Often, when developers are building applications, it can feel like the entire project in itself. However, once your application is developed and released on the app store, it soon becomes evident, creating the app was just the beginning of the journey. Developers are makers, who find the process of building an app exhilarating, while the joys of shipping don’t linger long. But you see, the real exciting part should be getting your application to your users who find happiness in it, and making sure they keep coming back to your app on a regular basis.
Once you’re done building your application, working on strategies for user acquisition and retention are the two major tasks for development teams. Marketing plays a prominent role when it comes to acquisition. This includes app store optimisation, paid & organic acquisition and more. While user retention is more about making sure the product and marketing teams work together on user experience, re-engagement, and performance. Here, analytics will prove to be a useful tool in pinning down exactly what is working for your users and understanding how to keep building traction. By putting all these tools to work, new possibilities emerge, helping you grow your user community and identify novel ideas to give you a winning edge. Below are listed a few things to keep in mind while designing your growth strategy.
Do not over-educate your users. For the onboarding process, too many apps open to a set of screens the users have to swipe across before they get to the functionality of the app. Often, these screens do nothing more than look pretty and provide more reading about what the product does. Avoid this. Work on a smooth and straightforward onboarding process. There are enough ways to simplify an app user’s onboarding experience, most of which aren’t too difficult to implement. Begin by including visual indicators of progress for long onboarding flows. It could be dots at the bottom of the screen demarcating the number of pages left or a thin bar at the top of the screen which fills in with color as you get close to the end. Regardless, orient your users in a way that makes them aware and accepting of how much work they need to put in to use your product. When you’ve removed all the friction in your onboarding process, the entire experience should take your user barely a few seconds to complete.
Design will determine your user’s overall experience and therefore, is crucial for growth. Prioritize design, and you stand a higher chance of giving users an experience that exceeds their expectations while empowering your app growth. Start by keeping an eye out for unexpected sources of friction and removing them. Do this before adding more features, options or catering to edge cases. Ensure that there is only one clear, dominating action on every screen of your app. Remove any possibility of accidental taps on the wrong button. Don’t assume your users have read any instructions you provided. Also, make sure all the call to action’s look and feel alike regarding superficial traits like color, wording, font, and placement. Additionally, think about the hand movements required. Making your users abruptly reach out for the upper right-hand corner of their screens while they’ve been tapping a button at the bottom center the entire time, is inconsiderate design. People’s eyes too, track in a similar fashion. Remember, you risk losing users every time you take them out of their comfort zone.
Referrals have the power to help your app scale faster growth due to its viral nature. Early on, referrals are your most powerful source of growth. Keep tabs of the referrers per user and invites sent per referrer to prospective new users. Now, based on which ones yield the highest volume of invites, prioritize channels. Ensure the referrals are a win-win. The highest volume of referrals is typically those that hold value for both the person sending the referral and the recipient. And remember they must be tied to the core experience of the product. This way the non-users referred to your product will be able to experience the useful functionality of your app first hand. This can be hard to do when your product is not explicitly social, but it’s still possible. One way to figure out opportunities to do this is to look at what users are doing outside and around your app.
Consistent value is what keeps most users coming back to your application. Adding new features in a timely fashion creases this value. Constantly analyze your user data to make sure you’re adding valuable features to stay ahead of the competition. Frequent app updates is an effective growth centered tactic. It increases the user's loyalty and faith in you when they see that you are committed to the development of the app.
Analytics is about your product working well. Don’t read too much into the number of downloads. Instead, invest in understanding your app usage data. This will help your app grow faster. You can align your initiatives to that metric once you know your app’s growth levers. Also, even though revenue is an excellent indicator of the success of your app, don’t take it to mean that it indicates sustained gains. To stay ahead, keep measuring which features are drawing people in? Which sections are the users dropping off from? How often are users using your app every day? Keeping track of these parameters is essential to continuously improve your app and keep users engaged.
As an app marketer, you must experiment with every tool at your disposal. Push notifications, in-app messages, and news cards are examples of channels that you can use to increase engagement for your app. Increased engagement ultimately translates into increased growth.
Exploit every opportunity for positive reinforcement. Today, it's a tall order to get the users to make even a small effort. So make sure you’re rewarding them for every tiny, marginal action. This ranges from green check marks that are in-line validation within account creation forms to thank you cards and small discounts dedicated to thanking users for taking high-friction actions like making a purchase. Discover and focus on your best referral channels.
Stop relying on standard social media sharing. One of the most common mistakes we come across in apps today is social sharing buttons taking up too much screen space in apps where social isn’t even core to the product. It's so commonplace to see these buttons embedded in the user experience without any particular intent or incentive. At most, they give us a little insight into what users do organically, but often they’re just a waste of space. Make sure its part of the core flow of your product, if you really want to add these features. The conceptually easy approach of throwing in standard share buttons have become so common that many users have trained themselves to ignore them entirely. At every step, you should be looking for things your app can do without, and this is typically one of the first things that should go.
There’s art in the science of growth. It’s the product, the market, the user experience, luck, timing, and many other variables, all wrapped up. If this bundle you’ve packaged, works, it will seem unreal, and that is how products explode onto the scene. Even so, by applying certain strategies mentioned above, app marketers can significantly improve user acquisition, engagement, and retention, the three key factors that define growth for a mobile app.
With today’s continuously evolving app ecosystem, marketers need to stay on top of it. To increase your chances of success, stay vigilant to avoid the often overlooked pitfalls during the pre- and post-launch phases of your app. Make a checklist and go over it at each phase. Figure out what your users care about and be responsive to their feedback. A timely update could ensure that you don’t lose a valuable customer to your competition. When it comes to app marketing, you'll soon realize that every small detail matters.