No one uses your amazing app, now what?

These are some ideas for beginners to get started down a path of using data and optimization to drive results for their mobile applications

App

Author

Peter Hamilton is currently the CEO of TUNE (previously known as HasOffers)

You’ve built your mobile app. It’s complete, it runs great, and you’ve gotten a few downloads. But it just doesn’t seem to be taking off. It isn’t matching the glorious rise you had envisioned. The challenge you face? Standing out in a sea of mobile competition. Today, Indians have an average of 32 apps on their mobiles — making the competition for usage fairly steep.

According to the The Times of India, 47 percent of Indian consumers’ time is spent on communication apps like WhatsApp. While e-commerce apps are also on the rise, growing 54 percent in 2015.

Still, there are opportunities for mobile marketers who choose to work smarter than the competition. It’s simply a matter of using customer data to create an effective marketing approach. These are some high level ideas for beginners to get started down a path of using data and optimization to drive results.

1. Create an App that People Use

There is no point in jumping into a marketing strategy for your mobile app if you don’t know the very basic ways consumers use it and what you anticipate the value of each user to be. Using analytics products to understand the value of the customers already using your app is the first step to figuring out what is possible though marketing.

Pick out the key indicators of success for each consumer that downloads your app. Do they purchase something in the first 10 days? Do they register or subscribe to your service? Working on this part of the funnel up front is the only way to figure out the approach you will take to marketing. Studying the behavior of your app users is essential to answering questions like this and determining the average activity of any user. This data will be gold for you later, but it also helps you start making your plans to acquire new users.

If you don’t have any users today, run some very small test campaigns on Google or Facebook so that you can do much more user study and testing. There are an abundance of resources out there for app developers to learn how to make design decisions and improve user experience through web forums, and channels like Twitter and Quora.

Ask questions, and, if you can, help solve problems as well. The key is becoming well-known and trusted in the community of developers so that you can find all the best tips on creating a truly engaging and hopefully profitable app experience.

2. Use Inbound Marketing

While the data from the first step can be used to inform what features your app should have, the information you gather can also fuel a powerful inbound marketing strategy. Use the data you gather to write blog posts, create podcasts, or even produce how-to videos.

This content can then be posted on a company blog devoted to whatever issue your app is intended to address. You can link to the blog in the various forums and social conversations you’ve been participating in, both to answer questions and provide useful help. This is also a good time to direct traffic to your app.

Using “Real Language” Helps You Appear in Search Results

When you’re writing your blog, include the real questions people are asking when discussing a certain topic. This is a very powerful way for your app to show up in search engine results. We are now deep in the era of semantic search when search engines use natural language processing to serve up results.

Writing about topics your prospective users and customers are talking about will also help you show up in organic search results.

3. Don’t Ignore Social Media and Word of Mouth

Once your app is launched, don’t neglect social media. Figure out ways to encourage your existing users to share on social networks. For example, you can make it easier for them to share by crafting pre-curated messages. When it comes to making recommendations to use your app, the power of word of mouth and trust should not be underestimated: a TUNE study found that friends and family referrals are the second highest discovery channel after app store search.

Social media provides more and better mobile advertising opportunities than ever before. So, while word of mouth is an important part of marketing your app, be sure to focus on paid advertising in the social media channels where your target market is hanging out.

4. Try Guest Blogging and Online PR

If you’ve spent some time cultivating relationships in your target community, and are creating valuable blog content that helps solve problems, pitch yourself as a guest blogger. Guest blogging on relevant channels is an effective way to promote your app while also building up your validity as an expert in the field.

Inbound marketing and guest blogging also gives you the credibility to confidently reach out to related online publications to review or write about your app. When you’re offering yourself as a guest blogger, or your app as something an online publication should consider reviewing, remember that it’s a numbers game. Research a large list of prospects, craft a pitch, send out some tactful emails, and see who bites.

5. Begin Your User Acquisition Strategy

A user acquisition strategy must be unique to your app, your vertical, your desired conversion, and the demographic of your best users. Many companies begin their first campaigns through platforms that provide a simple, self-service way to test out target audiences and learn which audiences are most likely to download their app.

Getting started with Google, Facebook, and Twitter are quick ways to start testing those demographics and learning about your target audience. As you begin to buy on these channels directly, you can use their own measurement platforms to get an idea of which campaigns have the best conversion. Once you begin to master these campaigns and grow your optimization techniques you will begin to bring in additional advertising channels, adding them to the mix.

At this point you should be considering your own attribution analytics technology to reconcile the campaigns you are launching across channels that you are growing. You will need to take into account how much you are spending on each partner or channel and what return you are able to make from those investments. The more channels you try, the more you’ll need a central system of record that easily shows you which campaigns are responsible for acquiring the best users, and the more you’ll want to consider how each of these channels work with each other to create the best consumer journey.

It doesn’t stop. You will need to test, launch, optimize, and repeat. From improving your ads to finding better target audiences, this can become a full time job as your app becomes successful and for many companies an entire team. However, you have to start somewhere, so get your first campaign live and take it from there.

6. Pay Attention to Your Users

Understanding activation—the user’s first experience with your app—is key, as is retention. While this critical information about user behavior can be measured from within your app, you should keep talking to your customers directly to find out what’s working, what’s not, and what they really want your app to do.

Keeping your customers happy and engaged is important: according to a classic Bain & Company study, a five percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profits by 25–95 percent. Wherever possible, get real user feedback and use it to improve your offerings. This can help alert you to any issues in your app that are reducing engagement, and also provide ideas for further development.

There’s no one silver bullet to drive users to your mobile app, and there’s no one sure-fire way to keep them engaged. Instead, savvy mobile marketers should be using a variety of tactics in a sustained way—that you can track to measure the success of your efforts. The key takeaway is understanding what the customer wants, and then making sure your app solves their problem in the best way possible. Engaging with your customers and with your community in forums as well as social media and your blog will give you a greater chance at increasing your audience.

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