App Spend Slowing but Downloads Remain Strong. How Can Apps Win During A Down Market?

Performance Graph of Mobile Apps

The mobile ad spending market leaped 14% to $336 billion this year… but now we’re in a recession, and as a result app spending isn’t up to par. Although we’re seeing significant growth in app usage, app spending is continuing to decline as the current economic situation rages on. So, how can your apps win during a down market? 

Despite the current economic situation, there are a few things you can do right now to improve your chances.  Remember how we mentioned app usage is going up? While app spending is down, consumer spending is unwavering for non-game applications… meaning now is the time to invest in your app, before your competitors realize that too. 

That being said, you may want to see results before committing. That’s why we’ve assembled a slew of strategies with metrics to back them up, and are sharing them below to help you put your app’s best foot forward in 2023, ensuring your app wins during this down market. 

Developing Your App Monetization Strategy

There are a plethora of ways that you can revitalize your app monetization strategy. In fact, this should be one of the first things you consider regarding app spending this year. But what can you do to ensure your apps can win during a down market with monetization strategies you aren’t already doing?

What monetization strategy do you have right now, if any at all? Are you using in-app purchases or a subscription model? Would you consider one, the other, or both? Maybe you use in-app ads. Whatever the case, changing up or adding a new monetization strategy is an effective way to boost ROI without significant investment. 

In-App Advertising

In-app advertising is the most common method of app monetization, and for a good reason; it doesn’t cost your customers anything. 50% of gaming app users prefer free apps with ads compared to other monetization methods, and other app niches follow a similar trend. 

There are multiple methods of in-app advertising. Banner ads and pop-ups are usually go-to’s, but have you considered enticing a user to choose to watch the ad? To explain simply, many apps will lock features behind an ad, allowing a user to watch an ad temporarily to temporarily gain a premium feature for free. This minimizes users’ satisfaction with ad frequency and makes them more enticed to watch and pay attention to the advertisement in the first place. 

In-App Purchases

Purchasing Mobile App

That being said, free apps regardless of niche with in-app purchases generate the highest revenue across all monetization methods, according to Forbes. Many apps opt-in to do both of these methods; have in-game ads, but an in-app purchase or subscription for the user to get rid of the ads among other perks.  

Back to what we proposed in the last section: offer in-app purchases, and for lower-tier purchases entice the user with an ad to temporarily unlock said premium feature. These two methods work hand-in-hand, which cater to multiple user spending preferences of your audience; this is especially important to consider during the current economic crisis. 

App Store Optimization

If your app budget has less wiggle room, you can boost the visibility of your app without the cost of advertising by optimizing your app’s listing to match current ASO trends. On average, a user decides whether they want to download your app within 3-6 seconds of visiting the website; enticing the user quickly is more imperative than ever before. Here’s what you can do to ensure your apps can win during a down market regarding your ASO:

Listing Videos

One of the biggest ASO trends has to do with videos in the app store listing. 35% of viewers who watch a video in an app store listing are 3 times more likely to download the app, which we mentioned in our last blog as well. 

Of course, not any video will do. Although you could reuse an advertisement or UGC you’ve already generated for marketing purposes, the best-performing app listing videos just show off the main features with very little explanatory text or voice-over to explain your app’s main functions. 

Keyword Usage

Although using the right keywords seems pretty straightforward when it comes to ASO, something you may not have considered yet is where to put them. If your app is on iOS, you’re sorely missing out if you aren’t loading the app’s subtitle with keywords. 

The Apple App Store is the only app store currently with the subtitle feature. Directly under your app’s title is a mini, one-line description. The best part is that the subtitle plays a large part in search results, which is especially important since users search for an app account for 65-70% of downloads. While a user may not be searching for Duolingo, a user is more likely to search the keywords found in “Learn Spanish, French, and German for free”, which is their current subtitle. 

Using The Right Screenshots

Obviously, screenshots should be included, but what constitutes a good screenshot? 

First, they aren’t just screenshots of your app. Typically it’s a rendered graphic with a screenshot as the background, with text explaining the features and selling points of your app over the screenshot. Many app store listings put the screenshot into the rendering of a mobile phone or tablet so the text can be above the “phone”, and not block any of the UI the app owner is trying to show off. 

Second, focusing on the main selling points of your app is key. The user doesn’t need to see loading screens or menus; they need to see the why of your app. If your app is in the e-commerce niche, show off the digital storefront and loyalty program. If your app is dedicated to children’s education, show screenshots from inside one of the early lessons and part of the curriculum map. 

Other Ways For Your App To Profit During A Recession

Here are some other tools to boost your app’s growth and spending during a financial crisis that doesn’t quite fit in a set category that cost very little, but routinely boosts both users and profits when employed correctly. 

Push Notifications

If you want your app to win during a down market, this one can be tricky. Too many push notifications can negatively impact your app’s perception… but at just the right rate, push notifications can increase conversion rates into paid features of your app by nearly 50%! 3-5 per week is the maximum number of push notifications you want to do for optimal user interaction without driving your users away. 

Converting Website Users Into App Users

Social Media Mobile Spending

This is specifically for those of you with a website getting traffic but isn’t translating into app users. How clear have you made it on your website that you have an app? Are there features on your app that aren’t available on the website? These are important things to consider in mentioning on your website to drive traffic to the app store listing. 

Advertising on your own website and how convenient and easy it is to use your app is a surefire way to attract more users to your app. Especially if you have a dedicated user base on your website, transferring them to a convenient, easier-to-use app is incredibly attractive to a user. 

Asking For Feedback

When considering how apps can win during a down market, asking for feedback is a surprising contender. Wait, what? What does this have to do with my app during a recession? Actually, it means quite a lot. 

Most, if not all, app store users will heavily consider reviews, just like they would when considering a purchase from an e-commerce store. Adding a prompt within the app after a set amount of time or a set list of activities within the app not only encourages reviews but has the added benefit of a user thinking deeply about everything they like about your app, encouraging loyalty to the services your app provides. 

Should App Owners Actually Cut Down On Advertising During A Recession? 

No! Actually, it can be the worst time to cut down on ad spending in the first place. Now is the time to get ahead of the competition while they’re cutting down on ad spending, giving you the best chance for growth in a market we’ve previously discussed isn’t slowing down for non-gaming apps. 

Although due to the recession, you may not have enough funds for all of the marketing strategies you want to try, we believe that affiliate marketing is an incredibly viable option that is actually boosted by a recession. Historically, consumers react well to affiliate marketing during economic crises. 

During an economic crisis, people will think harder about the purchases they make. Therefore, they are more likely to buy products endorsed by people they trust or brands they’re used to. The second option isn’t in your control, but when it comes to people they trust you can utilize affiliate marketing with your target audience’s favorite influencers to win them over. 

The best part about affiliate marketing? You don’t pay anything until a product is sold. That makes this marketing strategy a low-risk option, even before the bolstered approval for affiliate marketing associated with the economic crisis of the current scale. This is one of our favorite ways for your app to win during an app market. 

Final Words

The current economic crisis is wreaking havoc on many industries, and the world of apps is no exception. This cost-effective list of methods to boost user count, spending, and loyalty is a great starting point. Whether you employ one of these methods or all of them, we hope you’re able to brave the recession and see your app flourish! 

That said, if you’re still feeling lost, feel free to reach out. At Aragon Premium, we’re a brand-safe performance agency that partners through vetted partners, for both startups and enterprises. If you’re interested in our services or have a few questions, contact us. We look forward to helping your app succeed with our years of industry expertise.