How To Build Your First App: 7 Secrets From The Founders

Is this a huge mistake? Will it ever work? Will anyone care?

Anyone building an app for the first time is wondering these things. You’re not alone.

“No one knows what they’re doing. You think people who came before you know everything, but there isn’t one right way to do it. If you make a misstep, it’s not a big deal.”
– Whitney Linscott, CEO & Founder, Bracket Dating

You can and should build an app. Don’t believe me?

I just launched my first app, 19 Minute Yoga. I’m not a developer. I have a degree in English Lit.

A technical background is not required. Do you know what is required?

Tenacity and grit.

It took twice as long as I expected. But I still did it. And I want to share everything I learned, so you can build an app too.

The App Store has generated more than $ 70 billion in revenue for App developers. Apps are transforming and disrupting business.

You or your company should be thinking about building an app for one reason. Eventually, someone is going to come along and build an app that disrupts you.

After I launched 19 Minute Yoga, I knew I wanted to share some honest insights and takeaways. I jumped on the phone with 10 other app founders, technical and non-technical, to discuss everything from developing your idea to developing your code.

Thanks to the founders who participated and shared their experience:

Building an app can be a rollercoaster and it’s important to know your community and know you’re not alone. Download the apps mentioned here and follow the founders online to learn more about these leading entrepreneurs. Welcome to the community!

#1 Put Your Idea On Paper

Some of the best ideas come from a person creating a solution to her own problem. You don’t have to invent something completely new; you can improve upon an existing idea. Research popular categories and bring a fresh spin to an existing audience. 19 Minute Yoga was born when I realized that I couldn’t find a short, audio-first yoga app–anywhere!

Monika Bhasin, Founder of GLYD, an app that connects travelers with locals, said her initial work was getting her idea validated and that went hand in hand with putting it on paper.

“Write the idea out as an essay. It needs to be simple enough to explain to a 10-year-old.”
– Monika Bhasin, Founder of GLYD

To get started, consider the questions below. Write multiple drafts, as you refine your idea:

  • What makes your idea different?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What are your business goals?
  • How are you going to market and promote the app?
  • What is the simplest version you can build first?
  • How much will it cost to build the first version of your app, the MVP (minimum viable product), to get your first round of user feedback?

In addition to writing about your idea, it’s important to create a visual. Sketch a rough draft of your app. It will help you understand the story you want to tell. Don’t worry about artistic talent (or lack of!).

Suzzane Hayen is CEO & Co-Founder of Let’s Be Chefs, an app that delivers weekly menus and recipes to helps users save time and eat better. When Hayen was developing her idea, she used index cards to illustrate her user experience.

“Start writing things down on index cards. Draw each screen and show your friends. Here’s one screen, here’s the next screen.”
– Suzzane Hayen, CEO & Co-Founder, Let’s Be Chefs

Before you have a formal pitch or brief, simply talking to people will help you develop your idea. Don’t wait until you feel “ready.” My experience is that “ready” rarely happens. Start a dialogue with friends now. Collect initial feedback.

Ask The Pros
If you have the capital, you can hire an agency to help you get started faster. Whitney Linscott, CEO & Founder of Bracket Dating, launched her app to solve the “swipe” problem in dating. When she decided to build an app, she attended a workshop with an app development company.

During the 2-day intensive, Linscott was able to flesh out her concept, along with finer details like user stories. The workshop facilitated her first steps, but Linscott noted, “Just to participate in the workshop was $ 10K.”

Connect With Your Local Tech Community

Many cities have local developer or app focused meetups. Even if you’re not going to hire a development company, start networking and identify local resources. Search online, talk to people who work in technical fields, and connect with local groups. Maybe there’s a tech Meetup event you can attend.

#2 Tell Everyone

We keep our ideas locked up for too long. Fear of rejection and never feeling “ready” can trick you into keeping quiet. And, sometimes there’s concern that a person might steal an idea. We tell ourselves these stories to let us off the hook–to prevent us from executing. Because executing is hard. Get your notes organized and tell everyone.

This is a collaborative process.

Most importantly —> There should be communication with your key demographic before anyone writes a line of code. Start soft sounding your ideas directly with your prospective users. Stay connected throughout this entire process. Start early. Start now.

Early Feedback Forms
When I first started building 19 Minute Yoga, I recorded a rough version of my first class, posted it on Soundcloud, and collected early feedback through Google forms. I learned what people liked best, what I could do better, and how someone would describe my class to a friend.

See one of my early 19 Minute Yoga “comment cards” here for reference and feel free to steal some of the standard questions. #GeniusSteals

Share your idea with friends, family, and most importantly, the people you want to help–your target market. A survey is a simple way to gather feedback. When Bhasin surveyed her GLYD users, she learned that she was missing some key features, including messaging and following. She realized this would greatly improve the user experience (UX).

Focus & Find Your Niche #DrillDown
Amy Hutchins, Founder & Chief Product Officer at Unearth, a collaboration tool for the construction industry, said “The hardest part was scoping down what we wanted to do.”

Hutchins and her team spent months talking to people in the construction industry. They realized technology could solve many pain points in the construction process, as a vertical it was a huge opportunity.

Know Your Audience
Do your research. Get feedback early and often. Share your idea with people who fit your demographic. Make edits and adjustments as necessary.

When Unearth was conducting early research, they learned a key piece of information about the construction industry–iPads are everywhere on construction sites because the industry wholesale adopted them first.

Ask yourself, is your audience using a certain device or platform?

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#3 Don’t Skip The Boring Stuff

Get your ideas organized and start writing your project brief (here’s a project brief outline). Get specific.

Start with these questions:

  • Why are you building this app? What will the app do?
  • What content (writing/images/audio/video etc.) will be included in the app? What are the key features that MUST be included the app?
  • Design and UX is very important. How does your app look and feel? How easy is it to navigate? Do you have wireframes or any creative design specifications? It’s OK if you’re not a designer, grab a pen and paper and hand draw your wireframe. (I sketched the first version of 19 Minute Yoga on a piece of paper and then we made a prototype with InvisionApp).
  • What type of device (phone/tablet) or platform (iOS/Android) will you build for first? Hint: what does your audience use most?
  • Will your app be used vertically or horizontally?
  • Will your app need wifi to work?
  • If you plan to make money with your app, how will you achieve this (freemium model, ads, e-commerce etc.)?

#4 Find The Right Developer

Building an app with someone is like a marriage. It’s an ongoing commitment and not a one-off project. If you’re a non-technical founder, this is the most important step. Give it the attention it deserves.

You have a few options:

  1. Learn to code  – Invest in training and develop the app yourself or in-house. It’s not uncommon for founders to team up with a spouse or former colleague. One person is the developer–or willing to learn to code on the job–and the other person manages operations and marketing.
  2. Bring on a technical partner – Find someone who either knows how to code or has the technical skills (and interest) in learning to code. Search your local network, LinkedIn, and past employment for partners.
  3. Hire an independent developer or agency – You can outsource development to contractors or agencies (anywhere from $ 5K- $ 500K+), but there’s no easy button. Expect to be highly involved. It’s a very detailed process and requires many decisions from you. As you’re researching partners, don’t make your choice based on price alone and don’t pay 100% upfront. Take the time to review apps they have launched in the past. How is the functionality? Does it seem comparable to what you’d like to build?

Also, as a non-technical founder, you’ll benefit from a technical advisor or consultant. I know I did.

Search Everywhere For A Developer
When Lori Cheek launched her first app, Cheekd, she had two business-side co-founders, but no one on the technical side. Following her appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank, she pivot Cheekd from a physical dating card business to a Bluetooth dating app. After hiring one of the most expensive agencies in NYC, she had an app that looked beautiful, “but the tech didn’t work.”

Cheek reconnected with a developer she had worked with in the past. She said, “We found our CTO on Craigslist.”

“In the beginning, it was a drawback not having a technical co-founder. Finding a CTO who was invested was the missing link.”
– Lori Cheek, Co-Founder of Networkd

Lori Cheek’s newest app, Networkd, helps users create better connections based on location. “You could be sitting next to someone–someone who could be the co-founder you’re searching for–and not even know it,” said Cheek.

Work With Someone You Know
Hayen said that Y Combinator recommends working with someone you already know. Even if it’s someone you haven’t talked to in a long time, search your network for someone who has a technical background (engineers, IT/tech specialists etc.). See if they are interested in partnering and learning to code on the job.

“Search your LinkedIn and start racking your brain for anyone with technical skills,” said Hayen.

Hire Good Communicators
Allison Winston is President and Co-Founder at Kickwheel, the mobile college fair. Winston, who connected with her co-founder on LinkedIn, emphasized the importance of communication skills.

“Hire an engineer who can explain technical things to you. Someone who can talk about what they are doing. If you’re not mind melding with someone, it’s not a good fit.”
– Allison Winston, President & Co-Founder of Kickwheel Co.

Work With Students
Estee Goldschmidt, Co-Founder and CEO at ShopDrop, a guide to the best sample sales in NYC, recommends reaching out to engineering students and finding technical team members at your local university. For example, in you’re in NYC, NYU Tandon School of Engineering is a good place to start.

It Takes A Village
Building a strong team is critical. It takes time to find partners with the right skills and culture fit.

In addition to development skills, you’ll want to consider graphic design, copywriting, community building, customer service, marketing, PR, and more (start thinking about that marketing plan before your launch). Keep networking and sharing your idea. You’ll start to identify the best partners and resources.


#5 Build Your MVP

The first version of your mobile app is your MVP (minimum viable product) or “alpha.” This includes only the most important features–the stuff users absolutely must have to use your app. Focus on functionality and UX. You want a simple app that tests your assumptions about what users want and need.

“When you want to throw in the towel is usually when something unlocks. You have to hang in there a little longer than most people. Ride the uncertainty. Embrace the process and never lose sight of the experience equity.”
– Julie Campistron, Co-Founder and CEO, Stop, Breathe & Think

This early testing will teach you a lot.

The process of building an MVP taught me some important lessons. I started with a web-based app, but I could have saved time and money if I had built for iOS from the beginning. The web-based MVP was so buggy that I couldn’t even share it externally. We ended up having to build the entire app over.

The first version of your app won’t be perfect, but it should pass internal Quality Assurance (QA) testing. It needs to have a baseline of functionality before you share it with external users.

QA Testing
Just because the app works on your phone doesn’t mean it works for someone else. QA testing is super important but often overlooked until there’s a problem. In her role, Annie Purcell MSc, Project Manager and Quality Assurance (QA) expert, identifies a broken feature and submits a recommendation on how fix it.

“I put myself in the shoes of the most destructive user possible–to try and outthink ways to disrupt the product before anyone outside the development team gets their hands on a download.”
– Annie Purcell MSc, QA expert

Be sure to test your app across a variety of devices.

Get Feedback Early & Often
At Unearth, a regular feedback loop was established during alpha testing.

“We looked at all the features we wanted to build and prioritized. The most important thing we did was get feedback early.”
– Amy Hutchins, Founder & Chief Product Officer, Unearth Technologies, Inc.

They partnered with alpha users who were willing to provide feedback in exchange for free use of the product. Hutchins said, “People were happy to use it and we set up the expectation that they would have weekly meetings with us to provide feedback.”

With my yoga app, we conducted one-on-one phone interviews and included an optional class review within the app. After completing a class, users could apply a star rating and/or a written comment. Users always had the option to “X” out. This helped us collect early and ongoing feedback.

Tight Timelines Create Lean MVPs
Julie Campistron and Jamie Price are founders of the mindfulness and meditation app Stop, Breathe & Think. Campistron and Price pitched the tech mentors on Apple’s show Planet of the Apps and landed a mentorship with Jessica Alba. After hearing the good news, Campistron and Price were on a tight timeline to launch a version of Stop, Breathe & Think for younger kids. Campistron said, “We wanted to have it live for Planet of the Apps and Jessica Alba. We really limited the functionality. We ended up doing horizontal layout only and we didn’t do account creation. We haven’t had any negative user feedback.”

Stop, Breathe & Think regularly collects user feedback with Campistron said, “This service finds candidates based on demographics. They set up the link and the task and the whole process is filmed.”

However you plan to receive feedback, insight into how someone is navigating and experiencing your app is priceless.

Release & Update
After building and testing (and building and testing), it’s exciting to officially release your app into the marketplace. I was psyched to see 19 Minute Yoga in the App Store for the first time. It can also be a little anti-climatic. There’s always something to tweak or update!


#6 Connect With Your Community

Invest in PR and community building at least 3-6 months before your launch. Find the social network that fits your goals and connects with your audience. Depending on your industry, you might have a platform specific approach. Goldschmidt’s ShopDrop takes an Instagram-first social strategy, as the photo sharing site has become a powerful tool and  “changed the face of fashion” according to Vogue.

Where does your audience spend time? Research and prioritize.

Create Partnerships
Diane Hamilton is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Binary Formations, a development company with a suite of apps, including App Store Editor’s Choice, Home Inventory. She said, “The market has changed so much. You have to have a marketing plan now, you can’t just put your app in the store. Build partnerships and find people with the the same target market.” At Home Inventory, Hamilton reaches out to professional organizers, as her app helps users “cut down on clutter.”

Alexis Monson, Founder of Punkpost, an app that sends handwritten cards mailed by artists for you, said they focus on PR more than other types of marketing. Punkpost got featured in the App Store which was “huge.” Monson said, “Some of the smaller blogs have more engaged users and communities. It was surprising at first. They might publish a little less, but their readers are hungry.”

Host Events
Meeting users in person builds community and creates the chance for important conversations.

“We have monthly events, every event has a theme, and we also pull people aside to talk to them about the app. I’m building a product for our consumers, so if they tell me something is not a good idea–that’s important feedback.”
– Estee Goldschmidt, Co-Founder & CEO of ShopDrop

Be Helpful In Small Group Discussions
Hayen said, at Let’s Be Chefs, Facebook has worked the best for them, possibly because she’s “most familiar” with the platform. On Facebook, they do some paid ads and Hayen frequently shares recipes, cooking tips, and answers questions in private groups, especially cooking groups and mom groups. Do a keyword search on Facebook to find groups related to your topic.

Reddit is a great place to engage in subject-specific threads. I have an account for 19 Minute Yoga and I search health and wellness related posts to see how I can help. It’s also fun to participate in Reddit’s signature AMA (ask me anything!). On Reddit, always be helpful, non-promotional, and authentic. Here’s one of my first Reddit comments about the benefits of short yoga.

Invest In Your Marketing Team
Notably, Unearth’s third hire was in the marketing department. Hutchins said, “I’ve been blown away by the value that our content strategist, Nick, has brought to the table–the leads and PR we’re getting from his work. We learn what’s resonating with people.”


#7 Listen to Customers, Pivot As Necessary

“Sometimes you need a palate cleanser. Sometimes it’s good to have an idea and try it. Sometimes you decide not to bring it to market. It’s not wasted time. You learn something.”
– Diane Hamilton, Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Binary Formations

Plan for success by staying connected with your community. Have a system for engaging and collecting feedback. You can start with a “help” contact email. As your community grows, you might invest in customer service software. Hamilton uses FogBugz and Punkpost uses a tool from Zoho.

When it comes to software, there are automated options for growing communities, but both founders emphasized the importance of a personal touch. You want your community to know there is a person listening.

As you collect feedback and analyze user data, you’ll make ongoing improvements and updates. You might decide to pivot. After ShopDrop founders identified the most popular topic in their app–sample sales–they re-launched with a new focus to serve their most engaged audience.

In general, don’t be afraid to pivot or roll out smaller apps to test new features. It’s part of the process.

“If you’re passionate about it and you’re willing to spend years working on it, you can do it. I think a lot people get hung up on the tech part because they didn’t go to school for it. It doesn’t matter. You’ll learn.”
– Alexis Monson, Founder of Punkpost

Before Kickwheel, Winston had a 10-year career as a teacher. When she was ready to make a move, she immersed herself in learning about technology and studying the industry. Some of her favorite resources include Chaos Monkeys, a book The New York Times called an “indispensable 360-degree guide to the new technology establishment” and the podcast Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman, a legendary Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor.

Winston, now President & Co-Founder of an app with more than 1.2 million installs said, “I was not going to let being a non-technical person stand in my way.”


Stay tuned for our behind-the-scenes podcast for more info on how to build an app. 



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PPC Landing Page Magic: Secrets Revealed [GIFOGRAPHIC]

This marketing infographic is part of KlientBoost’s 25-part Marketing Advent Calendar. Sign up here to receive a new gifographic once a day in your inbox.

As a kid who was fascinated with the magic store, it’s kind of surprising that I still don’t know how magicians do certain tricks. But it’s probably because as an adult, I’ve spent most of my time trying to master one magic trick:

Making more money appear — both for my PPC agency and for our clients.

How do we do it?

A large part of the magic comes from the landing pages our CRO team designs and tests. And today I want to reveal all the tricks that go into a high-converting landing page to make you the David Copperfield of PPC landing page testing.

(Keep reading below the gifographic for more explanation.)


Geographic specificity: Get more local love

When your PPC campaigns and landing page work together on a geographic level, you unleash serious conversion potential.

To help illustrate, imagine these two scenarios:

  1. A nationwide PPC campaign that goes to a nationwide landing page
  2. A city-specific PPC campaign that goes to a city-specific landing page

Which one do you think will perform better?

I think the second would — and we have 100+ clients that would agree. By becoming more granular with your PPC campaigns, you’re able to make the visitor believe that you’re local (even if you’re not).

Take this example of using geographic-specific area code phone numbers on landing pages versus a generic 800 number:

This table shows conversion rates for landing pages displaying generic 800 phone number versus landing pages with a local number. Image source.

And phone numbers are only a start. Test geographically specific PPC ad copy, landing page headlines and even visuals.

We use Unbounce’s Dynamic Text Replacement (DTR) to help us easily launch dynamic landing pages and prevent traffic dilution that slows down statistical significance.

Which brings us to our next trick…

Dynamic text replacement: Less work, more fun

Dynamic text replacement allows you to swap out the text on your landing page with keywords from your PPC campaigns.

By making small adjustments to your PPC campaign URLs, you can make one landing page specific to hundreds of keywords you’re bidding on, resulting in a landing page that shows exactly what visitors searched for:

With DTR, you can turn one landing page into 100 landing pages.

Here’s an example of an outdoors company using DTR to “magically” create super-relevant landing pages.

If the user searched for “hiking backpack,” this is the landing page they’ll see:


And if they searched for “trekking backpack”?



Notice how nothing changed but the text on those two pages?

Read a full explanation of this “magic trick” here.

Multi-step landing pages

You’ve heard how reducing the amount of form fields will help improve your conversion rates, right?


But what if I told you that there’s a way to add more fields (thereby better qualifying prospects) while still improving conversion rates?

That’s some true David Copperfield s*** right there.

I know that’s not David Copperfield. Just trying to see if you’re awake. GIF source.

Multi-step landing pages can help you achieve just this by asking for a little information upfront, then progressively asking for more and more. Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Power of Persuasasion, explains that this technique works because of a principle he calls Commitment and Consistency:


On our own landing pages, we start by asking questions that are easy to answer, and then progressively get more personal.

We’ve found that these “micro conversions” make it more likely for the prospect to then later fill out more personal details such as their name and contact information:

We’ve built all our lead gen efforts around multi-step landing pages. Image source.

Call to action temperature testing

A common mistake a lot of our clients make prior to working with us is that they use the same call to action for all their PPC traffic: search, social, video and display.

This is problematic because different types of PPC traffic have different levels of intent.

For example, people seeing your ads through the Search Network can be people really close to converting (depending on keyword intent), but the Display Network typically has visitors who are a few steps behind. (I wrote about this on the Unbounce blog before.)

We have found that display leads are typically colder than leads acquired through the search network.

If a certain PPC channel isn’t converting for you, sometimes switching up the offer — and the call to action — can make all the difference.

We’ve found that the offers on the left work well for cold leads, whereas the offers on the right work better for warm leads:

We made this to use internally at KlientBoost.

As with most PPC tactics, this requires a bit of testing. And don’t forget to have a means of nurturing cold leads down the funnel.

Local visuals: Make ‘em feel at home

Remember how you can improve conversion rates by changing phone numbers and headlines to appear more local to the visitor’s location?

You can also do that with your hero shot and other visuals you’re using on your landing page.

We ran a test for a roofing company who advertised in several states. Because we were able to split up the PPC traffic based on geography, we were able to funnel all visitors to a dedicated landing page with visuals that matched the local feel:


The result?

Conversion rates increased by 22%.

It seems so simple, yet it’s a bit of work to set up.

But the payoff is immense.

Hidden fields sales tracking

This very moment, you’re likely bidding on multi-intent keywords that may bring you conversions (leads, demos or trials), but will never turn into sales.

But with hidden fields sales tracking like Google’s ValueTrack parameters, you’re able to create hidden fields on your landing page to capture lead information, along with other nifty data, like:

  • The keyword they typed in
  • The device they were using
  • The landing page URL they converted on
  • The geographic location they were in

With your CRM lead entry that now has all that additional bulleted info, you’re able to go back to your PPC accounts and learn not just what keyword gave you the lead, but what keyword gave you the sale in other words, which of your keywords have the highest closing rate.

With that information, you’ll find that you’re able to afford higher CPAs for certain conversions compared to others, and this will ultimately help you get higher volumes of the right type of conversions.

How’d you do that?

PPC landing page testing can be complex, but these few tricks above are what help us double the performance for our clients.

These tips will help you customize your landing pages, resulting in better marketing experiences that convert better.

So you can pull more rabbits conversions out of your hat PPC campaigns.

Embed this gifographic on your site (copy and paste the code).


Reddit CEO Steve Huffman: ‘We know your dark secrets. We know everything.’

I had a chance to interview Reddit CEO Steve Huffman at our conference last week, which was interesting and a lot of fun. And when I asked Steve about monetization, or simply ‘making money’ he replied with what I thought was just a funny statement: We know all of your interests. Not only just your interests you are willing to declare publicly on Facebook – we know your dark secrets, we know everything… The community at Reddit was a bit more critical, and surprised, and the video of the interview quickly reached the #1 spot on the Reddit homepage and collected…

This story continues at The Next Web
Social Media – The Next Web

Secrets For Choosing the Right Mobile Messaging Channel

Have you ever deleted an app from your device because it sent you too many push notifications? Or wondered why your latest flight info is popping up as a text message, rather than in your digital wallet?

Bad messaging channel choices, that’s why. Mobile devices offer you a huge number of different ways to connect with your users and customers. Each channel is best suited to convey different types of messages. Pick the right one for what you want to say!

If you don’t have an app…

Even without an app, you have a few options for getting messages to your users on their mobile devices.

Text messaging

The original mobile channel. SMS and MMS can reach anyone who’s given you their number, and your messages arrive right away. You’re limited in how nice you can make your message look, and text messages aren’t very interactive. But all you need is a phone number to get started.

Text is best used for simple, urgent messages, particularly transactional ones, like flight status updates. (But only if you don’t have an app!) They’re often used for discounts and another infrequent announcements as well, but you’ll have much more success with messages sent through an installed app.


Marketers often don’t think of their website or web app as a communication channel. But it is. It’s just passive; mostly, you have to wait for your users to come to you. This makes it difficult to provide timely updates, and you lose a lot of context, like your visitor’s exact location. But you can closely track what your user is doing, and let them immediately take many different types of actions.

Your website is best used for messages that aren’t urgent, and that are meant to be acted on when your user is on your site. For example, a month-long sale is useful to promote through your site, since many of your regular visitors will see it, and you can link them right to sale items. Shipping notifications are much less useful to send through your site, since your user won’t see them right away. As another example, it’s hard to re-engage dormant users on your site, but it’s a great channel for acquiring new ones.

Digital Wallet

Apple and Google are constantly adding features to digital wallet passes. It’s appropriate to think of the digital wallet as a lightweight version of an app. Passes are easy to distribute, easy for a user to add, and can have some branding that helps users recognize and remember you.

They can pop up at certain locations where they’re most useful, for example, near your store. And they can be updated with new information as needed.

Use a digital wallet pass any time you would otherwise hand your user a piece of paper or plastic. Tickets, loyalty cards, payment cards, and coupons are all great uses for digital wallet passes. Specific messages about product updates, promotions, and transactional communications are not as good a fit.


If you do have an app…

If you have an app, your options broaden considerably.

Push notifications

Everyone’s received a push notification. If you get a user to install your app, you can send one at any time; your user doesn’t even have to be in the app to see it. They’re easy to brand, and you can even specify actions for the user to take with a single tap.

Push notifications are great for delivering small amounts of real-time information (like sports scores, notifications, and news), and also for getting a user to take an action, such as learning about a special promotion. However, they only reach people who have opted-in, which is usually less than half of your users. They’re also high stakes; users will notice immediately if you send irrelevant content, and they’ll turn off push access off for your app, or even uninstall it.

In-app messages

In-app messages are similar to push notifications, but they’re delivered to your users while they’re active in your app. You can put real-time updates in them, and, unlike push notifications, they don’t require opt-in in order to be received.

In-app messages are great complements to push notifications for users who haven’t opted in, and can be used to send similar, highly-targeted messages, such as real-time information that’s relevant within the context of your app.


Message center

This is a completely passive channel inside your app. The message center archives messages that have been sent to your users in the past, and makes them accessible later. This is a great channel for storing things that don’t require immediate action and that might be most useful when a user is already in your app.

What should you send?

No matter what channel you use, your user’s attention is a precious resource, and you have to make sure that what you’re sending is valuable to them. Answer these questions before you use any of these channels:

What’s the purpose of your message?

What action do you want the user to take when they receive it? Figuring this out will make it easier to decide on whether you need a channel with interactivity; it will also help you figure out how truly urgent your message actually is, and how to measure its success. Is there a call to action, or is this purely for brand awareness?

What context does your message matter in?

Mobile messaging is all about context: time, location, user preferences. Deciding what context is truly important will help you pick the right channel. For example, if something matters in real-time, you’ll want to use push. If it matters when the user gets to it, you could try an in-app message.

Will your user care?

Worry about whether what you’re sending is useful. If you’re Twitter, it might be OK to send 20 push notifications a day, if your user wants to keep a close eye on their followers. If you’re Candy Crush, maybe you shouldn’t even send one push notification a week, because your user is a casual gamer who doesn’t care about new features. If you focus on delivering what your user wants, you’ll have to worry a lot less about everything else.


As a mobile marketer, you’ve got lots of channels to choose from. We haven’t even touched on emerging channels, like chatbots and wearables, which will play an increasingly large role in delivering useful content to your users. The key with any channel is to match the characteristics of the message to the medium. And don’t forget to listen to your users, too — if you pay attention to their responses and preferences, they’ll tell you how and what they want delivered.

About the Author: Justin Dunham is Lead, Marketing Technology and Analytics at Urban Airship, the leading mobile engagement platform. Urban Airship helps leading brands engage their mobile users and build high-value relationships from the moment customers download an app. For more, follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

Secrets to Kickstart Your Designer Career In 2016

The career of the graphics designer is an endless adventure through the would of creativity. The designer’s job is not only related to creating compelling products but to also create a connection between the brand and the customers through visual elements. 

Standing out in an industry overflown with competition is a difficult challenge lots of talented designers are left behind. Being good is not a strong factor for success on its own and if you’re in the design industry for a while, you’ve probably learned that the hard way.

What helps designers with an average portfolio and low experience get on the road of success so quickly?

Have you ever wondered what hides behind the prosperity of your competitors? Truth be told, talent is an invaluable part of your prosperity in the graphic design business but exposure, on the other hand, can get you a long way and here is why. There are many designers thought the world who present excellent ideas and can boost themselves with an extensive skill base, yet, less than 20% of them actually try to show their work to the world. There are lots of designers who have gotten into the industry straight out of college and haven’t really created an online portfolio or a proper resume. Working for a design agency might be a dream-come-true, yet, there are lots of freelance opportunities out there which could help you launch a prosperous career and present you with a ton of prospect clients.

Become an Influencer in a Design Community

Showcasing your work in a design community will help you create valuable business connections and get you the exposure you need to become a successful freelancer. There are lots of designer communities out there which can aid your career and provide you with valuable information about the industry’s latest trends.

  • Behance: This is one of the world’s most popular community platforms which welcomes creatives from a broad range of niches. In Behance, you can showcase art in all its forms, be it web design, photography, motion graphics, 3d modelling, typography and lots more. Behance is a friendly designer community and a popular option for creatives who are just entering the online world of design as it is free for everyone to join.
  • Dribbble: Unlike Behance, Dribble will require an invitation in order to allow you to showcase your projects and it’s definitely a platform you need to be active on to secure your success in the design industry.
  • Forrst: Another invitation-only platform which gets its users through a selection process to guarantee only the most dedicated and talented designers are part of the crew.
  • Hunie: Small invitation-only graphic design community  which allows users to exchange feedback on their work. Despite being fairly new, Hunie has managed to keep a wonderful spirit of inspiration and  has a community of friendly and motived design professionals, who are driven to success.
  • Canva: This industry giant will not only help you design beautiful graphics is a smart and quick way, but will also give you the opportunity to gain exposure through different competitions and help you get lots of friends in its amazing design community. If you’re new to the industry, you’ll find Canva to be a great place to start out.

Gain Exposure Through Writing

If you’re good at expressing your ideas in words as well as graphics and you love helping others become better at what they do, you should definitely consider writing some tutorials. There are lots of ways you can contribute to different design hubs by finding pro-bono writing gigs or guest posting at a friend’s blog. If you have some previous experience you might even get a shot at some of the big names in the industry, such as Tutsplus, for example. A smart way to search for writing opportunities is to type “write for us +design” in Google or get through your favorite design blogs and see if they’re not seeking guest authors. Although, you’ll probably get no payment from the writing, you’ll be able to gain lots of exposure and present your skills to readers who might be interested in hiring you for a freelance design project.

Here are a couple of places you can get non-paid writing gigs and hopefully be able to showcase your work to more influencers in the design industry.

  • Sourcebottle: Great place to find writing opportunities and get connected with big brands who seek contributors.
  • HARO: Help a reporter out with some valuable insights on the industry niche you specialise in.
  • StarNow: Here you can occasionally find magazine contribution gigs.


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Social Marketing’s Hidden Success Secrets

Bob032Honesty and transparency can bring fear to many a business. But what is to fear? Why does honesty and transparency even need mentioning?

The answer to this lies at the heart of why social marketing is liberating; social media liberates you from having to come up with A truth and just telling THE truth!

(Actually a caveat is needed for that statement – if you want to grow a loyal customer base.)

Business can choose to spin the story, they can choose to paper over the cracks in their customer service and they can even lie about the greatness of their products….but the truth is this….where once only a customer would know and just not come back for more, now a market will know through that one customer.

But isn’t that good? Doesn’t that make it easier to be good at marketing? What is there to fear about the truth? Nothing and that is one of social marketing secrets – it highlights what you need to do to grow.

When people fear social marketing it is often not because they fear the tools, it is because they fear the truth. The truth that they are not delivering on their promises, that they aren’t really all that special and that they are not as great as they would like to be.

The only time you should fear it is when you have not accepted the truth – because hearing it from customers first is not a great move!

Instead of fearing the truth, embrace the truth. Why? Because it is only the truth that will help you grow.

If your customer service is horrible – the truth is that you NEED to do something about it.

If your product is average – the truth is that you are not special.

If you promise and don’t deliver – the truth is that you will never be profitable.

The fear around businesses reminds me of something Dad used to say when asked for his honest opinion. He said “The trouble with honesty is that it tells the truth”.

Yes, social marketing makes you tell the truth however doesn’t that make it easier to sell? If you have to think up reasons to buy that is really hard work; when you tell the truth it doesn’t need as much creative thinking!

If you struggle to tell the truth then you need to ask deeper questions.

Why are we doing this?

Is our product or service hitting a need in the market?

Are we living and breathing the ‘why’ each day by passionately making something better than average?


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