Mobile marketers may be entering a seasonal sweet spot to drive purchases as the holidays approach, according to a study by Liftoff, a mobile app marketing and retargeting firm. From October to January, mobile marketers have low acquisition costs and high rates of engagement, the study found. Mobile marketers found the best value last December, with acquisition at a low $54.63 and 6.81% engagement, per a statement made available to Mobile Marketer.
Mobile consumers are harder to reach in the spring. Beginning in March, engagement fell dramatically to 5.4% and the cost to acquire those users who go on to make a purchase rose to $65.06. This trend continued through the season with acquisition costs peaking in May at $95.20 while engagement rates were nearly at their lowest at 4.2%.
Liftoff's Mobile App Engagement Index to measure user behavior collected data from 120 billion ad impressions and 1.3 billion clicks among apps in six leading categories: dating, finance, gaming, shopping, travel and utility.
Liftoff's study has a wide range of insights on mobile app consumers, including seasonal patterns and usage by category. These will be important to consider heading into the holiday shopping season — one the busiest times of the year for marketers and retailers and one that is forecast to have a growing focus on mobile and e-commerce in 2017. Industry bellwether eMarketer expects mobile-driven commerce sales will increase by 57.8% for the year overall. While winter months were best for customer acquisition and engagement during the study period from September 2016 to August 2017, Liftoff cautioned that seasonality is still "a moving target."
"The mobile world has yet to definitively nail down the best and worst times for marketers to drive purchases," the study said. "Given that there is no consistent trend year-over-year just yet, marketers should pay careful attention to their own stats and follow emerging data trends closely."
In the prior year, winter months were most expensive for marketers seeking customers. The cost-per-purchase in May 2016 was only $61.46, while November 2015 peaked at $81.92.
Among the top categories of mobile apps, travel book and reservations are particularly popular — especially among men. The cost-per-first-booking dropped in 2017: the peak cost to acquire a mobile user who made a reservation was $36.95, nearly half of 2016’s peak cost of $61.09. The average cost-per-reservation of $27.98 in 2017 was $16 less than the 2016 average of $43.88.