Fledgling App Uses Twitter’s Keyword Search to Win an Audience

Content Takeover Mobile & Local SearchKeyword targeting could be the ticket to social advertising success, according to smartphone application Acorns’ recent success on Twitter.

The app helps users invest spare change automatically from credit or debit card transactions into diversified accounts. The company and the app are relatively new to the digital advertising world; Acorns launched in August 2014 backed by a Nobel-prize winning economist and a team of engineers and mathematicians, along with social-savvy marketers looking to get the best returns on a limited advertising budget.

Acorns wanted its Twitter campaign to reach a mobile-first audience, so the first thing its marketing team looked for were keywords like “money” and “finance” embedded into potential customers’ tweets. Keyword search also allowed Acorns’ marketing team to segment potential users based on further user behaviors, according to Sami Khan, director of user acquisition at Acorns.

“The campaign allowed us to target words like ‘money’ with what people were talking about or interacting with, and analytics also showed us in real time the type of volume we could expect from each keyword.”

The team also searched for keywords around tech events like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to reach potential users where they live. “We knew that CES was very relevant to us, so we targeted words that were related to CES, big products that were related to CES,” Khan says. “Basically anyone talking about or interacting with CES at the time would get served an Acorns ad, and the ads were extremely relevant because we already knew that people who were talking about those keywords would also be good customers for us.” The team was then able to angle Promoted Tweets featuring relevant keywords and hashtags directly to their ideal user.

Acorns also took device into consideration, tailoring ads to iOS, Android, and tablet users. For example, a Promoted Tweet targeting an iOS user featured an image of an IPhone.


Acorn’s performance exceeded the company’s expectations. In the first 90 days after its keyword-targeted campaign, one in five of every iOS download of the app came from Twitter. The Promoted Tweets also had more than a 3 percent peak engagement rate, and overall, the campaign cost just $4 per install.

As for what’s next, Kahn says that Acorns is still learning its way around the digital advertising space, but the most important goal is keeping up with trends in targeting and segmenting, trends that seems to change daily.

“For us, it’s constantly evolving,” Kahn says. “Social media advertising is so quick to change. It’s hard to predict where we’re going to go, but what I can say is that we’re going to continue doing more of the same, which is creating specific campaigns and finding those audiences that work and cutting the ones that don’t.”

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