Android App Marketing Case Study

How Moburst helped Mailwise gain visibility for their mobile app

For the past few years, the stock of mobile apps has been on the rise. As of May 2015, there are more than a million apps available in the leading app stores. To be precise, Google Play offers more than 1.5 million apps to its users, while iTunes follows closely behind with 1.4 million. Since the App Store was launched back in 2008, the number of apps has been rapidly growing, and it seems like that movement won't stop anytime soon. Thousands of apps are submitted for release each month - yet, for every successful app there are many others that fail to make a long-term impact, let alone find their way on the charts. How do apps get traffic and more importantly, downloads?

App Store Optimisation

Similarly to Google's SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), where websites optimise their sites to rank higher in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), apps have their own method of discovering what works of them - ASO (App Store Optimisation). ASO is the process mobile apps go through in order to boost ratings and significantly, improve their product.

When conducting proper ASO, the objective is to gain more organic users who will discover the app and download it, rather than a paid campaign for clicks and downloads.
ASO is similar to SEO of 10 years ago in the sense of being somewhat of a "Wild West" landscape. The rules are not yet set, and there are very few real experts who understand the algorithm. As with the early days of SEO, ASO already has its share of "snake oil salesmen" who offer results for peanuts - buyers better beware. The case study below demonstrates how the mobile marketing company Moburst was able to use proven ASO methods to increase a small startup's downloads from tens to thousands a day.

Case Study: MailWise

The aforementioned startup is MailWise - an Android only free email client app set to provide a solution for multiple email accounts - a necessity for most, but a headache as well. Developed by Israeli company Syntomo, MailWise offers a clutter free threaded conversation view of multiple inboxes. In other words - one app accumulating Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, Microsoft Exchange and others into one platform. Apps like MailWise need ASO, in order to be searched and discovered by users in the relevant app stores and gain proper traffic, rather than relying on media campaigns that won't necessarily benefit in the long run, or hoping to be found by word of mouth.

ASO: low cost, high return

Like many startups, MailWise is constrained to operate on a tight budget. Unlike apps with a financial backing (or being under the wings of giants like Google, Apple or Microsoft) MailWise faces the tough challenge of attracting the right target audience with high quality users on a budget, as well as considering the high competition in the category. For these purposes, optimisation is required. Hence ASO, the less expensive but more important solution.

Research your keywords

The initial work between Moburst and MailWise started with the same base as an SEO project would have - keyword research.

Moburst used a mixture of leading ASO keyword research tools plus technology they have developed to search for the right keywords that have the potential to bring the most relevant traffic to MailWise. Comparing the app's keywords to its competitors' keywords, as well as viewing the top apps for the keywords one plans to use, also gives a proper insight on the product and how to implement the keywords that will define it. If the product competes with other apps that are highly ranked and rated (based on those keywords), the harder it will be for the app to stand out and succeed.
With small apps, especially one like MailWise, it is vital to target keywords with the most traffic and the lowest difficulty levels.

Choosing keywords wisely is crucial, especially when the product is oriented for a certain app store (iTunes or Google Play) - each store has a certain amount of words for the product's description and title. In this case, precision is key, as well as not being repetitive when describing the app.

Optimise the visuals

Some important optimisation aspects which have been done are actually design related. The visuals for an app are sometimes (if not mostly) a trigger for instalments - the more it appeals to the user's eyes, the better it increases its chances for virality and downloads.

The initial focus is shifted to the app's icon or logo design. In this case, Moburst worked with MailWise on branding - creating a logo that would be well designed, as well as capturing the essence of the app. The logo of an envelope reflects the app, as the name MailWise was also put under the icon.
In addition, the words MailWise were added to the main keywords of the app, something which wasn't done initially. As mentioned previously, there are a limit of words and characters that can put in the title and description. Therefore, it was key to emphasise the design as well as the branding of MailWise. Here is an example of the work that has been done on the app's icon.

Just as a shop, virtual or real life, attracts shoppers by its design or attractiveness, the app lures the user to view it and download at best, or skip to the next app at worst. For this matter, capturing the app's screenshots and testing them will give a better indication on its visibility. Good screenshots will attract users and convert to download - the ones that work best will remain, as the lesser ones will have to change and be tested time and again. The screenshots went through a series of A/B testing (a randomised experiment with two variants), as the visuals were also counted as necessary for the app's success.

Words and pictures aren't the only factors for the app's success or failure - language is also a key element to be taken into consideration. Localising the app to different languages is crucial, in order to succeed in various parts of the globe. Each country and language have their own terminology and slang words, so accustoming the app and realising which keywords are relevant to the affiliated language are also part of the learning process.
After the ASO process was set and done, and once the product was ready for beta launch, MailWise and Moburst engaged in hyper targeted user acquisition (UA) and tested hundreds of targeted segments and dozens of creative messages in order to find the most cost effective, high quality users.
MailWise wishes to acquire and retain a loyal user base in a highly competitive category of email and productivity apps. Among the app’s key features is built-in support for Outlook ActiveSync, normally used by corporate and enterprise users. That's already a unique advantage, as the app enables features that aren't normally found in standard mailing apps.

An ASO Success Story

As of June 2015, MailWise enjoys more than 500,000 users who benefit from their service, along with an average rating of 4.5 on Google Play. MailWise grow exponentially in terms of install base, daily download volume, and retention with users all over the world, and was ranked in the top ten for related keywords.

Thanks to the ASO process conducted by Moburst, MailWise increased the daily download volume of the app from tens to thousands of downloads a day, as well as lowering their Cost per Install (CPI) over time by 70 percent. The numbers are good, as well as the app's reviews; yet with a market full of mail and exchange apps, maintaining that status and increasing the awareness for mail unification is necessary, as well as ever optimising and improving the app's visibility and virality.


In summary, for propelling an app to new heights, thorough work must be done. When the budget is tight and every dollar and cent are calculated, the product needs to be pitch perfect - app optimisation aids where a high marketing strategy can't prevail, and benefits in the long run, as it's an everlasting process.

Thanks to Robert Nachum for sharing their advice and opinions in this post. Robert Nachum is an Appstore Optimisation manager at Moburst, a global mobile marketing agency that helps companies grow their mobile business. Loves Startups, Technology and Music on a vinyl. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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Mobile apps marketing is a must.

The Apple App store now has close to 2 million apps while Google Play has over 2.2 million apps.  For most businesses that build an app, they won’t come without mobile apps marketing. Consider these facts.

  • 25% of installed apps are never used. —Google
  • 26% of installed apps are abandoned after the first use. —Google
  • 51% of companies measure user engagement and return on investment (ROI). —Adobe and Econsultancy
  • The average Android app loses 77% of its daily active users (DAUs) within the first three days after the install, and 90% within the first 30 days. —Quettra
  • Of those who stop using apps, 30% would use an app again if offered a discount, and 24% would reuse an app if offered exclusive or bonus content. —Google
  • 78% of companies use paid media to drive app downloads. —Adobe Mobile Maturity Survey

Who’s doing mobile apps marketing right? Here are 9 motivating mobile apps marketing case studies that prove ROI.

  1. ARGOS: A digital retailing leader, wanted to deliver a truly multi-channel experience, encompassing a website, mobile-optimised site, iPhone app, iPad app, and Android phone and tablet apps. The multi-channel journey capabilities mean that customers can now have 14 combinations of order and fulfillment to suit their needs; they can easily start their journey in one place and pick it up in another. Multi-channel sales penetration increased to over 50% of total sales, with receiving 440m visitors per year. The internet accounted for 42% of total company sales and ‘Check and Reserve’ was Argos’ fastest growing channel. The iPhone app has been downloaded over 2,500,000 times, the Android app over 625,000 times and the iPad app over 450,000 times.
  2. ASDA: British supermarket chain Asda is the UK’s second largest chain by market share, and has more than 500 UK stores. The retailer’s objective was to meet the growing use of mobile by building an app that made shopping quicker and more convenient for its customers. Customer feedback showed that customers wanted an app that was simple and easy to use, so the resulting design included a recipe finder, barcode scanner, and a store locator.  Mobile now accounts for 18% of all ASDA grocery home shopping sales – 90% of this from the app. Asda app shoppers are twice as likely to become loyal, repeat customers. Shopping frequency for mobile is 1.8 times higher than desktop.
  3. BEJEWELED: Is the name of the series of tile-matchingpuzzle games created by PopCap Games. To generate campaign awareness, Bejeweled recruited top Instagram influencers to share photos of themselves playing the game under the branded hashtag #shinyplace. Bejeweled launched the Instagram marketing campaign on May 10th, the game’s rank on the Apple’s top-grossing U.S. iPhone games chart has climbed from 454th to the 135th. Bejeweled rose from the 702nd to the 182nd top-grossing app on the U.S. Apple App Store during that same time-frame.
  4. CUMBERLAND FARMS: With over500+ retail stores and gas stations located across the Mid-Atlantic, Cumberland Farms today is one of the largest privately held companies in the world, Revenues are over 16+ billion annually. With so many locations and over 6,000+ employees, trying to compile and organize the data from each store in a timely manner was becoming almost impossible. By developing a Cumberland Farms app for employees, Cumberland Farms has collected well over 145,000 digital reports and reduced their paper costs by $11,000 per year. They also saw a full return on their investment within 6 months of fully deploying to their field teams. All of this, as well as their dramatic increase in productivity, lead to their recurring ROI of over $400,0000.
  5. JANSSEN (PSORIASIS 360): Launched a mobile phone app to help psoriasis patients track the severity of their condition. The index helped them know when to seek professional care and allowed their medical professional assess to the severity of their patient’s condition. Janssen also opened a Facebook page, which they moderated for regulatory reasons, to let patients tell personal stories and had over 30,000 posts and comments. According to Janssen, the investment in the mobile app overachieved ROI but more important delivered the right therapy to the right patient at crucial times.
  6. MARRIOT: Wanted a marketing app to help distinguish its steak restaurants, Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar, from others and to open up possibilities through mobile reach. The app was intended to give interesting and useful information to lovers of steak and gin. It also allowed users yo book tables and see special deals and updates. The app has had over 1,500 downloads in 60 countries and 27,000 screen views. Over 60% of users return to the app multiple times and users access an average of 11 screens per session showing strong engagement with the content.
  7. MCDONALD’S: Designed a ‘restaurant finder’ app to enable consumers to find a late-night McDonald’s because two-thirds of its restaurants close at 11pm. McDonald’s employed location-based technology and geo-targeted above-the-line messaging, to avoid sending potential customers to a locked door. The app has been downloaded 1,300,000 times. When the sales uplift was calculated, the campaign delivered an ROI of 2:1.
  8. PROVIDENCE: Providence Anesthesiology Associates (PAA) is a team of 60+ anaesthesiologists providing care for over 100,000 patients each year at 19 locations in the US. The initial app created by PAA is a dashboard capable of pulling in all the different internal resources that might be required by clinicians and employees into one place. This gives one centralized point of access to all the documents from the internal cloud storage solution as well as from internal mobile sites including surveys and data collection. The PAAmobile app is now used by all PAA physicians.
  9. STARBUCKS: About 21% of Starbucks transactions are done by mobile app with 11 million signed up. But this amount of sales volume doesn’t happen by itself. To stay top of mind with its audience, Starbucks employs: 1) Special offers, 2) loyalty program, 3) messaging and notifications, 4) mobile order and pay and 5) personalization. A by-product of these mobile app marketing tactics is a wealth of data they get about their audience to improve their mobile apps marketing.

Do these case studies prove the ROI of mobile apps marketing to you. Do you need help with the marketing of your mobile app?


Tags: Mobile Apps, mobile apps marketing, mobile marketing
Category Strategy and Brand Building
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