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Top 5 Strategies to Successfully Grow Your App User Base

Yodel Mobile, headquartered in the U.K., is the leading, global app growth consultancy and Mobile Agency of the Year 2019, specialising in launching and scaling apps. They drive sustainable business growth for their clients through a process of impactful optimisations across the user lifecycle to acquire high-quality users and maximise user value.

Read on for an introduction to holistic app growth and the top five strategies to grow your user base, from our friends and experts at Yodel Mobile.

In a hugely saturated market, competing for users in the app space can be incredibly challenging. Consumers downloaded a record 204 billion apps in 2019, with research showing that £99 billion has been spent globally on apps, subscriptions and other in-app spending over the past year.

Many app owners are fighting for screen-time both within their categories and across the app stores. Long-gone are the days of placing value in vanity metrics, like install rates, as a measure of growth and success for an app business. Instead, success should be based on the ability to acquire, retain and convert high-value users and actions. 

Holistic App Growth: The Methodology to Successfully Growing your App User Base

Effective app and mobile marketing requires optimising for the full app user lifecycle, ensuring those users are high-intent, engaged and activated. Holistic app growth marketing considers the whole user funnel, through acquisition, activation, retention, monetisation all the way to your referral activity.

Considering these essential touchpoints, this holistic methodology sits at the heart of Yodel Mobile’s approach to effective app marketing and defines our unique App Growth Programme. This thinking places emphasis on sustainable growth for long-term app success. 

Here are our top five strategies that you could implement for your app business to successfully grow your user base:

1. Align towards a shared vision  

Agreeing on a shared vision across your business is essential to working towards a common goal. Whilst this sounds like a big feat, there are steps you can take in the early stages of your app marketing efforts to establish a clear and concise strategy.

You can start by evaluating the priorities of the different factions of your app business, be that branding, social, campaign management or your app division, to ensure they are aligned in their targets and putting the app in the context of the wider business. This goal should be the most reflective measure of sustainable growth for your app. 

To achieve your growth targets, you need to establish what your “North Star” metric is. Your “North Star” metric should reflect what action provides realised value to your customer and is typically the best indication of future revenue for your app.

For a workout app, this could be the number of paid workouts completed or for a music streaming app, the number of premium tier subscribers. Once you have determined your “North Star” and communicated this across the business, you can take the next step and focus on your acquisition, engagement and retention targets.

2. Measure, measure, measure

With a clear view of your growth targets, you need to be able to measure the impact of your strategies and optimisations. Measurement is key here, so you need to implement a stack that will give you a view into essential insights and analytics, especially before you start growing your user base. These tools will help you to gain a holistic understanding of your users.

At the bare minimum, you should implement the following trio:

  1. Attribution: it’s vital to know where your app’s users are coming from. Were they referred through your app from your website, by a smart banner or through a paid Instagram advert? Your attribution tool will reveal all, and help you to evaluate the value and cost per install.
  2. Analytics: Your conversion rate optimisation will depend on data-led optimisations from your analytics tool. Your chosen in-app analytics platform will give you optimum visibility on user behaviour and use value by identifying high-converting actions and features. It will also pinpoint common pain points that lead to churn.
  3. Marketing Automation: That’s where a tool like Iterable can add huge value. You will have the basis needed for audience segmentation and the ability to implement personalised and multi-channel messaging to drive customer engagement and high-value actions. (more on point 5).

Importantly, no tool does it all. You need to make sure your whole stack is integrated so you can connect data across your platforms for a true picture of your users and their behaviours.

3. Retention before acquisition

By implementing product-focused optimisations before ramping up your acquisition efforts, you can rest assured that your user journey accounts for down-the-line retention. One important factor is getting users to accept push notifications through your push priming strategy.

Now that you have your marketing automation tool in place, you can serve customised and timed prompts, with messaging that clearly states the value exchange of opting in to push, location sharing, direct email and other messaging.

This is foundational to building a relationship with your user. However, this is only applicable to iOS users, as your Android users will be automatically opted into push. The real challenge for Android will be keeping them opted-in to maintain vital channels for communication (see more on point 5).

Now you’re well on your way to pushing a fool-proof product to your target audience, one that is set up to retain your influx of users.

4. Acquire high-value users

The best way to tackle the growth of your user base is to bridge your efforts towards, and the gap between, your paid and organic acquisition methods. Both of these strategies are essential in acquiring and growing a highly engaged user base. 

Organic acquisition: The beauty of a great organic acquisition strategy is that there is demonstrated intent in your services or brand. This indicates a higher probability for success with down-the-line engagement, retention, and monetisation, impacting the whole user lifecycle funnel.

For effective organic acquisition, you should implement an app store specific App Store Optimisation programme (see key optimisations from our ASO infographic).

Make sure to:

  1. Implement ongoing keyword optimisations do drive discoverability of your app in the stores
  2. Ensure your listings foreground your value proposition and/or makes use of your existing brand success to drive traction
  3. Test and implement compelling creative assets such as your screenshots or promotional videos that foreground your app’s features and/or capitalises on your brand recognition

Paid user acquisition: By sending users towards a highly optimised listing, you’ve safeguarded your advertising budget and can freely focus on your paid user acquisition strategies. Users who convert from paid app install campaigns are as valuable as your organic users.

Paid advertising offers the ability to target new and niche audiences with a high level of granularity, targeting with the right message, at the right time and on the right platform.

You should:

  1. Implement and test your attribution tracking, including post-install events to determine high-value acquisition sources
  2. Make sure you’ve determined the best possible combination of channels to acquire your users from (ad networks, app store search, social, etc.) and how much budget to allocate to each channel
  3. Optimise your campaigns continuously to execute the most successful creative and copy to capture and convert your target audience

5. Build a meaningful relationship

Now it’s time to encourage customer engagement to drive high-value actions within your app. When it comes to engaging and re-engaging users, two of the greatest weapons in your arsenal are push notifications and in-app messages.

Some key high-value actions you can encourage through push include:

  1. Encouraging users to rate and review your app. This will impact your organic acquisition efforts as high star-ratings positively impact a user’s decision to install. It will also allow you to collect qualitative data on your users’ experience in the app which could feed into your product roadmap.
  2. Share promotions and special offers. Promotions and offers are great ways to encourage conversions, be that a single in-app purchase or prompting free or trial users to upgrade into paying subscribers.

Remember, the success of these strategies will be heavily dependent on your understanding of your users. You are much more likely to be successful if you trigger the prompt based on the users’ latest activity within the app, so make sure you apply the data from your stack to segment your audience, personalise timing, copy and tone for successful push campaigns. 

By bringing together these top strategies, you’ll be well on your way to achieving growing your app user base successfully!

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