good question - and something I think a lot about since we're often approached by smaller apps that have limited budgets and want to get the best bang for their buck.
at $2.5k - $5k budgets I typically recommend an app’s UA goals to be:
-> test and iterate on creatives to identify themes that work best.
-> establish a baseline of ROAS(d7 and beyond).
-> understand the potential scalability of the app -> can the UA activity scale beyond $2.5k to $5k.
With that context, I will concur with what David said above -> when we work with smaller apps, we typically dont explore channels other than Facebook until we hit at least $50k in monthly spend. Sometimes we test Apple Search after proving out Facebook on $10k - $15k a month - even though Apple can be effective in terms of ROAS-es, it isn’t a high priority at this stage of an app’s UA activity - because its creative testing capabilities aren’t nearly as strong as Facebook’s.
With that context, here are some considerations we are typically mindful of for smaller apps:
-> With $2500-$5000 budgets, we typically run a maximum of 2 or 3 ad sets(oftentimes we start with just one ad set) - because the more the ad sets you have, the fewer the optimization events you can feed to Facebook, and the worse the performance can be.
-> We use these one or two ad sets to run creative tests(and to get a baseline of CTR, CPI and ROAS). Typically we test different creative ’themes’ or directions. We usually run 10 to 12 ads in an ad set, and pause underperforms.
-> If the account has no performance history, we typically start with install optimized campaigns so Facebook starts to build up history - and also to let the ad sets build up their learning phase. If we have some data about users/purchasers available, typically we start the install optimized campaigns on a 1% lookalike of purchasers so the install optimized ads go to a high-affinity audience.
-> Frankly there isnt a massive amount of optimization or testing that's possible at $2.5k - $5k. Especially if you monetize via IAP or subscriptions, you typically wont have a lot of purchasers from that sort of budget(things can be slightly easier if you monetize via ads). What we do do is pause underperforming creatives(often) and introduce new creative themes(less often - so as to minimize resetting of FB’s learning phase).
-> We also typically start with manual bids - and tweak bids to control performance to the extent that we can.
Your best path forward typically is to get enough learnings about your economics to be able to scale beyond the $2.5k - $5k budgets.
If it looks like your economics dont permit scaling beyond $2.5k - $5k in spend, it can certainly be helpful to iterate creatives based on CTRs, CPIs and ROAS numbers that you see. However that can often be a symptom of a deeper product level challenge. If economics dont appear to be sustainable, we typically recommend one of two directions:
- stop spending & go back to the drawing board to make the economics workable.
- go back to the drawing board but keep some spend going so that you get the traffic you need to test your product changes that will hopefully make the app economically sustainable(with the understanding that you’ll lose money while you test).