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Use This Roadmap to Get Your First 100,000 App Users

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Do you have a great idea for an app, but are wondering what rules you need to follow if you’re going to compete with the millions of other apps available? In 2018, we developed an app to help teen drivers earn their licenses, and we’re still seeing phenomenal growth. These are the most important stops on the roadmap to earning your first 100,000 users.

Develop an App You Would Use

It’s necessary to put yourself in the mindset of your target customers when you begin to plan the types of content and features to include. We developed our Zutobi app to help teen drivers have an easier time passing their written permit tests that typically have a 50% failure rate. But even though you may not have the same needs as your target users, you probably have strong feelings about which apps you rely on every day and which aren’t very useful. Use your expertise as a developer and app user to determine what you’d consider to be functional must-haves and let those ideas guide your development. 

Provide Value

People will download and use your app if it makes their lives better or more productive. If your app can’t fulfill those needs, they’re going to stop using it or even delete it from their phones. As you’re developing the app – and long after it launches – you’ll need to make sure it provides value to your users.

Research your target customers. If you can get a good sense of who your ideal customers are – their demographics as well as their needs and pain points – you can begin to build an app that will provide solutions and help relieve their frustrations. We learned that Florida increased the difficulty of its written permit test, so we made sure to provide the best permit test resources to help teen drivers pass it more easily.

Finally, study your competitors to see where you can potentially fill a gap they’re not addressing or improve on a popular feature. Your eventual growth is going to come at the expense of some other app, so continue to monitor competitors’ performance as well as your own.

Great Marketing will help Promote Your App at Every Stage of the User Journey

Well before your app goes live, develop marketing strategies that will deliver the most effective messages during each stage of the user journey: Pre-launch, Customer Acquisition, and Customer Retention.

For the Pre-launch phase, make awareness your goal, and use breakthrough creative to generate buzz. Introduce your app to as many people in your target as possible by using strong messaging on your social media pages to encourage your fans to share with their friends. Also consider using industry influencers to spread the word.

After launch, use the keywords you researched to boost your position in the app stores. Known as app store optimization (ASO), strategically place the strongest, most relevant keywords in your app’s title and description. We used ASO to guide us in selecting the most effective keywords for our Zutobi DMV Permit test app title and description. It’s also a good time to use paid advertising – in the app stores, on search engines, and on social media.

To hold on to the customers you acquired, you’ll need to remind them of the app’s value. You won’t be able to grow your customer base and sustain growth unless those who downloaded the app continue to use it. The most effective way to bring back lapsed users is to offer in-app incentives.

Use In-App Incentives to Bring Users Back

People are easily distracted, and even though they may have found value in your app when they first downloaded it, their usage may have dropped off or they might have moved on to other similar apps. Bring those users back by offering them rewards for taking actions while they’re using your app.

Examples of in-app rewards include bonus content, free items, or discounts on premium services. To encourage increased app usage, design a loyalty program that allows users to earn points for rewards each time they complete an action in the app. Then inform lapsed users that these rewards are available by sending them push notifications about the loyalty program. Just be sure not to send so many notifications that users become annoyed by the frequent pinging on their phones.

Keep Updating to Continue Providing Value

Customer needs are always changing and new apps go live every day. After launching, monitor your app’s performance with analytic tracking tools that integrate with your app’s software. Then, you can use A/B testing to get a read on which new feature or enhancement has the best chance to improve your results.

Remember that you’ll see growth only if you can persuade your users that your app will provide value for them, and if your downloads have dropped, perhaps an industry change has occurred that will force you to tweak your offering or change the way you communicate about your app. Don’t take early success for granted.

Author: Tim Waldenback

Tim Waldenback is the co-founder of Zutobi Drivers Ed, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online drivers education to help teens get their license. Tim founded Zutobi to make world-class driver’s education fun, affordable, and easily accessible for all.

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