We launched Report Toaster into the Shopify App Store 55 days ago. Over the weekend, we eclipsed 100 active users. We are happy about the milestone because It happened much more quickly than expected. But putting the milestone aside, we're thrilled with the overall journey to date. So I thought I would share some of the highlights.
Our First User
We received our first install within an hour of publishing our app. That was a pleasant surprise and made us feel good. Then we received an email from that user who couldn't figure out how to customize a report. This made us feel not so good.
We had invested a substantial amount of time into the user interface design and had created video tutorials to help our users onboard. But here we are with our first user, not being able to make use of one of our key features.
A little back and forth revealed that we were missing a data point our user needed. She wanted to track inventory cost and we didn't have a way to do that. So we went to work and added it along with the ability to track profits across an entire store.
The entire experience left us with a happy customer, our first 5-star review (see below), and this blog post. Not bad for our first install!
Search Results and Growth
For the first few weeks, growth was pretty flat. We were averaging about 5 installs a week for the first month. We were happy with the feedback we were receiving, but we wanted more users.
Our problem was that merchants had no way to find us. Being new in the Shopify app store meant that our app listing was starting from the bottom in terms of search results. Almost all of our app listing traffic was organic, based on our activity on Reddit, the Shopify Community board and Shopify Partner Slack channels. I needed to do something about our search results.
According to this article from Shopify, the search engine ranks app listing results based on relevance. The algorithm for an app listing's relevance isn't published, but the main factors are likely keywords, number of installs and quantity/quality of reviews. This makes it kind of a chicken and egg situation. You can't get installs if merchants can't find your app, yet merchants can't find your app until you have installs.
On May 26th, I decided to start tracking search results for all our main keywords. At this point, we ranked 128th for our main keyword (reports), which put us on the 6th page of results. We had equally unimpressive results for most of our other keywords. Clearly it would be very difficult to increase our install rate until our rankings improved.
My approach was very simple. Tweak our listing to try and rank higher with specific keywords. Continue to provide top-notch support with the goal of getting some more positive reviews. Then check back in a week and hope to see some steady improvement.
During the next seven days, we had 16 installs. Easily our best week yet! I assumed that the review we received, along with my keyword changes, had improved our ranking. I guess I wasn't prepared for how much it would improve. Our new ranking for the reports keyword improved from 128th to 15th, which put us on the first page!
We were absolutely floored, plus ecstatic and a little scared to be honest. Of course we expected some improvement, but this was much more than we could have expected. The keyword changes definitely helped in some areas, but we attribute this to the power of reviews. It has now been 27 days since that review and in that timeframe we've had 106 installs, or 3.92 per day.
Above is our growth chart. The stars represent the dates on which we received our first two reviews. Of course I've continued to make adjustments to our app listing in an effort to improve our rankings. However, the majority of my time is spent supporting our customers in hopes that they will be kind enough to leave us a review.
One of the major surprises during the past 8 weeks has been the global reach of our user base.
Above is a map with a pin for each of our installs; green represents an active user, yellow are uninstalled, and red is for closed shops. As you can see, we literally have users from around the globe. Some basic stats about our install base:
We've had 136 overall installs; of those 28 uninstalled and 3 closed their shops.
We have installs on 6 of the 7 continents. C'mon Antarctica!
32 countries are represented.
21 of the 50 States in the US are accounted for.
62% of our installs are outside North America!!
We are based in the United States, so this can present some support challenges. We are doing the best we can to provide live support, but that's just not possible all the time. So far, the majority of our users have been very understanding.
I texted the map to my son and this is what I received in return (actually it was an animated GIF, but watching it in the blog post was making me nauseous). If you don't understand, you'll need to brush up on your Pitbull references.
We are just getting started, so it's probably too early to start drawing conclusions. We don't even have a paid version of our app yet. So maybe we can just call this takeaways:
Launch an app that solves a problem.
Be ready to support users in all timezones.
Be hyper-diligent about support because it will lead to positive reviews.
Once you have some reviews, be ready for more installs.