It costs less to acquire an Android user than an iOS user.

The average cost to acquire a shopping app user across all mobile commerce categories is $4.45, according to the latest data from Liftoff.

But that’s only one-third the battle — companies still need to get the user to complete the registration process once on the app, and then figure out how to get them to convert from browser to buyer.

Liftoff is a full service mobile app marketing and retargeting platform using post-install data to run optimized mobile user acquisition and retention campaigns. The latest study from Liftoff — 2017 Mobile Shopping Apps Report — divides apps into three groups: brand commerce from a company that sells its own branded goods; marketplace such as Amazon that aggregates products from other firms, and value-add such as Ibotta, which allows users to earn cash back for use in-store and on future mobile purchases. The data is drawn from 26.9 billion ad impressions across 4.8 million app installs.

The $4.45 average cost to acquire a new shopping app user isn’t the entire story. Additional steps include registration, which builds deep engagement with the app, and purchase, the end result of effecting advertising campaigns when a user converts to a buyer. The average cost to convert the app user to complete the registration process is $30.51, while the cost to convert the user to a first time buyer is $75.86.

When looking at the averages by app category, the breakdown is more varied. For brand commerce apps, the average cost to install is $7.32; conversion to registration is $33.24 and conversion to purchase is $61.90. Marketplace apps have a lower acquisition cost to install at $4 and conversion to register at $28.88, but the cost to convert to purchaser is the highest at $104.03. The value-add apps have an acquisition cost of $4.25 to install, and the lowest cost to convert to registered user at $10.41. The cost to convert user to purchaser is $33.81.

According to Liftoff’s internal data, women are more likely to register in an app and make the first purchase. Liftoff found that “only 4.5 percent of males who install a shopping app also complete a purchase.”

And by operating platform, it costs less — at $69.34 — to acquire an Android user who completes a first purchase that the $82.37 it costs to acquire an iOS user. But the key is that iOS users are more likely to spend more both in terms of the dollar amount of the purchase and the total number of purchases. Liftoff acknowledged that both how much and how often were beyond the scope of the current study, although it did note that the “popular assumption that affluent iOS users spend more — and use shopping apps more often — than their Android counterparts still holds some credence.”

From the acquisition cost and operating platform data, Liftoff concluded that women who purchase on iOS cost the least to acquire, but yield the highest engagement. That translates into an install-to-purchase rate of 11.3 percent and twice that of any other segment. The data for iOS males is 6.7 percent, with Android females at 6.5 percent and Android males at nearly 4 percent.

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