Jesse Rodgers talks customer acquisition for mobile apps

Jesse Rodgers is the VP of Business Development at Boltmade in Waterloo and has been in education and technology for the last 15 years. Jesse is the Founding Director of the Creative Destruction Lab at the Rotman School of Management and currently teaches a course focused on growth companies at the University of Toronto.

According to Jesse Rodgers, finding mobile users is a lot like fishing; you have to try different lures. There are tonnes of fish in the water, but you need to lure properly to attract them to what you’re offering.


Last month, Jesse led a sold-out session here at iF on customer acquisition for mobile apps, where he spoke to his fishing analogy and discussed ways that mobile companies can approach acquiring a user base.

Jesse began his session by talking about the stark reality of the mobile app space, where you’re essentially playing a lottery. When mobile companies get something on the App Store, they’re basically throwing something into a vortex. Jesse warns that you really can’t rely on App Store discoverability, because the numbers are against you.

So what, then, can mobile app companies do to attract users? Here are a select few of Jesse’s recommendations:

Talk to people

More specifically, talk to strangers. Not your family or friends – people who you feel are your target customer but have no vested interest in your success. Find out which strangers have deep interest in your product and make sure you’re talking to them. A key differentiator in deep interest is someone who will pay to have your app/product built, vs. someone who will pay for it once it’s built.

Create value

What is the killer feature that people will want to use and get value from? Usually it’s one little thing that should be focused on. It’s very often a feature you didn’t expect, but you need to take the time to figure that feature out and then perfect it.

Be a thought leader

Write a lot of content about the general space you’re in, whether it’s HR, real estate, nutrition, etc. Make sure you have a good website and start blogging original content related to your industry, sharing it through social media. Track who visits your website, reach out and create connections. You should also consider speaking at conferences, events, or wherever you can build a fan base and reach your customers.

Know your stuff

There’s nothing more powerful than knowing your space inside-out. Become an expert on the problem you’re solving as well as your competition. Know your niche well enough to be able to differentiate yourself effectively and solve that pain point for customers.

For Jesse, it was important to drive home that often times, mobile app developers think that since they’ve created an incredible app, it’s inevitable that it will get noticed and people will love it. When in reality, no one inherently cares about what you’re doing – you have to show them why they should care by marketing and communicating your unique value add.

All that being said, Jesse sums up customer acquisition simply as finding a predictable way to get people to pay or use your product. Of course, that’s all once you’ve discovered the lure that works for attracting your customers!

You can view Jesse’s full slide show here, and be sure to register for our September 15th Lunch ‘n Learn where Jesse will be back to speak on Digital Disruption!


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