Optimizing Viral Growth Methods to Reduce Churn

Dec 14

Optimizing Viral Growth Methods to Reduce Churn

This is part three of our blog series about how to “Grow a viral loop and reduce churn.” There are several types of outreach methods that we can look at and optimize for the best results when it comes to spreading viral growth.

Optimizing Share Rate

The core of the viral loop comes from the incentive that encourages users to share how awesome your App is with their friends and networks. But Sharing has to be inherently valuable to the user, or else why do it?

Including a “share” or “invite” button won’t automatically take care of the problem – you’ll still have to properly incentivize users to click on those. Virality is not a single feature, but rather is based on a well-designed user flow  that encourages users to take specific actions. It helps to ask yourself these questions when designing Share functionality:


What is the value that sharing will provide?

Think of this in terms of several categories of value:

Social benefits:

Making people love something enough that they will want to share it with all their friends has an added bonus of social proof: people like to be recognized as influencers when it comes to new technology and general trends.

The effects of Community:

The idea here is the larger your social network is, the greater your outreach and popularity. Well-connected users are desirable and therefore often generously rewarded by apps and communities they utilize. Airbnb and Dropbox are both great examples of apps/services whose use was dependent upon recruiting your personal networks. They had great referral programs to back this up – with Dropbox, the only way you could increase your storage space for free was to recruit a friend and get credited.


Many apps that center around information-sharing and a one-to-many model work because their true value is only revealed once shared with others. Would Facebook work without your friends being there too? How would you use Skype if none of your contacts had accounts? You simply couldn’t. Apps with this type of natural sharing process have what we call inherent virality.

Finder’s effect:

The act of sharing itself may have social benefits. If your App is interesting, useful or funny, people like to claim early adopter status because it makes them look hip and smart when telling others about it. People also share things that make them look good – think of those quizzes you see on Facebook that talk about how many countries you’ve visited or how many exotic foods you’ve tried. People often click on these to see how they compare with their friends.



There is also a relatively recent model (2005) called the “N.U.D.E” Model from this book. It’s quite similar to above but worth noting for the differences. The elements are:

N= Novelty (something new). Without novelty you’re dead. e.g. Uber

U= Utility – usefulness. Needs to be useful to the friend you’re sharing with.

D= Dependability. You must have good consistency and good quality shares. Don’t poison the well with crap or shilling.

E= Economy or Value. This could refer to saving time, saving money, making the reader smarter in an efficient manner, giving social value like “center-of-attention”, likes, etc.

The NUDE formula says that if you score better than 315% across these 4 factors (we won’t go into the scoring – get the book!) then your App is likely to go viral.


Other incentives:

  • Affiliate marketing: The updated form of this is when users can earn monetary benefits, discounts on subscription plans, or coupons through sharing an app through a source of their choosing: their own website or blog, active recruiting, or sharing referral links/codes. App developers can then use these codes to track how much user acquisition they’re getting through referrals or affiliates.
  • Socially conscious options: Some apps exist mainly to encourage sharing as a  form of social action. Instead of an exchange of money, Horizon is an app that seeks to connect digital nomads and people with similar interests via an Airbnb type of couchsurfing set-up. However, instead of paying a stranger to sleep at their house, the user donates to a charity like Kiva. DoneGood is like a Yelp for socially responsible shopping – it encourages users to post information about stores and restaurants they frequent. Info is centered around how environmentally sustainable they are or how much they give back to the community – in return, users might get discounts or coupons from the business.

Of course, effective viral elements have to be integrated throughout the App design  in order to have a jump-off point for a viral loop to start. Streethawk Engage gives you deeplinks and referral tracking that ensures your app will both grow and retain your userbase. It can help you embed simple sharing/virality components to your app then drive that with triggers like including simple push notifications, lifecycle management, A/B user tests and drip campaigns.

In the final part of this blog series, part four, we’ll discuss how to to optimize and maximize reach, optimize response rates, combine retention with virality, and explain how to use double viral loops.

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