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The Referral Path: Chapter 4 of The Math of the App Business

Discovery and Referral, Part Two

In our experience, modifying your app’s descriptions and screenshots are important activities, but they’re dwarfed by the influence that ratings and reviews have on your conversion rates. Again, the mainstream app stores don’t share enough data about this activity, but we’ve used information from the developers we work with and some third-party app stores to assess a “Share of Influence” that we think is roughly accurate. The data underscores the importance having excellent ratings and reviews to tell your story to potential consumers:

Ratings and Reviews account for 75% of Influence. Description accounts for 15%. Screenshots 10%.

The Referral path: create evangelists and prosper

The referral component of apps is talked about often because it’s used to describe why an app like Angry Birds or Draw Something got to be so popular, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. Very few apps are fortunate to become part of mainstream culture but many apps are important to a loyal and loving audience.

If you’ve got an app that’s live and has gotten some traction, it’s likely that you’ve garnered at least some initial fans. You can see it when you’re at dinner with a group of friends and someone pulls out their phone and shows off the latest app they’ve discovered. It’s happening when people are tweeting about your app and how it managed to save them a ton of time or money. Every loyal app customer is a potential salesperson for you.

Instead of waiting for your app customers to get to a point where they’re sharing your app with others, wouldn’t it be great if you could move customers to that point? It turns out that there are some simple but powerful ways to trigger emotional connections with the people using your apps that enable you to stand out from the crowd.

The first thing that you can do is to think about what in your app is shareable. Our friends at Chewsy make it incredibly easy to share reviews of dishes with their friends through Facebook and Twitter, even going so far as to pre-write the reviews. It’s brilliant because it takes some of the work out of the process and it’s connected to activity that many people are naturally interested in sharing.

In addition to creating hooks to share activity from your app, you can create hooks to truly engage on a personal level with your app customers. Making it easy to give feedback and then responding to each customer has an amazing impact on the customer. Your dialog with them creates an emotional connection, helping them understand that there are people behind the app who care about their opinions and experiences.

Companies like Zappos and Nordstrom have understood this for years and now you can replicate this kind of experience in your app. Importantly, this activity is very rare – when was the last time you had a meaningful engagement with a company that made software? The customers you converse with are much more likely to talk about you to their friends and to share your app, because you’ve connected with them and communicated that you care about their experience. Apps that engage with their customers are seeing much higher rates of referral-based downloads, just by listening.

Continue to Chapter 5 — Retention

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