I’ve also been thinking a lot about mobile apps, because: that’s my job.
And as it turns out, mobile apps and love actually have a lot in common…
1. There are a lot of fish in the sea
With 1.2 million apps in the Apple Store and 1.3 in the Google Play store, my mom’s favorite dating cliche definitely rings true. Break up with your girlfriend, and she’ll replace you with a new, improved, more Ryan Gosling-esque man. Frustrate your app users, and they’ll switch to a similar app faster than you can say, “The Notebook.”
2. First impressions matter
Just like getting swept off your feet by a dreamy, modern-day, prince charming, the first time a user sees, installs, and uses your app should leave an enchanting first impression. Think: love at first sight. How can you make people fall in love with your app at first use? Icon design and app description are a good starting place, as they’re important for App Store Optimization to help you get noticed and rank higher in App Store search.
The onboarding flow also plays a huge role. Your “prince-charming-of-an-app” should engage you immediately. It should be genuinely interested in the relationship, showing users how to get started using the app in a meaningful way, rescuing princesses, etc. It also plays a little hard to get. It doesn’t bombard users with too much information up front; just enough to kick the romance off on a positive note.
3. You’ve got to keep the romance alive
First impressions are only the beginning, considering that 80-90% of downloaded apps get used once and then deleted and 85% of romances end in breakups. Coincidence? Of course not.
People grow and evolve over time—what worked at the beginning of a relationship won’t keep the fire going forever. Think about new ways to engage and activate your users to prevent them from losing interest. Keep your users engaged by surfacing new features or tricks. Try triggering different notifications based on behavior. What’s the app-equivalent of buying flowers? That’s for you to find out.
4. Don’t be needy
Nobody likes to be bombarded with Shakespearean sonnets (or push notifications) every hour. While communication is important, sometimes… the timing just isn’t right.
Just because you can reach out your users at any time (via a push notification, in-app messaging, or email) doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Test to find the most effective time, method, tone, and channels for communicating with users. Be strategic about when you ask them to engage, and don’t spam them. Everybody needs a little space sometimes.
5. Make them feel special
His birthday… his favorite band… the name of his childhood hamster… his favorite Seinfeld quote and the exact season, episode, and timestamp where it can be found…
Just like a significant other, apps should put the information they learn about their users to use over time. Draw on this information—like days using the app, time since last login, geographic location, time zone—to make each experience more personal, prompting your users to feel more engaged, invested, and (of course) loved.
Pro-tip: Keep in mind, it’s important to get personalization right, using accurate information at the right time. Ever call a significant other by someone else’s name? How’d that work out? 😉
6. Respect their privacy
When it comes to privacy, it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page. For instance, that photo your girlfriend sent you last weekend was probably not meant to be shared to all your Instagram followers. #nofilter #bigmistake #HUGEmistake #literallythedumbestthingyoucouldhavedone #oops
Many apps offer a Facebook or Google login these days. For most of us, that’s a pretty convenient option. But just because I’m sharing information with you, my darling app, doesn’t mean that I’m interested in sharing it with the entire Facebook world. Be upfront at the beginning about what will and won’t be shared with clear messaging. You can also test giving users the option to opt-out of different social aspects to find the level of sharing that makes them feel most comfortable.
Every day, you have the chance to build a lasting relationship with the people who use your app. Take a moment to remember that this Valentine’s Day. Focus on those things that will grow and nurture your relationship: an enchanting first impression, new and exciting engagement strategies, and making your app users feeling special and respected. But remember, not all is fair in the world of love and apps. These are just best practices—a starting point for testing and optimization.