Understanding The Mobile Marketing Funnel

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Apps and the mobile marketing funnel:

In today’s dynamic world, new mobile apps are launching at breakneck speed. The mobile app industry is evolving at a pace like never before, with a staggering 3.4 million apps in the Apple App Store alone.

To get ahead of the competition, it is imperative that mobile app businesses understand how to discover, target, and also convert their customer segments in the leanest way possible, by grasping their mobile app marketing fundamentals.

In this article, we’ll bring you through the mobile marketing funnel. Helping you understand key strategies to create relevant marketing campaigns to reach your customers at every stage of the funnel, to ensure app marketing success.

Okay, but what is the Mobile Marketing Funnel?

The traditional marketing funnel is a model breaking down each touchpoint of a user’s journey with your business. This funnel generally begins with an awareness phase. The user learns about your business, before ending with sales-qualified leads turning into paying users by either buying a product or service.

The mobile marketing funnel is an adaptation of this traditional concept, made for the twenty-first century. Broken down into 3 phases with 6 stages to create a sophisticated customer acquisition strategy for mobile app businesses.

This evolved mobile marketing funnel consists of the following:

The Discovery Phase:

  • The stage where potential customers first learn about your existence. In this phase, you are casting a wide net. Getting the most number of views (also known as “impressions”) as well as clicks on your app marketing campaigns. At the lowest possible cost.

The Conversion Phase

  • This is the stage where you need to now convince the potential customer to be intrigued by your value proposition. You are running campaigns to get your customers to download, and then install your app. Note: “install” phase is delineated from the former, as some customers “download” apps but never do open them for the first time.

The Loyalty Phase:

  • The stage where you need to engage your customers and turn them into paying customers. You are trying to retain customers for the longest time possible. Trying to keep them engaged in your app and increase the frequency of your app openings.

Your user enters each phase sequentially, i.e. after the Discovery Phase, the user enters the Conversion Phase and lastly the Loyalty Phase.

In this article, we’ll explain each of the 3 phases in detail, as well as tips and tricks to optimise the results of each stage of the funnel.

The mobile marketing funnel
Image Source: Traktion.ai

1. The Discovery Phase

The Discovery Phase begins with the Impression Stage. This is where users are first exposed to your mobile app, which can be through paid channels and unpaid channels.

Paid channels

Refer to channels where you have to pay per impression. Such as Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and display network ads (also known as programmatic ads).

Unpaid channels

Channels where you do not have to pay per impression. These are infinitely scaleable, and include search engine result pages (SERPs), app store optimisation (ASO). Also content marketing such as an app review or social media posts.

Note that “unpaid channels” does not mean the channel is free. It just means that you don’t have to pay per click or impression. You still have to pay for the labour cost of conducting and optimising for those activities.

The Impression Stage

You want to optimise for app discoverability: get as much exposure to your ad or app as possible.

Here are some tips to optimise the Impression Stage:

Run ads on mobile-first platforms:

  • For paid channels, consider running paid ads on mobile-first platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. You can consider platforms like Facebook, but make sure your ads only target users on their mobile devices.

Engage in app store optimisation (ASO):

  • This refers to the processes of optimising your organic app placement in the Google Play and Apple App store. Which can be done by having a compelling and aesthetically beautiful app icon. Utilising relevant keywords in your listing summary and meta-descriptions based on relevant app search terms. You should also frequently update your listing so your app remains fresh. This optimises the number of impressions on your app by helping it rank higher.

Use the right influencers:

  • Get influencers with followings from your target audience to review the app through mobile-platforms. Such as Instagram and TikTok.

Run display ads in similar apps:

  • Many free-to-use and freemium apps provide you with the ability to run mobile ads on their app itself. Your display ad should have rich media elements, such interactive elements. For example, if you are a mobile-game app, find similar apps to run display ads with clickable elements providing an enticing preview of your own app.

Use QR Codes:

  • If you have physical channels, place a QR code with your partners in physical spaces that opens up your app store listing. This is useful for apps that interact with the physical space, e.g. a restaurant menu ordering app.

Submit your app to review sites:

  • Submit your app to review sites for early adopters to review your app.

Promote your app on social media:

  • Create and post engaging content of your app on social media. Encourage users to submit content and share their experiences on your app on these platforms.

After optimising for impressions, you also want your channels to be optimised such that customers actually click to visit your app. For the Click Stage, here are some tips:

Optimise your ad creatives:

  • A/B test your mobile app ads to test which creative yields the highest click-through rate (CTR) and the lowest cost-per-click (CPC) to keep your campaign lean.

Engage in affiliate marketing:

  • Where an affiliate takes a cut for bringing you traffic, or a customer. Essentially, you partner with content creators to showcase your app on their channels, and pay for traffic (i.e. clicks), or downloads.

Optimise your target demographics:

  • It might surprise you that your intended customers might not be your best-performing segments. Experiment your paid campaigns by A/B testing demographic factors, such as the age, gender and geography where your ads are being shown.

Build a special app landing page with links to the Google Play and Apple App Store:

  • This is especially for folks that find your app through websites or on desktops. Make it a simple 1-page landing page with enticing visuals that send them straight to the app store.

2. The Conversion Phase

Getting the users to download and then to install your app. These stages are all about building positive trust signals and an enticing value proposition, so users are intrigued by your app and trust you.

Ways to improve your trust signals in the Downloads Stage:

Showcase your brightest achievements in your app store listing:

  • Won any awards – List them. Great reviews? Add them to your product description and your product summary screenshots. News feature – Write “As Featured on _____”.

Generate social proof with reviews:

  • Find your early adopters who are happy with your product to leave you a 5-star rating. High user satisfaction impresses possible customers. It gives them the right psychological nudge to download your app.

Use very eye-catching content:

  • Your app description also comprises photos and videos that provide a demo of your app. These are crucial to tempting users to find out more. Showcase the best of your app and also include explanations of how the app works in your on-picture captions.

The Install Stage

Getting users to install and use your app for the first time. The number of app starts is also a factor in app store optimisation (ASO). It helps drive the earliest parts of your funnel by improving your impressions and clicks.

Encourage this by having a bright and aesthetically stand-out icon. As well as providing push notifications to your users if they have not yet opened your app.

You can also drive more installs by building in easy referral schemes by getting your customers to be your app ambassadors. Make your app easy to share by creating ways for users to copy a text and link, with a shared discount offer. For example, you can offer both your current user and their referee a $10 credit on your app. This can help drive down your customer acquisition cost (CAC) heavily.

Creating a funnel dashboard
Image credit: Unsplash.com

3. The Loyalty Phase

The Loyalty Phase

Maximising the value of your customer relationships by retaining and engaging with your customers.

The Retention Stage

Maximising the length of time your app is used.

This stage is particularly important to the entire funnel. In today’s world, the cost of acquiring a customer can be astronomical. If your cost-per-click (CPC) of your ads is $1.00, and your conversion rate is 5%, it means that it takes at least $20 in customer acquisition costs (CAC) to get them.

You want to keep your customers as long as possible. If your app operates by a monthly subscription, your customer lifetime value (CLTV) needs to significantly outweigh your CAC.

Make them loyal with these retention tips:

Make onboarding as simple as possible:

  • The first interaction touchpoint of your customer with your app needs to be as seamless as possible. If you need users to create additional accounts, make sure you have Single Sign-On (SSO) enabled. Users can create an account using their existing social network accounts or email accounts.

Optimise, optimise, optimise your UX/UI:

  • Nothing drives a high churn rate more so than a poor user experience. Beyond your onboarding, improve your user interface and experience with constant iterations and design releases with visual designers.

Loyalty Discounts:

  • Provide users with discounts for longer-use of your app through smarter pricing. Provide substantial discounts to users who subscribe to in-app purchases for a year, rather than those that use it for a month.

Create a user journey map to map customer touchpoints:

  • Conduct UX research to understand the common “drop off” points where customers stop using your app.

Provide an easy in-app channel to get customer feedback:

  • Provide an easy way within the app for customers to leave feedback, both positive and negative, and get back to them ASAP.

The other complementary stage is the Engagement Stage, which is all about maximising the frequency of use of your app by your customer, i.e. how often does your customer use your app on a fixed time period.

Build loyalty schemes with gamification:

  • Reward engagement with incentives, such as free perks and gifts, which can be monetary and non-monetary, for your users to spur continued engagement. Gaming apps often provide a “login bonus” for users that login frequently.

Send personalised mobile notifications:

  • If a user has not logged in for a while, provide timely “nudges” with a clear offer for the user, such as free credits or discounts. Use these sparingly and at appropriate times. Do not spam users with generic messages.


In conclusion, the mobile app marketing funnel is distinctively different from the traditional funnel, with different strategies and considerations at each stage of the funnel.

Use the above tips to craft your bespoke mobile marketing funnel and optimise each phase over time to keep your customer acquisition costs lean. To get started, peruse Conversion Uplift’s directory of digital marketing tools.

Featured image by Fauxels on Pexels