App launch frameworks: achieving growth for start-ups

This post is brought to you in conjunction with our partners at Mixpanel as part of a data-focused growth marketing series, so keep an eye out for more tips, tricks and insights over the next few months!

It can be difficult to know where to start when planning for an app launch. There are often a lot of moving cogs that need to function together to ensure you are able to execute your app growth strategy seamlessly.

You may know your long-term growth targets, but what you need to focus on in the short-term is commonly less defined. To figure out what will make the biggest impact, you need to look at the business as a whole and how you can create mechanisms which will drive ongoing growth.

So, where do you start? 

Determine app growth goals

First thing’s first. You need to determine your core KPIs and business goals. You want to tailor your goals and KPIs to the purpose of your business. For example, what does it mean to be ‘active’ in your product? The most successful companies are commonly more sophisticated in the way in which they set up their KPIs and assess which growth metrics they will be measuring.

Once you have identified your KPIs and business goals you can then start to identify the lowest risk, biggest impact activities, as well as how you can take advantage of quick wins. In order to build up over time in smart, controlled and measurable ways, it is important to implement growth frameworks ahead of time and continuously optimise live activity occurring within the frameworks. 

Once you do this, you will find that all of these growth loops interlink to create an app growth engine that supports an app marketing strategy and encompasses the whole app lifecycle.

Here are the top app growth loops that you need to consider whilst setting up your app launch campaign:

App Store Optimisation (ASO), but not as you know it…

App Store Optimisation - ASO

Regardless of the acquisition channel, all users have to pass through the app stores in order to download the app. This means continuously optimising your app store listings is essential if you want to increase the visibility of your app but also to increase the conversion rate from impression to install. 

We all know that App Store Optimisation (ASO) is not a new way of increasing user acquisition. However, by considering the way in which ASO feeds into the full app marketing lifecycle, you are able to gain a far more comprehensive and accurate picture of your growth levers.

Too often, different app marketing activities are viewed as wholly separate from each other, being managed and optimised in isolation. Instead, if we look at each of the activities as separate pieces in a puzzle, we are only able to get the full picture once they have been joined together.

What are ASO growth levers?

Our ASO growth loop showcases just a couple of levers that can be triggered to optimise app store listings. These include focusing on keyword optimisations on the app stores, but also implementing in-app changes with a well-considered app review feedback management strategy through review prompts.

Keyword optimisation leads to a significant domino style effect. Whilst the resulting improvement in keyword ranking leads to increased installs, these increased installs also provide an opportunity for your app to gain an increased number of reviews. If these reviews are positive, it improves both the install rate of the app alongside the category ranking.

By continuing to optimise different levers within the growth loops – for instance, updating screenshots to highlight the areas of the app which have the highest engagement rates – you are feeding into the rest of the loop too and boosting improvements elsewhere.

The key to owning the app marketplace

Owned social

Owned social campaigns use strategies that are directed at driving users from your owned channels and this is a great starting point for start-ups to reach into their own database and bring users who are already aware of the brand into the app, prior to using additional resources to attract a new audience.

This can include promoting your app through existing email databases, to followers across your social channels, and even getting creative by sharing videos and podcasts on your website.

Using the owned social loop can be a quick win for many startups, increasing their brand awareness and influencing the virality of their app as a result. Owned social is a relatively straightforward way of improving app engagement too, as it gets people talking, sharing AND participating!

The owned social growth loop, pictured above, highlights how owned social isn’t just about the top of the funnel strategies – communicating with your network on email or social channels – it is also impacted by the resulting increase in app engagement.

It is also important to note that owned social works in conjunction with organic activity (such as ASO) and paid social activity too, all of these attribution channels loop into and influence each other.

Getting your app viral!

virality

Every app founder has undoubtedly dreamt about their app going viral. About users singing the app’s praises to their friends and advocating for it online, taking away the need for any paid marketing. 

If only app marketing was that simple.

Startups commonly place a lot of importance on virality and word of mouth. However, these have been notoriously hard to measure and strategise for in the past. This has meant that app businesses have de-prioritised word of mouth for more measurable metrics and goals. 

Yodel Mobile has defined a virality loop that enables app marketers to influence and track the virality of their app, with the necessary support of attribution tools it becomes possible to measure more advanced metrics and quickly increase traction.

By changing the way you approach virality, it can change the importance that is placed not just on promoting social sharing, for example through offering incentivised referrals, but also – more importantly – on ensuring strong app engagement.

After all, a user is not going to share your app to friends if they do not truly believe in your app.

The innovation loop for growth frameworks

Setting up each of these interlinking growth frameworks is just the first step. In order to see your key metrics continue to move in the right direction, you’ll need to consistently iterate on each step of each growth loop. 

And Mixpanel has a loop for that.

Collect accurate data

It all starts with collecting accurate data around your key KPIs. This data can, and should, come from a variety of sources. By connecting the tools in your stack used to facilitate activities across each of the growth loops–including attribution and A/B testing tools–with product analytics solutions like Mixpanel, you will get a more complete picture of the user journey. 

Identify trends

With robust datasets, you can fully analyse the effects of your growth marketing activities on app usage. Explore your data weekly or daily to quickly spot meaningful patterns as they happen. For example, perhaps you’ll notice a spike in daily active usage which you trace back to an influencer campaign running on your social channels.

Pro tip: keep a dashboard with reports monitoring all your core KPIs and ensure everyone on the team knows where to find them so you never miss a thing!

Understand the why

As interesting trends emerge, go deeper in your data to identify the causes. Here’s where you might spot different distinct sub-trends emerging from each of your growth loops. For example, after noticing the spike in DAU, you might dig in deeper and uncover it’s driven by a cohort acquired via a boosted post about a new feature. 

Set goals & create hypotheses

Now that you have a deep understanding of what’s causing spikes or dips in your core KPIs, you can begin to create data-driven plans for influencing those trends. Define clear hypotheses and tests for them, prioritising investments based on what you know from your data so far. In our influencer campaign example, we might form two hypotheses:

  1. If we promote more content about our new feature, then we will increase app downloads and DAU.
  2. If we update our app store listing to more prominently highlight our new feature, then we will increase app downloads and DAU. 

Pro tip: Make sure every test has clear goals, and that they align with core KPIs. Be ruthless with your focus on investments that will move the needle where it counts.

Take action

Reallocate your budget across channels, tweak your campaigns, or make optimisations to your app store listing–it’s time to get to work on executing those tests. With data continuously flowing back and forth between your data stack, get real-time insights so you can repeat the process over and over. By innovating constantly within each growth loop, you’ll turn your app launch strategy into an ongoing engine for growth.

Using growth frameworks to support your app launch

By incorporating growth frameworks into your app marketing plan it will make visible the relationship between all the different app marketing activities you are running. You will be able to track and view your app marketing strategies more holistically, increasing your ability to measure data more accurately, and provide a more comprehensive analysis of your app. You will ultimately gain a much clearer understanding of the mechanisms and levers that will drive ongoing growth and give your app a better chance of achieving long-term success.

About the Author:

Sonia is the Marketing Executive at Yodel Mobile, a leading app marketing company. Assisting the agency growth efforts, Sonia regularly shares insights on the latest app marketing strategies, promoting sustainable and long-term growth.

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