updated icon April 21 2016

The usage of mobile devices has increased exponentially over the years. Be it for accessing the internet, a few daily chores like making lists or just for entertainment, mobile has practically taken over desktop.

But the truth is that businesses too haven’t been slow on catching up with the trend. Today, there are hundreds of new apps that are getting introduced to the mobile stores – both iOS and Android. While some of them become an instant hit with their target market, there are those who aren’t able to get past the initial handful of users.

This is where the mobile growth stack comes in. Created and shared by Andy Carvell on Medium, the aim of the stack is to encourage businesses to consider all possible elements associated to their app while strategizing their growth. Some elements of the stack though may or may not be relevant, or might come in at different stages for a business.

Here’s what the latest mobile growth stack (published in 2015) looks like:

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The mobile growth stack basically takes into account the following:

  • The channels an app can use for growth
  • User acquisition tactics
  • User engagement & retention tactics
  • App monetization
  • Insights & analytics for growth

Acquisition, engagement, retention and monetization play the core role in the sustainable growth of an app. While acquisition can be fueled by unlimited marketing budgets, the other growth elements require smart strategising.

The user acquisition and retention challenges

With a number of apps offering the same or a similar set of features, smartphone users are not bound to use only a particular app for a specific use. They are more than willing to try new applications as long as they promise to offer them a better experience or caters to a trending need. This has led to an increased mobile user acquisition challenge.

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A standard approach that most businesses take after launching an app is to market it aggressively – even if that means setting aside more budget to simply acquire new users. While they end up spending thousands of dollars trying to reach a modest number of downloads, they lose most of these users in just a few days. This is either because of their inability to offer the desired experience or simply the lack of an engagement strategy aimed at retention.

According to The State of App Marketing, here’s what the retention rate on Android and iOS looks like:

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The solution

In a recent post, we shared how businesses could growth hack their soft launch by engaging their users right from the beginning. But the same needs to hold true even later when the desired number of users are achieved.

“Retaining existing users is 10X cheaper than acquiring new ones and in-app engagement can reduce the cost of user acquisition by 90%”

User acquisition

Opting for paid user acquisition is not always an option. This is an area where GetSocial excels: organic user acquisition. GetSocial makes it easy to introduce your app to new users and acquire them, without seeming too pushy. Here are two proven tactics you could implement:

1. Smart invites
Users are more likely to trust people they know when being suggested an application. In fact, users who are acquired via word of mouth marketing, have double the retention rate than those acquired via other campaigns.

2. Social sharing
Creating in-app referral programs that encourage users to invite or share their app experience with their friends, can be a viral acquisition strategy. But it is important to make it as easy and as personalized as possible. Acquiring users with the help of social media isn’t just cost effective, but also helps boost your brand awareness. This eventually results in reduced cost of acquisition.

3. Cross channel promotions
One of the most cost efficient ways to acquire new users is to promote your app in another app that your business runs. Existing users who are happy with what your previous app offered them, are more likely to convert on the new one.

User retention

User retention is the second most commonly faced challenge in the mobile industry today. With smartphone users having so many options for just about every functionality, there is no holding them back from trying out a new app. But with GetSocial you can keep them engaged longer, increasing your app’s stickiness:

1. Live chats
In-app chats enable you to communicate with your users actively on a one-to-one basis as well as in a group. This helps you collate insightful data about how the user is using the app, what he expects and how you can make the experience better for them.

2. Active communities
Another way to consistently communicate with your users and keep them engaged is to create communities. You could update them about an upcoming feature or share tips on how to make use of a current one more effectively. It also gives you a chance to provide support to users before a bad experience forces them to leave.

3. Webhooks
The GetSocial webhook system allows you to receive all the install events generated via smart invites (refer user acquisition point 1). This helps you identify those users who are actively advocating your app and reward them to keep them motivated. There is nothing better than having a happy customer that chooses you over others.

App monetization

Converting app users into paying customers is always a challenge for businesses. But monetization is important for growth. Here’s how you can use GetSocial for an effective app monetization strategy:

1. Social in-app purchases
Converting your app users into paying customers can be tough. People need to know that there are others like them who are making purchases from your in-app stores to be convinced they are worth it. Including social proof like engagement and endorsements increases your conversions.

2. Deep Linking
The only way you can keep a user hooked to what your business offers is to personalize their experience. With deep linking you can offer a custom experience to every individual. It could be their first app use experience or suggested content based on their level of usage. Personalization helps deliver better user experience and increases sign-up conversions.

And most importantly,

Robust analytics

If you want to leverage the mobile growth stack using the above tactics, it is important to have robust analytics and reporting in place. To optimize each of your campaigns and processes for better results, you need to know exactly which tactic gives results in which direction.

With GetSocial analytics you can track user engagement, performance of various in-app promotions and price points and growth channels (organic and paid) closely. The dashboard offers insightful and actionable insights into user behavior. This helps create campaigns that not just engage them better, but also drive your growth faster.

Over to you

The app market is currently booming. So if you do plan to launch an app for your business soon, ensure that each element that even slightly contributes to the growth of your app is included in your strategy. Missing out the smallest of element could be a missed opportunity to hit the market more effectively!

What have been the common challenges that you faced while following the mobile growth stack and how did (or how do) you plan to overcome them? Do share your experience and tactics with us by dropping a comment in the box below. We’re always up for some interesting app growth discussions!