Advanced ASO and big data analytics are going to be your most important gateways to a holistic mobile user acquisition in 2018.
There were over 2.8 million Android apps in the world, and Apple’s App Store boasts of 2.2 million apps by mid-2017. In 2017 there were 197 billion mobile app downloads (Source).
This number is increasing by thousands almost every month.
Consequently, as a mobile developer, your biggest challenge is not developing and completing your mobile app; it is user acquisition.
As it happens with every digital enterprise, when you’re trying to promote your mobile app on the web as well as on the mobile you are not just competing with other mobile developers for attention span, you are also competing with hundreds of other distractions like social media updates, news, heated discussions, blog posts, videos and instant messaging notifications, just to name a few.
Nonetheless, once you have developed a working mobile app, you need users.
How has mobile user acquisition changed in 2018?
To holistically understand your mobile user acquisition strategy for 2018, you first need to understand a few concepts listed below.
Why you have developed your mobile app
What motivated you to develop your mobile app? It is easier to target the right audience if you know what problems your mobile app solves.
If you simply want to get into the fray because everyone seems to be crazy about introducing a new app, you’re going to face insurmountable problems. You need to offer something unique, something that is not available in other apps.
Uniqueness is very important. You need to be offering something that is not easily available elsewhere.
Take for instance task management apps. There are multiple top-rated apps including Todoist, Any.do, Wunderlist and even Microsoft To-Do. How do these apps create a space for themselves when each of them has hundreds of thousands of users, and that too, loyal users?
They offer features that the other apps don’t offer.
For example, the most powerful task management app among these, Todoist, has a very user-friendly way of adding new tasks and managing existing tasks. Many of its users complain that there is no inbuilt calendar to shuffle between different dates and see what tasks have been added under them.
Any.do on the other hand, although doesn’t have a very great interface when it comes to adding and arranging tasks, it gives the calendar view that is missing in Todoist.
This is just a small example. Even in a crowded space, you can offer features that are not available in other apps under similar category.
Once you know what problem you are going to solve, it will be easier for you to acquire users for your mobile app.
What makes an app successful?
You may think that the answer is obvious, but different app developers may have different criteria for defining success. Yes, in most of the cases, the ultimate aim is to generate revenue, still, some companies offer mobile apps just to get new customers for their business or to generate more leads.
Listed below are a few attributes that can help you define the success of your mobile app:
- User acquisition: How many people are downloading and installing your mobile app.
- Stickiness: How many people stick to your app and don’t uninstall it within a few days.
- Level of engagement: How many people stop using your app after installing it or use it actively.
- Social media buzz: Although directly how much buzz your mobile app creates on social media cannot define its success, it can indirectly lead to acquiring more users.
- Reviews and recommendations: A major part of user acquisition for mobile apps happens through reviews and recommendations. Word-of-mouth publicity works better than conventional promotion for mobile apps. A greater number of reviews and recommendations is a good indication of the success of your mobile app.
- Monetization: The ultimate aim. Is your mobile app able to generate revenue for you?
As briefly mentioned above, the biggest challenge for you might not be developing the app.
Contemporary challenges for mobile app developers
What sort of challenges does your mobile app face once you start the process of user acquisition? Listed below are a few contemporary challenges that your mobile app faces in 2018:
- Too much competition: With millions of apps in Google Play Store, Apple’s App Store, Microsoft App Store, Amazon App Store and search, the competition is crazy. For every new mobile app introduced, there are 50 alternatives already available. Just search for an app and see how many choices the App Store throws in front of you. A majority of these apps might not even be worth your target audience’s attention, but they create enough noise to cause problems for the visibility of your apps that might be more deserving of people’s attention.
- Too many choices: Every category these days has hundreds of choices. Even a single negative review, or even a small nagging factor can make your prospects scroll up and down and move on to the proceeding or the preceding mobile app.
- Rapidly changing user preferences: Everyone is trying to outdo each other. To achieve that, existing features are removed, and new features are added. The way people interact with mobile apps changes constantly. Something that was state-of-the-art just a couple of months ago might be outdated by the time you launch your mobile app.
- Rapidly changing technologies: Just when people had become a bit comfortable using apps on tablets and mobile phones, a slew of wearables have been launched and now every mobile app needs to work well on a watch. Not just wearables, tabletop and wall-mounted digital assistants are becoming a necessary Christmas gift these days. Many of the apps that were used via a screen now need to be used via voice. These rapidly changing technologies keep mobile developers on their toes and they have got little time to market the apps they have already developed and completed.
Developing a holistic acquisition strategy for 2018
For a holistic approach on mobile user acquisition methods for 2018 it goes without saying that you need to have a well-defined acquisition strategy. The strategy may involve…
- User analysis: What are their mobile app using patterns? For mostly what do they use their mobile apps? Professionals, for example, might not be using the Facebook app as much as people who are unemployed. Unemployed people who are not looking for employment might not be using the LinkedIn app. People who don’t have to manage multiple tasks may have no use for Any.do. People who don’t have to deal with complex ideas may have no use for mind mapping apps or the Trello app. To have an effective acquisition strategy, you must know what sort of mobile apps your users find appealing.Analysis may also involve the sort of devices used by your users. They should be able to run your mobile app on the mobile specs they currently own and the mobile operating system they currently use.
- Knowing your users: Mobile apps used by socially active users easily get new users because their existing users are very vocal about what they like and what they don’t like. They are constantly interacting with their peers, family and friends. When they start using an app they immediately mention that on their timelines. These users easily become your brand evangelists.If you are planning to monetize your app you must know how open your core target is about spending money on mobile apps. What is their usage pattern? Do they quickly upgrade their mobile app memberships to the premium versions or they quickly move on to another app that offers the same features they want but free of cost? There are many such user behavioral traits that can help you position your app for better user acquisition.
- Acquisition cost estimate: How much money can you spend per user acquisition? You may not be spending money on acquiring individual users, but eventually, you will need to divide the amount of money you have spent on different marketing channels during a particular period of time by the number of acquisitions during the same timeframe, to arrive at your acquisition cost per user.
Two primary user acquisition modes
Following a holistic approach to acquire mobile users doesn’t mean you ditch conventional marketing. A holistic approach means preparing a balanced marketing strategy for mobile user acquisition.
Primarily there are two modes: Paid and Organic.
Acquiring users through paid marketing
This may involve:
- Social media advertising
- Public Relations
- In-app advertising
- Email marketing
- Video ads
- Paid referrals
You can either invest in all paid marketing channels or you can pick and choose according to what sort of returns you are getting on individual paid channels.
Acquiring users through organic marketing
This may involve:
- Increasing web traffic to your landing page or website through SEO
- App Store search optimization to increase your in-store rankings
- Building a social media presence through constant engagement and interaction
- Getting featured in top lists and charts
- Voluntary reviews and recommendations by existing mobile app users
- Networking with influencers in your niche
How App Store Optimization (ASO) worked in the past
In many cases it still works: an app store search engine works more or less the same as a normal search engine like Google works, although, Google’s search algorithm is way more advanced than a typical app store search engine. But the fundamentals remain the same.
The name (the title) of your mobile app matters a lot. Avoid using an exotic name unless your brand is very well known (Google, Twitter, Uber, for example). If your mobile app sends daily maths quizzes to its users, try to use “maths quizzes” in the name of your app.
Keywords are very important when you are creating your app listing. So is the description.
The way you created optimized app store listings haven’t changed much because, there is only a certain way of entering information into the app store database.
Besides app store optimization, you need deep analytics.
App store statistics have revealed that 82% users never look below the top 25 search results. 30% users will download the app in your category that ranks #1. The app appearing at #2 gets 17% users and at #3, 12% users. By the time you reach apps appearing at #10 and below, it is almost 0% (source).
This is where a holistic, all-encompassing approach can help you.
Do whatever you need to do to optimize your listing in the app store. Beyond that, you can’t do much.
User insights generated by big data analytics are being used by mobile app developers to acquire new users.
What is big data analytics?
The power of big data is that after a while, repetitive patterns begin to manifest. Suppose there is a particular behavioral pattern used by mobile users. This behavioral pattern might not be visible among 100 users, or even 1000 users, but it may suddenly become visible among 100,000 users, or more clearly visible among 1 million users. You can use big data analytics to make more informed decisions about your mobile app. Even a small feature like where you place a “Submit” button on your contact form can be a big deciding factor in how many people use your app.
Big data analytics is used by predictive modelers, statisticians and data scientists who do not just help research institutes, but also help businesses (in our case, mobile app developers) make strategic changes to their business models, and gain advantage over their competitors.
Big data allows you to create segmented clusters that you can then use to target your audience and improve your mobile app users acquisition rate.
Why big data analysis is holistic?
One, you are moving away from traditional modes of acquiring users that mostly depended on “optimization” and information manipulation.
Two, you actually understand what your core audience wants and needs, and then offer a solution for maximum targeting.
Analytics may involve using current information available and acquiring new information as more and more users use your app.
Big data analytics tell you which features your mobile app users use more, and which features they use less. Emerging patterns will also tell you what draws people to your mobile app and what stops them from using it.
This may involve an alternative mode of mobile app development – you first launch your app and gather statistics. Then you make changes and offer an update. You continue this process until you feel your mobile app has reached its potential.
Predictive analysis will also play a big part in bringing your target users to your mobile app profile or landing page, and encourage them to download your app.
Predictive analysis uses the data gathered from user behavior while interacting with different apps and also with people on social networking as well as instant messaging apps. Just visited an on-line fan forum of Star Trek? Don’t be surprised if you come across an ad in app encouraging you to join the latest video streaming service because it is streaming Star Trek. Just joined an SEO group on Facebook? An advertisement in your mobile app or even on a website may prompt you to download and try out an SEO app.
Analytics and big data are going to be your most important gateways to a holistic mobile user acquisition in 2018.
Deep analytics tell you what your users want, what are their tendencies and how they are going to react to certain features and user experience attributes.
Know your users, understand what they are looking for, take notes of what attracts them to certain mobile apps and games and then reach out to them in a non-invasive manner. If there is a need for your mobile app, make it easier for them to find you. If they don’t realize that there is a need, educate them, and then make it easier for them to find you.