Mobile app growth is the result of a careful and balanced strategy that touches on different areas. Too often when thinking about mobile growth, app developers tend to focus on one or two areas, rather than approaching it as a combination of activities. Be it for lack of resources or simply knowledge, an approach that is not holistic will not give all the results needed in the mid- or long-term.
At REPLUG, our priority is to bring immediate and tangible results to our partners. Although there are different growth models in the AdTech industry, we feel that most of them are too complicated to be implemented effectively in companies of all sizes.
For this reason, we decided to develop the Growth Rocket Model.
What is the Growth Rocket Model?
The Growth Rocket Model has been developed to support app developers identifying what matters when it comes to define the best app growth strategy.
At first glance, the model might seem over-simplistic, however, it considers all the important areas that app developers and companies with a mobile app need to consider and work on when thinking about growth. Like in a real-life rocket, each element plays a critical role in creating a solid strategy for long-term growth.
Elements of the Rocket
The elements in the Growth Rocket Model are interconnected and cannot be considered as stand-alone parts. Like in an orchestra (or a rocket), these function well and bring the right results, only when in sync.
Let’s start by having a look at each component and what they mean in the app growth strategy.
The (digital) infrastructure should be considered the “engine” of the rocket. Without a proper setup, a mobile app will have difficulties reaching orbit and continue for the stars.
The infrastructure of a mobile application consists of identifying all needed SDK (Software Development Kit) to create a solid structure on which the rocket can be built upon. When talking about SDKs, especially in the set up phase, we often refer to technologies that can support the following activities:
- Tracking & Attribution (also known as MMP)
At REPLUG, as we focus mainly on acquisition and retention activities, we believe the above-mentioned infrastructure is crucial for any app developer that is looking to grow its user base. It goes without saying that, depending on the type of application we are talking about and the focus we have as developers, we might also want to consider the following SDK:
Lastly, the infrastructure of a mobile application (like any other part of the Growth Rocket Model) is not a “one-time-setup-and-forget activity“. As a matter of fact, the structural need from a tech but also a marketing perspective change as we grow our business. In fact, once we move onto the retention phase in our growth path, we might start considering other important SDK for our digital infrastructure, namely:
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
- A/B Testing
The next part to consider is the body of the rocket, which is User Acquisition. When talking about acquiring users, we refer to several activities that not only include paid marketing campaigns. In fact, at REPLUG, we refer to:
- Paid User Acquisition
- Organic User Acquisition
- Store Listing
- Conversion Funnel
Each of these components plays a crucial role in growing the mobile app in the right way. To understand better the impact of these and how they work together, let’s take a deeper look at them.
1. Paid User Acquisition
Acquisition activities help app developers to acquire new user on the so-called paid channels. These activities are an important part of the overall app growth strategy, as very few mobile apps can manage to grow exclusively organically.
Typical paid user acquisition channels are:
- Social (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap, TikTok, LinkedIn)
- Search (Google, Apple Search Ads)
- Native (Taboola, Outbrain, Plista)
- AdNetworks (SDK-integrated networks, such as Applovin, Vungle, AdColony, etc…)
- Affiliate Network (API-integrated or S2S networks)
Each one of these channels gives app developers a different level of transparency and control over the bids and optimization activities.
Here below, a visual overview:
At REPLUG, we tend to focus on channels that allow a good combination of transparency and control to optimize acquisition activities in the best way. There are, however, two things to keep in mind when it comes to paid UA:
- An omnichannel approach to paid user acquisition is paramount to reach good results in both short and long-term results.
- The less transparent a channel is, the more likely it is to experience fraudulent traffic.
2. Organic User Acquisition
When talking about organic growth, we refer to App Store Optimization and, to a certain degree, also to Search Engine Optimization.
App Store Optimization is that task of optimizing both on- and off-page factors of the mobile app in order to improve the overall ranking of the app in both Stores, but also for specific user search terms or keywords.
Depending on the Store of reference, on-page factors have a different influence on the app ranking. Here below we take a look at both iOS and Android.
iOS on-page Factors to keep an eye on:
- Application Name
- Keywords area
- Developer Name (URL slug)
- In-App Purchase
Android on-page Factors to keep an eye on:
- URL Slug or App Link
- Application Name
- Developer Name
- Short Description
When considering on-page elements, we need to remember also that the visual part is very important. Although it doesn’t have the same impact on the ranking, it does help to improve CTR and conversion rate of both organic and paid traffic.
Lastly, there are also off-page factors to keep in mind when working on the optimization of the Store Listing. Namely, we should take a look at:
- Users reviews, which allow us to identify new keywords that our user base might be using to look for our mobile app
- SEO activities to our App Page, this can simply be links that drive traffic the Store Listing
3. Store Listing
In our Growth Rocket Model, the Store Listings are “windows” that allow users to take a look at our app. Although this is rightly often associated with App Store Optimization activities, at REPLUG, we decided to have a separate element specifically for this, because we believe the Store Listings have an impact also on paid activities.
The app page in both the App Store or the Google Play Store has several factors that help us communicate our value to users who land on it. These can be grouped, however, in two main areas:
- Visual Communication (Icon, Video, Screenshots)
- Written Communication (Title, Subtitle, Description, Short Description)
4. Conversion Funnel
The user conversion funnel includes all the steps from awareness to engagement. At REPLUG, we use the conversion funnel to understand step-by-step how a mobile application works, what touch points it has with its audience (pre- and post-acquisition), and where it needs attention in order to improve its performance.
A conversion funnel analysis is important for app developers to create also transparency on KPIs crucial for app growth activities. In collaboration with our partners, we work on dissecting each step a user has to grow through the funnel and then together we prioritize actions to be implemented.
UX & UI
User experience and interface are “side” elements in the overall app growth strategy, however, these are also to be considered as important as others for converting general users into paying users.
We decided to make these two elements the fins as they help to stabilize the rocket ship in reaching the right objectives and results in a mobile application that needs to become a sustainable business in the long-term.
Although similar, they shouldn’t be considered the same. In fact, user experience refers to how end-users interact with our mobile app. The user interface, on the other hand, takes into consideration how the design visually guides the users through the different interfaces of the app.
At REPLUG, we pride to have a team of experts in these fields to support our partners in the best decisions to adapt the experience and design of their app to convert more users.
The last part of our Growth Rocket Model takes into consideration the “retention” factor that many app developers often times forget. After acquiring users across different channels (paid and organically), we need to make sure that we keep them engaged so that we can increase their LTV.
When it comes to Engagement, there are mainly two activities that we refer to:
- Mobile Customer Relationship Management (mCRM)
Although engagement activities might be a “problem of tomorrow” for newly launched mobile apps or applications that are in the growing phase, it is fundamental to start thinking about this from day-1.
Let’s take a brief look at each one of these separately.
Mobile Customer Relationship Management (mCRM)
Engaging with the existing user base through in-app messages, push notifications or emails, it’s also known as Customer Relationship Management. Although, some app developers might think that CRM activities can be fully managed with a few 3rd party tools, such as an email service in combination with hard-coded push notification, it is recommended, especially when scaling, to use a dedicated tool.
There are different options on the market. Although they might seem all the same it’s important to keep in mind usability and functionalities that fit our needs. At REPLUG, we help our partners to identify the best solution based on their present needs but keeping in mind what will come in the next few months of operation.
Lastly, it’s crucial to consider the following thing. If the mobile application is the core of our business or it represents a significant source of revenue for the organization, we need to implement a mobile-specialized CRM to take care of these type activities. We cannot think to reach the same results with a tool that specializes in desktop solutions.
Retargeting & Re-engagement
These two activities, although similar, are different in terms of what kind of existing users app developers need to re-engage with and campaign goals they need to set. Understanding the right way to set up both of these activities is crucial to increase the audience engagement in the app
Retargeting and re-engagement activities apply to almost all type of mobile verticals. Our objective, when supporting our partners, is to identify the best setup and platform to use for reaching in the most efficient and effective way the intended user base.
When thinking about app growth strategy, app developers need to consider also two external factors that have an impact on growth activities. Although, these are not often controllable, it is worth considering them in the overall picture to structure a strategy that will be successful.
These two factors are:
- Market (Conditions)
External market conditions need to be considering when planning a mobile growth strategy. At REPLUG, we find this element, together with the competitive environment, crucial for success, as app developers cannot only focus on internal factors.
The market represents what happens outside our entity. It is uncontrollable but somehow predictable (if we don’t consider extreme conditions). A market analysis combined with the growth strategy planned can yield transparency and better organizational structure.
The competitive environment also plays a crucial role in the type of strategy we plan and activities we intend to implement. Understanding who are the main players in a market/vertical and how they currently operate, can give app developers several useful insights on how to plan for the best.
At REPLUG, we pride to have cross-vertical experience which allows us to give our partners the best possible overview and course of actions that should be taken to be successful.
The Growth Rocket Model has been developed to support app developers and organizations that launch mobile apps to identify and structure their app growth strategy in the best possible way. In combination with internal and external resources, this model can lead to immediate improvements in results, but also define a long-term strategy that creates value.