50 Mobile App Development Tips For Acquisition, Retention, and Everything in Between|Optimizely Blog

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As of July 2015, there are over 1.5 million apps in the App Store and 1.6 million apps in the Google Play Store.

It’s extra necessary than ever to face out from the gang. To be talked about. To be outstanding. The query is: How do you develop a cell app that’s so beneficial that folks use it each month? Every week? Or higher but – day-after-day?

Over the previous couple of years, I’ve constructed 13 cell apps — Four of which have hit the Top 100 in the Entertainment, Lifestyle and Business classes — and have labored with main apps in industries akin to expertise, transportation, journey, e-commerce, retail and extra.

Along the best way, I’ve taken copious notes on what makes nice apps stand out from the gang and safe these coveted high spots. I consolidated this into an inventory of suggestions to assist builders, cell product managers and entrepreneurs develop cell apps that may launch into the stratosphere.

The suggestions are organized by phases of app growth. You can click on on a hyperlink to leap to a particular part:

Tips on buying new app customers.

1. Build a product that solves an issue: Really superb apps resolve a obvious drawback. Do you hate standing on the nook on a freezing chilly night time in an try and attempt to wave down a taxi cab? Use Lyft. Do you need to be taught a language however don’t need to commute 45 minutes to take a seat in a classroom? Use Duolingo. Solve an issue. And do it in an superior approach. This will drive phrase of mouth referrals. Speaking of referrals…

2. Build a referral program: Incentivize your early customers to refer your app to their mates. Uber did a improbable job by leveraging $10 journey credit for those who referred the app to others:

3. Build a wait checklist: People need what they will’t have. A wait checklist helps you seize demand and construct a database of emails early. When you announce your app is usually out there, you’ll have an extended checklist (hopefully 1000’s) of individuals able to obtain it. You can simply construct a web site touchdown web page by way of platforms like Wix.com, Unbounce, or Squarespace and use this to seize e mail.

Robinhood, a zero-commission inventory buying and selling app is a superb instance of utilizing a waitlist successfully. Nate Rodland, COO of Robinhood, stated referrals alone accounted for over half of their million-person waitlist!

“We built a waitlist in order to gather a list of potential customers and beta users ahead of our app launch. Combining our waitlist with a referral system was crucial – we took the people who were most excited about Robinhood, and gave them an easy way to spread that excitement to their friends.”

-Nate Rodland, COO, Robinhood

4. Leverage a freemium mannequin: Make your app out there free of charge with a freemium mannequin. It’s doable you’ll get extra downloads in a free model of your app. You might then provide the choice of buying digital foreign money for premium options.

Coffee Meets Bagel, one of many high relationship apps, does this nicely. They enable individuals to make use of core options (viewing the profile of 1 potential match per day) free of charge. But, additionally they provide premium options (like viewing mutual mates and selecting a match from a pool of 10 individuals)  that customers can buy.

5. Make your paid app free for a restricted time: Not a fan of the freemium mannequin? No worries! Make your paid app free for a brief promotional interval and put it up for sale to varied publication shops like LifeHacker, Gizmodo, Forbes Tech and The Guardian. You can tweet the promotion to their twitter accounts or submit it on to them on their web site.

6. Write and promote content material about the issue your app solves: Produce content material that provides worth to your clients: whether or not it’s weblog posts, eBooks, movies or webinars. Target subjects and key phrases which might be associated to your app so that you attain the proper viewers. If your content material helps individuals overcome challenges, you’ll be perceived as a thought chief and professional in the house. Promote the content material in your weblog and social media profiles to drive community results. This video for a brand new app, Knock Knock is a superb instance of framing the issue the app solves.

7. Answer questions on Quora: Target questions that focus on ache factors your app solves to assist construct consciousness round your audience. If you provide a very beneficial reply, the Quora group might suggest your article to the most important media shops. I wrote a submit on Quora and it ended up being picked up by Forbes, Inc., The Huffington Post and Business Insider. Cumulatively it generated over 7,700 shares, 33,000 views and price completely nothing. Zilch. #freemarketing

8. Attend and host native advertising and marketing occasions: In our world that’s so pushed by swipes and texts, bear in mind how impactful in-person occasions might be in constructing buzz. Hosting an occasion might provide help to construct a group of champions that might turn out to be the muse of your app’s success. Use Meetup to seek out an occasion or promote your individual.

9. Consider the paid acquisition route: If your natural advertising and marketing and in-app development levers aren’t rising your customers successfully, discover the paid acquisition route on channels like Twitter, Facebook, Apple iAd, Chartboost, Google Admob and extra (right here’s an ideal checklist from Localytics).

Keep three questions in thoughts when utilizing paid acquisition:

Use cell attribution instruments like Apsalar, Adjust, and Branch to seek out these solutions.

10. Reach out to the press: Press is a good way to drive brief time period consciousness and will typically result in a spike to downloads. Reach out to publications like TechCrunch, EnterpriseBeat, CNN, Forbes, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Inc. Don’t fear, you don’t must be in PR to pitch the press. Look up editors from every of these publications on LinkedIn, craft a brief message on how your app is a sport changer (use app metrics the place you possibly can), give them entry to your app in addition to screenshots in order that they will get a way for the way it works.

11. Create strategic partnerships: Look for mutually useful partnerships that may broaden your app’s attain to extra individuals. For instance, when you’re creating a exercise app for biking lovers, you may attain out to native bike outlets (or perhaps a nationwide model) and provide an unique particular premium function in the app for his or her buyers in trade for his or her assist with promotion.

12. Cross promote in your different apps: If you have got multiple app in the shop and they’re in comparable classes (for instance, gaming), you possibly can add in a name to motion to advertise your different apps.

Midway by way of ordering meals on Taco Bell’s app won’t be the very best time to ask somebody for a assessment. Pump the brakes Taco Bell! I haven’t even gotten to the Burrito part but! Experiment with while you ask somebody to fee your app.

13. Experiment with the way you ask customers for evaluations:  Ratings and evaluations are one of the vital seen parts of an app’s itemizing and do affect an individual to faucet by way of or obtain. Reviews are social proof. If all these different individuals prefer it, then it’s most likely good. So what are you able to do to get extra app evaluations? Experiment with the way you ask customers for evaluations: while you ask, the way you ask and who you ask. Here’s a weblog submit with examples and check concepts.

App Discoverability

These are suggestions for App Store Optimization (ASO) and methods you may make your app extra discoverable in the app retailer.

14. Understand how highly effective ASO might be: According to Sensor Tower, over 60% of apps are found by way of App Store search. Since there are over 2 million apps in the most important app shops on the market as we speak, it’s nice that there are lots of App Store Optimization methods you possibly can implement to get you your justifiable share of visibility.

App Store Optimization is the method of enhancing the visibility of an app in the app retailer. The thought is to drive extra individuals to your app web page in order that they obtain your app.

Here are nice suggestions from the app advertising and marketing intelligence instrument referred to as Sensor Tower to get you began with ASO. Their instruments may provide help to with every of the information beneath!

15. Pick related key phrases: The very first thing to contemplate when optimizing your app’s visibility is key phrases. You ought to select key phrases (phrases or phrases) which might be related and actually consultant of your app. For instance, in case your app gives canine walkers regionally on demand, the key phrase “dog” by itself will not be that beneficial as a result of it doesn’t point out obtain intent for that particular use case. The phrase “dog walker” nonetheless, might be a a lot better indicator of intent. After all, when somebody finds your app, you need a conversion to happen (that means you need them to obtain it). If an individual comes throughout your app itemizing by unrelated search phrases/phrases, they most likely aren’t your audience, and most likely received’t obtain your app.

16. Consider key phrase competitiveness and visitors: Consider how aggressive these key phrases are. Look on the complete variety of key phrases you’re competing with. If there’s an excessive amount of competitors, intention for an additional key phrase. Here’s a glimpse of LinkedIn’s app key phrase visitors from Sensor Tower.  At Sensortower.com you possibly can enter any app and see which key phrases are driving visitors to their app.

17. Consider key phrase placement: As Sensor Tower notes, “there is a clear correlation between having a keyword in the name of an app and ranking for that keyword. 74.3% of apps that rank #1 for high traffic keywords have the target keyword in their name.” But do watch out since you app could also be rejected for spamming when you use the key phrase too many instances.

18. Determine key phrase weight: The key phrases included in app titles (for each iOS and Android apps) are by far probably the most closely weighted in the algorithm. If you need to enhance your rank for a particular key phrase, placing it in the title is your finest guess. For Android apps, key phrase density issues not simply in the outline, however in the title as nicely.

Example: I create an app referred to as “SF Tunes – Local Radio Music.” I’m assured to rank for all 5 of those phrases. However, the more room a key phrase takes up in the title, the upper that rank might be. Let’s say I need to improve my rank for “music” – I might contemplate eradicating “local” or “radio.”

19. Target multi-word or lengthy tail key phrases: “A common mistake that app publishers make is to only target single-word keywords,” Sensor Tower writes. “Then they wonder why the Difficulty Scores are so high and their app’s rankings are so low. Multi-word keywords are usually searched for less often, but will also be less competitive.”

You’ll robotically rank for combos of your single-word key phrases however goal phrases, or “long tail keywords” as a result of they are often a lot simpler to rank for. Targeting the lengthy tail is a superb  place for brand spanking new builders/new apps to start out.

20. Have an attention grabbing Icon: The icon makes an enormous first impression. Have you examined totally different variations? You can do that by testing out varied designs on cell promoting networks, like Admob, Google Adwords, and Facebook, and then measuring how potential app customers react to totally different variations there earlier than rolling it out in the app retailer. Another fast tip: you typically need to keep away from placing the title of your app into your icon. More tricks to improve downloads other than key phrase technique.

App Performance

Make that first person expertise unforgettable.

Studies present that in case your customers have a foul first expertise, 65% of them will delete your app. Experiences are made up of greater than slick UX design, intuitive usability and modular code. The infrastructure and efficiency are key gamers in your app’s success. Here are suggestions to verify your app runs quick and easy.

21. Monitor your app persistently: Factors outdoors your management have an effect on your app. Cloud companies, system upgrades, and even different apps can affect how your app behaves. And an replace to the OS can dramatically improve crash charges in your app. Monitoring your app’s efficiency by way of all variables will maintain you from having to be reactive when points happen. A efficiency administration answer like Crittercism or Crashlytics offers you visibility into your apps whereas they’re in manufacturing, so builders might be proactive and resolve points as quickly as they’re detected. But it additionally continues to present you perception on all of the above talked about (latency, crashes, transactions) and extra, whereas your app is in the wild. In addition to these instruments, you may also leverage phased roll outs with Optimizely to mitigate threat.

22. Choose a confirmed cloud supplier: Crashes aren’t all the things. Network efficiency may have an effect on the person expertise. Everyone hates the spinning wheel that signifies community slowness, however it’s laborious to simulate these situations throughout dev and check. According to Crittercism’s information, 68% of apps use 5 or extra cloud companies – and 17% use 20 or extra! If even one cloud service is gradual, if impacts your app. So select a stable cloud supplier like Parse!

23. Pay consideration to efficiency in the true world: Your work isn’t completed while you launch – in reality, it’s simply starting. It’s not sufficient to watch your newest app model. Retail apps, for instance, typically have excessive conversion charges on the oldest variations of their apps, so it’s good to guarantee that these customers are supported nicely. Nothing is like releasing your app into the wild the place a whole bunch of tens of millions of variables can affect its efficiency.

Analyze User Behavior

Do you have got deep insights into your customers? To actually drive person development, enhance retention and improve monetization, you’ve received to have deep insights into person habits. Analytics will provide help to obtain that.

24. Understand the Three ranges of complexity for app analytics: There are Three ranges of metrics that app makers ought to take a look at.  When you’re getting began, it’s best to be sure to’re monitoring degree 1 objectives however as your group grows and will get extra refined, it’s best to look to broaden to extra complicated ranges of study to type a holistic view of your app’s efficiency.

Level 1: Counters (DAUs, MAUs, Revenue)

Level 2: Where are my issues (Funnels, Retention, Segmentation, Events)

Level 3: What drives development: Behavior-Based Cohorting / Data Science

Image from Amplitude Analytics

25. Measure your Level 1 analytics: Metrics usually measured right here embody MAUs (Monthly Active Uniques), DAUs (Daily Active Uniques), web page views and income. These metrics are completely necessary and provide you with a baseline of your app’s success as regards to engagement, retention, and monetization.

These metrics are an ideal begin, however how engaged are your customers?

26. Measure your Level 2 analytics: The metrics you’ll measure in Level 2 provide help to observe occasions to present you a high-level image of person habits (ex. what number of actions customers take per day, what actions are commonest, what actions are customers not taking). This means that you can find any issues occurring in the app. From there, you possibly can create totally different segments of customers based mostly on habits (i.e. energetic customers vs. inactive) or demographic (i.e location, age). and glean a deeper understanding of how various kinds of customers work together along with your app.

27. Measure your Level Three analytics: Level Three is the place you uncover your secret sauce on what drives development. Which behaviors correlate to lifetime worth?

As an instance, Facebook was at 50 million customers at one level and was attempting to determine what person behaviors led to long run retention.

Was it the proportion of profile accomplished? Was it the variety of images added? Was it the variety of partitions visited? Was it the variety of posts about bacon?

The reply: It was none of those.

Facebook famously found that including 7 mates in 10 days was the main indicator for an engaged person.

“Get any individual to seven friends in 10 days. That was it. You want a keystone? That was our keystone. There’s not much more complexity than that,” Chamath Palihapitiya stated in a 2013 discuss on how they put Facebook on a path to 1 billion customers. “There’s an entire team now, hundreds of people that have helped ramp this product to a billion users based on that one simple rule.”

Arriving at this perception was not only a matter of checking their analytics dashboard. The Data Science and Growth groups at Facebook crunched the numbers on numerous person actions. They ran analyses to find out which actions and attributes had been most extremely correlated with engagement whereas controlling for lurking variables and outliers. It was a giant endeavor and a improbable instance of how making use of predictive analytics to your information  will provide help to uncover potential enchancment areas that might dramatically have an effect on the trajectory of your app.

Optimize App UI Design

These are suggestions centered on tips on how to perceive qualitative suggestions about how individuals are interacting along with your app to enhance your cell UX.

Here’s an instance of a contact heatmap.

28. Leverage heatmaps to know person focus areas: How are customers bodily interacting along with your app? Where do they faucet, swipe or pinch? Touch heatmaps are a  key UX analytics function. Touch heatmaps combination all customers’ gestures (faucets, swipes, pinches) and provide help to see the place on the display they’re (or usually are not) centered. These are some questions heatmaps provide help to reply an important query: Are customers listening to the stuff you need them to concentrate to?

29. Watch recorded person classes: You can use instruments like Appsee to look at recordings of actual individuals utilizing your app to know precisely how individuals work together with it. For instance, the person recordings beneath present a person who can’t create an account with Facebook attributable to a technical drawback, as indicated by the popup message. Gaining this perception, you’ll know why customers are dropping off the registration display.

30. Deconstruct your funnel to start out constructing an A/B testing plan: A/B testing permits cell app makers to enhance their key metrics and KPIs by attempting out new designs for all the things from signup flows, gating options, messaging, assessment course of, in app referrals, onboarding circulation, guiders inside the app, discovery of options, checkout funnel and CTAs.

Mobile builders and cell product managers are more and more including cell A/B testing SDK (like Optimizely’s SDK) to make their apps extra participating.

To get began with testing, right here’s a cell A/B testing tip from professional Kyle Humphries, Senior Product Manager at Everyday Health (What to Expect) recommends you “Map out all of the micro-interactions a user must complete as part of a funnel or flow in your app. Then use use that to plan out which elements to test first.”

31. A/B check all app updates to scale back threat. Any cell app developer will let you know that releasing new options in an app or altering features of the underlying structure might be dangerous enterprise. This means the stakes for app updates are excessive and PMs ought to do all the things doable to make sure they’re top quality. If one thing isn’t caught, an app replace might embody bugs or interplay points that harm the person expertise or unexpectedly tank enterprise metrics.

“A/B testing allows us to try things out in our app without hurting our conversion funnel,” says  Raman Bhatia, Director of Mobile at Fareportal (CheapOair). “Nothing goes out without an A/B test.”

App Onboarding Flow & Mobile A/B Test Ideas

Onboarding is the method of turning a first-time person right into a repeat buyer throughout their first interplay along with your app. Here are suggestions to enhance your cell app onboarding hook, educate, so new customers really feel well-equipped and excited to proceed utilizing your app.

32. In onboarding, check totally different login/signup choices: How do individuals need to login or signup to make use of your app? Is signup crucial in any respect? Maybe your customers want to login by e mail and password. Test prioritizing totally different choices like this app did.

Here are extra check concepts for testing social sign-on.

33. In onboarding, check previewing the in-app expertise: OpenTable and Paperless Post present customers previews of the in-app expertise, mentioning particular options and their worth. This is a brilliant speculation to check to measure whether or not it drives extra engagement or activation. Test which screenshots you employ and which options you highlight.

34. Test the order of your person onboarding tour: Experiment with the order of your onboarding tutorial, like French Girls did. Which steps ought to come first? How many steps are included?

More check concepts in your person onboarding tour.

35. Test the CTA button: What’s the proper dimension, colour, location in your CTA? If it was bigger, would that make individuals discover it extra and in the end improve conversions? Here are extra check concepts in your app CTA buttons.

Maybe a SWAG button would change the sport.

36. Test altering messaging and assist textual content: I’ve spoken with one firm that modified the messaging in their app and dramatically modified the sport. They went from “We will not spam you” to “We respect your privacy” and noticed a 50% improve in conversions! Here’s a check thought we advised for Pandora: present totally different improve CTA copy to drive extra premium subscriptions.

37. Test totally different navigation layouts: Try testing totally different navigation layouts. Let’s discover WhatsApp collectively for testing concepts.

WhatsApp might check transferring the navigation bar to the highest. They might additionally check eradicating the underside navigation bar utterly and having or not it’s a dropdown navigation menu from the higher left hand nook.

38. Test eradicating distractions out of your CTA: If you have got different parts on the display close to the CTA, attempt eradicating them in order that it makes issues less complicated for the person expertise.

39. Test progress bars in your onboarding tour: Good cell onboarding flows ought to shortly educate individuals tips on how to use the app. Progress bars generally is a beneficial approach to encourage individuals to complete a tour as a result of they provide individuals a way of accomplishment as they progress in utilization of the app! Duolingo does a tremendous job of this. Every time you reply a query accurately, an indicator marks your progress.

41. Test discovery performance: Test how customers uncover new merchandise or experiences inside your app. For instance, Instagram lets customers faucet a banner to find new individuals. What in the event that they merely began inserting advised Instagrammers so that you can observe in your feed? Would that enhance person discovery?

42. Test focusing on photographs to totally different audiences: First, establish your main viewers with instruments like AppAnnie. Let’s say you discover out that your viewers is primarily made up of the 21-30-year-olds. An an instance, the 7-minute exercise app might check out utilizing photographs of individuals in that age group to see if which may drive extra engagement.

43. Test reductions: If you rolled out a particular promotion, would that drive extra conversions and would the income from these extra conversions cowl the price of the reductions? Here’s an instance beneath the place the retail app Oasis might check a reduction promotion on the house display.

44. Test leveraging video in the app: Most apps as we speak leverage photographs for his or her onboarding circulation or guided tour to clarify tips on how to use the product whilst you in the app. What when you rolled out video? Would that improve activation?

These are suggestions for retaining customers and stopping churn.

45. Create a behavior forming expertise in the primary 3-7 days: An awesome first-time person expertise is essential to retention. “…the average app mostly loses its entire userbase within a few months, which is why of the >1.5 million apps in the Google Play store, only a few thousand sustain meaningful traffic,” Andrew Chen writes on his business weblog. He goes on to say that he sees most leverage in enhancing these retention curves “in how the product is described, the onboarding flow, and what triggers you set up to drive ongoing retention.”

Whether it’s a push notification on the similar time on a regular basis or each week, take into consideration habits you possibly can attempt to develop in your app customers to deliver them again.

46. Include social parts to create community results: MapMyRun created a feed the place you may see your mates’ latest runs and encourage them with likes and feedback. It helps to make operating extra enjoyable, participating and aggressive!

Sometimes operating is healthier with mates.

47. Leverage push notifications thoughtfully: Kahuna’s information reveals that by utilizing push notifications, firms can anticipate a 45% retention fee for 30 days; a 125% improve over shoppers who both didn’t obtain or who didn’t opt-in for notifications. One nice approach to create urgency with push is to create a time sure or time-sensitive marketing campaign. Here’s an instance beneath:

48. Consider timing, particularly for international audiences: Sending a push notification to all of your customers at a particular time might not work with a world viewers. For instance, a push notification in the morning for a California person at 9 AM would ship that very same notification to somebody in Spain at 6 PM. Be considerate in phrases of segmenting your customers by time zones. It could make an enormous distinction!

49. A/B check opt-in messages for notifications: Kahuna not too long ago did a research with some superb outcomes: The common short- and long-term retention charges for customers who’ve opted in to push notifications are greater than twice as excessive than charges for customers who haven’t opted in. For opted-in customers, the typical 30-day viewers retention fee is elevated by 125%, the typical 60-day retention fee is elevated by 150%, and the typical 90-day retention fee is elevated by 180%. Make positive you’ve clearly highlighted the worth to the person of why they need to decide in! (You can obtain their research right here.)

50. Segment your customers to drive efficient campaigns: For instance, a dormant person you’d wish to revive would obtain a really totally different push notification from an energetic person. You might use a proposal by way of push to “reactivate” them!  Below is an instance for a person that used Wanelo’s app very often and had saved an merchandise to their buying cart earlier than going dormant.

I hope these 50 suggestions assist to make your app superb!

We’d love to listen to from you. Do you’re employed on a cell app? Do you have got suggestions for others to enhance the best way they develop cell apps?

Let us and others know what suggestions you have got in the feedback part beneath. We’d like to maintain including to this checklist!

Cara Harshman, Suneet Shah, and Sean Oliver additionally edited this checklist.


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