App Marketing Is a Game of Inches – Focus on Consistent Efforts

With over 2 million apps available for download today, competition is fierce. Just creating an app isn’t enough. Neither is celebrating a large number of downloads. It really doesn’t matter if 1 million people downloaded your app in its first week if half of them never returned to use it.

It is monumentally important to device a strong user retention strategy, arguably even more important than the acquisition strategy. While most app marketers hope for a million-dollar sale and a viral event that skyrockets revenues, those aren’t dependable strategies. Constant effort to acquire and retain every possible user is what is needed. It is crucial to monitor the app usage to see how your users are using it or why they aren’t. How do you do that? With effective data analytics.

Ken Rudin, Director of Growth at Google said earlier this year that, “App marketing is a game of inches.” In an extremely insightful article, Ken shared the secrets to how Google used clever analytical data to find out exactly how its users are using apps like Google Search and Google Photos and then created successful campaigns around key points that were getting less attention. Google also found out reasons why some apps weren’t doing well in some markets and fixed those particular issues to significantly boost engagement.

In short, Ken strongly advocated the power of analytics in-app marketing to acquire and retain users. In this blog post, we will learn how some other top grossing apps have aced the game of analyzing key data to boost engagement and retention and elucidate how you can replicate their success using their formula.

Here’s How Some Top-Grossing Apps Did It

Some apps have simply become global phenomena, an integral part of our daily lives, so much so that their success feels natural to us, the users. However, there is careful planning and strategizing behind every successful app out there.


One example of an app that utilizes the power of analytics to offer its customers a truly differentiated experience is the Starbucks app. It vigilantly observes customer behavior to monitor the type of coffee they drink most often, which coffee they like at what time of the day, and what time do they generally enter the cafe. Once Starbucks has this highly personalized data, it uses this data to offer the customer an exclusive experience. It may offer them a new decaf product at the usual time the customer orders a regular decaf. It can also offer discounts to attract customers who never order a snack.


Another super successful app that leverages data science to deliver cutting-edge marketing is Airbnb. The company that turned the travel and hospitality industry on its head and made the spooky idea of sleeping in a stranger’s empty house sound cool and adventurous definitely has a plan.

Airbnb’s app monitors trip taken by users, their accommodation preferences, and travel plans to offer personalized experiences. Considering the vast number of listings on the app today, customers greatly appreciate the attention to detail and personalized attention. Airbnb also turned this personalization into a successful marketing campaign and customers loved it.

Here’s How You Too Can Use Data Science to Build a Stronger Marketing Strategy

While most developers track total downloads and total uninstalls to determine the average retention rates, there is little you can do with that data to effect any productive change. More nuanced analytics are required to monitor in-app behavior to determine exactly what users do with your app. You need to know exactly where they tap, swipe and pinch.

Visual analytics like touch heatmaps

it provides a clear breakdown of all the taps and swipes that the app is receiving, helping you understand which app functions and areas are getting the most action. This can help you improve functionality as well as UX design elements to draw more attention to where you want it. For instance, if there are plenty of taps at product selections, but the process stops at the ‘check delivery to your zip code,’ you know that the user is probably in an area you don’t service. You can send that user a personalized message promising coverage soon or suggest alternate delivery options.

More importantly, by using this data, you can find out which zip codes that you don’t service yet have potential customers. You can then plan your marketing expansion and coverage accordingly.

Real-time In-App Visual Analytics

let you see exactly where users are spending most of their time. You can find out which page the user spent the longest time on, where they dropped off, what their screen flow looks like, and which UI elements are causing points of friction in the user journey. Having valuable data like this gives you immense power. It helps you identify if any area of your app that has a usable offering but isn’t being used that much. You can then design a marketing campaign to draw attention to that feature or usability.

In fact, this is exactly what Google Photos did. When they noticed that their ‘free up space’ feature was being underutilized, they also realized that it was buried within menus and not easily discoverable. The team at Google Photos righted this wrong by drawing attention to the ‘free up space’ feature and ran an active campaign and push notifications to remind users of this functionality, and it greatly elevated engagement.

If you too feel that your app is being underutilized and your best features aren’t getting their chance to shine, it’s time to revamp your data collection and appropriate actions. You can then fine-tune your marketing messaging to highlight that feature and draw attention.

Monitor Drop-Off Points

To find out where users are quitting on you. If you are a gaming app and purchasing premium features is where users are dropping off, they are probably reluctant about paying. You can offer them incentives to continue using the game instead of dropping off. If they seem to trail off when they see the price, you can run a flash discount as an effective marketing strategy. It worked phenomenally well for Spotify.

If instead, users don’t mind paying the small amount but trail off at the payment method page, they are probably apprehensive about entering credit card information online. In that case, you can run a targeted marketing campaign emphasizing that payments on your app are quick, easy and safe, and compatible with multiple payment options.

Knowing exactly how users use and interact with your app will help you make suitable updates that effectively solve existing problems and provide users with an experience that exceeds expectations and draws in more revenue.


When Ken Rudin says that app marketing is a game of inches, app marketers should take that as an indication to focus on all the steps that lead to small, but significant achievements that promote constant and steady growth of your app. While an initial marketing boost is essential, consistent performance, useful updates, and a good retention strategy are paramount if you wish to turn all downloaders into paying customers.

Read also:4 Common Roadblocks in a Successful Mobile App Marketing Strategy

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Hiral Atha is the Founder and CEO of MoveoApps. She started coding even before she entered high school and today, she helps clients develop impactful mobile apps for their business. With over a decade of experience in mobile, she leads a team of young and experienced developers. When not leading an ambitious app development project, you’ll find her playing board games with her 6 years old son and piquing his curiosity in computer programming.