App Marketing Costs (2024)

Artem Dogtiev | May 2, 2024

Today’s app store landscape is totally dominated by the famous duopoly – Google’s Play Store marketplace and Apple’s App Store. With the total number of mobile apps recently passing 5.5 million and, at the same time, mobile users using only a handful of apps regularly, competition among apps continues to grow rapidly and with no signs of slowing down. In this environment, no wonder that app marketing costs constitute a bulk of a brand’s marketing expenses, and many indie app developers struggle to get their apps discovered on the app stores, let alone get them connected with loyal mobile users.

On the big brands’ side of the app marketing equation, the challenges are both to reach and retain app users on the scale. On top of these challenges, there is a heat competition for people’s attention – multiple studies have shown that on average, on a daily basis, people use just a handful of mobile apps, and to break through to that small circle is a marketing feat on of itself.

As you begin to build your mobile app marketing strategy, you ask yourself – how much does it cost to market an app? Today mobile app marketing costs consist of many important components that cover the entire lifespan of an app and can be divided into three stages – Pre-Launch, Launch, and Post-Launch. Further on we are covering app marketing campaign constituents that represent these three stages.

If you need a quick glimpse into what app marketing cost components look like, use the following key data points list for reference.

Key Data Points

  • App market research – $5k…$15k
  • App beta testing – up to $5k
  • ASO tool – $25..$1,500 / month
  • App marketing agency pricing – up to $25k / app
  • App PR outreach – $100…$300 / hour
  • Influencer Marketing – $10…$18k / month
  • Average Cost Per Install (CPI) – $1.75 / install
  • Cost Per Action (CPA): Register – $3.5 / install
  • CPA: In-app purchase – $87 / install
  • CPA: Purchase – $75 / install
  • CPA: Subscribe – $37 / install

Let’s look at the trajectory of app marketers’ spending in recent years. Any app marketing campaign budget has several components and the most significant of those is expenses on paid user acquisition, specifically – the app install ads.

App Install Ad Spend

In February 2020 AppsFlyer published a white paper that summed up the data for the app install spend in 2019 and projected for the 2019-2022 period. Obviously, the data was compiled before the COVID pandemic hit the world in March 2020 and wracked havoc in the world economy but still it gives us the general curve of how much money was spent and was projected to be spent in recent years.

Throughout the period, the bulk of the app install ad spend is presented by Asia-Pacific region countries, where China, India, Japan, and Indonesia are setting the tone. In 2019 the total spending in that region was $29.9 billion and this year it’s projected to reach $61.1 billion.

North America holds second place on the app install spend chart, in 2019 app marketers in US spent $14.2 billion and by the end of this year is projected to spend $27.5 billion. European app marketers spent $10.6 billion back in 2019 and this year are expected to invest $22.9 billion in driving app installs. Finally, Latin America is closing the chart with $3.1 billion in 2019 and about $7 billion in 2022.

App Install Ad Spend by region, 2019-2022 ($billion)

Source: AppsFlyer

Mobile App Marketing Plan

Next up is the general picture of what kind of app marketing activities marketers need to allocate and spend their budget on. On the following graph you can see a big picture of what an app marketing plan consists of. As time goes by, new app marketing channels pop up but the overall approach to how market mobile app efficiently remains the same. It starts with the pre-launch phase that involves marketing before the app’s release, once the app is launched, multiple app marketing tools are involved to reach out the app’s audience and ideally reach the top ranks and finally the third stage that is all about sustaining the app’s growth and growing its user base.

On this graph Facebook Mobile Ads is just one example of the ad platforms to drive paid app installs, the full list would include Apple’s Search Ads, Google UAC, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, Reddit and Pinterest Ads, and more.

Mobile app marketing plan

Source: SmartInsights


App Pre-Launch Costs

The Pre-Launch components are market research that needs to be conducted before any steps are taken, beta testing, to make sure a mobile app is ready for launch, and possible bugs that won’t create a blowback once it’s launched on an app store. As well as App Store Optimization to make sure an app will be found by its potential users and appeal to them enough to be downloaded and actually used afterward.

Media coverage with various publications, being covered by Influencers and various actions to tap into viral marketing are also important at this pre-market stage. It’s important to create anticipation, and awareness of the app before it hits the market so people know when to go to app stores to download an app right after it was released.

In addition, all marketing assets such as a website, Social Media accounts, and any graphics associated with it need to be ready to create a cohesive look for an app across all marketing channels app users will be discovering the app.

App Market Research Costs

Because a mobile app is a product like any other that needs to meet certain people’s needs, any app marketing starts with a market research to define the market and if there are needs that the app will meet. Such research on average may cost between $5,000 and $15,000.

App Beta Testing Costs

To ensure that an app is ready to be released on a market and serves its users well, it needs to be tested. According to one research such beta testing, conducted before an app’s release, may cause up to $5,000. There are also a number of beta testing services that offer an online subscription for their services, with a pricing range based on the number of beta testers involved.

App Store Optimization Costs

ASO or App Store Optimization is a process of tuning a mobile app’s marketing copy – keywords, title, description, screenshots, icon to improve its chances to be found on an app store by its potential users. To do ASO for an app brands and indie developers may either perform it in-house if a proper expertise is in place, use online tools or hire an app marketing agency to take care of it. An average price for ASO tool ranges from $25..$,1,500 / month, depending on keywords volume analyzed and specific features. To hire an app marketing agency to carry on an App Store Optimization, brands or app developers would need to pay for ASO service as a part of an app marketing package that may costs north of $1,000 and up to $25,000 per app.

App PR Outreach Costs 

One of the app marketing techniques that is well established is PR outreach and pitching an app to online publications via a press release or direct communication. This technique is time consuming and requires having established relationships with media to increase chances of an app to be actually covered. On average a PR agency would charge an app developer or a brand $100 – 300 / hour for media outreach.

Influencer Marketing Costs

Tapping into the power of Influencer Marketing is one of the recent trends for many industries and app industry is one of them. Essentially influencers are capable to deliver for brands and app developers what previously was available only with celebrities – an endorsement. An Influencer Marketing platform may cost to a brand $10,000 and up for a campaign to connect an app with its audience. An Influencer Marketing agency management fees may reach $10k – $18k a month and so, obvio

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