Ashley Sefferman is Head of Content at Apptentive, the best in-app communications software for app publishers. A mobile marketing and content strategy enthusiast, she writes about mobile apps, loyalty, inbound marketing, and making the mobile world a better place for people. Follow Ashley on Twitter @ashseff.
Many app developers mistakenly follow an “if we build it, they will come” mentality, viewing marketing as inessential to the success of their apps. They focus their resources on building a great app and fall into the trap of believing submitting an app to the app stores is the same as launching an app. As they wait for people to download their app, they painfully realize they were wrong. Now lost in the midst of 1.5MM other apps, all the time and effort they put into building a great app was all for nothing. According to a recent InMobi survey, the biggest challenge app developers face is marketing.
The most challenging parts of app creation
Even the best apps from leading brands struggle with customer acquisition and discovery without marketing. The good news is you don’t need a big budget or a marketing team to design your app for growth. Whether you are focused purely on marketing or you’re a jack-of-alltrades, you can set your app up for success for years to come with these five growth tips.
Five Ways to Influence App Growth
Even if you’ve already launched your app, you can still design your app for growth—it’s never too late to improve upon your existing strategy. With these tactics, you’ll help your app’s customer acquisition, validation, engagement, retention, referrals, and revenue.
- Organize and prioritize customer requests
In addition to the bugs and crash reports customers submit via your feedback loop and app store reviews, you’ll no doubt have a lengthy wish list of new features proposed by your early adopters. While you can’t (and shouldn’t) work in everything on this list, we recommend making sense of the data by organizing your requests by frequency and priority:
- Frequency: How often has this request surfaced? Is it something that would benefit only a select few, or is it something several of my customers have expressed interest in?
- Priority: Would this feature add immediate business value? In light of limited resources, is this feature more urgent than any other?
You’ll never be able to please everyone, but by organizing your requests by frequency and priority, you’ll be able to maximize your resources and create a better experience for your average customer.
- Lock in your three-month product roadmap
While it’s important to work in customer feedback, it’s even more important to stay true to your original vision and the needs of your greater audience. Ensure that you’re continually moving in a direction you’re comfortable with by formulating a post-release product roadmap. This roadmap should outline the work required for your highest priority features, while remaining flexible enough to work in regular quality assurance and fixes for customer reported bugs.
For help on how much time to allot to new features vs bug fixes, check out this Quora thread for a few strategies preferred by mobile PMs.
- Incentivize continued usage
Once the hype of your new launch starts its inevitable fade, customer acquisition will get harder. And with that, retention becomes even more valuable.
Win the loyalty of your early customers by giving them a reason to re-launch your app day after day. For this, you need an app that continues to engage them, with fresh content at each launch, a loyalty system where they can win (virtual or physical) prizes for in-app achievements or usage, a personalized experience catered to their shopping habits, or whatever it may be that keeps them hooked.
While building these incentives into your app may cost you in development or merchandise, you’ll likely still see a larger ROI on retention than acquisition, as 70% of companies say retaining a customer is cheaper than acquiring one.
- Win referrals
This next tip goes hand-in-hand with the last. Save yourself a little headache by setting your app up for organic growth down the line by encouraging referrals. This comes down to two points:
- Making your app worthy of sharing. There’s a difference between using your app and loving your app. Before they can be expected to share your app, customers need to love your app. They need to be convinced that your app is uniquely qualified to meet their needs and that their referees will see similar value.
- Making your app easy to share. Take the hassle out of sharing your app. Asking customers to remember your app’s name and bring it up in conversation next time they see their friends is a lot to ask for and requires some pretty spectacular top of-mind awareness. Instead, make sharing possible with a single tap from within your app. The easier you make your app to share, the more shares it will get.
- Optimize frequency of push notifications and marketing communication
Customers like to be engaged. They don’t like to be spammed. All marketing communication has a tipping point, where messaging ceases to be valuable. Only by identifying this tipping point can you identify the optimal volume and frequency of messages to send your customers, via either push or in-app messaging.
The key uninstall factors
Fortunately, with your analytics already in place, this should be an easy optimization to figure out. Orchestrate a quick test by sending different customer segments varying amounts of brand communication over a one-week period and keep a close eye on related metrics such as open rates, responses, and app exits that provide an indicator of customer reception.
It’s important to identify the appropriate amount of messages to send to your customers based on the context of your app. Use the data to understand how to strike a good balance of communication without inundating your customers.
Design your mobile app for growth and set it up for success for years to come by: organizing and prioritizing customer requests, locking in your three-month product roadmap, incentivizing continued usage, winning referrals, and optimizing the frequency of your push notifications and marketing communication. Whether or not you’ve launched your app, these five tips for designing your app for growth will help you improve customer acquisition, validation, engagement, retention, referrals, and revenue.