What We Learned From Buzzfeed That Will Make Your App Amazing


I really didn’t need to know how well I knew Disney song lyrics… but I clicked on it last night anyway and spent 3 minutes realizing that there are Disney movies I’ve never seen. Then I shared it to all my friends. How is Buzzfeed so great at pulling me in, making me engage, and then making me share? It’s not voodoo. It’s done methodically and every app should be learning from them.

Their secret is that they don’t try to know what they don’t know. Instead, they hold judgement at bay and iterate relentless at the top of the funnel.

1. Stop thinking you know everything about customer behavior

I found this “amazeballs” (said with quotes because I’m still unsure if I’m allowed to use words like on a B2B blog) deck on Upworthy’s “10 Ways to Win the Interwebs” strategy. The number one tip?

“Nobody knows anything.”

They proceed to mention that the 2 biggest hits of all time came from interns. I’ve seen this happen time and time again with mobile development teams (any product team, really; even ours) that argue over design details without talking to customers. Or they argue over UI elements that could easily be tested rather than debated.

The most successful mobile teams don’t debate whether the buy button should be fixed on the screen, stay at the top, at the bottom, or be orange. The successful apps create the most viable product quickly, launch it, and test all their ideas relentlessly. This not only ends up saving design time, but you’ll end up with the correct answer according to your KPIs.

2. Iterate the onboarding flow as quickly as possible

Not all parts of your content are equally important. The top of the funnel is more important. What your users see first is more important. This is why Buzzfeed spends so much time testing headlines and Upworthy always writes at least 25 headlines per article.

As our CEO, Nancy Hua, said in a panel discussion last month, “If you don’t nail onboarding, your developers may as well have been drinking beers instead of building those features that no one saw.”

But testing isn’t enough. You need to experiment quickly so that you don’t waste downloads on an imperfect first-run experience. Grabbing attention is always a race. It’s vital to engage the customer before the competitor grabs that customers.

3. Make it viral

Virality can be a key source of organic growth. Many apps (and websites) miss out on easy opportunities for cost-less acquisition by not spending the time to optimize their sharing and rating flow.

Check out how SafeTrek changed their share icon and saw 9x more virality.

About Apptimize

Apptimize is an innovation engine that provides A/B testing and feature release management for native mobile, web, mobile web, hybrid mobile, OTT, and server. Industry leaders like HotelTonight, The Wall Street Journal, and Glassdoor have created amazing user experiences with Apptimize.

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