How a Coding App for Kids Did Triple-Digit Growth in a Year
The world’s leading learn-to-code app for kids — codeSpark Academy — was already a well-recognized brand when they reached out to Hop Online. codeSpark Academy introduces children to the logic of programming using visual blocks of code and increasingly challenging drag-and-drop coding puzzles and has a global community of young creators from literally every country on Earth.
codeSpark was seeing good organic results along with App Promo Campaigns and small-scale Apple Search Ads (ASA). They wanted to ramp up growth but had limited in-house resources. The goal was to double the number of subscribers by the end of the year and bring 20%+ return on ad spend (ROAS) from paid marketing channels.
We achieved it 2 months ahead of schedule. Here are the challenges we faced and what we did to get the results:
- Switch from relying only on App Promo Campaigns and small-scale ASA to a balanced channel mix, in order to achieve healthy growth and be less exposed to seasonality or platform issues.
- IDFA removal for kids apps (iOS) was announced, so we had to find alternative channels for growth.
- Move from an iOS-only approach to getting consistent results from iOS, Android, and Web.
- Attribution – we had challenges with collecting the subscription data and its attribution to the different channels, which made us more conservative in bids/budgets at times.
What we did
Here was our initial strategy:
- Expand internationally (beyond the 4 main markets – US, UK, CA, AU) to over 30 countries worldwide
- Launch Android campaigns in both App Promo Campaigns and Facebook App
- Introduce new channels – Facebook Web, Facebook App, Google Search, Microsoft Advertising.
- Expand the current top-performing channels
- Establish better reporting and KPIs
Expanding internationally helped us grow beyond the main markets at a much lower cost. We researched the audiences, but also the product-market fit. We analyzed the market for similar apps across different countries and mapped our product to see if it was a good fit for the market. Better reporting was needed too, to determine the max CAC for each new country.
The iOS 14 update with IDFA removal put us in a precarious situation and threatened our main acquisition channels – App Promo Campaigns iOS and Facebook App iOS. We quickly launched Android campaigns and managed to make Android profitable, bringing about 20% of subscription volume and about 80% of install volume.
We also introduced new acquisition channels – Facebook, Google Search, YouTube, and Microsoft Advertising. Those channels brought over 15% more incremental trials and contributed incremental profit to the digital media mix. Still, as codeSpark is an app, it was hard to funnel the user experience into these web platforms, and costs remained high.
To ensure growth, we audited and expanded the existing top-performing channels. We increased the bids for both App Promo Campaigns and ASA, restructured the campaigns on ASA, and adding new keywords and segmenting for iPhone and iPad to have different bids based on device. For Google App Promo campaigns, we test new bidding strategies, optimizing for trial vs subscription, and diversified the creatives — including direct-response creatives that our team produced.
Next, we introduced translations for the App Promo Campaigns campaigns, for both iOS and Android. Some of the foreign markets were quite expensive with English ads, but when we introduced translated ad copy and video, we expanded dramatically at much better costs.
We had great success with timely promos and creatives. We launched campaigns around summer camps, homeschooling, back to school, and Halloween – all supported by custom videos, ad copies, landing pages, and offers.
Data and reporting
On data, attribution, and reporting, the biggest challenge was reporting on online and offline conversions – we needed to forecast how many people were going to subscribe, based on the trial starts. This was a crucial metric, as it was dictating our room for expansion.
We were using the average conversion rates of the past few weeks to forecast the conversion rate of current trial users, in order to stay at or above the 20% ROAS target. As ROAS rose, we could expand more. We did that not only on an account level for all campaigns, but also on a channel level. For example, we’d notice that on Apple Search and App Promo Campaigns, we’d get a lot of trials from a country, but none of the trial users convert to paying customers. So we might stop the channel for this country, despite the well-performing campaigns. In other cases, we’d expand Android or iOS campaigns.
Our efforts paid off and codeSpark achieved remarkable results – they expanded their user base exponentially and had triple-digit growth within a year.
On May 25, 2021, codeSpark was acquired by BEGiN, the company behind the proven early learning program, HOMER. Mission accomplished!
They helped take us from $20k per month in marketing spend to over $300k per month in marketing spend while still hitting all of our cost-per-trial and subscriber targets… that growth helped directly lead to our company’s acquisition… I can’t recommend their services and their energy enough.