Let’s Get Disruptive: 5 Best Practices to Maximize Organic Traffic & Boost App Installs


I've always liked disrupting old school or legacy workflows—it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. And as the Director of Marketing at Raken, that mindset gives me an edge. Raken is a field reporting app that allows construction managers and contractors to log their daily reports on site, and we have our sight on disrupting the outdated processes holding the construction industry back.

With Raken, superintendents and project owners can make sure all the daily reports are accurate, with an ongoing, comprehensive work log, weather stamps, photos, and notes of what's happening on-site. It’s accurate, saves people tons of time, and digitizes a process that has long needed improvement.

This is quintessential legacy flow disruption. Handwritten daily reports have been used for literally hundreds of years, and our solution fundamentally impacts the industry as a whole. And since Raken solves a real need, prospective customers search for services like ours. As a marketer, my job is to ensure when they look for an answer, they find Raken. And with more people than ever searching for solutions on their mobile devices, it’s critical our app doesn't fall through the cracks. 

The Blind Leading the Blind

When I first started at Raken, our attribution model was hands-down broken. We had no idea how our customers found us, or which of our touchpoints worked. All we could tell was whether an app install was paid or not—if it wasn't paid, we called it organic. That was the extent of our insights. 

We knew that about 50% of our app installs at the time were paid, but we had no attribution as to what specific paid channel campaigns, networks, and creatives actually drove those installs, not to mention post-install events such as trial registrations and purchases. 

Even scarier was that the organic side wasn’t attributable either. We had a number of channels we thought were driving installs, but no system in place to prove it. For instance, we knew we had a growing number of organic visitors to our website each month, but were those visitors eventually installing and using the app?

Organic traffic = prospects who are actively seeking a solution. Do you know how they found you? @branchmetrics

Without properly attributing our leads, we just linearly grew our spend and installs, without the proper insights into how we could optimize it. As a marketer, the number one thing I want to control and optimize is my budget. But without attribution, how can I optimize our spend? We invest thousands of dollars each month into paid ads, so we needed to make sure our spend was producing a return on investment.

The Quick Wins and Hard-Won Lessons

With potential customers floating around our ecosystem, we needed a tool to convert them into specific users of our app, as well as to help us understand where we should invest our time and money. The solution to our problems came from a familiar face: my previous employer, Branch. 

Now, Raken uses Branch's branded links, deep linking, and attribution to understand our mobile growth and engagement. With Branch, we get to see a holistic view of what drives customers to our app. 

Traffic isn’t enough. Customize your channels to effectively convert. @branchmetrics

During my time with Branch—both as a user of the platform, and as their first-ever marketing hire—I’ve become familiar with the platform and mobile marketing as a whole. In an effort to help other marketers, here are five best practices that can help anyone better run their departments and get their mobile apps in front of the right audiences.

1. Start with Your Research

You should always start any marketing campaign with an intimate understanding of the target persona. SEO optimization has evolved significantly over the past few years. You can no longer just find a target keyword, build a landing page and blog for that keyword, and expect traffic for your site. There is a laundry list of activities required to execute the most basic SEO strategy—competitive research, backlinking, page speed optimization, striking distance keyword research, the list goes on and on. One of the most effective ways to research your target persona is to discover the questions they are asking. AnswerThePublic has a great free tool to see which questions are being asked in your industry. Use these questions as a starting point for creating engaging content that solves the needs of your target audience.

2. Prompting Installs and Boosting Data Collection

One of the quickest wins I’ve seen as a marketer has been through mobile smart banners that promote our app. We’ve used Branch’s product called Journeys to help pull this off. 

Maybe our next customer has a frustration while in the field, searches for a solutions on his or her phone, and finds one of our blog posts. Given the type of search made, he or she will likely want to try our product. The Journeys banner on our website and blog provides direct access to our app. Instead of relying on this potential customer to search the App Store him or herself, the banner will be there waiting for them to click and drive that install. The best part? With Journeys, you can customize the message based on the landing page or blog they are visiting. This is where all of that persona research you did will come in handy.

After introducing Journeys, we immediately started to see installs in an area where we had literally none before. This wasn’t an area that we had previously explored, and now it’s a significant driver of installs. That’s huge for us as a business.

3. Analyze and Layer Marketing Channels

Immediately after smart banners, we started getting more granularity on our organic channels. We saw the exact number of installs these smart banners drove, and even got insights on which specific webpage or A/B test each acquired user was coming from. 

Layer your approach by using Journeys as well as trackable marketing links — Branch calls them "quick links" — that you can put on social media or in emails. In our experience, this both broadened and clarified all these leads to the point where we now have numerous organic channels that we can measure with a fine-tooth comb.

We have way more clarity on our paid channels, too. Branch recently released a new feature around app install ads that handles web-based ads as well. We now have more details on these channels, and it's all managed in the same platform as our organic channels. Because of this, we have a full spectrum of campaigns we can pull the levers with, which has been super helpful. 

4. Identifying Spend Reduction and Revenue Breakthroughs

Once we got integrated with Branch, we not only measured installs, but also measured the number of installs that became trial registrations, and the number of registrations that became customers. This allowed us to discover that the installs we drove from paid traffic were mostly junk registrations. They weren't the right people, so it actually allowed us to scale back significantly on our spend. Ultimately, we hyper-focused our spend, so that our paid traffic matched the quality of our organic traffic. We saved huge amounts of money, just with that knowledge alone.

Now that we’re spending more efficiently, Journeys is responsible for about 20% of total measurable installs, and about 50% of measurable revenue from mobile. 

A boost of installs is great, but it all comes down to revenue—which takes us back to the importance of high-intent traffic. If someone clicks on a banner, it’s because they’re seeing it for the right reason. They're on your web page because they're the target buyer and the content is right for them. That conversion is naturally going to be higher. 

Once you’re able to optimize this significant area of marketing spend, it will trickle down into other decisions in your department. Now, you can leverage this data to help decide where to dedicate your time, budget, and effort.

5. Hire Based on the Data That Drives Your Business

With Branch, we know our organic search works. People find articles on our blog, and they use the Branch banners to install the app and become paying users—so it only makes sense that our next hire would be a content marketer who can own all things content and keep driving those installs. 

Then, we can switch gears and look at our email campaigns, and ask if emails are effective in nurturing customers. Or maybe we need to test with events, and hire there. The unique insights driven by Branch's enhanced attribution data have definitely been unforeseen and welcome disruptions within the conventional startup hiring context. If you better understand what’s working in your marketing department, you’ll know which hires will have the biggest impact on your business.

Crowning Data King

Every marketer strives for clear, concise, and actionable attribution data. That’s not a new concept. But what I can't believe is how many marketing tools are out there now to help marketers gather relevant data for their businesses. There's distinct value in bringing all of your data into one context and comparing channels on a single dashboard rather than managing multiple dashboards from multiple sources.

Data is king. It’s everywhere, but have you figured out how to make it work for you?

If you ask any marketer, they'll usually have 20 to 30 products in their tech stack, but there are only a few that they use every day, a few that are truly integral to their successes. When it comes to driving installs and being successful on mobile, Branch is one of those. It’s a tool I just always have open.