Driving Mobile App Growth, Part 1: The Web Advantageby@aleksandramatveeva
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22,243 reads

Driving Mobile App Growth, Part 1: The Web Advantage

by Aleksandra MatveevaSeptember 26th, 2023
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- Exploring web opportunities to support mobile app products - Discussing web strategies to enhance the top of the funnel stage – acquisition - Covering web strategies for the middle and the bottom of the funnel: activation, monetization and core mobile product

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If you've ever worked with mobile apps, chances are high that you've stumbled upon these questions: Do I really need a website? Should I bother with a landing page for my app? And, most importantly, why is advertising for my app so expensive and often ineffective?

In this article, I aim to address all of these questions and demonstrate how web development can be a game-changer for enhancing the growth of your mobile app. We'll explore:

  • The whys of using the web to support your app's growth
  • The practical use cases of web development for apps

In the first part of the use cases section, we'll explore how the web plays a pivotal role in enhancing awareness and user acquisition for mobile products. We'll uncover how web strategies can fuel growth at this crucial stage.

In the second part, we will dive into strategies for activating and monetizing users through web development to support the core products of mobile apps and discover how these tactics can elevate your app's performance and revenue potential.

So, let's kick off by exploring whether you need a website for your app and the reasons behind it.

Why do you need the website or landing page for you app

1. Cheap advertising

Acquiring new users for mobile apps can be significantly more expensive compared to attracting them to a website. While acquiring users for your app through the web layer may involve additional steps before downloading the app, potentially affecting conversion rates, it remains a more cost-effective approach. As a bonus, it provides an opportunity to effectively communicate your product's value through a well-crafted landing page. We'll explore this further in the use cases section.

2. Short development cycle

Websites and landing pages are easy to develop – it is fast, and there are no store guidelines and release rejects. This environment is ideal for testing hypotheses before developing features in the app, with lower implementation and maintenance costs.

3. Diverse Acquisition Strategies

Development of the website or a landing page unlocks a wealth of new ways for you to promote your app, as well as for potential users to discover your product organically: SEO, email marketing, content acquisition funnels and brand management are all at your service.

4. Desktop users reach

While mobile apps primarily target mobile users, a substantial audience of desktop users remains untapped. The good news is that you don't need to create a separate desktop version of your product to reach these users; the web offers various ways to engage them.

Now that we've explored the advantages of harnessing the web for mobile apps let's delve deeper into specific use cases.

Top of the Funnel: Use Cases

Use case #1: Establishing Brand Image and Credibility

One of the struggles for mobile apps trying to increase their user base is standing out from the crowd. When you browse through the app stores, you'll notice thousands of competing apps in the same categories, often offering similar features. To truly stand out, apps must establish a strong brand identity.

One of the foundation stones in doing this is building a website, even if it's a simple one, which would:

  • Convey the superiority of your product.
  • Serve as a platform for engaging with the media and sharing press releases.
  • Acts as an additional hub for showcasing your product's positioning and brand image.

For all these purposes, you don’t need to build a desktop product. The goal is to craft a simple site that supports your brand identity, maintains your unique tone of voice, and facilitates public communication – all essential elements for making your brand memorable and generating excitement around it.

One of the examples is VSCO – this photo editing app has a brand website with a press section, news, and media kit, which helps them in building their identity:

Use case #2: Nurturing an Industry Expertise through Blog

Building on the topic of brand management, using websites to promote apps becomes even more powerful when showcasing industry expertise. Many apps successfully strengthen their product positioning by demonstrating their deep industry knowledge through product blogs and guest publications.

Needless to say, creating industry-specific blog posts helps to improve your SEO and, consequently, expands your reach to both mobile and desktop users organically. Developing a website blog for your app contributes to building awareness and supports your user acquisition strategy.

Here is how Simple app, an intermittent fasting app, leverages this tactic by collaborating with doctors and creating an industry expert blog:

Use case #3: Creating a Content Marketing Funnel

Another content strategy that can be highly effective for a mobile app involves utilizing a tactic commonly employed by SaaS businesses – creating playbooks and gated content. While crafting blog posts helps raise product awareness, offering industry-specific content in exchange for user emails is helpful for your retargeting and email marketing efforts.

You can share your product expertise through materials rich in industry insights that can benefit your potential customers. The key here is to develop content that users find valuable enough to share their contact information with you. In return, you gain warm leads that can be targeted with ads and promotional emails.

Here’s an example from Noom app. They offer a free calorie deficit calculator in return for users' email addresses. Through this approach, they build a list of potentially highly engaged users, enabling them to craft targeted promotional emails or retarget these users with advertisements later on.

Top of the Funnel: Wrapping Up

In this first section on using the web for mobile apps, I have covered the advantages of incorporating a web layer into your application and three effective acquisition tactics for nurturing the growth of mobile app products. Leveraging websites helps in building brand image, nurturing industry expertise, and creating content acquisition funnels. Each use case is a powerful way to boost the growth of your mobile product with minimum development and time investments.

The next part will focus on exploring activation and monetization opportunities, as well as strategies for enhancing your core product with the introduction of web pages for your product.

Middle & Bottom of the Funnel

In this section, we'll explore the approaches for user engagement, both in the middle of the funnel, where users consider various solutions for their needs and at the bottom of the funnel, where users make decisions and become customers. We'll view these stages from the perspective of how web flows can enhance your mobile product growth strategy. I'll be sharing three strategies for activating, monetizing, and improving your core product through web development in support of your app’s growth.

It's a common belief that core engagement and monetization strategies are solely reserved for the core product. While this holds true, there's a vast untapped potential in implementing these strategies even before a user downloads your app. You can harness the power of product activation and monetization right from the web! Let's explore how to make it happen.

Use case #4: Crafting Onboarding Flow

Product managers are aware that to convert a customer, you need to activate them within the product and ensure they grasp its value. Moreover, they understand that the sooner this activation occurs, the better.

Typically, mobile app acquisition flow looks like this:

  1. User sees an ad
  2. Ad redirects to app store
  3. User downloads the app
  4. User starts activating in the product
  5. The user becomes a paying customer

What’s wrong with this flow?

  1. The app developer often ends up overpaying for the ad because it directly leads the user to the app store. This advertising flow is extremely expensive.
  2. Downloading the app doesn't guarantee that the user will use it or make payments. Convincing them to do so is the next task. Unfortunately, the time invested by this user is wasted on redirects to the store and download wait times instead of delivering the product value. So, this user has already made an effort but still has little to no understanding of the product.

So, why invest resources in attracting a "cold" user solely to have them download the app, with the hope of engaging them later? Why not entice the user into an activation flow on the web right from the start?

Here's what this revamped flow will look like:

  1. User sees an ad
  2. Ad opens a web-based onboarding flow
  3. User activates in the product immediately
  4. User then downloads the app
  5. Having a better understanding of the product's value, the user is more inclined to become a paying customer.

Take a look at this web onboarding flow from Flo. They effectively engage users through this web interface before guiding them to the app. Consequently, when users transition to the app, they arrive already activated and are likely more inclined to subscribe to a premium plan.

Use case #5: Introducing the Payment Flow

Another web strategy for mobile apps is to convert users on the website, even before redirecting them to the app. This approach frequently works as an extension of the onboarding flow and helps capture the user right after activating with onboarding.

An additional advantage is that you can avoid revenue sharing with the app store, though it does require integration with a web payment provider. The commissions, however, are notably lower!

Here is how a photo and video editing app, Prequel, brilliantly uses this technique, extending the web onboarding flow with an option to buy a subscription right from the web:

Use case #6: Hypothesis Testing Environment

Last but not least, the web provides a cost-effective environment for testing product hypotheses. App development can be demanding and time-consuming, given the various guidelines and the potential for app store rejection. In contrast, the web offers you the chance to experiment with lightweight product features and select the best ones for implementation in your app.

Middle & Bottom of the Funnel: Wrapping Up

The second part of this article has been dedicated to exploring various methods to enhance conversion rates, retention, and revenue by integrating web flows as a complementary feature to your primary mobile app product.

With the ability to activate and convert users even before they land in your app—by directing them to your landing pages and web flows—you have a powerful tool at your disposal. This approach not only proves effective in capturing new audiences through seamless redirection but also offers a cost-efficient advantage, given that desktop ads are often more budget-friendly than mobile ads.

In Conclusion

This article has explored the advantages of leveraging web strategies to foster the growth of mobile apps. It has also presented six use cases to inspire you to implement these strategies for your own products. These strategies encompass various stages of the product funnel, encompassing awareness, acquisition, activation, and monetization, as well as providing tips for enhancing the core product within your app through cost-effective web experimentation.