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Mobile App Burst Campaigns – Should You, Shouldn’t You!

Abhinav Girdhar
By Abhinav Girdhar | Last Updated on March 11th, 2022 10:51 am

App Builder Appy Pie, January 5: The Burst Campaigns are all the rage right now and is one of the most popular techniques that is being used by the mobile app marketers to help an app gain a lot and gain it all quickly. Mobile app burst campaigns involve providing aggressive exposure to an app in a short period of time in hopes of expanding the audience. The burst campaigns are almost too good to be true! They give you the boost that you are looking for your and they deliver really fast, but like most good things, there is a bad side to it too! Going ahead we will discuss the concept of Mobile App Burst Campaigns and analyse the pitfalls and the peaks of it and then devise the best way to implement it for the long-term benefit of your app.

Promoting a mobile app is a daunting task, especially when there are millions of them already on the market and thousands making it to the app stores on a monthly basis! How do you compete with them all and still manage to stand out, stay ahead, and be noticed by the users that you want to engage? Even when you have a great app, unless it is visible for the people to download it and the app makes a steady way up the search results, there isn’t much use to it, is there?

The mobile app burst campaigns are favoured by the mobile app marketers and service providers alike though it is only meant for those with deeper pockets. The service providers have a number of reasons for loving it – it is quick money and a lot of it too, doesn’t require much of an effort, doesn’t need any optimization, and there are minimal efforts around the campaign management.

However, like most of the other marketing campaigns, there are a lot many variables to the burst campaigns as well including the methodology & implementation, pricing & budget, its perceived & real impact and so on. If you are planning on going for a burst campaign, it is important that you make sure that it is aligned with your app strategy, long term goals & vision, the KPIs etc.


So, what is a Mobile App Burst Campaign, after all?

The main intent of a burst campaign as we stated earlier is to give your app a “burst” of an exposure. In this campaign the marketers would aggressively buy a massive amount of paid media exposure for their app over a very short period of time, anywhere between 24 to 72 hours according to the budget that they set apart. This burst commonly leads to a huge number of paid installs, thus rocketing up your ranking. Though the initial paid installs may be of questionable quality, but as your app goes higher up in the ranks and becomes discoverable organically, the following downloads are high in volume and in quality.

Burst campaigns aren’t really all that new, but have gone through an evolution of their own in tune with the change in the world of mobile apps. Not only has the market become a lot more competitive, but the ranking algorithms have been changing intermittently as well, which has lead to a change in the burst campaigns as well.

What you as a marketer do in a mobile app burst campaign is that you purchase a large chunk of contextual and available media inventory which, in the duration of the campaign would be at a larger volume and higher frequency than any other single app in competition. At the time of the campaign, the quality of the user gained isn’t of great significance, but it is the numbers that matter at the time.


The difference between burst campaigns on iOS Vs Android platform

The number and frequency of downloads is one of the major factors that is considered by the ranking algorithm on the iOS platform. However, the Google ranking algorithm is different where factors like frequency of usage, app quality, bugs & crashes, SEO status, ratings & reviews from users, the performance and quality of other apps by the same publisher and many others. The exact composition and ratios of these factors are more or less a matter of calculated guesses and speculation.

The burst campaign strategy for the two of these platforms needs to be varied for this reason alone. This, in fact is also reflected in the volatility or stability of the charts on the Apple and Google platforms. The Google Play Store charts are way more stable in terms of the apps that make it to the top and the duration for which they stay, however, the charts on Apple App Store are highly volatile with the charts looking different almost every time you take a look at it. One of the reasons why the mobile app burst campaigns is used quite rarely on the Google Play Store but very frequently on the Apple App Store.


It is a good idea to get into as expensive a marketing campaign as the mobile app burst campaign could be. There are some definite pros and some clear cons here, but it is the context and priorities that define whether the decision should be made in favour of or against the campaign.


The pitfalls

The burst campaigns ride up the number of downloads for your apps, but that is as much a benefit, as a pitfall. These campaigns compromise the quality of downloads which means that they encourage anyone and everyone to download your app. While this might be great for a short-term gain, or in some cases even on long term, but in some cases, it might not be the best thing to happen to your app. You might end up attracting a huge number of users who aren’t really suited to your app which essentially means that you would also be seeing a high rate of churn on the other side. The engagement ratio will plummet down and damage your normal rank in the store.

A burst of downloads means a higher strain on your customer support, and if you are anything less than perfect there, you might be getting a lot of backlash and negative feedback. In case you have a niche app that is targeted specifically to a certain kind of audience, a burst campaign might bring in a lot of negativity among those who have paid to download your app as a result of the campaign but have no use for it!

If your app, at any point of time needs to communicate with a server to function properly, a burst campaign would lay an unrealistic load on it and may cause major technical issues and offering only an average or maybe poor experience to paying customers.

Since you are reaching out to unsuspecting users, and not the other way around, the judgement levels and the expectations are higher. In case you have an app that is anything less than flawless, your campaign will set you up for a big failure.

Even when you plan everything down to T, there are chances that the campaign falls flat, and you end up lowering your ranking and a bunch of stinkers in the review section. To recover from this, all you can do is immediately release a new version for your app and release it to be able to start with normal rating, yet again. At this time every minute you spend before releasing your new version would count and go towards pulling you down, hence it is important that when you launch a burst campaign, you also have a Plan B in place.

The peaks

When a burst campaign is implemented the right way, it brings in a huge number of downloads in a very short time and can even put you on the top spot, especially on the iOS platform. This improvement in ranking will definitely help you generate a great number of quality organic installs or downloads which yet again help you keep the top spot!

When your app is of high quality and is all set to offer a great user experience, this burst campaign with high number of downloads is sure to bring in a huge rush of all positive feedback too! In case you have a paid app, this surge in downloads and ranking would get you the cash flow to keep the good work going!

This buzz will give you a high on other levels too with more media queries and PR coverage coming your way, more customer interest being generated in favour of your app, a happily buzzing social media, an influx of user feedback on all media, and so much more! Make sure that you have planned ahead to handle it all well.

How to do it the right way?

1. Make sure that yours is a quality app.

If your app isn’t ready to be released to the masses and is still a little buggy, it is not ready for a burst campaign either. A good app or a quality app would be the one that is designed well and is engaging enough for the users to want to use it for longer periods of time with great frequency. If your app is anything less than exemplary, a burst campaign would do you more harm than good by attracting negativity from disgruntled users.

2. Define & refine your goals

Set your Key Performance Indicators right, put forth clear and crisp goals and define clearly what is it that you plan to get out of this campaign. This would help you formulate a strategy that would be customised to your needs and hence work better for your benefit. As an example, if your goal is to hit & stay at the top of the charts you would do well to incentivize your app, but if you are looking for long term customers that you would like to retain, it is better to go for non-incentivised campaign.

3. Conduct a strong study of target user or consumer

It is imperative that you know your target consumer well. Are they gamers or are they are social butterflies? Are they hooked to the mobile devices or is it just a cool way to kill their time on the commute? Knowing your target consumer well would help you come up with a better designed campaign that would engage them at the right time and in the right manner.

4. Pay attention to the stars

One of the most important factors on both Google and Apple platforms is the quality of the app and it takes the reviews and ratings into account. It is important that you pay attention to your star rating and think about running the campaign only after you have at least a 3.5 star rating for your app. If you have a relatively new app that has neither reviews nor ratings, it is a good idea to launch a small-scale campaign to get an understanding of the user’s reaction to it, make adjustments and improve the app before going for a burst!

5. Study the app store your app is on

Like we mentioned earlier, the ranking algorithms for Apple App Store and Google Play Store are quite different from each other and that means the burst campaign strategies employed for both the platforms would be different from each other too! The bursts for Android need to factor in a lot more than just the number of installs for improvement in ranking and the campaigns need to last longer when compared to the burst campaigns for iOS platform.

6. Analyse the app market

Every market is different and the burst campaign you would like to implement needs to be designed keeping your app market in mind. Some of the factors that feature in it are smartphone penetration (the deeper the penetration, higher the number of downloads that would be needed), size of the market (bigger the market size, higher the number of downloads that would be needed), competition (study and analyse the competition to understand what worked for them and what didn’t), and the cultural context (users from different cultures tend to have different interests).

7. Keep it real

It is good to aim for the sky, but to expect a ranking in the top 5 or to reach the number 1 spot might not be realistic for all kinds of apps or for all budget sizes. The top spots are usually occupied by the big players like Facebook or Google, but for the campaign to be successful you need not be at the top of the list.

8. Faking it wouldn’t help you make it

It is tempting to opt for those that try to pass off bot traffic or incentivised traffics as legitimate traffic. Understand that bot traffic or fake installs would not contribute to your ranking. Hence, while these options might seem cheap at the outset and you might be tempted to take them, they would actually do nothing much for you in terms of getting a higher ranking for your app. Conduct a proper research to look for reliable sources to devise and implement a good burst campaign for you.

9. Time it right

Like any other marketing strategy, the timing of the implementation of this marketing strategy is of great importance. The strategy that may be good for an app that has been there for some time, might not be right for an app in nascence. Apart from the time in the lifecycle of the app, the season plays an important role too! Whether back to school season is conducive for you, or are the Holidays a great time, figure the right time out and release a campaign at just the right time on a day that would give your app the best chance and opportunity to be downloaded.

10. Continue to market & promote your app

So, your burst campaign was executed well and you did manage to achieve all the goals that you set out for it. What do you do now? Sit back and relax while sipping on a drink? No! this is the time for you to continue to cash in on the buzz that your app has managed to generate. You need to take steps to maintain the high ranking that you have achieved from the burst campaign and keep investing in paid advertising at a smaller scale so that you can keep up the momentum that you have initiated for your app.

11. Forge a plan to retain

While you might have acquired a huge number of users through the burst campaign, but it wouldn’t help you to lose them all in a short time. You would have to plan ahead and have an effective strategy in place to retain them too! Whether it is a fabulous onboarding experience, engaging content, or frequent and continued communication with them, you would have to plan ahead and implement the plan to retain with precise execution.

Should You, Shouldn’t You?

This is going to be a big dilemma for you and our answer can only help you if you have a clear context in your mind with regard to your app, its philosophy and suitability to a marketing campaign like this. Carefully weigh out the characteristic traits of the Mobile App Burst Campaign strategy and consider whether they are aligned with the overall strategy for your app. If they align well, burst campaign is a surefire way to go for you!

However, if you are planning to aim only for quality users who would be engaging with your app frequently, then maybe you should keep exploring other marketing strategies that may be more targeted and give you your money’s worth.

Abhinav Girdhar

Founder and CEO of Appy Pie

App Builder

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