Unique UA for Unique Apps: Lessons from Smule’s Eugenia Kovalenko

Have an idea, build an app, and make money. Sounds like a great plan, but with over a million apps in the App Store and Play Store, getting audiences for your app can be challenging. For niche apps, this challenge is more nuanced. Having a unique app that offer exclusive experience is great, but how do you make sure you hit success with the right users?

Eugenia Kovalenko, director of marketing at the popular social music-making app company Smule joins us as she shares her four biggest learnings for user acquisition for unique apps.

Mix Your Monetization Strategies

Building a sustainable revenue model takes time and effort. Like any business, a clear monetization strategy is imperative to the success of an app, but there’s never a single model that does the trick. Finding the right mix of monetization strategies can help app advertisers increase revenues. So whether it is in-app purchases, freemium or paid, try a combination that works best for your app within the KPIs.

Take the example of Smule’s apps and Eugenia shares unique methods of monetization that has helped them grow. “We monetize both through subscription and advertising. With 50 million of users around the world, we developed a win-win model for people to create and collaborate through music.”

We put high emphasis on retention and churn, utilizing paid re-engagement and CRM strategies.

Think About Scalability

Growth only matters when it is scalable. Invest in strategies that will maximize ROI over time, helping to acquire users at scale. Think about the users and the problem your app is trying to solve in the market. This means your strategies will have to keep in mind the entire user funnel, not just acquisition. “We only implement new ideas which are scalable. We have a very lean team and want to ensure return on the time spend. We have brainstorming sessions to address any issues at place, either its ROI or creative fatigue,” Eugenia shares.

Explore Channels Unique to Your App

While diversifying your UA efforts can be a clever strategy, it is a good idea to think about your app category and tailor the approach. Smule, for example, went 100% video when targeting users. “Video inventory is much smaller than display, however video brings the best user quality and ROI. Keeping conversions rates high was crucial if we wanted to switch completely to videos,” Eugenia says about Smule’s strategy. The company invested into internal video development team and built a “production machine” with 100s of videos produced and iterated every week across various languages.

Evaluate ongoing channels of acquisition and the spend on them. Based on which channels perform best, optimize your strategies for successful UA campaigns that deliver higher ROI.

Learn by Doing

Not all efforts hit the expected results and it is okay to accept those as learnings. One of the learnings Smule got was from experimenting with developing creatives for specific channels. “We put a lot of efforts on creating brand new videos concepts for Snapchat, for example, and after the fact we realized that our previous champions worked the best. We just needed to edit them slightly,” Eugenia says. “I learned by doing, always questioning the data and trying new approaches to drive growth,” she adds.

The Key to finding the right, ROI positive balance is to try different approaches. Listen to your data and be willing to learn from it, don’t assume you know what’s best until you test, verify, and re-test. Through this, UA managers of all experience levels can hope to find the most efficient approach for their niche app.

Hear more from Eugenia and other industry experts in our revamped Industry Exposed series!