple and Facebook that can drive performance.

Rewarded Media

Rewarded media allows your customers to opt-in to your advertising. Increasing your ability to create positive customer interactions and loyalty.

App Store Optimization

Similar to search engine optimization (SEO), app store optimization (ASO) ensures that your app is visible in the search results for its corresponding App Store. This can be split into two key elements:

  • Search Visibility – The order where your app appears against different search terms. The higher you appear in the search list, the more likely your app will be installed.
  • Conversion Optimization – More users will install your app when you have optimized your app page. This part of the conversion funnel is becoming increasingly important, especially when you are sending paid traffic to your app page.

Strategy

Strategy is a bit of a buzzword in the consulting field. However, defining its place in mobile is important so advertisers can understand how a mobile app agency can help.

With their in-depth experience these types of agencies can help business of all sizes define their priorities and then execute agains their goals. These types of services include:

  • Monetization Consulting – How businesses are monetizing on mobile? Is it with our without and app? Freemium or premium model?
  • Owned Traffic Support – How brands are growing their mobile presence and customer acquisition on mobile through owned channels (including social media).
  • Marketing Tech and Analytics Implementation – With so many platforms available in marketing technology qualifying, choosing, and implementing the right solution(s) can be a daunting task.
  • Product-Market Fit and Brand – Is your mobile presence going to help or hurt your brand? Maybe you’re already a mobile-first company and your not sure where your product should fit into the ecosystem? Branding and awareness are difficult strategies to define for app developers.
  • Training – A good app marketing agency will also include training services to their clients. That means empowering them with knowledge so they can succeed alongside, or even without, an agency.

Creative Services

Creative is the most important part of any advertising campaign, without creative there is no touchpoint with the customer and therefore no campaign!

App marketing agencies have an in-depth knowledge of the creative landscape. They can use their expertise from working with various clients across different verticals to provide best-in-class assets.

Most advertisers utilize the creative service of an agency alongside their media planning and buying services. But, it isn’t unheard of for an advertiser to only utilize the agency for their creative expertise.

Typically an app marketing agency would focus on the following types of creative:

  • Video
  • Rich Media
  • Banners
  • App Store Images
  • App Store Preview Video

For clients that are looking to supplement their strategy outside of digital, these agencies can provide TV and offline creative services.

What are the benefits of using an app marketing agency? 

Planning and Buying at Scale 

Agencies work with a strategic client base and thus have access to better pricing. This is one of the main advantages that clients should consider when hiring an agency.  

They can also apply collective knowledge to ensure optimal performance of campaigns. Market trends within the mobile advertising space often change month-to-month and it’s important to be constantly aware of the nuances and intricacies that take place.  Clients are allocated an experienced team of experts as opposed to hiring in house employees that may likely be overwhelmed.

Faster Results 

By on-boarding an app marketing agency, advertisers will be able to generate results swiftly and will be able to assess the overall return on their advertising spend. Agencies may provide as close to a turnkey solution as possible to get live and to demonstrate positive results quickly. 

Access to the best tools 

Advertisers may not have the ability to access marketing tech tools based on minimum required commitments. An agency is able to pool together their resources from an array of clients and then offer these types of tools to their clients at low or no fees. Furthermore, many tech platforms have self-serve options but may not be that intuitive to an internal marketing team. Managing attribution and reporting can be a very cumbersome process to try and take on firsthand. Hiring an agency to manage this area will save a lot of headaches and technical issues.  

Full Ecosystem Knowledge  

A good agency understands all facet of mobile including monetization, app store optimization, vendor management, analytics, industry insights, product insights and more. This collective knowledge can help their clients identify areas of improvement, how to prioritize and most importantly how to execute.  

How to select an app marketing agency?  

Man in front of vending machine choosing a product at night

Track Record 

The best indicator when selecting an agency is their track record in the industry. How long have they been active for? Do they produce positive results for their clients? Understand their client’s specific key performance indicators and how to efficiently work towards them? Have good relationships with their vendors? These are all important factors to consider.  

Past and Present Clients 

This can be an important consideration to look at when evaluating an agency. It’s good to ask for recent case studies or if time permits reach out to some of their clients.  

One word of warning is that you should watch out for “pseudo” agencies. Unfortunately, there are some bad players in the industry who re-broker offers through their network and then list these campaigns as their “clients” even though they’ve never had a direct relationship with the advertiser.  

Transparency 

Transparency is now the standard in the mobile advertising industry. Watch out when working with agencies if they are unable to share where they are purchasing their media on your behalf.  

How does agency pricing typically work?  

There are many different pricing models that an agency can work with and most are flexible to provide for the needs of their clients.  

Retainer 

Most agencies will require clients pay a monthly retainer to enlist their services but not always. For media planning and buying services this can also be considered a “minimum” fee that the agency needs to ensure the correct amount of resources are available to service the account.  

Percentage of Spend

For media planning and buying specifically agencies will charge a percentage of this spend. This can vary based on a variety of factors (volume of spend, retainer size, performance based fees, etc).  

Performance Based 

A trend in the past five years is for app marketing agencies to include a performance-based incentive in their fee structure. This is a down funnel metric that directly correlates with the client’s success metrics (in app purchase for example). There are different models that can be used including revenue sharing or performance targets to unlock bonuses.  

Project Based 

The most common structure when it comes to fees for creative services is a project-based rate. The fee is agreed in advance and then the work is completed. The key with these types of agreements is that the project scope is clearly defined before work is started. This avoids any potential disagreements when it comes to project delivery. Project based billing can be used for strategy services as well.


We hope this has provided some clarity in what role a mobile first agency plays within the media space for advertisers. Brands and clients are becoming smarter understanding that user experience along with the relationship between devices and platforms ultimately affects results. An app marketing agency can help you reach your goals on mobile.