When you study the successful apps and their history of how they got their first million customers, you can see many common threads between them.
In this article, I touch upon three such channels that will help you get your marketing started and help you scale user growth. Two factors play a key role here. One is focus. Working on these channels alone will ensure focus in your activities. Secondly, these channels bring in predictability in growth and user acquisition.
One important point to note is that none of these factors will add numbers to your growth if your app doesn’t solve a problem for your customers. The premise is that you’ve built an app that your customers want.
1. Content marketing
There are two ways to approach content marketing.
One is to create a ton of fantastic content on your own blog and as guest posts. This helps you build credibility and establish yourself as an industry thought leader. Interesting content pulls people to your blog and in turn helps you get more click-throughs to your app. Creating content that people are reading and sharing will also help you get bonus points in your search-engine rankings.
You can also share curated content with your audience through social media and email. You essentially keep your audience constantly engaged with your brand to convert users sitting on the fence, over time. Use Foster to discover great content to share within your industry.
2. Paid acquisition
The most predictable means of acquiring users is through paid placements across search (Google, Bing), social (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and through means of retargeting and banner ads.
If you do have a budget set aside for ad spends, typically spending a greater amount on one day yields better results than spending a small amount across days or weeks.
Many app developers have been known to spend a huge amount of money within a very short period of time to give a considerable boost to download numbers. This creates an upward trajectory so quickly that Apple or Google could in turn put your app on their featured lists.
While this is one of the most predictable methods, it can also be one of the most expensive means to acquire users. As long as the customer lifetime value is greater than the cost of acquisition of the customer, this should be your preferred medium to draw downloads consistently. A good, profitable ratio would be three to one.
3. Viral loops
Many would argue that viral is a result of word of mouth, which grows from a fantastic product or a great campaign. In my opinion, it is a combination of both. If it’s just the result of a great campaign, you may see a spike in the short term, but definitely see a downward trend in the long term.
Word of mouth is most often engineered or designed within the system through viral loops. You need to enable your users to spread the message about your app to others. You see many successful apps doing it all the time.
Andrew Chen describes viral loops as "steps a user goes through between entering the site/app to inviting the next set of new users." There are many examples of viral loops used by many successful apps, such as Dropbox giving free extra space to you and your invited friend, and Runkeeper pushing out your stats on your social profiles for vanity, thus attracting other users.
Remember, the best way to get the max out of your marketing efforts is to focus on the one that works.