One topic that I have been helping people with recently is techniques and tools for reducing user acquisition costs, and one ‘tool’ that I find myself recommending on a regular basis is Facebook. Those who are planning on using paid user acquisition techniques often think about using Facebook ads, and with good reason. This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to dip your toe into the world of buying app installs.

One of the most common assumptions that I am presented with is that you need an app with Facebook login functionality to benefit from using the Facebook SDK in your app, which simply isn’t true. I’m going to give you 3 reasons why you should implement the Facebook SDK in your apps, regardless of whether or not you use the Facebook Login functionality. Simply adding the Facebook SDK into your app with a few basic lines of code is cheap, easy and as I will demonstrate, extremely beneficial.


1.   Measure Your Cost Per Install (CPI) From Facebook Ads

If you’re going to use Facebook ads to drive installs for your app, you can do this without the SDK without a problem. The catch is that without the SDK you won’t be able to see exactly which installs came from your Facebook Ad Campaign and which were organic or came from other sources. This makes it impossible to measure the Cost Per Install (CPI) of your campaign. I would not recommend this approach because you can’t measure how effective your Facebook Advertising campaign is, and you do not have the ability to continually tweak and improve it and measure the results.

By adding the SDK to your app, you can see exactly how many people saw your ad, how much you spent on the campaign, how many installs were generated by the campaign, and most importantly, how much you paid per install.

2.   Access To Facebook Insights Data

Facebook Insights provides you with some extremely valuable data about your app and it’s users by logging ‘Events’. An event is logged each time a users performs a specific action. At the most basic level, the SDK will record events for app installs and app launches, meaning you can see how many people installed your app and how many times your app was launched each day. I know what you’re thinking, ‘that’s great but the App Store tells me how many times my app was downloaded each day, and why am I interested in how many times it was launched?’. Well, by knowing when a user installed your app, and by tracking each time that user launches the app, Facebook can provide you with one very important metric. Retention. And it puts this retention data into a nice, easy to read table for you. By viewing the retention data for the ‘App Launch’ event you can see what percentage of users are still using your app after x days.

Facebook Mobile App User Retention Graph


You can use this retention chart for any event that you are tracking in your app. Let me give you an example:

With a little bit more effort you could add an event for when a user finishes level 10. By looking at the retention data for that event you could then see how many users finished level 10 after 5 days, 10 days, 20 days etc. As you can see, this is extremely useful data to help you understand how people are using your app and how you can improve their experience.

Facebook Insights can also be used to view Demographic data about your users. It allows you to view user data based on country, age range, language, gender, device, device OS, and more. If you want to take your app business up a notch, this data is a fantastic starting point. Think of this from a marketing perspective. If you are going to buy advertisements for your app, you want to put those ads in front of people who are most likely to download and use your app. If you knew, for example, that the majority of your users are female, aged between 35-44, from the USA, imagine how much more effective your marketing efforts could be.

You could also use the demographic data you collect to help improve your app. By understanding what your primary user group looks like, you can build features that appeal to that audience and ensure that you continue to improve their experience. Understanding who your users are and what they want will put you on the path to building a great product.

Here are a couple of examples showing age group and gender data for an app.

Facebook User Gender Chart

 Facebook User Age Chart


3.   Custom Audiences

This is where we get a little bit more advanced, but this is something that will open up a whole new world of paid user acquisition for you. Even if you aren’t using Facebook Ads to drive installs yet, adding the Facebook SDK and setting up some custom audiences now could prove extremely valuable in the future if you do decide to use Facebook Advertising. And just to re-iterate, you can do all of this without the need to implement Facebook Login functionality within your app!

Earlier in this post I briefly mentioned the concept of events within an app. This is where you configure your app to register whenever a user performs an event that you specify. This could be opening the app, finishing a level, making an in-app purchase, spending over $100 in your app, or any other event you can think of. A custom audience is simply a group of users who have performed a specific event. Using the events I just mentioned as an example, you could create one custom audience that consists of users who have installed the app, and a separate custom audience consisting of just the users who have made an in-app purchase.


Let’s take a look at how you could put these custom audiences to use. Imagine you already have a popular slot machine game in the store and you are about to release another one. You know you have users in your existing game that love slot machines, so there is a very high chance that they would enjoy your new app. Wouldn’t it be great if you could target just those users with an ad campaign for your new game? This is exactly what custom audiences let you do! You can build an ad campaign for your new app, and have that campaign only shown to people who have played your other app. You are targeting your advertisements towards a group of users that are highly likely to convert. This means a better conversion rate and most likely a lower Cost Per Install than if you simply targeted your campaign at a broad, non-specific audience.


Before I wrap up, I want to show you another use for custom audiences other than driving new installs. We will use the same example and pretend you have an existing slot machine app in the store and you have created some custom audiences from that app. One of those custom audiences contains users who have made an in-app purchase (IAP) within the last 30 days. So you have a custom audience consisting of users who you know enjoy your app enough to buy IAP’s, and who have done so recently.

What if you want to encourage your users to buy some more IAP’s from within your app? One way to do that would be to have a sale on your IAP’s. But instead of just dropping the price of your IAP’s and hoping your users notice, you could leverage the power of your custom audiences to make sure they do! Here’s what you could do:

  • Set up a new Facebook Ad Campaign for your IAP sale. When you set up this campaign you can configure it so that when a user clicks on the Facebook Ad, the app opens automatically and they are taken to the IAP store.
  • When you are selecting your target audience for the campaign, select your custom audience. This means the campaign will only be shown to those in your custom audience.
  • When you start your campaign, users who have previously purchased an IAP in your app will see your Facebook Ads telling them about your IAP sale. All they have to do is click the ad and the app opens on the store page ready for them to make the purchase!

By targeting a very specific group of people you have greatly increased your chances of converting those ads into IAP sales, and there is also a very good chance that it has cost you much less than a broad campaign without the use of custom audiences would have.


As you can see, custom Audiences are an extremely powerful tool and one of the most effective ways to target Facebook ads aimed at conversions. What I have covered is just the tip of the iceberg and I could write an entire post dedicated to the topic (and probably will). The intent here is just to demonstrate their value to you and encourage you to add the Facebook SDK to your app and start setting them up. Even if you don’t use them immediately, you will save yourself a lot of time in the future if you want to start a Facebook Ad Campaign and your custom audiences are already set up and ready to use.


You’re Ready to Get Started!

I hope i’ve helped to shed some light on how a simple task like adding the Facebook SDK into your app can help improve your app business. I highly recommend giving it a try for your next app or app update.


If you do try it out, or if you have any questions i’d love to hear from you in the comments!