State of Mobile: What Mobile Leaders Are Saying

We surveyed* mobile growth leaders all over the world to understand how the current state of mobile is affecting app growth and business strategies.

Here we explore just a few key takeaways.

  • Despite economic uncertainty, marketing budgets are expected to increase or stay the same.
  • Mobile ad fraud is a massive concern.
  • App users are extremely valuable.
  • Mobile apps are the main source of customer growth and retention.

Download the Mobile Growth Handbook for every insight as well as first-hand advice and best practices to cost-effectively grow your app.

* Survey methodology: Respondents were selected based on their standing as a member of the broader mobile growth community. Polling took place between July 2022 and January 2023. Responses included a diverse makeup of industry professionals with 47% based in North America, 38% in APAC, 11% in EMEA, and 5% in LATAM. 57% of respondents were active customers of Branch at the time of the survey.

Despite economic uncertainty, marketing budgets are expected to increase or stay the same.

64% of respondents expect their marketing budget to increase in 2023, while 25% expect it to stay the same. Only 11% expect a decrease in their marketing budget in 2023.

Pie chart showing title Marketing budgets increase in 2023 with Decrease being 11%, Stay the same 25%, and Increase 64%.

Mobile ad fraud is a massive concern.

Only 6% of respondents showed little concern about mobile ad fraud when it comes to paid mobile advertising, while 72% reported significant concern.

Pie chart titled Mobile ad fraud concern with Little concern at 6.1%, Neutral at 21.2%, and Significant concern with 72.7%.

App users are extremely valuable.

For every one dollar a non-app user spends, respondents reported that, on average, app users spend $3.30 — more than three times as much.

Graph titled The value of an app user with Non-app users being $1 and App-users at $3.30.

Mobile apps are the main source of customer growth and retention.

92% of respondents said their mobile app was either a very important or their most important platform when considering customer acquisition and retention.

Pie chart titled How important is your mobile app to customer growth and retention? with Somewhat or not at all at 8% and Most or very at 92%.

Paid ads have been, historically, a predictable scale driver of user acquisition and conversion. However, our data shows that this predictability comes at a cost. Users acquired through paid advertising maintain lower retention rates than users acquired through organic channels.

Graph titled Retention rate for organic vs paid links with Week 1 organic links at 44 and Paid ads at 30; Week 2 organic links at 24 and Paid ads at 13; Week 3 organic links at 18 and Paid ads at 10; and finally, Week 4 with organic links at 15 and Paid ads at 8. The graph shows that users acquired through paid advertising maintain lower retention rates than users acquired through organic channels.

The good news is, many companies are diversifying their focus across channels. Among survey respondents 70% reported using four or more channels to acquire new app users and just 5% of respondents reported paid ads as their only channel.

Respondents also reported significant investment and success in organic channels. Organic sharing and referrals were ranked the most successful app acquisition channel and was also the most-used acquisition channel with 86% of respondents leveraging. Facebook or Instagram ads were still ranked the second most successful app acquisition channel and also the second most-used acquisition channel with 78% of respondents running ads on these platforms.

When it comes to engaging app users, only 36% use four or more channels to engage app users.

Graph titled Retention channels used to engage app users with Emails at 80%, Facebook or Instagram ad at 48%, Organic sharing/Referrals at 73%, Other paid advertising at 38%, QR codes/Offline at 16%, TikTok or Snapchat ads at 20%, and Web-to-app banners are 28%.

80% of respondents used email to engage app users, with 78% using organic sharing or referrals. Less than half of those surveyed used other channels like Facebook or Instagram ads (48%), other paid advertising (38%), web-to-app banners (28%), TikTok or Snapchat ads (20%), QR codes or offline channels (16%) to engage app users.

Challenges for mobile growth

Apps can help you save money and make money, but there are always challenges associated with growth. Those surveyed suggested that the biggest challenge facing mobile growth is efficient scale and growth.

More than half of survey respondents cited challenges related to growth and, more specifically, doing so sustainably:

“Prioritization. We have limited dollars, many engagement channels, and a sizable fan base (and potential fan base).”

“Currently increasing MAUs and DAUs is the biggest challenge right now. In order to attain this, we need to bring in high quality users at an optimised cost which is a major task too.”

“Increasing downloads from organic content marketing efforts. Introducing SEO as an acquisition strategy.”

Attribution, retention, and budget constraints were also cited as key challenges a number of respondents are facing.

Solutions to mobile growth challenges

Some of the best advice for efficient scale and growth is: don’t invest in just one area, especially if your budget is limited. Diversify channels and tactics to reach more people and keep them engaged.

Measurement is the marketer’s secret weapon. Measure it all with a mobile linking platform (MLP) for your owned and earned channels coupled with a mobile measurement platform (MMP) for all your paid channels. Having true cross-channel as well as cross-platform measurement and attribution is really the only way to understand what works and what doesn’t, where to invest more or less, and how to optimize campaigns.

Download our Mobile Growth Handbook for more insights into how you can efficiently grow your mobile app. With first-hand advice, tons of best practices, and quick tips, we take the guesswork out of mobile growth and empower you to thrive.