So you finished building your app and you are ready to conquer the world and take the app stores by storm. Now, all you need is users — lots of good ones to keep your business rolling. That’s easier said than done…

The good news is that although most cookie-less mobile targeting is still playing catch up to the cookie-based desktop in terms of targeting capabilities, it is nonetheless coming of age. Today, more and more mobile players are showing advances in big data, measurement and analytics, offering marketers the ability to go granular with their target audiences — which is paramount to achieving success.

Phase 1: Define your audience in broad terms

You probably have some general understanding about your target audience. For example, if you're an m-commerce app selling cosmetics and operating in the US, it is safe to assume that women aged 18-54 from North America is the general target market you should focus on.

However, if you're a game like Candy Crush, you’re targeting a much broader audience, so finding quality users can be much harder as it may involve multiple parameters. In gaming, it is especially important to find your “whales,” considering studies have shown an extremely small percentage of players contribute the majority of a gaming app’s revenue.

Phase 2: Run low-budget test campaigns

Fierce competition among mobile apps has led to a jump in costs. The latest Fiksu index found that the cost per loyal user crossed the $4 line for the first time. So before wasting a lot of money, start with a soft launch as you seek to understand who YOUR valuable users are.

The soft launch should result in a relatively small group of acquired users (5K-10K daily active users is usually a good size) that can be analyzed.

A key outcome of a soft launch is finding the lifetime value (LTV) of your average user. Once you know your LTV, you can figure out how much you are willing to pay. Basically, you’re looking to meet the golden rule of app marketing: LTV > CPI. As long as this condition is being met, you’re on track!

What kind of targeting can you apply from the get-go?

1)  Demographic targeting: Reach audiences using demographic attributes such as age, gender, education, household income and language preference. Some platforms offer incredibly deep profiling: for example, married women with two kids, owns a credit card, and lives in New York.

2)  Behavioral targeting: Reach out to customer segments based on behavior patterns ranging from past actions (sites/apps/pages visited), demonstrated interests, and purchase intent.

3)  Content targeting: Engage users based on the type of content they consume, like lifestyle, health, entertainment, sports, and more.

4)  Competitor targeting: Your competitor’s consumers are very likely to be very relevant to your own business (for example, people who follow your competitor's Twitter account).

5)  Targeting your existing consumers (aka retargeting, remarketing, Custom Audiences): As retention and engagement are becoming perhaps the most important goals for app developers, the ability to reconnect with your existing app users (or existing mobile web users you want to convert to app users) is an extremely important element in driving commercial success.

Basically this is done by gathering a list of user identifiers (IDFAs for iOS or Advertising IDs for Android) and retargeting them with a relevant ad based on actions they took. For example, users who added a product to their cart but did not buy, or gamers who completed level 10 but did not play in over 7 days.

The above options are not necessarily specific to mobile, although they obviously apply to mobile. The following, however, are unique to mobile:

6)     Device targeting: Engage audiences based on the user’s device characteristics, including manufacturer, model, operating system, carrier, connection type, etc. For example, if you’re selling luxury products, you can target users who own the latest high-end devices like the iPhone 6 Plus or Galaxy S5 and are considered more affluent.

The key takeaway here is that you should always be up-to-date with the newest devices coming out. OS version is also very important, as you don’t want to target users with an OS version that is not supported in your app. Last but not least, if your app is heavy, make sure to target users with a Wi-Fi connection.

7)  Location-driven targeting: Thanks to the Latitude/Longitude signals a device can send, you can target users in key locations by country, state/province, city and post code. You can even reach a narrower location like a store, airport or shopping mall. Needless to say, a location-triggered ad is highly relevant. A Google-Ipsos report also found that this service is in high demand as 4 out of 5 users want ads customized to their city, zip code or immediate surroundings.

Phase 3: Take a data deep-dive

The third phase of building your target audience is an ongoing process of gathering information about your users, learning from it, and fine-tuning accordingly. Ultimately, you’ll want to go from a couple of general segments to being able to actually define smaller sub-segments that deliver value to your app.

By analyzing your analytics and extracting actionable insights, you’ll be able to:

1.  Make smart marketing budget decisions by allocating more funds to the channels, sources, campaigns and/or creatives that have demonstrated their ability to deliver high-value users, hoping they will continue to deliver the goods (while dropping budgets of under-performing ones).

2.  Understand why a specific channel, source, campaign or creative performed so well. Let’s say the data tells you that campaign three in network B hit the jackpot. The next thing to do is to break it down as much as you can. By going deep you can understand which combination of publishers, geos, ad formats, copy, time of day, day of week, time of year, content, behavioral and/or demographics did the trick. Once you know, you can use this information to find lookalike audiences with the proven networks as well as with other networks (assuming of course they are able to deliver this level of granularity).

Last but not least, never ever rest on your laurels. Your target audience may change and you need to make sure you never drop the ball. So you have to measure, measure, and then measure again to make sure you’re on track.

To sum up, the most important thing for successful app marketing is accurate targeting, which is the byproduct of collecting tons and tons of data and analyzing it on an ongoing basis. Marketing decisions should all be data-driven, so if you plan to spend $20K on a campaign targeting men aged 20-25 in the U.S., you should know exactly why you are targeting this group and why these users will deliver the best ROI.

Tal Meshulam is a business development manager at AppsFlyer — a mobile attribution and marketing analytics company