There are many things to consider before launching an app. Defining your goals, analysing the competition, ensuring your UX design and branding are on point, and the list goes on. With over 80% of apps failing within the first year, you need to ensure you set your app up for success from the start.
One of the most common (and very important!) questions we get asked at Yodel Mobile is “what mobile tech stack do I need to implement into my app ahead of launch?”. There’s a whole world of tools out there that do a million different things, and if you’re not familiar with the space, it can feel overwhelming to figure out where to start.
Why is your Mobile Tech Stack Important?
Choosing the right mobile tech stack is not just important, it’s essential. Data is the cornerstone of any marketing strategy. To be able to make data-driven decisions, understand your users and get a comprehensive insight into your product performance, you need solid mobile tools that are suitable for your mobile app business and help you achieve your app growth goals.
Of course, your requirements depend on the size, complexity, and growth plans for your app, but there are three key types of tools that we would always recommend. (If you want to learn more on how you can implement your mobile tech stack, check out this post)
The first is an attribution tool, which helps you track where your users are coming from.
The unique complexity of app marketing is driven largely by the app store bottleneck. Unlike the web, every app has to conform to certain rules and regulations set by Apple, Google, Amazon, and wherever else you list your app. The problem is that app stores break your data capture flow – you can’t track what a particular person does once they hit the app stores, because of the “walled garden” they impose.
Without an attribution tool, this makes it very difficult to optimise your acquisition activity– whether you’re tracking paid, owned or other types of acquisition. Attribution tools are key as they allow you to use either tracked links or front-end integrations to identify not only where a user is coming from, but also where they’re going next.
With just 5-10 key events implemented to indicate user value and intent, we can open up a world of insight. Some general events include ‘registration’, ‘log in’, ‘free trial’, but they can also track key engagement specific to early activation within the app, for example ‘article read’ for publishing app or ‘level 1 complete’ for a gaming app. Gathered insights allow us to see, right down to campaign, ad set or creative level, where our valuable users are coming from. This becomes the basis of your optimisation when determining where to invest time and spend money – crucial in gaining initial traction while minimising waste in an app launch.
“The ability for marketers to quickly view and optimize campaigns effectively relies entirely on the tools they work with – and attribution tools are an essential part of any mobile tech stack. As user acquisition and measurement grows considerably more complex in light of privacy issues, it’s the marketers who have the tools necessary to make smart, fast decisions that will stand out from their competition. Attribution tools mean users can be clearly understood and measured to fuel impactful, strategic decision making by understanding the channels, campaigns, and user journeys that drive the best results. Complete data overviews also empower continued improvement of uplift, performance, and optimization so that marketers can invest in what works and recalibrate what doesn’t.”
– Maxime Cotin – UK Partnership Manager at Adjust
Example attribution tools: AppsFlyer, Adjust, Branch, Kochava
#2 In-app Analytics
The second tool we would always recommend is a robust in-app analytics tool. Ahead of launching an app, while a lot of research goes into providing value to the target audience, we don’t know how real users will react to it. It’s not until the app is released into the wild that we get genuine data on how people experience your product.
By implementing an in-app analytics tool, we’re able to understand a lot about common user journeys, behaviours and drop-off points. This information should be used to drive your product analytics strategy – developer time is expensive and always a scarce resource, so ensuring that we invest in the areas which will make the biggest impact on your bottom line is vital to business success.
It’s important to note here that strong KPI-setting and measurement frameworks go hand in hand with in-app analytics. We have to define what success looks like to be able to make smart, data-driven decisions.
Let’s use an example. A subscription app may focus solely on conversion to subscription. However, if the majority of these subscribers churn in the first month, it’s going to be difficult to sustain your model. If we instead focused on “active users” (where active would be defined as a user who is engaging with their subscription) and saw a downward trend WoW, we would identify a potential problem before the trend turns into churning users.
Analytics tools require a little more development resource than attribution tools because of the depth of custom events and properties that you may be tracking – anywhere from 50 to 100 events, each with unique properties attached. However, if while reading this you’re already mentally going through a massive developer backlog in your head and wondering how you can possibly make time to implement so many events – you’re not alone! We often implement these in batches, with only the highest priority events being implemented for launch, to alleviate pressures on the team. In the long run, making time for implementation now (even at a high level), will save you time, energy and investment post-launch.
Example in-app analytics tools: Mixpanel, Amplitude, Clevertap, Fullstory
#3 Marketing Automation
The final tool that is pivotal to an app launch is marketing automation, which helps you communicate with your users. Marketing automation tools enable you to grow the relationship with your users, increase retention and nudge them towards actions which will help them to understand the value of the app. The three core channels which are used most often are push notifications, in-app messages, and email.
The biggest advantage of a marketing automation tool is being able to add to the user’s experience without requiring developer resource, once the tool is implemented. For example, in-app messages allow us to test different messaging and flows within the experience without any coding required. They empower marketing and growth teams to drive impact without the usual delays caused by needing to go through multiple departments. When integrated with your in-app analytics tool, you have a wealth of information on which to target and personalise your campaigns.
Implementation for these kinds of tools is fairly simple in terms of integrating the SDK, but we must also link the tool to the push notification delivery systems on each OS. Keep in mind that on iOS, unless a user has specifically opted in, notifications will be delivered quietly and may not have the impact you’re hoping for on overall conversion. Often apps will hit the user with the native Apple request immediately on app open – which is sure to lead to low opt-in rates. We would usually recommend moving this request later in the onboarding, predicated by a custom priming screen which explains how you can add value to the user if they enable push notifications. Doing this maximises returns from the tool as your campaigns will reach far more users.
In today’s environment, it’s getting more difficult to acquire new users and startups are being forced to look at CAC/LTV as a health indicator for their businesses. Investing in mobile customer engagement tools will be critical to increase retention and drive higher customer LTV. It’s now easier than ever to create automated customer journeys that continue to drive loyalty and personal experiences for your user base.
– Josh Wetzel, CRO at OneSignal
Example marketing automation tools: Braze, Iterable, OneSignal, Leanplum
Building the right mobile tech stack pre-launch is worth the investment. There are many aspects to take into consideration, such as the size of your app, available resources, and your future growth ambitions. Making the wrong choice at the start of your app journey can cost more long-term so turning to the experts for advice can save a lot time and money. If you’re launching a new app, looking to expand into new markets, or need help with your current mobile tool set-up, schedule a free consultation with our Yodel Mobile Growth Team and learn what improvements you can make to set your app for success.
If you want to find out more about how improving the mobile customer experience can impact your app marketing campaign or you have any app marketing questions feel free to reach out to the Yodel Mobile Growth Team. Additionally, you can sign up to our newsletter for exclusive industry updates and app marketing insights from the ASO Agency of the Year. Want to find out more about optimising your app? Make sure to subscribe to our Mastering Mobile Marketing video series. Follow us on LinkedIn, chat with us on Twitter @yodelmobile, and join our #AppMarketingUK LinkedIn group.