Hack your way to the first 50,000 users for your mobile app

Having a good product and ensuring huge acceptance is a myth. You might have a great product, but it holds no value until there are users. Getting that initial traction will require a lot of sleepless nights. The following points will help reach your first 50,000 users.

You have built your product, figured out your niche and decided your target audience (which will change as your product evolves). So the next obvious step is to reach out to them economically. But how to do that? For this, you need a database.

There are a lot of third-party websites from where you can buy your database. The sanctity of the database is, however, a huge question mark. Research well about the website. If you come up with a 60–70 per cent accurate database, you have done well. The accuracy of email database can be judged by tools like mailtester.com. Creating your own database is ideally the best foot forward. But inbound lead generation needs awesome content and time, both of which will be an expensive luxury at this early stage.

Social media and display marketing: Social media marketing can give the best ROI if done in the right way. Concentrate on on-boarding the number of users that you can handle frugally and smoothly. If you as a founder are well-versed with digital marketing, get your hands dirty at this stage itself. This will help in finding the actual needs of the market and can be of immense use in ultimately reaching to a right product market fit. Focus on building custom audiences, loyal user groups on FB, which will help in targeting and retargeting. You would need the skillset of a visual graphic designer at this stage.

Email marketing: Start with email campaigns. Try different marketing messages both in the subject and body. I have always believed in having a filtered database of probable customers, to mail them. But refrain from sending promotional mails right away. Infer and Hub spot are two companies rolling out compelling content that not only adds value, but also compels the audience to click on the Subscribe button. Try and showcase the value your product can add to people’s lives. You obviously need a good content guy at this stage, but it’s definitely worth it. This will get you to your first 50,000 user. You will definitely get goose bumps the day you hit that mark.

Say no to PR: Don’t do extensive PR at this stage, but only what is necessary. There is a trade-off between a founder’s time versus cost incurred on hiring a PR firm or a PR individual. I feel a founder can manage at this stage. Use PR for a good launch.

Using existing platforms: Piggybacking is another viral technique that you can use. Biggies like Instagram have pioneered this viral technique. You must have a keen understanding of your target audience and driving factors of their engagement before jumping onto to this bandwagon.

Above channels if utilised the right way, will help you hit the basic mark of 10,000 users. Now is the time to analyse.

  • Your base is laid — now analyse

Analyse: The initial user base is your benchmark. Get the best data analyst out there and analyse every small detail that drives engagement among your users. Remember this initial 10,000–15,000 users are the deciding factor of your future. Therefore, analysing their behaviour is the key. Mix panel, Kiss metrics, Amplitude are some great tools for analysis. Data driven instincts is key to making the right decisions most of the time (not ‘always’).

Consolidate from your learnings: Once you have analysed the product flow, best marketing messages, on-boarding flow, retention channels, screen flow, best sources, and early adopters, revamp your product according to the market needs and demographics.

  • Hack your way to the first 50,000 users

In addition to all the above mentioned tactics in second point, you can be a little more aggressive now since your product has achieved a certain level of maturity. Some of the things that you can do:

Viral: For leveraging your current user base, think of viral techniques. Although growth hacks and viral campaigns are short-lived, it can significantly increase the number of users in matter of days. It’s about hitting the right chord.

ASO and SEO: As you now understand the basics of your users, this would be the best time to plan your content on web and mobile. When a user types in the need that your product is solving, they should come and visit the website, every media article, web and mobile content should be well synced with what the users are typing.

Again your content strategy would play a key role. Tools like Apennine, Buzzsumo, etc., will help you dish out the right content. You must focus on execution.

Trade shows and speaker engagements: Start participating in the trade shows of your user community that will connect a lot of people with your brand. This can indirectly result in word of mouth publicity, provided the product has sufficient value for the users. Also, let the founders try to plug in some of the best events as speakers.

No point of spending on offline ads at this stage: Growth only happens when you can turn results into measurable data and analyse them to arrive at actionable outcomes.


Originally published at yourstory.com on March 3, 2016.

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