If you have been involved in the mobile app space for a while, you certainly saw 100s or even 1000s of apps come and go. There is only a tiny percent that stays on the surface and stays relevant.
But why is that?
How did successful apps gain that massive growth? Is there a certain recipe to get there?
There is no secret sauce or a quick recipe you can follow. I am sure you already know that but…
You can learn from others’ wins and failures so next time you do better.
So today, I will show you how a mindfulness app called Jour went from 0 to 350k users in 1.5 years generating all of its users ORGANICALLY up until now.
I will not only show you how they got to where they are today but also examine what opportunities are laid ahead of them that can bring potential growth to Jour.
It is my intention in this article to show you what’s working in the mobile app space by walking you through the strategies & tactics of the biggest industry leaders.
What you see below is not conjecture or theory. This is the real facts behind a growing company and its competitors, the marketing strategies they use, and the tactics used.
First of all — let’s get to know the brand a bit better.
Jour was founded in late 2018 by Bobby Giangeruso, Justin Bureau, and Maxime Germain.
New York-based Jour has raised a $1.8 million seed round from True Ventures’ Kevin Rose (who previously founded Oak, the meditation app).
But what’s Jour anyway?
According to Jour’s Crunchbase profile:
“Jour is a guided journaling app that helps teens and adults with battling mental illness and commit mindfulness.
Its guided sequences are meant to facilitate the journaling process and encourage writers to mindfully reflect and record their lives.
It aims to create a library of audio sessions and written questions meant to spark inspiration.”
To make this all happen they gathered almost 50 people, including therapists, coaches, neuroscientists, designers, and entrepreneurs.
Summary of Their Strategy
While they have quite a few things at their disposal, they grew their user base 100% organically up until recently.
They have an incredible product that has already gathered hundreds of thousands of users organically.
Now, it’s time for them to use all data they gathered and start exploring paid acquisition channels.
In fact, this is what they have been working on in the past weeks.
The Road to 350k MAU
Jour acquired over 350,000 new users in the last 15 months since starting their journey in January 2019.
We’ve seen far more aggressive growth strategies than that but… until recently they weren’t using any paid acquisition channels at all.
Meaning, almost 350k new users found the app organically.
Not bad, right?
I put the above chart together gathering all data available online. I have had a fairly easy task here as the current number of active users shows up on their dashboard.
Source: Jour App
This is a well-known element that marketers use for creating FOMO and increasing credibility.
And came real handy to me this time.
Obviously, this data is not 100% accurate but still gives us a great opportunity to take a sneak peek at how Jour was growing over time.
Plus, we can see how their growth rate changed Month-over-Month and Year-over-Year.
Their launch was a little over a year ago so YoY data doesn’t make much sense to look into.
However, we have 15 months of track record to take a closer look at MoM growth.
Growing 20% consistently month to month is considered ideal — let’s see what they’ve got.
The above chart is based on the same data as the previous one so it is just as much accurate as the other one was.
The original release date of the app was the 6th of March 2019. Starting from that point, I visualized how the user base changed over the following months.
Again, this is a projection based on publicly available data.
However, it’s obvious these projections are not 100% accurate, it still gives us a better understanding of how Jour evolved in the past 15 months.
As I mentioned before, a compound 20% growth rate is considered to be good — it is exponential.
Jour has clearly fallen below the average growth rate in the last months however, their combined growth rate is still 20.87%.
Don’t judge this number just yet.
It is slightly above 20% though, so we could say they are doing great…
But it’s not what it seems like.
It is just enough to take a look at the trends above to see they most certainly had a buzz after release.
Which eventually faded away.
A 10% monthly increase that is happening right now is not a great number to keep up.
When you look at things like Month-over-Month growth rates, you should know that the metric is affected by existing user retention and new user acquisition.
These should be broken down into cohorts so you can have a better understanding which needs to be improved.
Jour surely started working on the user acquisition part by creating paid ads most recently. We don’t have any data on retention rates that reflect existing users’ behavior.
Though, one thing is for sure: they need to ramp up these growth metrics.
As we can’t really look behind the curtains, I can’t tell much about their retention rates or conversion metrics.
But I do can tell that it’s time for Jour to step up their paid ads game.
Their team pretty much came to the same decision as they started running ads very recently a few weeks ago.
Source: Mobile Action
They started running ads at the end of May 2020 solely on Facebook for now.
All ads got a super nice and simple design — just like the app. It is very well-designed and just nice to look at really.
There are 140 different creatives running right now. And from what I can see, they regularly upload new versions, add tweaks every 3–4 days as they should.
They basically promote all their premium features, even ones I haven’t even seen in the app before.
This ad is a great example:
I was a little surprised to see it as I didn’t recall any of it from the app which I have been using for 2 weeks now.
It might be a great feature, it might even be a great angle to promote the app but it definitely needs to be highlighted more in the app as well.
As for the ad itself, all I can say they tested a lot of different versions lately — it’s a sign that the first results looked promising to them.
Let’s see how they did with videos…
This video was made by phone and has a very casual style. It is great to use these types of videos, especially at the beginning when you don’t have much experience on how to put together video ads that sell.
Even later on, once you have a brand all figured out, these videos can bring in surprising results. I have seen times when it far outdid a studio-quality video.
“How come?” — you might ask.
It is working great because of its simplicity — it blends in so easily with other posts around it. Seems like just your friends showing you a new app.
This all looks very promising.
At first glance, only one thing should be improved here…
The ending — it’s horrible how they cut the video basically in half. Just when they got you interested, they suddenly cut off.
Instead, they should show value and give you the final push to download the app.
Which you would certainly do as the other parts of the video are quite alright.
We have a whole process on how we plan video ads for different ad networks but a rule of thumb is that you should approach every ad (no matter the goal, the length, format, etc.) by the AIDA model.
It is as simple as that.
You grab attention, spark interest, wake desire, and get them to act.
Following this principle, the last few seconds of that video needs a little revamp.
Overall, much of their approach reminded me so much to another brand I have seen before… then I realized!
It is very similar to the concept that Calm uses.
Smartly enough, Jour is following Calm’s ad strategy.
It’s a nice start with paid ads, but there is still a long road ahead of them.
Future of Growth
This app is undoubtedly one of the best I have seen lately and it has great potential.
They are starting to focus more heavily on marketing so it’s inevitable to talk more about the endless opportunities they have moving forward.
It is time to take a sneak peek into Jour’s potential growth strategy and what the future might hold for them.
If you have ever been a part of developing and/or marketing an app, you are familiar with the Pirate metrics model created by Dave McClure.
It is like the Bible to all SaaS and App companies. And for a good reason…
I will not be talking too much about the model itself, Dave did a fantastic job on that. However, I do have some advice on how to implement it.
I have seen too many startups focusing on Acquisition too heavily ending up with putting customers into a leaky bucket.
Instead, you must focus on all 5 elements of the Customer Lifecycle (or User Journey, however you call) to prevent them from leaking away.
There are several tools in the marketing arsenal you can use to support the User Journey and you should use more than one for sure. There are Paid Ads, Marketing automation, ASO, Content Marketing, Social media just to name a few.
The possibilities are endless.
This article has already been long enough so I will stick with Paid Ads for now.
But before you think:
“Naah, we’re just gonna cover Acquisition then” — we are absolutely not!!
Sure, it’s an important part of paid media but not the only way to support growth and the User Journey. And it shouldn’t be the only way.
In fact, if you only use paid media to acquire new users you should seriously consider rethinking your whole strategy.
So what’s the first step?
Every great strategy starts with thorough research — it is just like that with paid ads. We have a 5-step methodology we use all the time no matter the niche, the product, or the target market.
Today, I will show you 3 of them briefly so we will have real data to examine and won’t be just making up theories.
We are going to take a look at Jour’s direct & indirect competitors, its potential customers, and an empathy map which is a must for well-crafted ads.
Let’s dive in! Shall we?
Source: Mobile Action
Above you can see the key players of the industry — these are the competitors Jour is surrounded with. It is super important to be aware of the messages out there.
Whether it is a direct or in-direct competitor, we always care to dig deep and find out what messages they put out there.
So we can see what the brand (in this case Jour) is going to be surrounded with.
When you market your product, you are sending a message to potential customers. Before doing that, you need to know what others (aka your competitors) signal to those very same people. It is that simple.
There are a lot of notable apps on this chart above.
They spent millions of dollars to find out the secret sauce, the marketing recipe that works for them. So we are going to examine a few of their tactics that might significantly improve Jour’s marketing efforts.
Diversifying Between Ad Networks
Source: Mobile Action
This is how a diversified paid mobile strategy looks like. Calm sets a great example here by showing that even though they spend most of their budget on one channel they do stand a leg on several other ad networks as well.
This is key to long-standing success. And here’s why.
Networks have their own policies changing every day, so it can be a very hectic climate sometimes.
For example, Facebook has one of the most strict policies in place. You should seriously consider bookmarking their policy page unless you wanna get ads rejected or even worse, banned completely.
Also, Facebook has the biggest inventory among social networks, practically everyone wants a slice of the pie. And this is why Facebook is living its max ad load era.
Before COVID-19, costs were increasing for years and they continue doing so. There are literally millions of advertisers on the platform.
And it’s increasing by millions every year!
Networks do come up with new ways to create more ad space but there is a limit on those too. Plus, it’s not a guarantee new placements are going to be a big hit.
Like Facebook Newsfeed is not quite comparable to Messenger ads, right?
Jour is spending 100% of its budget on Facebook. It’s all good as they started just a few weeks ago.
Yet, there is a huge potential to tap into other networks once they figure out Facebook. It is also an opportunity for them to scale horizontally.
Now that we know where they should advertise, let’s see who they should target:
Identifying your customer personas, knowing who your target market is part of the product-market fit. Something that should be done way before thinking about acquiring new users through paid channels.
Still, you would be surprised how many times we “discovered” personas during our research that haven’t been used or even heard before in a particular company.
This is a potential “Angel” Persona of Jour.
The fact that they only have the app on iOS gives us a great starting point. You see, most of the time products tend to work better on one platform than the other.
Having only iOS users tells a lot about the target market already.
This persona is just one example of many we usually put together.
Here’s what we learned about them:
- They’re mostly women in their 20s or early 30s
- Living in big cities like NYC, London, LA
- They’re super mindful
And the list continues as you can see above…
But besides “Angel” Personas, we focus on “Demon” Personas as well — something that most people miss.
You see, Anti (or “Demon”) Personas are just as important as the Pro (“Angel”) ones.
Meaning, you want to know who are the ones you should avoid at all costs. Those are the ones who bring down the business, complain a lot, and just not a good fit for your company overall.
An important task for Jour is to identify as many personas as they can along the road. So they can scale horizontally this way as well.
And avoid the ones that cause more harm than good.
Once we are done with research and getting to know the basics, it’s time to create a story that sells. You’ll see what I mean…
How to create great video ads
Creating ads is tough, especially if you are new to an ad network.
Ad creation has its golden rules that apply to every situation. Like the first few seconds of the ad are the most important or having a Call-To-Action at the end is a must.
But it slightly differs on each network too. You might have a video that is crushing it on Facebook then you think:
“Hm, it would make sense to run this on YouTube as well. I will just upload it and we are good to go.” — And you’re absolutely wrong.
90% of the time what works Facebook needs at least a tweak or two to work on YouTube as well or it doesn’t work at all.
This ad from Calm is a perfect example of a well-crafted video. It’s fairly short but has everything in place.
Notice how they use an animation that has a soothing effect on the mind and it happens right in the first second.
I think it’s genius how they placed the “Download this app” text right behind the animation — it is a great transition from Attention to Action.
As I said, it is not easy to master video ads creation but it is completely doable. Here are a few things to pay attention to:
- Follow the AIDA model — especially at first interaction. It has a great psychological impact.
- You need to start with a story that sells. This applies to all types of campaigns you would like to run. This story will be the same for all audiences, just the package changing.
- Try to automate the ad creation process as much as you can. Templatize videos if possible especially if ad creation stays in-house. You can thank me later.
Jour is testing more and more videos which is the way to go. They have a lot to improve on that front but that is what testing is all about — gathering data.
Creating home-made videos is a clever way to test out things at the beginning.
As time goes by, they will need to step up their game in complexity which requires a lot of manpower. This is why you should always aim for at least a semi-automated ad creation process.
What the Future Holds
The team behind Jour called Human is just getting started. Jour is their first product and it seems like they’re on to more.
They’re “pushing health and happiness forward. Through our tools and resources, we hope to empower, inform, and start a conversation.”
Way to go guys!! 👏👏 All clap is yours today.
Most of you have a successful App Company and you probably have your marketing strategies in place. However, I hope in this article you might have learned a thing or two about what makes an app’s marketing successful and what makes it worse.
If you are in any other market you should be thinking about how to implement these working strategies to YOUR app, in YOUR market.
A lot thinks their app is unique and they need marketing tactics no one used before.
Trust me, after working with the most exciting App Startups in Europe, I can truly say no App is that different. These strategies work in all App markets.
Don’t go after strategies just because gurus say you must use this and this. Take a look at what big dawgs do and think about how you can implement them to your business. If you can tweak them to an even better version, you’ll rock. 💯🔥