5 tips for mobile app growth hacking success

July 28, 2015

Laura Perez

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Growth hacking. It’s an unusual term and one that can have an elusive definition, but in the world of mobile, a good growth hacker can be the difference between success or failure.

But what are the secrets to growth hacking success? And how can you go about turning it to your company’s advantage? Here are five top tips for hacking your way to the top.

1) Understand what growth hacking is 

Before you kick off with your efforts for finding a growth hacker, it’s worth understanding what one is. And there isn’t much better a place to start than Quicksprout’s article on its origins.

Outlining how the term arrived on the scene in 2010, Quicksprout’s definition of what a growth hacker actually is must be your starting point for working one into your line up.

While they may be involved heavily with marketing, a growth hacker is meant to be a role that exists outside of the discipline. Striving for growth across the whole company by finding shortcuts, tricks and opportunities in the market, growth hacking isn’t just a job role; it’s a state of mind about probing for growth opportunities across a company.

Importantly, a growth hacker isn’t just a marketer with coding experience. Though it is obviously helpful for any mobile employee to understand the tech they use, growth hackers will use whatever methods they can find to stoke growth – including coding but also stretching to marketing, PR, publicity stunts, word of mouth, mobile advertising, press outreach and much more.

2) Encourage a hacking mentality in your business

If growth hacking is a state of mind, then it is something worth encouraging across your business and not just in the growth hacking role.

While a growth hacker will have particular interest in growing the businesses user base and financial performance, they will have a lot more success if the rest of the business buys into the approach.

This can manifest itself in a number of ways. First, it’s encouraging to have a company culture where people are regularly on the look out for information to spark ideas. Encouraging employees to share information with one another to help identify opportunities is one such way to do this, institutionalizing the search for a market advantage from the code room to the board room.

Second, growth hackers will support from a culture that fosters a spirit of experimentation. Taking advantage of new, potentially risky, opportunities requires bravery across the business to allow for failures and mistakes to happen. 

Allocating budget for experimental budget spend, allowing your employees to make riskier moves and encouraging media outreach are just a couple of ways you can do this. But the main thing is to do it. Without these opportunities to experiment, no growth hacker will be able to flourish in any business.

3) Measure as much as possible

That said, experimentation does not mean shooting in the dark. The best growth hackers will actively seek to measure how they perform and you should do your best to facilitate this.

There are a number of obvious and less obvious ways to do this. In-app analytics is one of the clearer ways to do this, allowing you to see if your growth hacker’s spend on ads in a new channel or integration of a new social media option yielded results.

However, with the role of a growth hacker often spanning across the business, there are a number of other things you should be looking to that may not seem so obvious. Social media mentions, use of your hashtag or simply the use of your company name online is one way to do this.

But there are plenty more. Google Alerts will help you measure whether that publicity stunt caught the attention of the headline writers or not. Searches through Twitch will help you find out if that Youtuber did pick your app up. And spying your app on the front page of Reddit will probably mean more success than seeing it mentioned in a corner of the Wall Street Journal.

4) Test, iterate and improve your efforts

It can be tough to measure the effects of a growth hacker, but it is important to do so to help them improve their work. Although a growth hacker needn’t necessarily be a coder, having the mentality of a QA tester who relentlessly checks to see if their cross business efforts are working or not is crucial to success.

So encourage testing and iteration across your business. Allocating time so that your design team can work on advertising creative with your growth hacker is a great way to ensure you improve creating performance. Sitting down with the PR team to work out which journalists ran your story or not can be a great way to build relationships with the journalists who care about your story. And carefully analyzing the performance of each advertising channel you use will help you spend more effectively across the company.

Growth hacking relies on the cycle of exploration, measurement and iteration. Encouraging it from the beginning will help it to succeed further down the line.

5) Always look to the future

Finally, a growth hacker and a business that wants to hack growth always needs to be looking ahead. We all know that Facebook is a top mobile ads platform right now, but what will grow the most in the next two years? TechCrunch might be the biggest media site at the moment, but is there a disruptor waiting in the wings? And is a feature story there even as valuable as getting a mention in one of the institutional newspapers?

These kind of questions can only be answered by ranging into the future and by encouraging trying just about everything out. The concept of the first mover advantage as a way of achieving success doesn’t just apply to what app or product you ship; it applies as much to disciplines such as marketing or project management.

So always be willing to look out for the next big thing. Exploring the new frontiers of everything from social networking sites to new tools such as Slack (who has, incidentally, grown enormously in a short amount of time) could give you that cutting edge; it’s that a growth hacker is ultimately responsible for finding.

In: Marketing

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