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Want a successful mobile app? Do what Evernote, Vivino and Pinterest do

By Herbert Bay

Applications have become an integral part of our daily lives. Whether it is checking email, sharing social posts, photos and videos, watching movies or listening to music, apps have had a profound effect on how we live and work.

According to data from Flurry, the number of mobile users are increasing, with 40 percent of the 58 percent total growth in mobile app sessions coming from existing users in 2015.

As we all know, both the Android and iOS App Stores are crowded. To be successful, you need to do more than just develop an app and wait for the money to start rolling in. But with so many mobile apps out there, how does one truly standout?

I spoke with a number of peers from Vivino, ZenFriend and Evernote to get a sampling of opinions.

Build an amazing app
Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” The product comes first and is the most important driver of success. Find a problem and build a great product that solves it.

Heini Zachariassen, cofounder/CEO of Vivino, said, “I would use all my energy on building an amazing product and spend less time on figuring out how to launch it. Find out what the customers need, deliver it and have them be the ambassadors.”

User referrals
Having a great product automatically results in referrals, which can even become the biggest driver of users for successful apps. This means that up to 70 percent of all users come via referrals.

Remo Uherek, founder of ZenFriend, points out, “User referrals trigger the most downloads, especially coming from users with a broad reach such as Loïc Le Meur.”

App Store appearance
“Your app icon, app name and star rating is likely the only information that 90 percent of users will see to make a decision to download or explore your app. If your icon and name doesn’t give people enough of a reason to try your app, you are losing 90 percent of your audience,” said Alex Pachikov, former vice president of partnerships at Evernote.

Hire a good designer for the icon and make sure that the title is catchy. If you do a great job product-wise, you will not have to worry about the rating.

Invest a lot of time and effort for the app description, present your app with the best possible screenshots, and use the right tags. You might want to use tools such as appcodes for app store search engine optimization (SEO).

Featured on App Stores
Great apps will be featured on app stores. In most cases, this comes automatically if you have all of the above. Being featured on the app store is great and will help you to get to the next level.

The really successful apps, however, get more downloads through user referrals. So, again, focus on making your users as happy as they can be.

Content sharing on social networks
Apps such as Pinterest and Vivino have content that can be shared on Facebook and Twitter. This generates visibility and is a powerful organic growth engine.

Make sure to enable mobile deep-linking within your app, so that the shared content opens in the app or directs potential users to the correct location in the app store.

IN CONCLUSION, each of the options that I have mentioned can be put together to build a thorough marketing strategy for your mobile app that does not require large financial outlays.

As with all marketing strategies, you will find that each tactic requires a continuous time investment and active monitoring for maximum benefits.

Herbert Bay is cofounder/CEO of Shortcut Media, a San Francisco-based mobile app marketing company. Reach him at [email protected]