While creating an app is a project in itself, the work is not done once the app is released; in fact that is just the first part of the process. Taking an idea and developing it into something tangible and real is something mobile application companies excel at, but after all the code is written you need to have a growth strategy in place for your app to help it along with the next part of the process which is getting it downloaded by users who want or need it and then retaining those users.
If you build it, they will come?
This isn’t the Field of Dreams. It’s not 2008. Just building an app and placing it on Google Play or iTunes does not mean people will flock to your creation and then download it in mass numbers. Sure, that is a nice fantasy and one that hundreds of mobile app developers have, but it is certainly not reality. You need to develop a growth strategy for your app that focuses on user acquisition and user retention to truly consider your project a success. Building it simply isn’t enough. You need people to download and use it, and then you need to work hard to retain those people you worked hard to acquire.
A growth strategy blueprint
User acquisition is the first step because if people aren’t downloading the app then there is nobody to worry about retaining. Your focus should be on:
- ASO – App Store Optimization (ASO) is an important step as often this is the first insight people have into both your app and the company behind it. Time and testing needs to be used to ensure you have the best name, icon, descriptions, screenshots, and screen shots so that users see the genius you have created and understand the value this app will provide to them.
- Organic – Organic acquisition is popular because it involves time and effort versus money. Part of this plan should include branding along with a strong public relations push before, during and after launch. You can also listen to and respond to communication from users. Last but not least regularly check on your app indexing in stores to ensure it is being categorized properly.
- Paid – For those who can afford it, paid advertising is a good way to fuel acquisition. Facebook ads, paid featured content, and creating content that promotes your app are all good ideas. Paid marketing needs to be tracked and analyzed to ensure you keep what is working and discard what isn’t.
After people are downloading and using the app you need to ensure they stick around which means focusing on user retention. Your focus should be on:
- Performance – In theory you want your app running at 100% however crashes happen and bugs occur. The key is to have plans in place for bug/problem reporting and resolution so that your app is up and running and not crashing and disappointing new users.
- Experience – User experience needs to be a retention target. Are people having problems downloading or using the app? Are there sticking points in the app that cause frustration and app removals? Testing should be thorough prior to launch. Pay attention to feedback and focus first on fixing what isn’t working or isn’t working well after launch.
- Re-engagement – Re-engaging people is a process on its own. By using push notifications you can help automate your engagement which is highly effective when you take the time to use focused messaging. Also listed to users’ feedback and add new features that users are clamoring for to increase their enjoyment and experience.
Of course when creating your blueprint both user acquisition and retention needed to be planned for so that each new person acquired will then be part of your retention plan. Some app developers focus a lot on acquisition and then only on retention after users have left the app which is too late in our opinion.
Part of your blueprint should also include how you will collect information and utilize analytics, as both of these aspects are important to continually adjusting and developing your strategy. As you measure user behavior, comments and feedback you can then adjust your plans for acquisition and retention to maximize both.
The bottom line is that you need to have a growth strategy in place for your app. Just making it is not enough. If you build it they will come, but only in two’s and three’s unless you launch a user acquisition plan and they are not very likely to stay unless you are implementing a user retention plan.