Ride-hailing app marketing: ultimate ASO & Social Ads guide
In the fast-paced world of ride-hailing apps, the quest for expansion, growth, and securing that coveted first cohort of loyal customers is a universal goal for every player in the market. Whether you're a seasoned giant looking to further dominate the industry, a regional operator eyeing new markets, or a fresh entrant eager to make a mark, the one constant across all scenarios is the indispensable role of digital marketing.
In this article, we go into the reasons why digital marketing is the driving force behind achieving these ambitions, and how it can help you grow your taxi app user base and secure lasting success in this ever-evolving landscape. Stay with us as we explore why, in today's era, any case is a case for digital marketing.
Why digital marketing?
Wide Internet user coverage
The Internet is all around us. Its reach lets you and your marketing message connect with people of different demographics, backgrounds, interests, and transportation preferences.
Clear focus on smartphone users
In the age of mobile dominance, digital marketing allows you to zero in on smartphone users, a group that is guaranteed to have technical access to app-based services. These people are already primed for seamless app adoption and are just waiting for your service to arrive and make their lives easier.
Robust targeting options
The power of digital marketing lies in its ability to pinpoint your audience with precision. You can define your target demographic using basic criteria like age, gender, and geographical location. But it doesn't end there. You can delve deeper, employing advanced tools to reach potential riders who closely resemble your current customers. This specialized targeting, facilitated by features like special ad settings, ensures that your marketing message resonates with those most likely to engage with your service.
"Point of Sales" targeting
Digital marketing enables you to meet potential users at the moment when they are actively searching for apps similar to yours in popular app stores. By strategically placing your app in front of users right when they are in the process of making a decision, you increase the chances of attracting downloads and conversions.
Instant app downloads
With digital marketing, you provide users with a direct link to your app, which means they can install the app instantly. This streamlines the user journey, eliminating barriers between awareness and action, and ultimately driving quicker and frictionless conversions.
Ease of tracking and testing
Digital marketing is inherently data-driven. It allows you to conduct in-depth analysis and testing of various ad channels, creative sets, keywords, and messaging. You can track critical metrics, such as the acquisition cost per new customer and the revenue generated. Armed with this data, you can make informed decisions, optimizing your marketing strategies for maximum efficiency.
One of the most compelling features of digital marketing is its scalability. As you identify the most effective ad channels, targeting settings, and creative banners, you can scale your approach with increased investments or broader geographical reach. This scalability ensures a predictable and consistent influx of new customers, underpinning your ride-hailing app's sustainable growth.
Where should you start?
App Store Optimization (ASO)
What is ASO?
ASO is the process of improving app visibility within the app stores and increasing app conversion rates.
App stores are extremely competitive: when a user taps “taxi in my city”, they see a long list of apps that fit this query. This is why you need ASO. The goal of ASO is to drive more traffic to your app's page in the app stores, which results in more app downloads.
Who implements ASO?
ASO managers work hard to influence search results to get your app to the top of the app stores. They analyze the app’s competitors, search queries, test different keyword strategies and combinations of text and visual assets. Each action leads to measurable results: downloads, conversion into downloads (CVR), and an app category ranking.
Keep in mind that ASO is a constant process: it’s never enough to implement it once and enjoy the results. ASO managers regularly test and tweak strategies to keep up with the changing algorithms and competitors’ promoting efforts.
Pay-per-click ads (PPC ads)
What are PPC ads?
PPC is a general name for an online advertising model in which advertisers pay when a user clicks on ads on the Internet. However, there are more metrics that can be set as a target to pay for, such as app installs, sign-ups, booking confirmations, and other in-app events.
Which tools can you use for PPC ads?
The most popular tools are:
- Google Ads
- Ads on social media platforms: Facebook Ads, Snapchat Ads, TikTok Ads, etc.
- Apple Search Ads
PPC ads rely heavily on multiple factors: keyword research, ad copywriting, audience targeting, testing, and, most importantly, analytics. Tools such as Google Analytics and SEMrush help you figure out which ads work best and how to improve your results.
How should you choose digital ad channels?
Create a buyer persona - a detailed description of someone who represents your target audience. Segment your desired potential customers by their buyer persona traits: age, gender, socio-economic status, interests, lifestyle, reasons for using a ride-hailing app, preferred service types, and so on. Think about which ad channel and which content would fit them best.
User preferences for your location
Take a look at the statistocs for social media platforms using open sources such as Statista or Datareportal for your location specifically. The results for average monthly users may vary greatly depending on cities and countries.
The rules of testing
Allocate some budget to different ad channel tests and analyze the results once you have them. Testing will show which ad channels drive the best engagement, the most app downloads, the highest conversion into paying users (customers), and the lowest cost per app install and customer. These are the numbers to look at when you decide which channels to go for.
Social media & Google Ads: a deeper dive
There is a huge chance that social media ads and Google ads will become your main source of traffic and installments, so it’s important to get them right. So now we’ll go a bit deeper into how to attract customers to your ride-hailing app using these sources.
With Meta (ex-Facebook), you can pay to promote your app across three platforms: Instagram, Facebook, and Audience Network. Facebook remains #1 by the number of users worldwide, which makes it very likely that your ad will reach the right audience wherever you’re advertising. At the same time, costs per install are going up on Facebook all the time, especially for iOS users. So effective ads are a matter of testing, budgeting, and the balance between the two.
How do Facebook Ads work?
An ad is a social media post that features an image or a video of your choice. If your goal is to get new app installs, each ad post will have an Install button that leads to the relevant app store. You can make sure your app finds the right people by setting up ad targeting by age, gender, location, language, and key interests. You can also set up a look-alike campaign: Facebook algorithms will search for users that are “similar” to your current ones and show them your ad. You can reach new customers as well as existing ones if you aim to engage and re-activate them.
Facebook Ads provides detailed ad campaign reports which include various metrics such as audience reach, ad impressions, clicks, app installs, cost per install, and how much the campaign costs you.
One of the most effective marketing tactics is to promote your app across various Google resources simultaneously. The table below shows which channels you might want to cover:
|Google search network
Google Display Network
How do Google Ads work?
Google Ads campaigns are completely automated and driven by machine learning algorithms. All you need to do is upload up to 20 creative assets (e.g., banners, videos, texts), and Google does the rest aiming to get the best performance. For example, you can’t control where your ads will appear more frequently but you can be sure that ad algorithms will choose the placements that drive the most engaged audience for your app. You don’t get to choose from as many targeting options. However, you can still choose geolocation, daily budget, cost per install, or action limits. Google also offers different campaign objectives to focus on: getting more installs or in-app actions (orders, sign-ups).
You can evaluate how well your campaign worked using detailed reports provided by Google Ads. You’ll see the number of impressions, clicks, app installs, and target in-app actions, if you’ve set them as an objective, that your campaign caused.
Snapchat is all about user-generated content transformed by a variety of filters. The content that users upload disappears after 24 hours. You might want to consider Snapchat if your aim is to reach the Gen Z audience, as they make up the majority of the network users.
Snapchat is less competitive than Facebook and is often worth testing if you have the budget to experiment with.
How do Snapchat Ads work?
Snapchat Ads supports different ad formats such as a single image or video, on-demand geofilters, filters, story ads, and non-skippable commercials.
Snapchat Ads should look like a normal piece of user-generated content. The ads should be engaging, entertaining, and fall in line with other content on the app. They also need to be regularly updated to keep the audience engaged.
You can (and should!) track ad performance metrics such as app installs, but it works only if you use third-party mobile attribution platforms, such as AppsFlyer. At Onde, we have AppsFlyer integrated with our Customer app.
TikTok is available in over 150 countries and has over 1 billion users. It’s another social media network for the young audience focused on video content. The majority of TikTok users are aged 35 and under, female, and are located in Asia and the Middle East.
As a social network focused on short video content, it’s getting popular day by day, attracting more diverse audiences and showing very different content. Mobile marketers spend more on video ads and the trend will continue according to Statista. TikTok is also less overcrowded by advertisers than other popular social networks. It may help you reach a unique audience that is not strongly presented on other networks.
How do TikTok Ads work?
TikTok supports the following formats:
- In-Feed Ads
- Video ads
- Spark ads (promotion of posts from your own account)
- Pangle ads (ads across the TikTok Audience Network)
- Carousel ads (ads in TikTok’s News Feed apps, up to 10 images)
TikTok requires you to allocate resources to video production, as it only supports video content. But there is also good news: if your financial resources are limited, you can film a short video with your smartphone, add some graphics, and some sound, and it’s done. TikTok doesn’t necessarily require well-produced content to be effective. Another way you can start is by editing some of your existing video content and adjusting it to the TikTok format. As with other social media ads, however, your content needs to stand out to bring results. You can look up successful ad campaigns from Uber, Careem, and Grab.
To improve your chances, you should collaborate with TikTok influencers, use hashtag challenge ads, and use branded stickers and filters.
To measure results such as app installs and post-install in-app events, TikTok also recommends using a third-party mobile measurement partner such as AppsFlyer, which is integrated with our Customer app.
Apple Search Ads
Apple Search Ads (ASA) is a platform that allows you to advertise via sponsored ads appearing on top of the Apple Search results page. It helps improve your app discoverability and drive your iOS taxi app downloads.
The best fact about ASA is that it reaches the user's right at the moment when they are looking for similar apps. The ad looks like a normal App Store product preview and ensures a high conversion rate into an app install — 50% on average.
Apple claims that 65% of downloads occur after the users actively search for an application.
How do Apple Search Ads work?
The campaign is created based on the keywords used in the search queries, which means you reach the users right at the moment they are highly interested in a service like yours. You specify a cost per acquisition limit and pay when a target action (install or tap) occurs.
As a result, your app may appear in search results higher than your competitor and pick up a few percent of its users.
To measure the results, you can use ASA dashboards. ASA dashboards contain basic metrics such as impressions, taps, app downloads, and the amount spent. You can track all the metrics on a daily basis. You can also track post-install in-app events with a third-party mobile measurement partner. However, please note that iOS user data might not be 100% accurate due to the strict Apple user data protection policy.
ASO + PPC ads = perfect match
App stores love apps that users love: the more downloads your taxi app gets, the better its ranking in the app stores. The better the ranking, the more installs the app gets. Paid acquisition and ASO become interconnected, improving one another, which makes them a perfect match.
Here’s how they work together:
- While ASO relates to the app stores only, paid acquisition gains users from other sources.
- ASO is accountable for organic users, while paid acquisition drives third-party referrals. Both sources are important for your app presence and ranking.
- ASO paves the way for your app as a basis, while paid acquisition grows it further.
- Paid ads help improve your app rankings on the app stores. When you get more downloads, app stores rank the app higher.
Implementing ASO and paid acquisition simultaneously gives you constant user engagement and growth.
Focus on the customer experience
Any promotion effort is pointless if a user can’t get a ride, has to wait far too long, or faces a negative experience.
An app install means just that - an app install. Will the app be user-friendly enough for them to get a ride? Will that ride come in time and cost a reasonable amount? Will the person ride at least once or become your loyal customer? These are the primary questions you need to ask yourself.
Here are key factors that influence a customer’s behavior after an app install:
- Smooth signup process
- Enough activated drivers
- Enough drivers online daily
- Pricing policy that fits the market
- Service types relevant to the customer
- Positive first riding experience
The success of your app depends on whether there are enough drivers to satisfy the demand and enough customers to satisfy the supply. Your ad campaigns should be focused on keeping up this balance.
- Study your audience and shape your ad channel mix accordingly;
- Test different ad channels and types of content, and analyze and scale the most effective ones based on the number of new app installs, cost of acquisition, and conversion into orders;
- Research the ad channel you chose and remember that every ad channel requires a unique content approach ;
- Pair ASO and paid acquisition to get consistent growth for your taxi app;
- Focus on the user experience to get a constant flow of loyal customers.