Struggling to generate traffic for your app? Here’s how to energize your app growth

Trying to launch an app but struggling? Here’s how to how to energize your app growth – from someone who has successfully done it.

If your mobile app launch didn’t live up to your expectations, there’s still an opportunity to turn things around. As the founder of a successful app that helps teen drivers get their licenses, I share key insights that are sure to propel your comeback.

Become experts in your field

Authority matters. App users need to trust that you understand their needs and will be able to solve their problems. When we designed our app to help Australians learn how to pass their learners’ test, we dug into research that showed why current students are so frustrated by the current method of learning road rules. We demonstrated to app searchers how our product could provide a solution, for example with this Victoria learners test page.

But there’s another advantage to developing your expertise: brand recognition. Imagine how many more downloads and installs you can achieve when potential customers are searching you by name.

Build your expert status through active promotion. Host industry seminars or webinars or participate in forums. Demonstrate your knowledge on question-and-answer sites like Quora, and pitch stories to journalists in your field. 

In short, maximize your exposure as a credible and reputable brand as a way to set yourself apart from your competitors.

Embrace feedback

Even if you’ve established your authority and are recognized as an industry leader, that doesn’t mean you’re infallible. If your app hasn’t taken off, turn to your existing users to find out why.

Of course, you’ll need to pay close attention to the reviews and ratings on your app store listing. Not only will you learn about current users’ frustrations, but your prompt response will show existing and potential customers that you care about serving their needs and will use their feedback to improve your product.

Addressing negative feedback can also work to improve your ratings, which absolutely impacts the app stores’ algorithm for boosting your position in search.

Use your social media pages to elicit customer response and demonstrate that your ultimate goal is to provide value to your users. Companies that engage with their fans and followers – and directly take on service issues – not only gain the benefit of improved brand perception, but actually improve their reach on platforms like Facebook.

Push for growth at first, not revenue

If your app offers a unique selling proposition (e.g. there’s little competition), there’s a greater chance of gaining revenue and achieving profitability quickly. But at the rate apps are entering the market today, it’s becoming more difficult to stave off competition. 

Unless you’re already a big name brand, it’s going to be tough to earn revenue until you acquire – and retain – a large number of users.

So, when you’re just getting started, aim for sustained growth. In order to increase the number of active users and hold on to the ones you’ve already acquired, you’ll have to pay close attention to what’s working for you and what needs to change. 

Once you see a consistent pattern of monthly users, you’ll know that you’re on the right track for sustained growth. That’s when you can start to focus on your revenue and profitability goals.

A/B test your way to success

The only way you’re going to turn your app around is to really dig into why you’re not getting traction and explore ways to optimize your app’s discovery in the app stores.

We’ve already talked about reaching out to customers to get their feedback, and that’s a good start. But you may be struggling because not enough people are seeing your app when they search on the iOs App Store or Google Play. Alternatively, it’s possible that when potential users do come across your listing, it elicits a weak response. 

Since the majority of people find apps by searching the app stores, it’s essential to use app store optimization (ASO)particularly A/B testing – for app discovery and conversion.

ASO improves your ability to be discovered when people turn to the app stores to find new apps to download. The ranking factors differ slightly between the App Store and Google Play, but the ones that stand out for both stores include:

  • The app name or title
  • Whether or not you have a localized product page
  • Keywords
  • Subtitle or short description
  • Installs per keyword or installs volume
  • Ratings

For our Zutobi app, we made use of ASO to confirm which keywords made the biggest difference in our store listing success.

One particularly useful way to optimize your listing is to use A/B testing to determine which keywords, store elements, descriptions, or product features resonate with potential customers. 

Develop a hypothesis about one specific variable and show two different versions to a small representative sample of your user base. Results from the test will give you greater confidence about making adjustments to your store listing.

As you tweak your listing to optimize for these ranking factors, you should see your downloads and conversions increase. Analytics – especially those offered by mobile measurement partners – can help you assess your performance and highlight where you may need to make adjustments.

Don’t give up-learn what you need to do and get to work

Launching a successful mobile app requires that you stay on top of your progress. Use all available tools to improve your product and be open to hearing criticism. You’ll succeed if you can deliver a useful and valuable service to your customers.

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.

Photo by Paul Hanaoka