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The Successful App Cycle
The Successful
App Cycle v1.7
Bilal Zaheer
June, 2019
The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle
Perfect Apps Don’t Guarantee Success
Over 60,000 apps are uploaded to App
Store each month and an even larger
number on Google Play. This makes it
extremely difficult for any app to stand
out or even be visible to users.
Even the most well thought out and
perfectly made apps may not stand a
chance without a well planned and
executed strategy. Majority of them
end up being “zombie” apps.
Although it’s a highly volatile
scene, certain patterns have
emerged over the past years
that do significantly increase
the prospects for any app.
Not surprisingly, these patterns
for success have much to do with
good marketing strategy, closely
tracking the important KPIs and
continuous enhancements to the
product.The most important factor for
success of an app is its active
users.
bilalbz@gmail.com 2
The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle
Developing the app is only the first step in the marathon.
Typical Lifecycle of a Mobile App
Launch Discovery Traction &
Acquisition
Retention Half Life AnalysisMVP
Measure Everything
Enhance For Next MVP
bilalbz@gmail.com 3
The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle
Apps that do not generate enough downloads to make it to any of the 39,000 top
lists on App Store.
This makes it very unlikely that such an app will be discovered and installed by
users, resulting in near zero organic growth.
To make it to one of the top lists, an app has to be downloaded 80-100k within the
last 24 hours.
Zombie Apps
In Feb 2015, 83% of the apps in App
Store were Zombies, compared to
74% in Jan 2014.
Primary reason: Poor “Discoverability”.
- Adjust / Tech Crunch
bilalbz@gmail.com 4
The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle
The time it takes an app to decline to half of its peak MAU is considered its half-life.
Just over 50% of all apps reach their half life after 3 months.
Investing in growing MAU to highest peak possible, will result in a longer half-life.
Half-Life of Mobile Apps
Category Half Life (months)
News 7
Health, Fitness, Medical 6
Business & Communication 6
Tools / Utility Apps 5.5
Travel 4
Lifestyle 4
Media 4
Shopping 4
Social 3
Games 2
Peak MAU
Over 10,000 5
Less than 10,000 3
OS
iOS 4
Android 3
bilalbz@gmail.com 5
The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle
Maintaining retention and revenue, is a continuous iterative process,
even more so for growth.
Maximum ROI can be achieved by following a well planned cycle of:
measure > market > enhance
Retention & Revenue Wave
ActiveUsers/Revenue
No. of Months
bilalbz@gmail.com 6
The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle
Apps that are removed either by App Store or by publishers themselves. Either
because they are in violation of terms & conditions of App Store, or discontinued
by the publisher/developer.
Over 20% of the apps are never opened more than once after download
Dead Apps
Category # Dead Apps Live Apps % Dead Apps
Games 65,643 237,389 21.7
Lifestyle 31,537 111,524 22
Entertainment 31,283 93,934 25
Education 30,261 128,823 19
Business 26,440 117,456 18.4
Utilities 21,701 65,380 24.9
Books 21,645 58,583 27
Kids 13,493 131,581 9.3
Travel 13,244 61,111 17.8
bilalbz@gmail.com 7
The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle
The AARRR metrics is one of the most effective framework, during the growth period.
This is the approached advised by Dave McClure, founder of 500 Startups.
This framework also coincides more directly with the steps of a user funnel.
The Pirate Metrics - AARRR
Acquisition Activation Retention Revenue Referral
User Funnel
No.ofUsers
Value of User
bilalbz@gmail.com 8
The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle
AARRR – Making The Connection
Acquisition
Activation
Retention
Revenue
Referral
How do users become aware of you?
SEO, SEM, Widgets, Email, PR, Campaigns, Blogs…
Do drive-by visitors subscribe, use etc.?
Design, Features, Tone, Compensation, Affirmation…
Does a one-time user become engaged?
Notifications, Alerts, Reminders, Emails, Updates…
Do you make money from user activity?
Transactions, Clicks, Subscriptions, DLC, Analytics…
Do users promote your product?
Email, Widgets, Campaigns, Likes, Referral Traffic, Affiliates…
bilalbz@gmail.com 9
The Successful App Cycle
“What I learned from Rockefeller that’s off-the-hook
important is; You need to know exactly where you
stand in a business at all times. Measure everything,
because everything that is measured and watched
improves.
- Bob Parsons, Founder Go Daddy
bilalbz@gmail.com 10
The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle
Tracking and optimizing for the right metrics is the key to acquiring and keeping users.
A careful selection of metrics and assigning suitable targets to them will result in KPIs that help
measure achievement your goals.
Traction
• Acquisitions (downloads per source)
• Referrals (Virality)
Retention
• Number of Times Accessed After Installation
• Monthly / Daily Active Users
Engagement
• Session Time + Session Gap
• Social Shares
• Screen Flow
Primary KPIs – Phase I
Over 80,000 downloads are required within the
last 24 hours to remain in an App Store Top List.
Over 20% of the apps are never
opened more than once. 60% of
them are opened 10 times or less.
Engagement directly feeds into
retention as well as revenue.
Jeff Bezos insisted on measuring
every move made by the users, when
Amazon.com was being developed.
bilalbz@gmail.com 11
The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle
Loyalty
• Permissions Granted (e.g. access to Facebook info)
• Referrals (Virality)
Revenue
• Lifetime Value
• Total / Monthly Subscriptions
• Total / Monthly “Pay Per Post” Purchases
• Conversion Rate
Performance
• Response Time (of backend system
Primary KPIs – Phase I
Direct indication of
user’s trust in the app.
Referrals not only build traction
they are also an indication of user’s
interest in the app and loyalty.
Best indicator of ROI in general,
and how much more can be spent
on additional acquisition.
Slow response time will
quickly lose user-base.
bilalbz@gmail.com 12
The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle
“Marketing has always been about the
same thing – who your customers are
and where they are.”
- Noah Kagan, Founder AppSumo
bilalbz@gmail.com 13
The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle
Putting Things Into Action
MARKETINGANALYTICS
Real Time Analytics
Funnel Management
User Segmentation
Engagement Analysis
Lifetime Value tracking
Acquisition Management
Personalized In-App Messaging
Push Messaging
A/B Testing
Location & Behavioral Targeting
Get Insight
Take Action
bilalbz@gmail.com 14
The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle
Bilal Zaheer – Chief Strategy Officer
bilalbz@gmail.com 15
Entered the world of
programming in 1984 at
the age of 12, by selling
off all his toys to get a
Commodore 64.
Started developing web applications in 1994 as an
undergrad student of Computer Science. The only
graphical web browser in existence was Mosaic.
Jerry and David had just dropped out of Stanford
to build their web directory which was later
renamed “Yahoo!”.
As regional development manager, one
of the key persons responsible for
establishing the Asia-Pacific presence
of the world’s leading travel portal,
Travelocity. A $70 million project
financed by 11 leading regional airlines
of Asia-Pacific.
Lead all online activities for 15 countries in 5
languages for Philips Electronics, Asia-Pacific,
including online campaign design and
development, and online CRM with assistance
from the world’s leading agencies including
Ogilvy & Mather and Tribal DDB, and tech
support from Atos Origin, IBM and HP.
Established his digital agency in Singapore while doing
his MBA in 2005, that specialized in social apps.
Generated over $5 million through the agency and won
the coveted right to be the authorized regional vendor
for Philips Electronics, Covidien (formerly Tyco
Medical), and Ministry of Youth and Culture.

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The Successful App Cycle v1.7

  • 1. The Successful App Cycle The Successful App Cycle v1.7 Bilal Zaheer June, 2019
  • 2. The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle Perfect Apps Don’t Guarantee Success Over 60,000 apps are uploaded to App Store each month and an even larger number on Google Play. This makes it extremely difficult for any app to stand out or even be visible to users. Even the most well thought out and perfectly made apps may not stand a chance without a well planned and executed strategy. Majority of them end up being “zombie” apps. Although it’s a highly volatile scene, certain patterns have emerged over the past years that do significantly increase the prospects for any app. Not surprisingly, these patterns for success have much to do with good marketing strategy, closely tracking the important KPIs and continuous enhancements to the product.The most important factor for success of an app is its active users. bilalbz@gmail.com 2
  • 3. The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle Developing the app is only the first step in the marathon. Typical Lifecycle of a Mobile App Launch Discovery Traction & Acquisition Retention Half Life AnalysisMVP Measure Everything Enhance For Next MVP bilalbz@gmail.com 3
  • 4. The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle Apps that do not generate enough downloads to make it to any of the 39,000 top lists on App Store. This makes it very unlikely that such an app will be discovered and installed by users, resulting in near zero organic growth. To make it to one of the top lists, an app has to be downloaded 80-100k within the last 24 hours. Zombie Apps In Feb 2015, 83% of the apps in App Store were Zombies, compared to 74% in Jan 2014. Primary reason: Poor “Discoverability”. - Adjust / Tech Crunch bilalbz@gmail.com 4
  • 5. The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle The time it takes an app to decline to half of its peak MAU is considered its half-life. Just over 50% of all apps reach their half life after 3 months. Investing in growing MAU to highest peak possible, will result in a longer half-life. Half-Life of Mobile Apps Category Half Life (months) News 7 Health, Fitness, Medical 6 Business & Communication 6 Tools / Utility Apps 5.5 Travel 4 Lifestyle 4 Media 4 Shopping 4 Social 3 Games 2 Peak MAU Over 10,000 5 Less than 10,000 3 OS iOS 4 Android 3 bilalbz@gmail.com 5
  • 6. The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle Maintaining retention and revenue, is a continuous iterative process, even more so for growth. Maximum ROI can be achieved by following a well planned cycle of: measure > market > enhance Retention & Revenue Wave ActiveUsers/Revenue No. of Months bilalbz@gmail.com 6
  • 7. The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle Apps that are removed either by App Store or by publishers themselves. Either because they are in violation of terms & conditions of App Store, or discontinued by the publisher/developer. Over 20% of the apps are never opened more than once after download Dead Apps Category # Dead Apps Live Apps % Dead Apps Games 65,643 237,389 21.7 Lifestyle 31,537 111,524 22 Entertainment 31,283 93,934 25 Education 30,261 128,823 19 Business 26,440 117,456 18.4 Utilities 21,701 65,380 24.9 Books 21,645 58,583 27 Kids 13,493 131,581 9.3 Travel 13,244 61,111 17.8 bilalbz@gmail.com 7
  • 8. The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle The AARRR metrics is one of the most effective framework, during the growth period. This is the approached advised by Dave McClure, founder of 500 Startups. This framework also coincides more directly with the steps of a user funnel. The Pirate Metrics - AARRR Acquisition Activation Retention Revenue Referral User Funnel No.ofUsers Value of User bilalbz@gmail.com 8
  • 9. The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle AARRR – Making The Connection Acquisition Activation Retention Revenue Referral How do users become aware of you? SEO, SEM, Widgets, Email, PR, Campaigns, Blogs… Do drive-by visitors subscribe, use etc.? Design, Features, Tone, Compensation, Affirmation… Does a one-time user become engaged? Notifications, Alerts, Reminders, Emails, Updates… Do you make money from user activity? Transactions, Clicks, Subscriptions, DLC, Analytics… Do users promote your product? Email, Widgets, Campaigns, Likes, Referral Traffic, Affiliates… bilalbz@gmail.com 9
  • 10. The Successful App Cycle “What I learned from Rockefeller that’s off-the-hook important is; You need to know exactly where you stand in a business at all times. Measure everything, because everything that is measured and watched improves. - Bob Parsons, Founder Go Daddy bilalbz@gmail.com 10
  • 11. The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle Tracking and optimizing for the right metrics is the key to acquiring and keeping users. A careful selection of metrics and assigning suitable targets to them will result in KPIs that help measure achievement your goals. Traction • Acquisitions (downloads per source) • Referrals (Virality) Retention • Number of Times Accessed After Installation • Monthly / Daily Active Users Engagement • Session Time + Session Gap • Social Shares • Screen Flow Primary KPIs – Phase I Over 80,000 downloads are required within the last 24 hours to remain in an App Store Top List. Over 20% of the apps are never opened more than once. 60% of them are opened 10 times or less. Engagement directly feeds into retention as well as revenue. Jeff Bezos insisted on measuring every move made by the users, when Amazon.com was being developed. bilalbz@gmail.com 11
  • 12. The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle Loyalty • Permissions Granted (e.g. access to Facebook info) • Referrals (Virality) Revenue • Lifetime Value • Total / Monthly Subscriptions • Total / Monthly “Pay Per Post” Purchases • Conversion Rate Performance • Response Time (of backend system Primary KPIs – Phase I Direct indication of user’s trust in the app. Referrals not only build traction they are also an indication of user’s interest in the app and loyalty. Best indicator of ROI in general, and how much more can be spent on additional acquisition. Slow response time will quickly lose user-base. bilalbz@gmail.com 12
  • 13. The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle “Marketing has always been about the same thing – who your customers are and where they are.” - Noah Kagan, Founder AppSumo bilalbz@gmail.com 13
  • 14. The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle Putting Things Into Action MARKETINGANALYTICS Real Time Analytics Funnel Management User Segmentation Engagement Analysis Lifetime Value tracking Acquisition Management Personalized In-App Messaging Push Messaging A/B Testing Location & Behavioral Targeting Get Insight Take Action bilalbz@gmail.com 14
  • 15. The Successful App CycleThe Successful App Cycle Bilal Zaheer – Chief Strategy Officer bilalbz@gmail.com 15 Entered the world of programming in 1984 at the age of 12, by selling off all his toys to get a Commodore 64. Started developing web applications in 1994 as an undergrad student of Computer Science. The only graphical web browser in existence was Mosaic. Jerry and David had just dropped out of Stanford to build their web directory which was later renamed “Yahoo!”. As regional development manager, one of the key persons responsible for establishing the Asia-Pacific presence of the world’s leading travel portal, Travelocity. A $70 million project financed by 11 leading regional airlines of Asia-Pacific. Lead all online activities for 15 countries in 5 languages for Philips Electronics, Asia-Pacific, including online campaign design and development, and online CRM with assistance from the world’s leading agencies including Ogilvy & Mather and Tribal DDB, and tech support from Atos Origin, IBM and HP. Established his digital agency in Singapore while doing his MBA in 2005, that specialized in social apps. Generated over $5 million through the agency and won the coveted right to be the authorized regional vendor for Philips Electronics, Covidien (formerly Tyco Medical), and Ministry of Youth and Culture.