Shoto and sd2labs recently co-hosted a webinar with RocketSpace where I outlined some of my favorite strategies and user acquisition hacks for apps. I refer to these strategies as the “magic” — or the glue — that increases adoption and promotes long term engagement.
The 3 keys to creating “magic”
Within 50 seconds of downloading an app, users decide to get started or jump ship. The first thing the user sees — whether it’s copy, colors, a splash screen or permissions — is critical to the first impression your app makes and, potentially, its long-term success.
So how do you make “magic” happen? Appeal to the (1) motivation, (2) ability and (3) triggers in the process of adoption (a.k.a. the first 50 seconds).
Let’s break it down:
Motivation = satisfy a need or emotion — the one thing that will blow users’ minds.
We created the following push notification on Shoto to create this motivation: “Your friend X has 50 photos to share with you.” It creates excitement and triggers the user’s brain to release dopamine. WIRED offers a great explanation of the science behind it.
Ability = ease of use — the action users need to take in order to understand why your app is fun and/or useful.
For example, in Venmo, you can send money in two clicks. Straight away, users can use Venmo’s app to send money quickly and easily, establishing its convenience and use case.
Trigger = reach out at the right time/place — choose an action users will be able to take easily.
An easy example is putting running sneakers next to your bed to trigger a run in the morning.
Essentially, your app or technology needs to make sense to your users at the appropriate time and place.
Based on the Magic Triangle, here are some great hacks you should consider:
Hacks for increasing adoption
Build for a Wide Audience: Care for your core users, but build a product simple enough to onboard a wide audience of users seamlessly, and add features that scale well.
Target Emerging Markets: Western audiences suffer from app fatigue, but emerging markets are chock full of new users who aren’t sick of hearing about new apps. Consider localization to increase global reach, and don’t forget about Android.
Promise Less + Over Deliver: Stand out by keeping your marketing messages humble and transparent.
Focus on Viral Coefficient: Get existing users to invite and convert new users (downloads aren’t as important). A great way to do this is by giving credits when your users invite their friends to use your app.
Hacks for boosting engagement
Community Building: Reduce churn by getting feedback from users, offering incentives, and pursuing partnerships to increase outreach.
User Segmentation: Adjust your app to cater to both passive and active users, and target active users for incentivization (and reviews!).
Hacks for promoting visibility
Build a Relationship With the App Store: Reach out to your App Store account manager with a pitch showcasing how your app matches the features, verticals and topics Apple is targeting.
Trend on the App Store: Collaborate with app store optimization experts, create a landing page on your website with a search bar directing visitors to download your app, and leverage press to get your app trending.
Avalanche Launch Plan: Utilize influencers (i.e. YouTube) and take advantage of directories to push your app at the same time (as early as possible in the day — 6AM is perfect), hustle and be sincere to get people to promote your app.
And most importantly, build something that works. Considering all of the time, hacks and hard work you put into making your app a hit, it better not crash upon opening.
For more details about and examples of the hacks outlined above, plus some additional hacks not mentioned here, check out the recording of my webinar, 12 Insanely Effective User Acquisition Hacks for Apps.