The 4 Steps to Growth Hack Your Way to App Store Success
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Even though your app is fantastic and valuable (we’ll trust you on that one), sometimes getting more users to discover you can feel like an uphill battle. In the mud. Blindfolded.
How do some apps negotiate the app store to achieve rapid growth and rave reviews from their users? It’s not a trick, but there is an element at play here you could be missing out on. These massively successful apps have mastered understanding what makes their users tick, and then acting on it, also known as growth hacking.
Growth Hacking vs. Marketing
Every company’s goal is a flourishing community of loyal users, which is the task marketing usually shoulders. But for the past few years, growth hacking has been interrupting the status quo. Marketing and growth hacking share the same priority, but their means of achieving it is where they start to diverge. This is out of necessity: Traditional marketing methods are time-tested and approved, but under the pressure of a rapidly changing technological landscape, they’ve become less relevant.
Departing from the norm to carve your own path can be scary. But as inherent as risk-taking and innovation are to growth hacking, it isn’t aimless anarchy. In reality, growth hacking owes its success to a core set of four principles we’re going to reveal and guide you through today. So take a deep breath, let it out, and get ready to step outside the box.
If You Build It, They Will Come…Kind Of
Building an app has rapidly become a sexy (and lucrative) enterprise. But what many developers lose sight of is that making a great app is only a fraction of the work.
To build a flourishing business around your app, the savvy developer knows the majority of your time and money should be spent finding the right users and keeping them around. However, the obstacles to this process are two-fold, and they are both subject to the head honcho: the app stores.
1. Stuffed app stores. With over two million apps, the app stores are packed to the gills. So no matter how sizzling your UI is or how much you’ve doted over your app’s launch day (your most important day), the reality is you’re still jostling elbows with at least 1,000 other apps, daily.
2. Broken app discovery. This unrelenting avalanche of apps doesn’t help your odds, but it also spells trouble for the app stores, which have struggled to stay organized and efficient. Unfortunately, App Store discovery is still very limited, and users have to hunt for you through the Search and the Top Charts features.
So how can you maneuver around these two obstacles and optimize your app for your users? In steps the part-science, part-art of growth hacking.
The Four Principles of Growth Hacking
The heart of effective growth hacking is doing, but what it’s guided by are the holy metrics of customer acquisition, retention, engagement, and monetization. Always keep these in mind as you explore and implement the four principles below.
The master key to the growth hacking kingdom is simple: Learn who your ideal customer is. Every other hallmark of success will be built on that foundation of information. For one of the most well-known examples of knowing your users, just ask Target.
How to get started: Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and get curious. Find out the difference between a paying and non-paying customer. What are their pain points? What channels do they use? What languages do they speak? What are their interests? As you gather this information, organize it into separate profiles.
Once you know your customers like the back of your hand, you’re ready to brainstorm ideas that could improve their experience. Write down every idea that pops into your head. Don’t censor yourself, because here’s where that risk-taking we talked about earlier will come in handy.
How to get started: Especially at first, start with the smaller ideas, as long as they’re relevant to your users. Make the color of your sign-up button blue instead of red. Turn every email subject line a knock-knock joke. You get the idea. Always make sure to A/B test your changes. There are lots of choices out there. Tracking every change will help you to gain an even more refined understanding of your users.
This third step is where you leverage this obsessive data tracking (quantitative) and your community of users (qualitative) to piece together a clear picture of your user’s behavior.
How to get started: Tools like Google Analytics (and many others) are invaluable when it comes to understanding your user’s behavior through numbers. But you can also use your unique connection to your customers. Surveys, social media, push notifications, email, even looking at your own reviews can help you understand what’s resonating with customers and what’s turning them off.
4. Repeat. But Better. And Bigger.
The beauty of growth hacking is that once you know your audience, you can experiment with a lot of ideas over a short period of time. When you find ones that work, your final step is to figure out how to optimize, iterate, and scale them so your app’s reach can extend deeper and farther. As you continue to track and sift through your data to understand the patterns of your user’s behaviors, your process will get smarter and your results, more impactful.
How to Know When You’re Done
The truth is, you’re never really “done” when it comes to your app, because there are always improvements to be made. So the more targeted question becomes, what does growth hacking success look like to you? Of course, it depends on your app, but a rough estimation can be made by considering these two points:
- For those who don’t use your app, do they still know what it is and what it does?
- If you hand your app over to a child who’s never seen it before, can they use it?
If your answer is a confident “Yes!” to both the questions above, your app has the ingredients for app store success. If you can’t answer “Yes” quite yet, follow the four growth hacking principles above until you get there.
Author Bio: Christine Beuhler is the Content Marketing Manager at Mobile Action. She writes about simple steps you can take to understand and improve your app store intelligence. She enjoys a good cup of tea and roller skating, but not at the same time.