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App Marketing Terms & Acronyms That You Should Know

Bobby Gill | June 8, 2021


Jeff Lovell is Head of User Acquisition at Blue Label Labs and he goes into depth on key marketing terms and acronyms that you should know.

App Marketing Terms and Acronyms That Will Guide Your Mobile App Marketing Strategy

Let’s face it, nowadays when it comes to building a mobile app, you can’t just build it and expect that that they will come. Marketing is a huge part of your mobile app strategy, and if it isn’t already, it needs to be. History is full of the almost-famous and should-have-been-rich but I can’t name any of them for you because they all had terrible marketing strategies. Part of what makes mobile app marketing efforts so difficult is the fluidity of marketing. It is a constant, iterative process; steadily building on all of your previous efforts.

For this reason, it’s important to get your app into the marketplace with extra runway so you can collect user feedback and comments. The more feedback you can collect early on, the better positioned you will be for the future growth and development of your app. With remaining runway and knowledge of various marketing metrics, you can then also allocate resources to ongoing development of your app. This will allow you to evolve with your market vertical and the needs of your users, helping to ensure a useable and valuable app for your users. Easy, right? Well, hold on just a sec, before you dive head first, eyes closed into sea of marketing avenues for your app, it’s best to try and get yourself up to speed on a few definitions and acronyms that will help you when exploring the landscape, or even hiring experts to do it for you.

First of all, why all the shorthand?

We’re all guilty of using shorthand and jargon in our daily lives as anyone with a smartphone can attest to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ KTHXBAI. Jargon and acronyms provide a faster, more efficient way of communicating established ideas between parties who are already familiar with said concepts. To the uninitiated, however, these colloquialisms can prove to be formidable obstacles to comprehension. While you may never fully understand your teenager, or realize that GFY does not mean “good for you”, you should come to any marketing meeting fully prepared for the topic. As with any industry, there are those out there who would weaponize marketing vernacular as an attempt to undermine your confidence and win the contract. However, most jargon addicts simply don’t realize that they are not communicating effectively, or may even be covering up a lack of understanding by using catch phrases! Regardless of the motivation, having to constantly parse terms you don’t understand is frustrating and can negatively impact your decision-making process. Furthermore, good luck trying to market your app without partaking in at least some of the common lingo. So without further ado, here are some of the more common marketing terms and acronyms and the meaning behind them!

Let’s start with a few definitions

In any advertising campaign, there are four types of “media” that can be used as app marketing channels. By way of definition, media are the tools that you use to store and deliver information.

The four marketing media types are:

  • Paid Media
  • Earned Media
  • Shared Media
  • Owned Media

These are pretty self explanatory by name, but they all need to work together in order to create a diverse and holistic marketing campaign.

Paid media
This is anything that you’re paying for directly, including paid user acquisition (PUA). For example, Google AdWords or Advertorial content are good examples of paid media. This is typically the top area where marketers spend their marketing budget.  The goal here is to deliver effective direct-to-consumer advertising. This can be challenging in an increasingly crowded space and needs careful thought and planning.

Earned media
Earned media is essentially “free” advertising that you’ve obtained through merit, behavior, and/or action.  An example would be that a blogger discovers your app, loves it and then writes up a post about it. Earned and paid can be very similar in their distribution channels, but with earned media, you’re getting the distribution without you having to solicit it.

Shared media
 Essentially this refers to social networks.  There can be some crossover with owned media and earned media here, but this describes organic referrals through social networks.  “Check out this dope app I found” via Facebook or Twitter, or even in-app invitations.  Performing well with this type of media usually has a big impact on your app due to the trust factor of users recommending your app to their friends.

Owned media
The app’s website, landing pages, your own Facebook page, even your app itself; these are all owned media channels.  This is generally where you direct non-install-based campaigns on the other types of media, especially paid media.  If, for example, you’re doing cost per click (CPC) campaigns to generate brand awareness prior to release, these are most likely going to be pointed to your owned media.  The owned media is then used as a call to action i.e. “Download From The App Store!” or “Join Our Mailing List for Early Access”.  These are all things that you’ll need to think about prior to the app being available.  Pre-launch, many opt to direct people to a landing page that provides more information about the app, and allows users to pre-register.

Ok, now that you have the basics of digital media let’s dive into some useful terms.

Demos, Geo, Cohorts
Demographics are ways to split up potential users and are typical metrics for analytics tools.  Geography is one of those metrics.  Other examples would be age, gender, interests, behaviors, etc.  A cohort is a group of similar users i.e. female users between the ages of 17-24.  Cohorts can be used to run A/B Tests. A/B tests are a good way to compare two different audience segments within a single campaign allowing you to zero in on the most appropriate messaging for your user base.

Reaching out to re-engage users who have stopped using the app, or maybe downloaded the app but still have yet to use it.


(Acronyms That You Need To Know But No one Wants To Tell You So You Feel Stupid)

A lot of the acronyms you will see here are crossover from traditional marketing terms, but some are new to the digital and mobile space.  Let’s have a look at a few below.

PUA – Paid User Acquisition or App Advertising
Paid User Acquisition, or PUA, as we discussed, is essentially a fancy name for app advertising. Your bottom line goal when marketing your new app is to get people to download the app, period.

When talking about digital advertising there are 3 primary types of campaigns:

  • CPC
  • CPA / CPI (confusing, I know)

This stands for Cost Per Impression / Cost Per Mille, mille being latin for 1000 (MCMXII and all that roman numeral stuff).  This type of campaign is all about eyeballs. An impression is just a potential customer (eyeballs) seeing your ad.  You’re paying for the ad regardless of whether anyone converts (clicks or takes another action that you’re measuring for).  It is essentially a digital billboard.  CPM campaigns appear cheap, but can actually be very expensive if you have low conversions (click through rate, etc.) For $5k a month, you might be able to get 200,000 people to see your advertisement, but if your click through rate is only 1 out of say, 1000, then you’re essentially paying $25 per user.  The way we tackle this is by starting with the next campaign type and if we have very high conversion rates, then we switch to CPM.  The higher your conversion rates, the cheaper CPM gets.

Cost Per Click campaigns only cost you money if the user clicks on your ad.  The nice thing here is that you’re not paying for the impression, you’re paying for the conversion.  Facebook and Google offer CPC campaigns and are two of the most popular that marketers are using at the moment.

CPI is a more specific acronym for CPA in app marketing.  Cost Per Action / Acquisition and Cost Per Install.  This costs you money only if the user downloads your app. CPA in the case, of say, an e-Commerce ad would be if the user “checks out”.  This has the longest through line for tracking.  The user has to get all the way to the end, which means you’re only paying for people who actually did what you wanted them to do.  This is the holy grail of advertising. You’re paying only for fully converted leads.  However, it can be very difficult to make these campaigns effective.  You have to hold someone’s attention from the time they see the ad, all the way through downloading the app, so the shortest path is the best (Ad → Directly to app store).

KPI – Key Performance Indicators.  This first leg of the marketing push is about generating data points to review.  You use KPIs to figure out how things are performing and how you can make them perform better.  Some examples would be, what is our conversion rate? How many people are clicking or downloading?

Other KPIs could be around user experience.  How many times is a user accessing the app in the first 24 hours, the first week, or the first month?  What can we do to increase these numbers? You will want to think about KPIs early on before you start your paid strategies.

CPUA / CPCA* – Cost Per User (Customer) Acquisition is a typical KPI with the goal of driving the costs down to get more users for less money.

LTV* – Lifetime Value is measured as how much revenue a user generates minus gross margin over churn (cancellation rate).  Essentially this is the return on investment per users after accounting for overhead and churn.

Both of these KPIs can be plugged into another metric which is LTV/CPCA – in other words, a ratio of value to cost of acquisition.  The higher the ratio (2:1, 3:1, 10:1) the better your marketing is doing.

While this may all sound exhausting, it’s important that you understand some of the key points that go into app marketing. All of these aspects must come together to form a whole in order to be as effective as possible. What are some other app marketing terms that you use day to day? What app marketing terms and or strategies are you struggling with? Drop us a line and let us know.


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Bobby Gill
Co-Founder & Chief Architect at BlueLabel | + posts

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