How to get more app users? - best practices

In the previous blog, we were talking about different metrics and ways to grab data for analytics. But how to increase the number of active users or how to make retention rate better? Let’s go through some ways that should definitely help you do that.

Make clear and simple UI / UX

Imagine a case when you have a super cool feature in your app that should attract users to use this app more and more. But to reach this functionality user has to input his/her mother’s surname, dismiss 3 popups, open left menu…. In other words, it is not that easy for a user to get to the place in the app that shows the context of the product. If your analytics is installed correctly you can easily catch such a situation - at least by comparing a number of “Login” events with a number of “Super cool feature used” events. We had the same kind of problem in several apps. So, what are the solutions?

Don’t hesitate to remove useless screens

If you see that some of the screens in your app just make users skipping them and do not bring any value, remove them to simplify the flow. Of course, if it is not a screen with some important features.

Offer "Guest mode"

Sometimes it worth giving a user a chance to use an app without providing any personal information. You can request this information once a user is doing some app-specific action and he or she is more interested in providing such information.

Use bottom navigation instead of side menu

This change helped us with showing a user that app also has other screens. Having side menu requires a user to make an additional click/swipe to open it and see the options to navigate in the app. Bottom navigation gives a user a vision on what is available in an app directly from the main screen of the app. Historically bottom navigation came from ios, but Google made it a primary pattern for navigation in Material design guideline. Enjoy.

Stick to Guidelines

Another problem related to UX is not meeting design guidelines that Apple and Google have. For instance, in one of the apps, we changed our design in order to follow Material Design guidelines. The first benefit is that the app started looking much better, the second is that this app became featured on the Play Market. These 2 outcomes made a big influence on app’s growth metrics.

Enable sharing functionality

Another good example about switching to OS-specific implementation instead of using own one was related to sharing functionality. We made this change on both Android and iOS apps. We had our custom so-called sharing widget with a predefined set of social networks and appropriate SDK integration. It this view, it was not dependant on the list of the apps installed on the device. So, if your favorite social network was not integrated, there was no possibility to share content to it. Realizing that we made a move to using native sharing functionality. And it was a right choice! Now users are able to share with all the favorite apps that are installed on the device and support data that they are going to share.

Conduct A/B testing

It happens that you have different ideas on how to implement some functionality to make it easier for a user to reach the final goal. And you have no answer which variant is the best. So, it is a good place to run an A/B test. A/B tests are intended to present different UI/UX view variants at the same time and to grab proper data about the usage of each variant. As a result, you have analytics and may apply the variant that works better for users in your app.
From a technical perspective, we used Firebase remote config and Taplytics for implementing A/B tests.
Firebase remote config gives an easy way to store key-value pairs in one place and to distribute them to the client apps. You can set different values and make your app rely on them. You can also set up the way these values will be distributed to the audience. Also, the values can be changed and quickly fetched by the client apps. All you need is to handle these values and wait for the experiment results.
Taplytics also has the same key value pairs updating functionality. Taplytics is cool because of its visual experiments feature. Having Taplytics integrated you can edit UI elements in your app by setting different dimensions and other properties to them. This new UI will be delivered to users with different experiment variations. It really worth seeing this in action:
https://taplytics.com/docs/guides/visual-experiments
A/B tests really simplify your life when you doubt between different implementations of the one feature. We use them frequently to see what users like more in the apps and, of course, leave the better variant live in the app for a long time.

Implement Push notifications

It is not a secret that push notifications make a big impact on the user engagement into the app. They really help user not to miss anything important that happens on their favorite social network, any message received in messenger or any update inside e-commerce service. On the other hand push notifications is a good mechanism to increase the retention rate of your app. There are lots of statistics on this topic that just prove it.

Enable Social media sharing

Probably everybody will trust some service or app more if he knows that somebody of his friends had successful experience using it. Social media is one of the places to share and see that somebody shared their experience with some app. So, it is very important to give a user a possibility to share content that shows the context of your app. And this content needs to be easy to reach and to understand by the audience. The best content, in this case, is an image or URL. The text does not attract people that much as images do. It is important to provide the user with a possibility to share the content in their favorite apps. Having such a possibility gives more chances that sharing will appear. So make sure no app is ignored while performing sharing.

Sharing of the links has a few interesting points that everybody should take into account. Firstly, these links should be opened by the mobile app to provide a user with the best experience. This is called deep linking and the app should respond to the attempts to open the links and lead a user to the appropriate screen. As Android and iOS have different ways on how to handle deep links (custom URL scheme, app links, universal links) it makes sense to use some services for link generation that will take of all the appropriate configuration and behavior. Branch.io and Firebase Dynamic Links are well-known services used to organize deep linking in mobile.
Secondly, what if the app is not installed and a user is trying to open the link on a mobile device? Of course, it can be opened in a browser but your goal is a new app install. Correctly set up deep link should lead a user to the App Store or Play Market. The user has to install the app and after launching it, a screen corresponding to the link destination has to be opened. This mechanism is called deferred deep linking and is very important for the complete user experience.
Thirdly, collect and track the information that can be passed on the link. Usually, this information is about a marketing campaign, a source where the link was shared and any other data. It is called link attribution. For instance, if you collect the info about the source where a user gets the app you can build specific flows for this particular user. Also, an attribution that was tracked helps to understand which channels work better the app. In general, gather as much info about the user as possible. You might not have an idea on how to use it now, but in future, it can become the source for putting your product to the next level.

Do cross apps promotion

Sometimes it happens that the product has so many cool features and some of these features can live separately and bring enough context to the user. Having such a situation with one of the apps that we were building we decided to develop so-called ‘Apps ecosystem’ - a series of apps that have a single feature taken from the main app. To describe a technical and architectural side of this movement we would need to write a few more articles, so let’s concentrate on a growth part. The main goal was to publish this app separately with a different set of keywords used in a description. It is more related to iOS apps as iTunes has a very small limit of characters for keywords. This way we increased the probability that our app will match more search queries. All ‘small’ apps allow users to do only a part of actions that product is able to do. The user is informed about some extra functionality in the main app and is kindly asked to install it as well.

Summary

We are not professional growth hackers or marketing experts. All we have is just an experience working on different products and watching how they grow. Of course, each of the points that we described in this article made an influence on growth and success of the products. That’s why we found it interesting to share this experience and hope it would help someone to reach or even exceed the goals. Have a happy growth!

Techmagic - Good&Co case study