What’s required for your app to take off and hit 100,000 monthly users? If you search that question on Google, you’re likely to be overwhelmed with the number of responses. Here, we narrow it down to what worked for us.
Create an app you would use
A caveat to this piece of advice: Recognize that you’ll first need to identify your target customers and discover their needs and wants. Once you have this information, put yourself in their place and ask, “If someone was pitching this app to me, what kinds of features would make me want to rely on it regularly?” You’d probably favor an app that’s easy to use, loads quickly, is secure, includes an in-app search function, and would update when needed. But features aside, what motivates people to use an app consistently is that it brings value to their lives. Think about the apps that you use daily or weekly and you’ll notice that they offer utility. If they weren’t useful, you wouldn’t open them often and likely delete them from your phone.
We’ve established that utility and value are integral to keeping users engaged, so determining what will entice people to make your app part of their daily or weekly ritual should be the starting point of your app’s development.
The success of any product depends on its unique selling proposition, as you learned in Marketing 101. For example, we conducted a user survey where our users told us they wanted more information on traffic lights rules and meanings in our app.
If you haven’t already constructed user personas and performed a competitive analysis, now is the time to do so. User personas will guide your app’s development as they reveal not only standard demographics but also your potential customers’ goals and challenges, their mobile preferences, and anything else that’s unique about them. User personas are also instrumental in crafting a solid marketing strategy since you’ll learn where your potential customers spend their time both online and offline.
A competitive analysis will further your efforts to create an app that will deliver what your competition is missing and how you can improve upon what they’re currently offering to their users. The road to 100,000 monthly app users depends on picking away people from existing apps as well as potential customers who are new to the market.
Targeted, breakthrough marketing
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- Use your website to drive app downloads. There’s more and more evidence that shows the route to app installation often begins on a brand’s website. In fact, the rate doubled within the past year. A landing page can be a great platform for creating hype around your app, and you’ll be able to use the content in other pushes, such as on social media or paid ads later on.
- Speaking of social media, there’s no better place to introduce your app than on a popular platform where users are accustomed to sharing. It’s also a good venue for answering questions about the app.
- Reach out to influencers, bloggers, and journalists who have a large platform and can create anticipation surrounding your app’s launch.
Active user acquisition
- App Store Optimization (ASO) can leverage the number one place where people search for and discover apps: the app store. Identify the keywords that are most relevant to your target customers and use them strategically in your app title and throughout your description. Then, monitor your results to see what’s working and what needs to be changed in your ASO strategy.
- Use paid ads to target potential customers where they are. It could be social media, email, or even display ads online. Your paid ad strategy should be guided by the information you learned while researching and developing user personas.
- Pitch to be featured in the app store. You can pitch to either Apple or Google and provide a convincing argument as to why your app should be featured. If selected, this tactic could prove to be very valuable for acquiring new users, but you shouldn’t rely on it.
Once you’ve acquired new users, how do you keep them engaged and persuade them to keep coming back to your app?
- Encourage users to opt for push notifications so you can deliver relevant and useful information. Then you can use push messaging to re-engage with those who haven’t opened your app recently. Make sure that the messaging includes information that doesn’t come across as spammy.
- Use A/B testing within a small subset of your app’s users to determine which type of message or ad produces better results. Use the information you discovered during testing to message your broader user base or to create ongoing offers to segmented user groups.
- Try using in-app incentives – such as a free item or personalized offer – to persuade users to come back or to establish a loyalty program (e.g. points add up with each purchase and result in a free item or service).
All of these retention techniques demonstrate that you’re committed to providing value to your customers, and that’s what keeps people engaged.
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Continue to bring value by communicating with your users
You’ll earn the trust of your users when you can prove to them that your goal is to continue to bring value to their experience with your app. The best way to keep up with their perception of value is to open a dialogue with them.
Preemptively answer questions before users ask them
You should make every effort to avoid confusion and frustration on the part of your users. Be proactive and establish a forum where you can come up with anticipated FAQs and provide detailed and easy-to-understand answers. You could include this feature in-app or promote your appearance on a popular question-and-answer forum like Quora.
You can also use social media to solicit questions. When your users recognize that you’re thinking about how to improve their user experience, it demonstrates that you’re continuing to put their needs first. And because social media is great for sharing, your brand value can be spread across a wider audience of potential new users.
Address negative feedback
Negative feedback is frustrating – not only because you feel like you’ve failed in your effort to help a user, but because negative ratings can impact whether or not you’ll be able to attract new users and retain current ones.
React to negative feedback in the same way you would respond to a question. Try to understand where the user is coming from, what happened that caused the negative experience, and present a solution to show you want to fix the problem. People who search for apps absolutely read the negative comments, and when you demonstrate that you’re ready to address the issue, it shows potential users that you are devoted to customer service. Your individual response may even persuade the person who left the negative feedback to re-evaluate and either delete the comment or improve their initial rating. Ultimately, your response may help to influence and improve your conversion rate.
Sign up to participate in online forums and groups
It’s a great idea to use your social media pages to interact with your customers. But you may be able to find more information about what potential users want if you participate in other online industry forums and groups.
It’s in these spaces that you may learn how people really feel about your competitors’ apps. They may discuss what frustrates them or what they’re looking for that’s not currently offered. You can use this information to improve your own offering, but participation in these groups is also a way to subtly promote your app to this highly invested audience.
Remember not to do any hard selling in these forums. Those kinds of tactics can actually hurt your brand and possibly lead to your removal from the group. But don’t miss the opportunity to identify your app in either your profile or your signature link.
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Track your results to determine how you can best update your app
The success of your app — and the reason you’ll be able to sustain a high number of monthly users – is grounded in your ability to keep learning what your customer base wants and needs and your willingness to do whatever it takes to fulfill those desires.
Learning what your customers want can be ascertained through dialogue, as suggested above, but you must also set goals and track your results through data analytics. Tracking will help you determine which parts of your marketing strategy are working, which need to be altered, and which should be scrapped. And you’ll also want to look at tracking results during the different stages of the user’s journey since you can use that data to replicate efforts to attract and retain new users in the future.
Some of the metrics you may want to track include time spent in-app, daily active users, churn rate, and cost-per-acquisition. It’s important to define key performance metrics (KPIs) during each stage of the customer’s journey so that you’ll be able to determine what might be causing users to click on your app listing but not download it or why usage begins to decline. It’s only when you can connect user behavior to your marketing tactics that you can learn how to replicate success or avoid user drop-off.
This article is written by Tim Waldenback. Tim is the co-founder of Zutobi Drivers Ed, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online driver education to help teens get their license. Tim founded Zutobi to make world-class driver's education fun, affordable and easily accessible for all.