Are you struggling to grow your monthly app users and don’t know where to begin? We launched our app in 2018 and continue to see sustained growth because we focused on these five straightforward rules.
Create an App You Would Use
All successful businesses know that the products they create and market must serve a need for their customers, so this first piece of advice doesn’t ignore that truth. But as an app developer and user, you have a strong sense about why you like particular apps and why others don’t live up to their promises.
What kinds of features compel you to use your favourite apps on a regular basis? What is it about your go-to apps that deserve a permanent spot on your phone? You may not have the same needs as your user base, but you can approach development from the perspective of a person who recognizes that apps should consistently provide utility and value. At Zutobi, we developed an app that drastically increases the chance of users passing their permit test on the first try with comprehensive practice tests. That’s proof of value! Be merciless when evaluating your product. If you wouldn’t use it, it’s not likely to succeed.
We’ll keep repeating this point, but apps have to consistently provide value. That’s why it’s crucial that you’re always attuned to the needs of your target users. You’ll need to develop a strong understanding of who your target customer is, their pain points, and how you can solve their problems better than apps that are currently available.
Begin by developing a user persona. Personas go deeper than just identifying standard demographics. You create them to better understand your target users’ goals, challenges, behaviours, and any other details that will guide both your app development and your marketing strategies.
A competitive analysis is equally important in helping you decide how you’ll differentiate your app from those who are targeting your users. What can you learn about your competitors’ offerings that will lead you to provide a better solution or fill a gap that they’re missing.
And if you’re providing services to different geographical markets, research local conditions or frustrations for which you can provide relief. For example, when we learned that the Massachusetts drivers test was one of the most difficult to pass, we worked to develop the best resources to help teens earn their permit in that state.
Remember that user needs can change and new competitors are entering the marketplace every day, so it’s important that you stay on top of this information.
Targeted, Breakthrough Marketing
Apps have a life cycle, just as every other product does. The marketing strategies for introducing your app will differ from those you’ll use to encourage downloads and persuade current customers to keep using it.
Before you launch, your goal is to make people aware of your new app. Get the word out and create buzz using these strategies:
- Identify influencers in your industry who have credibility and a large platform. Their endorsements will give your app legitimacy and work to drive word-of-mouth in anticipation of your launch.
- Evidence suggests that app downloads are often driven by information on your website. Use paid advertising on search engines or social media to drive potential users to a specific landing page that describes the benefits of your upcoming app.
- Use free social media posts to introduce or even tease the new app. Since social media is a great place for sharing, it’s an ideal platform for creating awareness. It’s also the perfect venue for answering questions that may help persuade users to download when the app is launched.
Active User Acquisition
After your app has launched, you’ll need a strategy to encourage downloads and installations. Here are some ways to make that happen:
- Since the app stores are the number one place where people discover new apps to download, use App Store Optimization (ASO) to identify the keywords that will move your app to a top position in search results in the Google Play and Apple iOS app stores. We inserted the best-performing keywords into the title and description for our Zutobi DMV Permit Test app. Also, check to see which words or phrases work best for your closest competitors and find ways to leverage that information to improve your own app listing.
- Use your PR team to pitch a case for why your app should be featured in the app stores. It’s a strategy worthy trying since it could lead to a huge source of downloads.
- Drive app discovery by advertising in the app stores (Apple Search Ads or Google Ads). You can also continue your paid ad strategy on search engines and social media that drive users to a different landing page with a more specific message about app features and benefits.
Your work isn’t done just because you’ve managed to secure a huge number of downloads. TO sustain growth, you need to retain these users and make sure they continue to engage with your app.
- Push notifications can deliver reminders to open the app, but include useful information and a strong argument for returning to the app so that these messages won’t seem intrusive and annoying.
- In-app incentives – perhaps a personalized offer or a free item for returning to the app – can be very persuasive. Extend this idea by installing a loyalty program that dispenses points for each action taken in the app. Points then accumulate for bonus content or free items/services once the user meets a specific threshold.
- If you’re having trouble holding on to users, consider A/B testing to determine which features work best to retain customers. Test with a small, but representative subset of your user base and choose to add or delete features based on the results.
Continue to Bring Value by Communicating with your Users
Earlier, we mentioned that user needs can change over time. Here’s how you can be sure you continue to deliver value.
Get Ahead of User Questions Before They Ask
A common source of frustration with apps is confusion about how to use certain features or those that don’t seem to work simply because the user isn’t taking the correct steps. Head off negative reviews by anticipating what kinds of problems users might face and set up a FAQ page on the app.
You could also create an account on a popular question-and-answer site like Quora, and promote your brand as a resource for questions about many topics in your industry – not just your app. Be sure to focus on answering questions rather than on promoting your app. Demonstrate your value to users and potential customers by providing useful information.
And don’t forget about your social media pages. Just as you anticipated questions and assigned them to your FAQ page on the app, include a post that details best practices for using the app. This kind of post provides another opportunity to promote the benefits of the app and ensures that customers will have a resource if they run into any problems while using it.
Address Negative Feedback
As an app developer, you have pride of ownership, so it can feel like the ultimate dejection to see negative ratings and reviews associated with what you created. But don’t feel sorry for yourself for too long, because you have an incredible opportunity to spin an upsetting situation into a positive path forward.
React to negative feedback from the perspective of someone who will do whatever is possible to fix the issue. Pay attention to what users say, and don’t get defensive. Offer to help or refund the user, or honestly explain what may have happened to cause a bad experience. Users appreciate when you’re upfront with them and when they can see you’re committed to solving their problems. Your response may persuade the user to remove the negative review and replace it with a positive one, and it also has the benefit of demonstrating to review readers that your brand values customer service.
Remember to Track Your Results to Determine How You Can Best Update Your App
While it’s vital to use the outreach methods mentioned earlier to understand your users’ needs, in today’s competitive market, you must also track your performance with hard data.
There are a number of analytic tools that will monitor your progress among key performance indicators. These tools are integrated with your software to report on metrics like average time spent in-app, number of daily users, churn rate, retention rate, session length, and more. But most of the newest tools can go even further in establishing how users behave with your app. These insights can help you to prioritize where you need to tweak or update your app and where to focus your marketing dollars.
Keep Providing Value
That’s not a sixth rule – it’s just a way to summarize the previous five. The only path to sustained growth is a continuous effort to bring value to your users. Keep on top of their needs, market appropriately for each stage of the user journey, and track your performance to see where you can improve. It’s hard work, but with a customer focus, it’s entirely doable!