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Marketing an app means growing and fostering an amazing business. In an industry that is still so young, it also means that we will make mistakes along the way to success. Two of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a mobile marketer are:

  • Mistakes are okay as long as you learn from them
  • Always optimize your user acquisition campaigns for revenue or engagement

Below is the story of how I learned lesson #2 at MileIQ.

Why revenue is my #1 KPI

In my second month at MileIQ I started running app-install campaigns, to acquire users at our target cost per install. It wasn’t long before we hit our CPI goal and thought the campaign was going well, until we realized that our conversion rate from install-to-subscription was way too low. Even hitting our target CPI, our campaigns were not profitable.

My team immediately resolved to be more diligent about our metrics and focus on optimizing our app install campaigns against key performance indicators that translate into revenue. CPI didn’t cut it.

We had the ability to measure the costs associated with driving actions in key events inside the MileIQ app, like first ride tracked, or subscribing, and decided to use that information to make smarter decisions about which mobile ad networks, ad formats and partners to spend on. Even if we bid on a CMP or CPI basis, we could track the rate at which new installs were converting in these events, and revenue generated.

Fast forward to the present and we now track revenue by every ad unit we run. We also shifted our focus from acquiring a large volume of lower quality installs to a smaller volume of higher quality installs that convert into into active users at a higher rate. This effort helps us generate high quality users who not only engage with our product and leave us great reviews, but convert into paid users.

Turning your focus from installs to revenue

To make the shift from a focus on installs to a focus on revenue, nothing is more important than finding the right partners. I want to work with partners who truly understand my goals and work with me to reach them. That’s why MileIQ chooses to work with partners that think about our business like we do and help us acquire subscribers, not just installs. To me, it’s a huge red flag when a potential partner or ad networks ask about my CPI goal. I don’t have one. I don’t want one. And you shouldn’t either.

The transition to revenue-focused marketer doesn’t happen overnight. You need all of your campaign information tracking properly into your company database to understand lifetime value by channel. You also need access to revenue data per user to make intelligent decisions about how to optimize your campaigns. It might not be easy, but you can do it, and your company will transform. Let’s throw away CPI and focus on what matters: Driving revenue and engagement for mobile businesses.