A Successful Framework for Mobile Growth

Source: Shutterstock

In the early years of the app store, user acquisition was considered the primary driver of growth. Apps were few and far between, and users were eager, plenty, and cheap. And it worked — sort of — for a while.

But that is not the case today. Even as mobile usage keeps increasing, it is getting harder and harder for apps to attract new users. With good reason. With more than five million apps in both the iOS and Google app stores, it is hard for any app to get noticed.

On top of that, app users are churning at a higher rate than ever before, and trying to acquire new users without addressing churn is like filling water in a leaky bucket. A maturing and crowded app market combined with high churn means today’s marketers cannot focus on acquisition alone to drive growth.  

A company that wants true growth and success should look beyond acquisition to prioritize engaging and retaining customers.

As you fine-tune your growth strategy, let’s take a look at five essential components that will ensure you hit your goals.

Growth Strategy 1: Onboarding

QuizUp’s onboarding screen

First impressions matter. When users have so many other options and such short attention spans, having a flawless customer experience is the key to making a great first impression. An intuitive and frictionless onboarding experience is the first step to stronger engagement and retention.

Here’s how you build a great onboarding flow. Define your goal for onboarding and deliver that value to the user in five screens or less. Don’t overload users with features and functionality; instead, focus on delivering your product’s core value as quickly as possible.  

For example, If you are a gaming app, ensure your onboarding flow introduces the basics and environment of the game and not the intricacies of the game. It’s better to walk the user through certain tasks than overwhelm them with instructions.

Then reinforce the onboarding experience by using a cross-channel approach. If a user drops out of the onboarding flow, send a push notification to remind him to pick up where they left off. And once they complete, send a welcome email with tips and tricks they may find useful.

Finally, test. The best way to validate your hypothesis and optimize your onboarding flow is to test it with your user base. Measure its performance across various segments so you can determine the optimal solution, backed by real-world data.

The optimal user onboarding process is quick, painless, and leaves users excited to start using your app right away. Ideally, your onboarding experience delivers that Aha! moment, encouraging further exploration and engagement.

Growth Strategy 2: Engagement

Don’t stop after a successful onboard. You need to continuously engage to avoid user churn and drive long-term loyalty. A recent Loyalty Driver Modeling Poll conducted by Lenati found that 96 percent of marketers agree that customer engagement drives business performance.

The easiest way to engage: Understand your product’s North Star metric.

Sean Ellis Explains North Star Metric

For apps that monetize via ads — e.g., media and gaming apps —  the North Star metric is session length. The longer users are on the app, the higher the lifetime value of the user. A good engagement strategy, in this case, would be to maximize the time users spend in the app.

For e-commerce apps, the focus is more on user conversion and maximizing purchases during each visit. In this case, a successful engagement strategy should drive users to increase their visits and also increase purchases per visit.

According to Forrester, “The paradigm for customer engagement is shifting from large, monolithic experiences that serve everyone, to smaller, more contextual experiences that companies serve to consumers in just the moment they need them.”

For example, if a user has just finished watching all the episodes of Downton Abbey in a streaming app, an in-app message triggered at the right time that recommends Pride and Prejudice or previews its trailer is a tremendous way to enhance the in-app experience, in turn making the app sticky. This aligns perfectly with the app’s North Star metric — maximizing time spent in the app.

The ideal engagement strategy marries the real-time contextual data mobile provides with the knowledge of the customer journey to build behavior-driven cross-channel campaigns that deliver personalized experience across every user touch point.

Growth Strategy 3: Real-Time Personalization

In today’s world, the customer is king and customer experience is fast becoming a differentiator among brands. Consumers expect experiences tailored to their needs and wants across all digital touchpoints.

mobile retail stats

Source: Think With Google

Personalization begins with building rich customer profiles. This means breaking down data silos and having a consolidated view of the customer across all digital touchpoints. As the customer moves along their user journey, brands can deliver the right experience at the right time on the right channel.

Personalization is key to delivering engagement customized to user behavior and preferences.

For retail apps, this may mean using geofencing and beacons to deliver personalized coupons and discounts to prospective customers, raising the odds they convert. For gaming apps, this may mean customizing the difficulty levels based on skill to ensure players don’t get bored or give up because it’s too hard.

A key aspect of personalization in this era of micro-moments is reacting to customers’ needs, wants, and requirements in real-time. For example, Sephora leverages data from a customer’s online shopping activity in-store by employing beacons, which send notifications when the shopper is near an item they left in a digital shopping cart.

Reacting to customer needs in real-time enables brands to create more relevant experiences that go a long way in boosting more than just engagement. That real-time personalization is what will drive long-term loyalty.

Growth Strategy 4: Experimentation

The key to success is knowing what your customers want. And the best way to find out what your customers want is by testing what works and what doesn’t.

As companies like Uber, Facebook, Airbnb, and Amazon have demonstrated, success and experimentation go hand in hand. It is very hard to predict the outcome of any feature or change; it is especially hard to know the impact on downstream metrics. Experimentation gives you a data-driven understanding of the impact of any changes to your product. For companies looking to “move fast,” experimentation gives you a data-backed way to make quick and informed decisions.

So, what should you test? Every aspect of your growth strategy — from messaging campaigns to UI/UX changes, from features to the onboarding flow, from emails to price points. Testing gives you a chance to understand real-world implications.

For example, what content or delivery channel resonates? Which multi-touch campaigns yield the most conversions across the user journey? Will conversions increase if you tweak the placement of an add to cart button? At what price point do we generate maximum revenue while not affecting retention?

A/B testing gives you real-time answers and the confidence to ensure you’re on the right path.

When Tinder rolled out its Tinder Gold, it tested it in select markets to understand its impact. Before launch, it also tested price points for the premium feature. It went on to become the highest grossing app on the app store. In short, they experimented their way to success!  

Growth Strategy 5: Measurement

So, you’ve come up with a strategy and run your campaigns and experiments. Now what? Look at your data to see what it’s trying to tell you.

A caveat for marketers: The key to executing on your growth strategy is to ensure you have the right data at hand. This means tracking the right metrics to measure the effects of your campaigns.

For example, your latest campaign or feature might garner more subscriptions, but if it results in your retention rates going down, is that a feature you want to release? Having the right data helps you decide if the behavior is universal or merely a non-starter to a specific user segment.   Getting insight into your customers’ needs and choices will make for a better product, leading to higher engagement and greater revenue.

Companies looking to drive growth should use data insights to optimize their product for users and deliver tailored customer experiences that make them go, “Aha!”

Putting It All Together With Leanplum

For growth managers looking to jumpstart their strategies, Leanplum can be your partner in growth. Our platform helps you:

  • Craft cross-channel campaigns to engage your users
  • Optimize your onboarding flows
  • Personalize your product and messaging
  • Enable a culture of experimentation
  • Build a data-centric view of the customer

Ready to get started?

Leanplum is the mobile marketing platform built for engagement. We help brands like Tinder, Grab, Tesco, and Zynga orchestrate multi-channel campaigns — from messaging to the in-app experience — all from a single, integrated platform. Schedule your personalized demo here.