Apps present an opportunity for brands to create an unique experience for customers and should not be treated as an app version of their website. That’s what mobile-friendly websites are for!

The most successful apps are those which have a clear goal and provide users with something new and interesting. Something that can’t be found anywhere else online or offline.

As an example, let’s take a retail brand. Your app’s goal would most likely be to drive sales. To do so, you need to acquire, engage, monetize and retain app users; in that order.

Acquisition Stage

Whatever strategy you use to get the word out about your app, driving downloads is the first step towards your goal of generating sales.

Don’t get caught up on download metrics – high volume of downloads does not directly correlates with sales or app success. Downloads enable an app to succeed but don’t indicate actual success. In other words, forget about the eyeballs, mobile apps are not TV ads.

Immediately after you generate an app download, you need to have a well-defined strategy for generating opt-ins. iPhone users will only be prompted for an opt-in the first time they login to your app while Android users will automatically be opted-in for push notifications (though they have the option to opt-out at anytime). Be sure to monitor your download to opt-in conversion rate closely and always be testing.

Engagement Stage

There are a couple ways to drive engagement to your app. The first one is defined at the app planning stage, when you figure out what it is that your app is going to do. If all your app does is mirror your desktop website, you’re basically eliminating your chances of driving engagement by adding something new to the user experience.

As an example of engagement by design, there are many retailer apps already taking inspiration from dating apps like Tinder to create more engaging experiences where users can scroll through retail items, swipe left to add to shopping cart and right to dismiss, therefore “gamifying” the shopping experience.

The other way to drive engagement is through push notification campaigns. By making use of a mobile marketing automation software, app marketers can plan mobile campaigns based on location, behaviours and demographics that deliver the right message at the right time and because these messages are highly targeted, users are more likely to interact with them.

With so many new apps being created every year, competition is stiff. If you’re not going above and beyond to drive engagement, chances are your app is going to be left out in the dust. Monitor engagement closely, learn the days and times when your audience is most active, segment users based on how they interact with each of your messages and always be learning.

Monetization Stage

Even though here’s where you make your money, don’t let it fool you. You absolutely can’t ignore the other 2 previous steps. The only way to get here is through acquisition and engagement. Work on improving your conversion rates at the top of the funnel and your monetization stage will flourish.

Once you have active, engaged users, it’s much easier to create campaigns that convert better. Instead of blasting “one size fits all” campaigns to your entire mobile app audience, you should now be able to distribute relevant offers to segments of users to share similar interests. Push notifications are a powerful direct communication channel but need to be used wisely. Deliver the right message to the right user and create moments of delight, which users are sure to talk about. The same holds true if you deliver the wrong message- you can see why doing so could quickly destroy all your hard work.

Retention Stage

The cost of acquiring a new customer is higher than up-selling an existing customer – though there are exceptions, this would apply for the majority of businesses.

In addition to that, happy customers can act as your best salespeople. That’s because a prospect is much more likely to take a recommendation from a real, unbiased user/customer than, well, someone who has other interests in the company! Loyal brand advocates are invaluable and chances are your app user base is going to be primarily made out of these. Be aware of it and nurture it wisely.

Whatever you do, make sure you’re setup to measure conversion rates for every single stage. Happy App’ing!

This article was written by Bruno Bin from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.