User Acquisition on a Budget: Lessons Learned from Facebook Ads

Discussing the lessons learned from running a Facebook User Acquisition campaign on less than one hundred pounds.

For most indies, a marketing budget is often a luxury they can’t afford, so we tend to rely heavily on Facebookand Twitter

If however you do have a hundred pounds or so to spend, you might be tempted to spend it on user acquisition, i.e. paying for people to install your app. 

The primary UA channels such as AppTurbo or AppLift won’t be interested in your £100 budget, but are well worth speaking to if you can add a zero or more to that. These companies will often offer a guarantee of getting your app into the top 10 charts in the chosen territory and the visibility from being in the top 10 will do wonders for your downloads. 


There’s no real minimum spend for a Facebook ad campaign, but before you throw your money on an ad you’ve just come up with, do a few tests first. 

The first thing I wish I’d done was to get Facebook Measurement for Mobile Ads set up, but there were some significant deadlines in regards to spending the money which I won’t bore you with. With this set up, I’d have been able to run the ads on a cost per install (CPI) basis rather than cost per click. 

I created 3 adverts, one targeting females, one males, and one targeting both. And I ran these on different days so that I could track the installs (I was targeting a territory which until then didn’t have any installs, so I could safely assume any new downloads were due to that advert). 

image image image 

I set a budget of £5 for each advert set and the results were as follows: 


At this stage you can see that I spent £9.41 and only got one install. This is not a good return on investment, but it showed that the advert targeted at both genders was the most successful. Because of the small test size, it’s difficult to confidently get good, reliable data, but we have a small budget so this is understandable and somewhat expected. 

This would also be a good time to look at your Average Revenue per User (ARPU). If your ARPU is significantly lower than your Cost per Install (CPI), stop now and don’t spend any more money on UA until you can improve your income. You might be better off using that remaining £90 to try and get to an event or two where you can see some useful talks, meet new people, and still get as many if not more installs of your game by talking directly to people at the event. 

If you do decide to go ahead with Facebook Ads, obviously go with the most successful advert from your tests. 

In summary; plan ahead, know your metrics, test, and only spend money on UA if it makes sense financially, otherwise use that money on getting some business cards and get out to some events. 

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