The First 1000 Daily Active Users

As published on Applop Blog on 16th of July 2017

Budding entrepreneurs make the first product prototype, set up a business model, bring together like minded people, revamp the product to align with the market and then: They launch it! The really good products gain traction and catch eyeballs. They may get thousands of downloads in a month with App Store, Play Store, analytics tool graphs shooting the DL bars up. And now comes the bigger challenge…

The classical problem of the contemporary app ecosystem — Retention. For those who are new to this term it simply means:-

How many people are actually coming back to your app over a period of time ?
Increasing platform users. Woohoo !

While the growing rate of signups may mean your product is creating a buzz in the town, they SHOULD ONLY be considered as one of the many pages in the success saga. Unique user metric is important but re-visits is what one should truly watch out for.

Increasing unhappy users. Well…Not so cool

Thinking about Richard Hendricks of Pied Piper fame already ? 
Cool. We’re on the same page.

So what exactly do you want to do to make your first 1000 daily active users feel at home ? To bring them back and compel them to re-use the app over and over again ?

THE ~S.L.I.M.S~ PRINCIPLE

1. Shoutout

But not too loud. Think push notifications, weekly newsletters, blog posts, one stop company wide channel to showcase all the crazy features you’re building this season. Keep them involved, just like your best friends keep you involved. This gives the end users a reason to click on that little pending intent (Android engineers get this) and engage with you for another 1 minute. There you got your session time rolling.

Remember to understand what works the best for you. For example regular push notifications might work well for a content based app, whereas daily/weekly email reports might be enough for a SaaS based business app.

2. Learn

About them. Who is he/she ? Does he fall within your target domain ? What does his profile tell you about him ? What purpose could he solve with your product ? Can you get him the taxi after his movie is over or automate the process of squeezing toothpaste over his toothbrush at 7 A.M in the morning ? Once you have this data you need to convert it to appropriate CTAs (short for Call To Action). This one appears to be a bit tricky and takes time to achieve but once you get this right: Its always right.

Remember to combine this knowledge about your user with Principle 1 above and get guaranteed re-engagement.

3. Incentivise

For using that new set of features in your app. Think closed wallets, daily rewards, referral earning programs. And do not forget to let them spend these earnings to get access to even more cool features. Give them something for exploring different sections of your app. Make it worth their time.

Remember to keep the inbound rewards directly (and smartly) proportional to the outbound rewards. For example a 100 unit reward cash should ideally be granted when your user gets his friend to download your app and use at least 1 feature for the first time. This ensures WIN WIN for all.

4. Move

Towards the user. And move fast. This one’s for the engineering team. The time between clicking a deep link and giving the user a first glance at the results has to be minimal. Ideally between 1–5 seconds. Avoid splash screens and unnecessary network calls in background threads. Go straight for gold: Show the content he wants on the screen.

Remember to stay ahead of the lot by experimenting with cross platform deep linking. For example a bookmark made in the Android version of your app should automatically be able to open on a desktop form factor when used on the Desktop version of the app.

5. Surprise

Yes! My personal favourite. This is the magic moment. What cannot be expected. Remember the one fine morning of 1st April 2017 when Google Maps let you play Pacman on the world map ? Think simple and personal: instant solutions in seconds, meaningful sounds, animations, thank you notes, occasional greetings and more.

Remember to always have something new under the wraps with every significant release version of your product. Unravel it when the time is right. The best example here would be WhatsApp video calls.

These are my 5 SLIMS Principles to get the first 1000 DAUs. The topic gets interesting with each new experiment happening on either side of the world.

Happy to know what worked the best for you :)