Dear client, is this your story?
You have an idea for an app. It’ll solve a painful problem or fulfil a specific need. You know and feel deep down in your guts that this will work.
It has to. After all, you came up with an app that other people might want and need. The business is worth pursuing.
You do your research and find a development company that will put your idea to life. They do the design and development and you put your heart into this project. You know how it should look and function, so you guide and instruct the software house. They follow your vision and with every week, you see your product taking shape.
The big day eventually comes and the first version of your long-awaited app is ready for release. You can’t wait to give it into the hands of the users. You want to see how your app grows and delights them. All this effort can be now turned into success.
You publish your app to the store and wait impatiently to see it thriving. But what comes later is a little less exciting…
The app turns out to be a flop. Users quickly ditch it after downloading. They’re not even giving it a chance. The number of active users is embarrassing, way below your expectations. You grow frustrated as days and weeks pass by. Why didn’t it hit off?
You start to put more money into marketing and SEO to acquire new users. You invest even more money in development hours to introduce new, exciting features that will retain those users.
But the situation isn’t improving.
Every day you’re less and less motivated. You’re getting tired. You don’t want to admit it, but the app is a complete failure and you can’t find a way to fix the situation.
You did your best and it didn’t work.
“What went wrong?” you ask yourself.
You forgot about your target group.
The Secret Sauce of Successful Apps
If we were to indicate the one most important reason for app failure, it’d be not listening to your target users. It’s an obvious mistake, but surprisingly, committed by most of the entrepreneurs entering mobile app business! This is why we end up with such terrifying statistics:
– 23% of apps are used only once.
– After two months, app retention is at 25% before falling to 20% after three months.
Do you know why apps such as Facebook or Instagram are so popular? Many people think it’s because the idea for those products was so great and original.
But is there really anything groundbreaking in an app that allows you to post pictures?
Error 404: Groundbreaking idea not found.
The reason why these companies are so successful is that they listen to their target users. They’re equipped with tools that provide them with actionable insights. They measure and examine user behavior. They focus on engagement, retention and conversion. They use data to build their products. They extensively research their target group and listen to their users. In short words, none of their decisions is based on gut feelings and unverified assumptions. None!
On the other hand, what are aspiring app entrepreneurs doing? They assume that something will work and that users will use the app as intended. If you don’t own a product yet, here’s a spoiler for you: user behavior is really hard to predict. And users are going to do terrible, unexpected things with your app:
If you want to avoid this scenario, we recommend two things:
1) Building For Users WITH Users
This is all about doing user research so that you know what people want and how you can meet these needs. There’s a variety of methods to choose from: focus groups, creating personas, running surveys, usability testing and so on. You should observe and interview users to spot any problems they might have when using your product. And no, you don’t need one hundred people to successfully run experiments and test your hypotheses. The creators of the design sprint prove that even a small group is sufficient. As little as 5 people can help you uncover any difficulties in understanding or in using the app. How cool is that?
Please bear in mind that you need to test the hypotheses with a well-defined target group, not with your family or friends. Your target audience is a very narrow, special group that your friends and family most certainly don’t fit. Thus, close relatives won’t provide any meaningful insights about your product.
Also, don’t forget that involving users is necessary at any stage of developing your product. It isn’t only applicable when you’re trying to validate your idea and create a product. It’s also relevant when your app is built and released! Remember that you need to continuously improve your mobile app to grow and deliver the best experience for your users.
This leads us to another point:
2) Measuring and Tracking
If you implement analytics (such as Google Analytics), you’ll be able to track specific events that will help you understand what works and what doesn’t. Many app entrepreneurs don’t track and analyze data, because it looks overwhelming and time-consuming. Of course, any data can be scary if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for or how to find it. There’s definitely no point of tracking everything.
At All in Mobile, there’s a couple of rules we stick with:
Think big but start small.
The smaller the app, the easier to track. This is why it’s so important to release an app as soon as possible. You can start collecting and analyzing data very early, which will help you make informed decisions about improving and futher developing the app. There’s no need to build more than what’s required to test your largest unknown. If you start small, you can validate that the core functionality retains users. If it doesn’t, developing additional functionalities won’t help and you’re on a great path to waste money on the development hours.
Introduce new features for a reason.
When you introduce changes in your app, it should be for a specific reason. Otherwise, why even bother? See if you achieve your KPIs, whether it’s more time spent in the app, more shares, or higher retention.
Focus on growth.
Your benchmark should be users who continue to use your app. Figure out what specific events in your app are correlated with retention. Focus on that metric and you’ll achieve the growth you want.
Consider Facebook. They found that users who added 7 friends within the first 10 days of using the social platform, were likely to continue to use Facebook long-term.
In the beginning, you should focus on organic growth as it has better retention rates than paid marketing. It’s also pointless to invest in marketing an app that has low retention. You’ll pay for acquiring new users that will quickly abandon your app. If you love to squander money, buy us expensive booze instead.
Hopefully, this article thoroughly explained why and how you should learn from your users. Bear this in mind and you’ll avoid an express train to app disaster.
Users are an invaluable source of information and they’ll equip you with actionable insights at every stage of your product development. Even if you neglected your target group and you’re down the wrong path, it isn’t too late to fix it and get back on the right track. You don’t have to give up on your product – with the help of data analytics and user testing, you can discover problematic areas in your app. This insight will help you create an actionable strategy for a winning and useful product.