Making your app stand out in today's hypercompetitive app market is tough. But don't lose hope. There are various ways to do it, starting from the very point when a consumer is thinking about downloading your app.

Getting the download is just the first hurdle, though. After that, brands must focus on delivering value and an amazing customer experience to each and every user to truly stand out.

Converting App Store Browsers to Downloaders

Let's start with the first part of this challenge: making your app stand out in the app store.

Of course, the description and images included in your app's "about" screen will play a big part in the customer's overall decision-making process, especially for those users who are not already familiar with your brand.

But most consumers come to the app store with a purpose. Often, they will have been directed there by a website promising a better experience if they use the app (a popular acquisition technique for retailers and travel companies), or they've been directed there by a friend's recommendation. At that point, the description and images are less important because the consumer already has intent, and there are only a handful of things that will prevent them from tapping that download button.

One of the big impediments is the app's rating: 77% of consumers will not download an app that has fewer than three stars. Boosting app ratings from two stars to three could drive a 280% uplift in download rates, industry data reveals. Even more impressive: boosting an app rating from two to four stars could drive a 540% uplift in successful downloads.

Having a strong app rating is the best way to convert an app browser into an app buyer.

Although companies can't entirely control the ratings their customers dole out, they do have at least one helpful tool at their disposal to maintain a healthy app rating: messaging. By watching a user's app behavior, brands have the ability to prompt users to rate their app at the most opportune times—when the user is likely to be very pleased with the experience. Maybe it's after a recent purchase or level completion. Regardless of the vertical, monitoring behavior and sending the app rating request at just the right time has proven to be an effective way to drive positive app ratings.

Conveying Value and Hooking Users With Intelligent Onboarding

Now, with any luck, your app is on the consumer's phone. Great. The next step in the process of making your app stand out from the crowd is delivering value and an amazing customer experience.

But, it's not easy to do if that new user never uses your app! This is where intelligent communications come into play.

One of the best ways to ensure that each of your new customers sees value in your app right off the bat is to have a formalized, automated onboarding program in place. Your onboarding program should be designed to drive new customers to complete actions that make them more likely to stay for the long haul. Our customers, in every industry, have seen incredible retention uplifts as a result of intelligent—not spammy—onboarding campaigns.

The difference between intelligent and spammy is, simply, the intelligence set up around who receives those messages:

Some users won't need onboarding help; they'll complete the desired actions (e.g., signing in, favoriting categories) organically during the first session. Those users are off to the races and don't need a generic reminder to complete an action. They've already done it!

Being able to automatically send onboarding messages only to the users that need them and are showing signs of churning, that's what's really valuable.

Recipe app Yummly was able to drive 30-day retention uplifts of 119% by instituting an onboarding program based on each customer's app behavior.

Driving Great Customer Experiences With Personalized Communications

Once a user has been onboarded, it's critical to keep them engaged with your application.

That, in some cases, requires a few gentle nudges from the brand to keep users coming back. One of our customers, BrightSky Labs and its app, called 10 (a video editing and sharing app), have been able to engage with users in a more personalized way by tracking individual customer behavior patterns and using that data to drive better experiences.

10 executes campaigns based on customer behavior and interest. For example, it uses messaging to communicate with users who click on the "GoPro library" button but haven't yet used the share button within the past two days. Hitting the GoPro button is a strong indicator that the user owns a GoPro. For 10, it's vital to get this type of user to share content. Accordingly, 10 crafted multiple messages, seeing in real-time which resonated best with its audience. In specific campaigns, 10 has seen a 150% uplift in videos shared due to improved messaging. That's a substantial boost that any marketing manager would be pleased with.

While intelligent messaging with the right cadence can drive significant returns, brands need to make sure it's not too much, too often. If you don't have safeguards in place, messaging can become overwhelming and can cross that very thin line from helpful to annoying.

Encouraging Your Customers to Share the Goodness

Customers often find new apps through a recommendation from family or friends. That's the second most popular way consumers find new apps, after search, according to data from Tune.

Therefore, encouraging users to share something with their social network can lead to many organic new app downloads—a big win for brands. They save on-app acquisition costs and get users who, without any interactions to base judgment off of, already have a positive view of your app. Designing campaigns around encouraging this action—especially for social or content creation-focused apps—is a great way to make sure that new user funnel stays full. Though churn is inevitable, new customer acquisition is not.

* * *

Though there are hundreds of new apps added each day, making your app stand out from the competition is not as hard as you may think. With intelligent onboarding to help users get the most out of your app and personalized messaging to keep them coming back, you can create the best user experience, and user reviews, that will make your app a true standout from the competition.

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How to Make Your Mobile App Stand Out in the Crowded App Store

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image of Doug Roberge

Doug Roberge is product marketing manager at Kahuna, a provider of communication automation, enabling engagement with customers wherever they are—the Web, email, mobile, social channels—through personalized communication at scale.

LinkedIn: Doug Roberge