How to Ensure App Growth Post Launch

Launching an app is a bit like getting married. So much buildup and anticipation goes into planning a wedding, yet once the event is over, the real hard work begins.

It’s a thrilling moment to labor over an app and see it go live in the App Store or Google Play. It’s even more exciting as the app gets downloaded, rated and enjoyed by users. However, even if you follow industry best practices -- doing everything you think necessary to succeed -- the journey is far from over.

Localytics estimates that 75 percent of app users leave an app within the first three months after download. Even before launching an app, entrepreneurs have to think about how they plan to grow, asking questions like: How do successful apps increase their user base? How do they retain users? How do they build an app that has staying power?

As the CEO of a mobile app acceleration solution, I’ve seen developers struggle with these questions, and learned what it takes to build apps that are successful in the long-term. Here are four tips to take your app from simply living in the App Store to thriving in it.

1. Use Data, Data and More Data

The most successful apps are anchored in analytics. Growing an app without data analytics is like fumbling around in the dark. There are too many variables and too much nuance to scale without using analytics as a guide. However, the deluge of data out there can be overwhelming, especially for small businesses. Turning data into insight and insight into action requires Integration of one or more proven data analytics providers.

Analytics enable you to generate actionable information about what users are doing within an app and where they are doing it. For example, iOS users may have different preferences than Android users. The key data points to track include pageviews, length of time on page/screen/section, app crash rates, app load time, in-app response time, average carrier/WiFi latency by country, and performance issues by third-party API calls. By better understanding your users, you can assess how to retain and grow them.

2. Go Native With Your Advertising

Like it or not, money makes the app world go round. However, most users hate ads, which puts developers in the delicate position of figuring out how to monetize with advertising in the least-intrusive way possible. Native ads are the most effective solution.
Native ads not only drive higher eCPMs (effective cost per thousand impressions), but also greater engagement -- click-through rates are 2-5 times higher than banner ads or display ads. In- Feed native ads, created to mimic the design of Facebook or Twitter feeds, seem to be the most effective.

3. Invest in Remarketing

Until recently, app marketers had limited opportunity to engage with users outside of their app, and this made it difficult to reach new users and activate existing ones. Remarketing expands your reach by targeting users through Facebook, Twitter, Google and other advertising networks.

For example, for a gaming app that’s normally used frequently, yet hasn’t been used in a while, you can target specific users on Facebook when they haven’t opened the app in a few days. For an app that’s used less often, such as travel booking, you can target users who use a certain search term or before high travel times of year.

4. Push Notifications are Key

Localytics found that app engagement is an average of 88 percent higher among mobile app users who enable push messages. When executed well, pushes prompt users to engage with and get the most value from an app, and keep it relevant.

However when used clumsily - whether by sending too many notifications or sending ones that are irrelevant - pushes can also cause users to flee. About 46 percent of people will opt-out of push notifications if they are sent 2-5 a week, and 32 percent will stop using an app altogether if they get between 6-10 push notifications. It’s important to let your users decide if and when they’d like to see these notifications.

Successful apps use a multi-faceted approach to attracting new users and engaging with existing ones. The key thing is to remain at the front of users’ minds across several different channels, in both a direct and an indirect way.

Be sure to read the next Engagement article: Daily API RoundUp: SmartSurvey, stampd, Symphony