All little start-up teams dreams big about downloads pouring in and “discovering” their apps when they launch. In reality, viral growth isn’t a rocket ship explosion. No, it’s a patient process. It’s a steady stream of downloads that grows daily, weekly, monthly—and frequently in response to conscientious marketing efforts.
Organic search traffic doesn’t blast in overnight. And slow growth doesn’t mean you’re failing. If you’re a young startup with limited cash (like us), what methods can you use to grow? What has helped us grow at Fuelzee?
1. Open your ears, get ready to listen
Before your app even goes public, you need to present it to get some feedback. This is absolutely, undeniably critical…but for reasons you might not have guessed. Here are some benefits to careful user-testing.
- You’ll find out if your product has value for your audience.
- Your users will know that you’re really interested in their experience, and they’ll feel connected to you.
- As you incorporate feedback from your initial users, you win their loyalty because they see you care about what they think.
- You have a chance to fix bugs, ensuring a smoother experience for the newer users.
- As your test users ask you questions, you accumulate great data for your FAQ. (This saves on support time later.)
- Feedback from your users also gives you relevant blog post topics.
- Your test users can provide heartfelt testimonials.
We can’t emphasize enough how user-testing, collecting feedback, and incorporating that feedback into your app is absolutely key to your initial growth. Sure, developers love to code. Designers love to design. And it’s all to easy to get lost in an ocean of features without actually listening to what’s relevant to the user experience. So, grow some thick skin, and get ready to take some feedback.
If that means sitting down with groups of soccer moms who don’t know how to use their devices, so be it. Listen patiently to every comment. Write down what they say! Really listen to where the problems are, what the needs are, and when they don’t like something about your product—thank them for their honesty. (It’s saving you big bucks in the long run.) If they can’t use a feature or don’t understand how something works, don’t view them as technologically-challenged. Instead, start thinking about how to make your app usable for everyone.
2. Organize the Feedback
Your feedback will come in various forms, so don’t want to invalidate feedback coming from an unexpected place.
~ Feedback Forum
This is a visible area on your website where you invite feedback about your product. Do some reasearch and find one that meets your needs. It might be a survey you send out occasionally.
~ Twitter & Facebook
Twitter and Facebook pages assist users outside the product. Many users are more comfortable communicating on Twitter about technical issues, and people enjoy the quick human response from someone on your team responding to a tweet or post on Facebook.
Simple but invaluable, make sure your email@example.com is set up. Use this to respond to private questions which may contain personal information, or to share lengthy response to questions other users might not find interesting.
Take away tip: Organize feedback and make note of actionable tasks which come from feedback.
3. Go to Friends First
Your existing network of friends is a great way to start with promoting your app. Pitch your product to these luck early birds and to anyone else you run into. Remember to include:
~ Your family (even the distant cousins)
~ Fellow students, teachers, and any past educators you keep up with.
~ Former coworkers.
~ Friends … anywhere you have them (offline or online)
Your best connections are the ones who will talk about you at events, freely and without reserve. Do you have a buddy in the media, or even someone who will do some guest blogging for you? Call them. The numbers might be small, but the loyalty is high in this group.
Take away tip: The value in positive recommendations from friends can not be overstated.
4. Give a Lecture Somewhere
When diving into a new market, you need to educate your audiences about your product. Go to local creative meet-ups and share with educators, designers and other creative types. Watch their reactions closely and learn from them. You’ll learn things about your product from watching them use it, and their feedback will often be uniquely precise and articulate.
Educators also can bring credibility to your product, so connect with them and encourage them to use your product for free. If they enjoy it, later ask them for a testimonial quote.
Take away tip: Some educators will blog, tweet or otherwise share your product. Ask them for help.
5. Earn Reviews
Encourage your friends to get the ball rolling leaving positive reviews on both blog posts about your product and on the app. Once you’ve gotten one of your educator or creative friends to write about your product, you will see your reviews start to grow.
In the beginning, you will have to solicit (uh-hemm, beg) people to write about you. But eventually, it can snowball and other writers will pick up the blogs and stories about your product. Set up Google alerts so you will always see the freshest blog posts where your product was mentioned. (It’s terribly exciting at first.) Also, thank your authors who write about you via social media. If you do, they’ll likely write about you again.
Take away tip: Ask for reviews until they pour in freely. Thank everyone.
Keep an eye on your growth, and repeat the steps mentioned here. You might be happily surprised that your growth will even come from somewhere unexpected as you cultivate your relationships with your users.