Marketing an App? Cut Your Facebook Ad Costs Dramatically With These Tips. Learn how to optimize your marketing approach.

By Aaron Agius

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

albert mollon | Getty Images

Recent studies show that 56 percent of Facebook users only log in using mobile devices. In fact, in the third quarter of 2016, the number of monthly mobile active Facebook was a staggering 1.74 billion.

Clearly, that's a large demographic of mobile users, and in the fourth quarter of 2016, mobile ads generated roughly 80 percent of Facebook's $5.6 billion ad revenue.

Facebook ad campaigns that promote mobile apps can be incredibly lucrative, with some estimates suggesting that mobile app install ads, specifically, account for over half of Facebook's mobile revenue.

But, since so many marketers have recognized the opportunity to promote mobile apps using Facebook, the competition has become fierce. As a consequence, ad costs are increasing and it's becoming harder to get people to install new apps.

Fortunately, there are ways to stay ahead of the competition and drive down the costs of your ad campaigns. Follow these tips, and you could reduce your ad cost when promoting mobile app installs.

Related: 15 Useful Tech Tools for Your Business

Refine your audience

Many Facebook marketers pick a country, an age range and a couple of interests for their audience and consider this to be highly targeted. I recommend digging a little deeper.

Check your Google Analytics data and consider which cities are bringing in the majority of traffic to your site. Then, prioritize them in your campaigns. If it makes sense for your app, you can even make your ads feel more personal by mentioning cultural facets or landmarks of the city your audience lives in.

Of course, if you're marketing an app, you should already have a buyer profile of your ideal customer in mind, containing psychographic and demographic information.

To take this a step further, once you start receiving conversions, check out your new customers on Facebook and see if you can find commonalities to help your targeting efforts.

I also recommend creating a lookalike audience, since these tend to have much higher conversion rates. To be effective with mobile app install ads, you need to find the audience that resonates with your product and brand identity -- and that insight will likely come from targeting those who are similar to your existing customers.

Finally, don't forget that you can set your Facebook ad campaigns to only display on mobile devices, on certain mobile devices (for instance, Android versus iOS if your app is only available on one) or when viewers are connected to Wi-Fi (and are, therefore, more likely to install apps).

Related: A Step-by-Step Guide To Building Your First Mobile App

Split test meticulously

One of the best ways to save money on your mobile app install ads is by split testing. The vast majority of Facebook ads crash and burn, so it's wise to run them at a low cost before determining which ones are worth pouring more money into.

Run your first campaign with a control ad, then create a handful of similar ads with one modification each (for instance, you may want to change the image, body text, call to action, headline and audience). If you change too many things, your data won't be useful because you won't know which element of the ad ultimately improved (or decreased) your results.

Once you have an ad that demonstrates a good cost per install (CPI) -- and to a lesser extent, a good click-through rate (CTR) and cost per click (CPC) -- increase your ad spend and see if it scales effectively.

Don't try to second-guess which ad will perform the best. Often, our assumptions are way off. Instead, let the data inform your decision-making process.

Related: The 25 Best U.S. Cities for Tech Startups

Spy on your competition

To get a head start with split testing, see what the other app developers in your niche (and beyond) are doing with their Facebook ads.

If you find an ad that's been running for several months -- with lots of engagement and visible signs of downloads on the app store page -- you can bet it's profitable.

By examining the different elements on a number of successful mobile install ads, you'll quickly start to see trends you can leverage: perhaps a particular type of CTA is the most commonly used, or maybe certain styles of images tend to capture people's attention.

Use Evernote (or your favorite note taking tool) to create a gigantic mobile install app swipe file, and use this as your inspiration when you start crafting your own ads. There's no shame in using similar elements to the ones which worked successfully for your competitors so long as you don't copy their ads directly.

Related: 25 Creative Ways to Promote Your App For Free

Optimize your app store page

The work doesn't stop once you've created an excellent, high-converting Facebook ad. You have to ensure that people convert once they get to your landing page -- in this case, your app store page.

If your app logo looks like you sourced it from Fiverr for $5, you'll make a bad impression and kill your conversions. Low-resolution screenshots are just as bad, as are poorly written or vague app descriptions. Instead, try the Wrap-App Technique for writing awesome app descriptions.

Finally, remember that positive app reviews act as a form of social proof. If your app is brand new, solicit positive reviews from your friends and colleagues before you start driving traffic to your app store.

Got any other tips for lowering your mobile app install ad costs on Facebook? Share your suggestions with me below.

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Aaron Agius

Search, Content and Social Marketer

Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with IBM, Ford, LG, Unilever and many more of the world's largest and most recognized brands, to grow their revenue. See more from Agius at Louder Online.

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