#KeysToMobileGrowth: A Look Back

By: Flurry

By: Toby Vogels (@tobyvogels), Mobile Developer Evangelist

In this post, we will take a look back at some of the lessons learned from our interviews with some industry thought leaders in the last year. Since we started our #KeysToMobileGrowth series in June 2016, we discussed mobile strategies with seven experts from across the industry. Check out some of the expert tips to set up your app business for growth in 2017.


Develop a Metrics-Driven Approach

To track how effective your individual growth tactics really are, it’s crucial to set up an analytical system that aligns your initiatives, with your “True North Metric”. Sean Ellis, first Marketer at Dropbox and now CEO of growthhackers.com, puts it this way: “I like to start with the most important metric and then think about what are the proxy metrics here.” This gives you a good idea of how your key metrics are constructed and what your main growth levers are. John Egan, Growth Engineering Manager at Pinterest, discloses that he and his team focus on Weekly Active Repinners (WARs) as their main metric: “With Weekly Active Repinners, we look at how many active users we have and what percentage of them are repining.”

Draw Your Growth Formula

To illustrate the different parts of your key metric, it’s helpful to create a growth formula. To give you an idea, here’s what Pinterest’ formula looks like:

Weekly Active Repinners  =  Active Users  x  Percent of active Users repining this week

Active users are further defined as:
Active Users  =  Sign-ups  x  Activation Rate    Churn  +  Resurrections

Minimize Churn: Why and How

With new apps breaking download records in 2016, the need for keeping users engaged in the long run has never been higher. Julie Zhou, Director of Growth at Yik Yak, puts a high emphasis on engaging existing users: “The biggest opportunity for growth, for us, is to give first-time users even more reasons to think about using the app. For that, we’re looking at metrics that are centered around user activity and engagement.” And Sean Ellis mentioned that “ultimately, retention is a proxy for value delivered.” So how do you deliver product value to more users?

Get to the Value ASAP

Activate first, educate later. This may seem obvious, however, John Egan from Pinterest explained that many apps focus too much on user education in the onboarding process. “If people understand the value at the beginning and you don’t make your UI crazy complex, they will spend some time on how to use your app if they know what the payoff will be.” 

Develop Personalized Experiences

Hello [FirstName]. Lisa Sullivan-Cross, VP of Growth at Pandora, knows how powerful personalization can be: “If people give us inputs such as a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, it creates a better station experience for them: Your station changes if you like or don’t like a song. So if people interact with the app, it creates a better station for them, and better stations lead to higher retention rates.” John Egan sees a similar growth lever in Pinterest’ personalization efforts: “In our old on-boarding flow, we dumped everyone on our Popular Feed after the signup and just showed them the most popular stuff.  Unsurprisingly, a lot of people didn’t activate.” Today, Pinterest utilizes the first app screens to learn more about the user, in order to personalize further experiences. Pinterest lets their users select topics they’re interested in to show them customized content afterwards: Inside the app and via outside marketing channels.

Create Conversion Cohorts

Which actions turn new users into active ones? The answer can often lie in analyzing common usage patterns. In Pandora’s case, Lisa told us that they use a conversion cohort to improve the percentage of paying users: “We look at all of our common usage patterns such as giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, skipping a song, how many stations are users adding and how engaged are they on a station and map that to subscription conversion. This all gives us a good handle on which usage behaviors predict propensity to subscribe.“


What was your most successful #GrowthTactic of 2016? Stay tuned for our next #KeysToMobileGrowth interviews in 2017, starting with Andrew Chen from Uber.