Q&A: How to Identify & Acquire High-LTV Users for Your Mobile Game

March 28, 2024

In the fiercely competitive world of mobile gaming, installs are a vital currency. But the true measure of an app’s success lies beyond the download. Lifetime Value (LTV) – the revenue a user generates over their time with your app – is the ultimate prize for game developers looking to drive profitable growth.

While post-install engagement is important, the true work of retention begins before the install. Your user acquisition (UA) strategy plays a critical role in maximizing LTV, helping to ensure you reach and convert the right users at the outset. With continuous optimization, your UA efforts can unlock new strategies for building a loyal and engaged user base.

We spoke with Andres Duran, Sr. Director of Strategy and Growth at Fluent, to explore the connection between user acquisition and LTV in mobile gaming. As an industry veteran with over 9 years of experience in mobile UA, Andres helps advertisers unlock the full potential of Fluent’s solution suite for their growth efforts. In the interview, Andres shares his expert advice on:

  • Identifying high-value player potential
  • Crafting targeted user acquisition campaigns
  • Fostering long-term engagement 
Andres Duran Headshot

Which performance metrics can help game developers identify user segments with high LTV potential?

Identifying the right performance metrics starts with first understanding your game and the monetization levers that help to drive engagement. For example, if a user needs to reach level three in your game in order to unlock a monetization feature, then as a UA manager, you’ll want to look at the install-to-level-three conversion rate. 

Growth rate is another important metric for monitoring how a specific cohort of users behaves and evolves over time. Comparing a day 7 ARPU to a day 14, 30, 60, etc. will offer insights into how the cohort is growing and when it will get to the break-even point you’re looking for.

How can game developers leverage LTV to make more informed user acquisition decisions and set realistic ROAS targets?

LTV is a measure of monetization and retention. To understand the relationship between ROAS and LTV, you must first understand your game’s monetization curve. For example, do you see drop-offs in user activity after a certain number of days, levels, or in-game events? 

What are some of the targeting strategies game developers can leverage to acquire high LTV users?

Each UA channel or platform comes with its own set of targeting capabilities. For example, with access to first-party data from opted-in consumers, Fluent helps developers target users based on attributes like age, buying habits, and more. 

For platforms without first-party data, contextual targeting can be an effective alternative. If you’re promoting a social casino game, you can place ads across other similar apps within the same genre, leveraging context to inform your ad placements. 

Finally, once you’ve identified who your most valuable players are, you can build lookalike audiences via platforms like Meta. This will allow you to target new users with similar characteristics and further expand your reach.

Predictive analytics is a hot topic among game developers and the broader advertising community. When it comes to targeting, where does this approach fit into the mix?

Whereas lookalike targeting is aimed at acquiring users similar to your most valuable audience, predictive analytics is about optimizing your bid strategy and right-pricing users. Predictive modeling offers early indicators of a user’s expected behavior within a game, signaling how much they will be worth in the long run. In other words, if you know how much revenue a specific audience will yield, then you can determine how much to bid for that audience in order to reach your ROAS targets.

How do cost-per-engagement (CPE) campaigns encourage sustained post-install gameplay and purchases?

CPE campaigns help to streamline the process of pinpointing high-value users. Once you identify the post-install action that ‘hooks’ users – this could be unlocking a new game feature or completing a satisfying level – use this as your CPE event. After the user reaches the payable event, they’re not incentivized to take any further actions. Users who continue to play and fire events after this point are likely to be genuinely engaged and interested in your game, signaling higher LTV potential.

How does Fluent help game developers reach and convert high LTV users at scale?

We help game developers tap into incremental audiences across alternative UA channels. This includes our rewarded Offerwall, influencer network, performance content, and post-transaction ad inventory. Leveraging our digital media portfolio and proprietary data and tech, we help developers connect with engaged audiences most likely to convert into loyal, high-value players.

What are some of the tools you and your team have developed to monitor campaign performance and optimize for LTV? 

We’ve built a ROAS dashboard that layers our first-party data over the post-install data ingested from our clients. This includes metrics like level completions, in-app purchases video views, registration events, and the number of games played. Leveraging our Dynamic ROAS Optimization approach, we then optimize ad placements based on the developer’s most valuable users. This allows clients to achieve their ideal price point relative to consumer value.

What are some strategies game developers can use to maximize engagement among high-value players and reduce churn?

CRM marketing and live operations are two big ways game developers can maximize engagement. On the CRM front, Braze and Leanplum offer tools to set up personalized campaigns and messaging based on event triggers, user attributes, and other variables. 

As a complement to your CRM strategy, live operations offer another way to deliver timely content and keep your game feeling fresh. This can include incorporating tournaments, quests, sweepstakes, and other in-game experiences tied to real-life events.

While many advertisers will attempt to go for the silver bullet, it’s important to remember that retention is all about small incremental wins versus one big win. A combination of these re-engagement tactics will go a long way toward keeping your best users engaged and preventing churn.

Ready to partner with Fluent to drive high-LTV users for your mobile game? Get in touch with us here.

Check out more resources to get fluent in:

Lifetime Value | User Acquisition | Retention Marketing | Predictive Analytics