In the rapid and ever-changing world of apps, Skout is considered an old timer.
Having launched in 2007, the mobile social network has only recently seen customer growth skyrocket over the past 18 months. Last year, Skout only acquired 100,000 users a month. But now that number has spiked to 1 million.
“Part of the key to Skout’s success has been the serendipitous nature of service” says Skout CEO, Christian Wikilund.
Unlike most dating sites, Skout allows users to randomly chat with strangers in the areas, as opposed to one-on-one communication. It’s built on the premise that people want to chat with and meet people nearby. The mobile social network uses geocentric technology to locate itself and determine whose half a mile within your area.
While the app is free, Skout generates revenue through its freemium model. Users can pay for an ad-free version or virtual currency, which can be used to buy gifts, boost profile status, and get more data on who’s been checking you out.
The app is expected to see a tenfold growth in customers with a current base of tens of millions of users. Wikilund says if he had to do it all over again here are the strategies he’d follow.
Focus on the Product
Your app should be fun, simple, and useful, says Wikilund. While consumers can choose from millions of apps, not every app effectively serves a need and keeps their users satisfied.
To keep consumers happy, he routinely kicks out 40,000 people a month for unacceptable social behavior.
“I have a zero-tolerance policy on douchebaggery” says Wiklund, in the effort to maintain a fun experience for every user.
Wikilund says it’s important to get the product out as quickly as possible, and not to worry about every single feature for the app. As long as the core service of the product keeps people wanting to come back, you can add features based on user feedback.
Wiklund believes analytics are key to growth and success. He says companies need to mine data on consumers to see how they’re using the app. These insights drive improvements, benefiting both customer acquisition and retention. He adds not to “worry about getting 100,000 users…” but to start with acquiring “1,000 and see how they use it”.
Every time Skout releases a new version, Wiklund sees a huge spike in usage.
While marketing is important, it should be added while your product is out as opposed to during the development process, Wikilund says.
Never lose sight on what’s important: the development of the app and the product. If the product lacks quality, users won’t be users for long. After your app grows, you always buy users, he says.
Again, it’s all about providing a product that people like. If they like it, chances are they’ll tell their friends and marketing will happen by itself.
“If you launch a product that’s fun, then you have a good foundation to make something happen,” says Wikilund.