How to Get More Mobile App Users

App makers who don’t optimize the adoption funnel are like car dealerships who still using the same marketing tactics as they did in 1980.

Let’s take a look at the standard adoption funnel for your mobile – the steps a prospective user needs to take to register for your app (or “adopt” it).  The funnel below has some made-up stats for the purpose of this post.  Note that the overall conversion rate is the product of the 3 conversion rates between the 4 steps (50% x 25% x 75% = 9.375%).

funnel

Step 1: Discover

This is all about building awareness of your app, and what your marketing team is probably focused on.  The more people that get here, the more users you will have.  But beware: you may not want to drive a bunch of people to this step before your funnel is optimized, as this is perhaps the most expensive step.

Getting People From Discovery To The App Store or Google Play

Advertise

Channels like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram  are great for targeting and relatively cost effective as a starting point.  The call to action should drive them directly to Step 2 – your page in the App Store or Google Play.  You could send them to a landing page, but you’d be introducing another step in the funnel, which won’t help overall conversion. (but this might be worth A/B testing with your audience)

(Side note: I wouldn’t recommend non-digital ads (TV, radio, print) as a starting point because even though you’ll reach a broader audience to build awareness, you’ll lose a lot of people in the process of getting them to take out a digital device like a phone, tablet or laptop and come to your web site or search for your product.  Most startups can’t afford non-digital ads.)

Get press

If you have something unique to offer, tell the world.  But make sure there’s a story there for reporters.  To learn more, here’s a decent primer on writing a press release from HubSpot. Again, the call to action from the story should be to check out the app in the App Store or Google Play.

Hold events

If your app is specific to a city or region, or you’re initially targeting users based on where they live, holding events like launch parties might be a great idea.  The key is to make sure there is a good reason (like a raffle prize or exclusive feature access) for attendees to fly through the funnel and download the app at the event itself.

Generate referrals

Once you have a decent user base (or a very engaged user base), you can recruit them to help spread the word. Build a referral feature and/or program and make sure your users are incentivized properly to direct their friends and family to Step 2.

Step 2: View in App Store

Once a prospect knows about your app, they have to get to the page in the App Store to download it.

Getting People From Viewing The App To Downloading It

App Store Optimization

A lot of people discover new apps by searching the App Store or Google Play.  Just like you might optimize your web site to appear on the first page of search results (Search Engine Optimization), you’ll want to know that your app shows up at the top of the list when people are looking for new apps.  For more information, read this: Top 10 Ways to Optimize Your App Store Search Ranking and Presence.  In particular, make sure to use screen shots and videos to visually explain the benefits of your app, as well as a good description and solid set of (hopefully 5-star) reviews.

(There are a lot of great apps for creating beautiful screen shots to use in the App Store and Google Play – I like LaunchKit.io)

Test your discovery techniques

Context matters – the way that the person got to the app store may very well influence whether she decides to download your app.  For example, if I ran an ad advertising “the best new dating app”, I’ve set a high expectation – if my app’s description, reviews and screen shots don’t also scream “the best new dating app,” she might not download it.  On the other hand, if my ad read “the hottest new dating app”, she’ll come in with a different set of expectations.

Small changes like these matter – track click through rates on your ads and periodically take a survey of what’s working and what’s not.  Ideally each ad has a unique URL that it goes to, so you can track the download rates on a per-ad (or at least per-campaign) basis.  For more on how that works, visit:

App Store

https://analytics.itunes.apple.com/#/campaigngenerator

Google Play

https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/android/v4/campaigns 

Step 3: Download

Once they get to your app’s page in the App Store, you still have to convince them to download your app. (Side note, this applies mostly to iOS apps – Android is launching Instant Apps, which lets a user download your app without going to Google Play).

Getting People From Downloading The App To Registering

Once someone has downloaded the app, there’s a good chance they’ll open it immediately, but if they don’t, you’ve significantly lowered your chance to get a registered user, unless you’re confident in what cue might later prompt them to open the app they just downloaded. (for example, with dating apps, I know that boredom at home is a prompt that gets people thinking about dating apps).

Talk To Users

Optimizing the conversion rate of people who’ve downloaded the app to the number of registered users probably requires some user research.  Ask random people in your target audience to download your app and talk out loud as they open it and look at your splash screen / registration page.  Look for clues on what might be confusing – what barriers / open questions are there that might prevent people from registering?   Should you hae a link to your FAQs on the registration page? Make sure to address the barriers in the next release of your app (which hopefully isn’t but a month or two away, if you’re using Agile).

Demonstrate Value Quickly

Ideally a prospective user doesn’t even have to register before getting some value from your app.  If it’s possible to let them explore a feature or experience the sweetness that is your app before registering, do it.  Then create a compelling reason for them to create an account after playing around (for example, maybe in a dating app you can let them see potential connections quickly and they register in order to start messaging people that look interesting).

Tracking the conversion rate between steps 3 and 4 isn’t hard – the App Store and Google Play will let you see how many downloads you’ve had during a specific time period, and hopefully you have some kind of reporting dashboard that tells you the date/time that new users registered so you can calculate this conversion rate.

Step 4. Register

Victory!  Nothing sweeter than a new user.  In a future post I’ll write about how the onboarding experience (AKA first-time user experience or FTUX) plays a critical role in determining whether new users continue to use your app.

Want a free analysis of your mobile user acquisition funnel?

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