It’s no secret that not every app is a success. Some apps launch with a great idea and still fall flat on their face. These apps may even be left watching as competitors with fewer features manage to generate traction within weeks. Is it because the competition knew something the failed apps didn’t? Or is it because the failed apps believed a myth that the competition didn’t?

Frequently, it’s a combination of both. There are a ton of myths about mobile apps that have been propagated for years. As a result, companies are launching apps without proper planning or an understanding of how to sustain growth.

In this blog post, we’ll debunk five of the most common mobile myths based on lessons that the MindSea team and I have learned over the years. Make sure you aren’t falling for these misconceptions, which could hurt your chances of launching successfully.

Myth #1: If you build it, they will come

The Apple App Store is on track to have over five million apps by 2020, and that’s to say nothing of how many apps the Google Play Store has. Publishing an app in the app store is not enough to drive downloads. App publishers need to break through the noise to make their app stand out.

If your app doesn’t offer value or the messaging in your description doesn’t connect with people, it’s going to be a struggle to realize a healthy conversion rate in the app store. Thus, it’s important to understand what connects with people in the app store and what turns them off. The chart below highlights what drives people away from downloading apps.

Reasons not to install an app

Recognizing the importance of ratings and reviews, it’s critical that you do proactively gather ratings and reviews. While positive reviews are the goal, negative reviews are inevitable. That’s why it’s important to learn how to best deal with negative reviews.

When it comes to generating positive reviews take the time to proactively ask customers to leave you a rating and review without disrupting their mobile experience. To do this, intelligently reach out to customers at the right time and the right place.

Survey respondents stat

Too often we see mobile apps make intrusive requests in the wrong place at the wrong time. Imagine you just downloaded an app to give it a try, but before you even have a chance to do anything meaningful the app asks you to leave a review. What would you do?

Most people will ignore the request; some will leave a negative review out of spite; and others will exit the app, annoyed, and never come back. All of these represent a poor customer experience that should be avoided at all costs.

When it comes to asking users to give you feedback directly in your app, keep these three tips in mind:

  1. Target the right customers. Target groups of customers based on individual data related to them.
  2. Be mindful of your customers time. Don’t abuse the time your customers are taking to provide you feedback.
  3. Prompt customers only after a high-value action takes place. Asking for feedback is important but it has to be done right. Don’t ask for feedback before your customer has had the chance to experience your app or while they’re in the middle of a task. The goal is to ask for feedback in a way that doesn’t disrupt their experience.

Over the years, we’ve launched plenty of apps that have been featured in the Apple App Store. It’s always a great feeling to see Apple recognize your app as something worth downloading. But your moment in the spotlight is just that—a moment. Being featured in the app store doesn’t guarantee long-term success. That comes from having a great app, an easy-to-navigate design and understanding right hooks to bring people back over and over.

Myth #2: Launch day is the most important day

Far too many makers fall victim to this myth. The best way to think about your launch is this: Every day is launch day.

It might seem like the time you put into building and launching your app was a big enough investment to ensure success. In reality, though, your journey toward creating a profitable and successful app is just beginning on launch day—the most important work in the lifecycle of a mobile app happens after you launch.

Success requires a commitment to iterating on your product (with the help of customer feedback!) and an ongoing effort to identify marketing channels that can help drive growth and traction.

One of the most consistent and effective ways to get app downloads after launch is through App Store Optimization (ASO). Across the industry, experts suggest that the four most important elements to ranking well for both iOS and Android search include:

  • Keyword usage in the name and/or description
  • Visuals and branding used for the app
  • The number of downloads the app generates
  • The number of positive reviews the app generates

According to MobileDevHQ (now TUNE), including keywords in the app name have had one of the biggest impact on app store search rankings. The study found that keywords being placed in the title offered a 10.3% increase in the likelihood to rank.

Myth #3: More features make everything better

“If we add this one feature, we’ll see our downloads go through the roof!”

More often than not, this thought process is wrong.

According to an Apptentive study, only 25-40% of new users will re-launch your app after the first week. And unfortunately, this number continues to diminish as time goes on, ultimately reaching nearly 4%.

Customer retention in mobile apps

All the features in the world won’t fix this.

The best solution for generating traction and retaining users isn’t throwing more features at a wall and hoping for success. Instead, spend time talking to your customers to understand their pain points and only add features that are aligned with their wants and needs.

One way to actively listen to your customers is through in-app surveys. It’s easy to come to conclusions based on what you think is driving churn for your app, but when you speak to customers, you’ll uncover the truth.

The insights that you gain by talking to customers can show you which features are the most important, which features need improvement, and more.

Follow these seven steps to increase the likelihood of making your mobile survey a success.

Myth #4: Traffic is king and we need more of it

Generating one million visits to a mobile app landing page is great. But if only 10 people download the app as a result, there’s clearly a problem.

Traffic is important, but it has to come from the right place. What good are a lot of page visits if the people visiting your page aren’t interested in what you’re offering? The same applies to app downloads. You need to make sure the people downloading your app are the people who will actually benefit from using it long-term.

This is why you need to invest in developing a mobile marketing funnel:

Mobile marketing funnel

A mobile app marketing funnel will help you better understand what is required to build a successful app. It’s not just about getting organic traffic to a landing page, it’s also about creating personalized in-app messages and delivering a quality customer experience. When you combine all of these different elements, it gives you the ability to not just acquire downloads but to acquire life-long customers and fans.

Retaining your app’s customers long term is one of the biggest struggles amongst app makers looking for sustainable growth. Unfortunately, too many apps make the mistake of only focusing on the exposure/discovery portion of the app marketing funnel and place their attention on downloads. As a result, very little time is spent strategizing and executing the marketing tactics that can assist in driving retention and higher LTV.

Myth #5: Once the app is built, it’s smooth sailing

Just as investing in marketing after launch is critical, your app must be maintained and scaled after launch as well. Of course, there’s an up-front investment to get the app out the door, but you also need to be ready for bugs, product issues and customer requests. So as much as the technical team might like to go on vacation after launch, the reality is you’re not off the hook yet.

An app that’s constantly improving is more likely to generate traction than an app that’s still standing on what they built on day one. You need to invest time in understanding what your customers want and then make a commitment to improving so your users will be more likely to share your app with friends. Committing to sustaining your app will also ensure that your app doesn’t lose out to competition.

One great way to constantly generate insights from your apps customers is to embrace feedback. As customers use your app, capitalize on in-app surveys and questionnaires to gain insight around what they want in the future and what features they’re enjoying the most. You can also rely on mobile app analytics to gain insight into what features are being used the most and what is being ignored. The qualitative and quantitative data you gather from customers can be leveraged to create an app that keeps customers coming back for months to come.

In the world of mobile apps, technology and aesthetics change quickly. If you’re not up on the latest tech and figuring out how you can embrace it, you might miss out. If you’re not monitoring the latest trends in mobile app design, you might be left in the dust with an app that looks ancient compared to the competition’s.

Wrapping things up

Building and launching an app is a significant milestone for any brand or maker. The biggest differentiator between those who have found success from their apps and those who have watched their apps fall flat is falling for these myths.

As you think about your mobile app and your approach to generating traction, always start with the customer. Invest in identifying the channels that your customers spend time on—those are most likely to drive target customers to your app. Most importantly, always take the time to listen to customers’ feedback and iterate based on what they want most to create an app your customers love.