Lessons launching an app in 2015
We launched Momunt on March 4, 2015. We were lucky enough to debut on a stage in front of thousands of people at LAUNCH Festival, guaranteeing us our first one thousand users. We were on Product Hunt the next day, where we did reasonably well and got a few hundred more. Everything looked great for the first few weeks. Numbers were growing, everything up and to the right. But it quickly became evident that our initial users were leaving, and signing on new users was becoming progressively harder.
Our App Needed Work
I want to start out making it clear that I don’t believe Momunt was perfect by any means. I do think it was quite good, but there were lots of issues that inhibited our growth. With that being said, I think there are some trends that all new apps and tech founders will face.
Window-Shopping Early Adopters
Our initial users were tech fanatic early adopters. Analytics make it seem like they download apps more often to test out the UX than to actually use it. I’m not sure why I expected anything different with Momunt. As a tech company founder, I try out every new app I hear of, but in reality I only use 10-12 apps on my phone. It turns out…I’m not alone.
If Not Early Adopters, Then Who?
If the techie early adopters are deleting your app, you clearly need to find someone else to love it and share it. For us, we found a lot of initial traction with stories that were created through Momunt that displayed all of the visuals from pop concerts.
Views to Downloads
Here’s an example that got tens of thousands more views and shares than we had users at the time it was created: http://www.momunt.com/W8V4SFnIlh. When this happened, we got so excited! Yay – people are loving our shit.
The daily stories we created generated thousands of views. However, we weren’t getting these views to equate to downloads. It was nuts – for every one thousand eyeballs, we would get roughly one download. One download for every one thousand web views.
Your Funnel Must Be Broken
We initially believed that this huge disparity between views and downloads must be a design flaw. Maybe our call-to-action wasn’t good enough? So we improved that. This update made zero impact on the rate of downloads. So we assumed we needed a simpler way to find the download button. We put a button on the top right of every page.
This would make sense if it was harder to get views on the website –but generating thousands of web views felt simple. Why wouldn’t ANYONE DOWNLOAD?
Maybe it was the conversion rate on the app store? Nope – that was sitting at 53%. So half of the people who got to the app store downloaded, but only two out of every one thousand would even click!!??!?!
Dave Morin’s tweet asking, “Have we reached peak app?” got a lot less traction than the average Morin tweet, but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. At the moment I was reading that tweet, I was truly struggling with what I could possibly do to get people to pay attention to what we’re doing.
Around the time of the tweet, Morin’s company had just released Kong and I was wondering if, despite huge amounts of press, they were also facing more issues than they expected.
At this point, I feel confident that although people will always want services that make their lives better – the appeal of that service coming in the form of an app simply isn’t enough.
Word on the Street
To test our theories, we hired a part-time marketer who ran a small street team to ask regular people questions about apps. The overall result was that pretty much no one wanted an app. And absolutely no one wanted a new social media app. This points to the fact that the app world is so bloated, it’s overwhelming to the consumer. A consumer doesn’t know what they should have, what doesn’t matter, or what does matter – they just want everything to be simpler. People want to text message photos or post them to Instagram –they don’t need a new solution. Given that Momunt was/is a social media app, we knew we had to make a change.
Brand vs. App
We’ll be announcing our official re-launch and re-brand soon, but suffice to say that it will not be based around a social media app –and the success of the company will not be based around app downloads. People simply don’t want new apps. They want new and compelling services from brands that are attractive enough to be shared with their friends.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.