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Mobile-App-Developer-AdviceSo often I meet promising young entrepreneurs who are building equally promising mobile applications that are missing three key features:

  1. an inherent mechanism for user growth
  2. an inherent mechanism for user retention
  3. measurement and analytics

When I press them on why they are NOT including these traits they explain that they PLAN to include them sometime in the future. I will argue that your MVP must include all three if you want a chance at success. If you can’t include these features from DAY ONE – don’t bother to build your app.

User Growth: There are scores of mobile applications on the market that are well designed and very useful – the problem is that you’ll never hear about them. There are simply too many apps vying for too few users. Even BIG brands have a hard time attracting users – why would an independent developer think he would have a snowball’s chance in hell at success? I suspect the same psychology that causes people to buy lottery tickets is at work in the minds of developers – there is a CHANCE they could win and so they roll the dice.

You should consider designing your app in a way that it becomes more useful when your user gets his friends to use the app as well. This is the most simple way to ensure that each download will result in multiple downloads. You might consider creating incentives for getting people to help you drive downloads – sweepstakes, premium features and so on.

My advice to mobile developers is simple: do not start building your application UNTIL you have a well thought out mechanism specifically designed to drive user growth. If you can’t come up with anything inherent in the design of your product that would drive user growth – don’t build the app – start working on something new.

User Retention: Getting users is actually EASIER than keep users engaged in your app. It is heart breaking to acquire a user only to realize they have forgotten that you exist a month later. You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the majority of apps are only opened once. Don’t make that mistake – create a reason to keep in touch with you users. Create excuses to contact your users via push, text or email on a regular basis. The contacts need to be relevant and wanted – make them regular. This is why Facebook and LinkedIn have such great cohort numbers.

Again, my advice to mobile developers is simple: do not start building your application UNTIL you have a well thought out mechanism specifically designed to drive user engagement. If you can’t come up with anything inherent in the design of your product that would drive user engagement – you simply aren’t trying. Get back to work.

Measurement: Don’t just focus on ‘Vanity Metrics’ like downloads, total sessions, total first time users – instead focus on REAL Discovery Analytics. Things like cohort-based analysis – quantify exactly how specific groups of users continue to use and engage with your app and which groups generate revenue over time, user-centric funnel analysis – understand how distinct user segments covert on specific goals and ARPU – calculate the average revenue you are receiving across all, or segments of your users. The reason? You need to know how well you are doing BEFORE you pivot, before you update before you make a change. By constantly measuring you will know what works and what doesn’t work.

At the end of the day – set yourself up for success.