The #1 challenge facing app developers today isn’t design or development; it’s conceiving and implementing a successful marketing strategy.  With millions of apps competing for downloads and screen time – a strong marketing strategy is paramount to success. In other words, if you don’t have a strong launch and user engagement strategy, your app project, like most apps that get developed today, will not be a success.

The following 7 fundamental marketing growth strategies are time tested and based on working with over a thousand apps across all genres. Each one could be its own blog, but for this article, we’re going to discuss the fundamentals of App Growth marketing.

  1. Achieve Product-Market Fit Before Launch

First and foremost, developers must obtain feedback at every stage of development. Every stage is an opportunity to connect and engage with users to make sure what you’re doing is creating value and solving a problem. It is the BEST way to guarantee your app will have a place in the app market.

But don’t treat it like an art form; make the process scientific and use analytics as early as possible. Define your tasks and follow them. Here are three activities that are essential for success in this phase

  • Focus Groups – Get user feedback as early in the process as possible, even as you are doing initial wireframing. Elicit consumer perceptions and test out your monetization strategy even at this stage.
  • Alpha/Beta Testing – Get your app in the hands of actual users to determine if user behavior around features is as expected and make iterative improvements.
  • Soft Launch- Release the app to a limited audience prior to the Big public launch. You may want to target a specific app store like Canada if your target market is the US to ensure your key metrics around retention, conversion, etc. are as expected before you spend a large amount on a marketing launch.
  1. Get Your Conversion Metrics Right

Tracking conversion metrics are extremely important for success. It shows you where the leaks are in your desired flows and what is not working. These metrics are essential no matter your app does… from e-commerce to utility to games.  Your early conversion metrics will signal how users will behave as you scale and where you need to focus development efforts and should cover everything from navigation flows, social media interactions, click-throughs, responsiveness to marketing campaigns and purchasing decisions.

It’s important to be able to take raw usage data captured during each user’s interactions with an app to identify usage trends across the entire user base.

 

  1. Viral Loops for Organic Growth

User acquisition is expensive. Retargeting of users in attrition is sometimes even more expensive. Every developer must bake in mechanics for continuously engaging customers and driving new downloads. This is what viral loops are all about.

Your app’s engagement and marketing strategy should be in place before a single line of code is written. Viral loops offer an easy and inexpensive way to drive growth with users being your ambassadors to engage other users and solicit new users for your app.

There are lots of great ways to implement viral loops. If your app has user-generated content, let users share that content widely but to view the content, everyone has to download your app. Other examples include enabling users to help other users with an activity or send users gifts, or reward users for referring friends to your app. Having a well designed viral loop strategy will not only ensure sustained engagement of your user base but also lots of FREE downloads.

  1. App Store Optimization (ASO)

Just as optimizing websites for the search engine is so very important for discoverability, doing the same for your apps is equally as important because you’re competing against millions of apps. SO, why do you need a strong ASO strategy? The actual question is if you upload an app to the App Store and no one downloads it, did you actually upload the app?.

There are a large set of best practices around ASO that you must pay attention to. The key items that will generate good results are:

  • Choosing the right icon (meaningful, distinctive, beautiful)
  • Adding a short promo video
  • Making your screenshots are sexy
  • Using the right keywords for discoverability
  • Ensuring your app is generating quality positive reviews
  • Making sure your description is easy to understand (Bullets are great)

There are a number of black hat techniques people use, everything from buying downloads to reviews. These can get you a quick bump in discoverability but the hard work of focusing on each of the above will ensure long-term success.

  1. User Acquisition Cost vs. Lifetime Value

A simple yet crucial question that most developers building apps can’t answer is: how much does it cost you to acquire a user on average versus how much money do you expect to generate from each user on average? Every business in the world needs to be able to make these economic work if they want to stay in business.

The answer to the above question is actually quite nuanced and requires a fair amount of analysis to ensure you’re acquiring the right type of customers. Not all users are equal and not all sources of user acquisition are equal.  If you run a user acquisition campaign on both Facebook and Google and let’s say each app install on average costs about $3 for each campaign. If users from the Google campaign generate $5 on average and those from FB generate $2, well it’s straightforward to understand where one should double down. Moreover, it’s important to do this analysis for each campaign, do you get better returns targeting specific geographies, demographics, channels, etc. Attribution solutions help you understand the campaign/source that yielded each install and it’s important to marry this information with downstream usage and purchase behavior so you know where to invest in future campaigns.

Ensuring your app has solid retention is key to maximizing LTV. Whether your app’s monetization is based on subscriptions, consumable in-app purchases, or Ads, having a product that ensures stickiness is key to generating revenue. This is where mechanics for constant engagement come in.

  1. Constant Engagement

There no one time to engage with your users. Engagement with users should be constant, and subtle; from day one of app installation, user activation, tied to specific user actions or inactions, to keep users coming back for a meaningful experience. Your engagement strategies have to be smart and interactive, so you are just not pushing your product or bombarding users with a dozen push notifications a day.

A good engagement strategy starts with user segmentation. Since not all users exhibit the same behavior, you can’t have a one size fits all engagement methodology.  Segments will help you group users that are loyal vs at risk of attribution or high spenders vs never purchased anything. At scale, segments are hard to manage so solutions that leverage machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to automate segmentation are key. Once you have the segments defined, you can target each of these users towards the right business objective.

Constant engagement also requires engaging users at the right moment and leverages both rich push messages, in-app messages, and even email if your app collects it to ensure you’re reaching users at the best time using the best channel. It’s important to trigger campaigns at meaningful moments. Some examples include:

  • Offering a Tour at First App Launch
  • A pro tip during the 3rd or 5th session
  • Asking for referral at 3 consecutive days of usage
  • Asking for a review if they refer a friend or at 5 days of consecutive usage
  • Sending a free powerful if a user fails a game level 3 times in a row
  • Sending a coupon if a user adds an item to a shopping cart but doesn’t check out

  1. Content and Experience Personalization

More and more, Personalization is expected by users. And personalization doesn’t mean, sending a push message that says Hi {{first name}}. Users want to feel like the app is responsive to THEM and want to personalized app experience, both for the content they see and how they engage with the app. Apps that provide personal experiences for their users build a passionate and loyal user base. Apps that allow users to modify and interact with content will create instant app promoters, which is also imperative.

Personalization requires a data-driven approach and ideally should use the same segments that are used to drive personalization. Perhaps loyal users should experience different application flows than those that are not so loyal; high spenders should see different offers than low spenders, and users who are interested in specific feature sets of the app should be able to discover those features easily. Machine learning and automation allows you to track user behavior and operationalize personalization without having to build out or implement a full-blown recommendation engine. Personalized content isn’t just expected in our favorite social platforms but we can learn a lot from the likes of Facebook about the results of metrics like engagement, stickiness, and monetization when you individualize each users experience.

Following these seven best practices has enabled a lot of apps to cut through the noise and strike gold in the App Store.  Good luck with your App project! If you have any questions or want to further this conversation, we are here to connect.

 

Posted by Manpreet