You’ll be forgiven for not knowing Nabd, but one thing is for sure: This is a significant app, with over 9 million users and app store rankings that would make 99 percent of developers green with envy.
Think of Nabd as a Flipboard for Arabic news.
The app gathers information from over 1,500 Arabic news sources, including newspapers, sports clubs, TV channels, news agencies, technology, and blogs, to name a few.
Nabd is available across the Middle East, and to date has managed to gain an impressive list of achievements. On iPhone, it has been crowned the number one news app in 37 different countries. In fact, Nabd is so popular, it has attained a top ten spot across all app categories in thirteen countries, putting it in the same league as WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat.
And today, the Dubai-based company behind Nabd is announcing its first International expansion by launching in Turkey as Nabız.
“We chose the Turkish market as our first international expansion for many reasons,” Abdur-Rahman El-Sayed, cofounder and CEO at Nabd, told me. “Despite the language difference, Turkey is very close to the Arab world with similar news consumption habits, and it enjoys over 30 million smartphones users.”
So what led to the phenomenal success of Nabd in the Middle East?
“Understanding the local demographic profiles and local consumption habits was key to the success of Nabd,” Abdullah El-Sayed, cofounder and VP of engineering at Nabd, told me. “Instead of adopting the methodologies of successful news apps in the US or other markets, we relied on our individualised approach and focused primarily on the needs and behaviour of consumers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.”
What in-store and other tactics did Nabd employ to reach such a wide audience and score so highly in so many countries?
“Being able to deliver local, instant breaking news has contributed significantly to the widespread of Nabd. Millions of stories are being shared on social networks via Nabd per month, resulting in increased virality and new user acquisitions,” Abdullah El-Sayed said. “While the majority of our downloads are organic, we also adopted successful marketing strategies that include app store optimisation (ASO), highly targeted user acquisition campaigns, and app store promotions. Being featured by both Apple and Google in ‘Best Apps’ category and being showcased in Apple’s retail stores were also very effective marketing channels for Nabd.”
As far as the future is concerned, Abdur-Rahman El-Sayed believes that it is going to become harder for new apps to shine. “The user acquisition space will continue to become more crowded and competitive, and prices will continue to go up,” he said. “With time, app owners will evaluate their user acquisition campaigns based on long-term retention and conversion metrics rather than simply the number of installs. New user acquisition models such as cost per engagement (CPE) will gain popularity, as they typically result in higher retention rates in comparison to standard cost per install (CPI) campaigns, despite being priced higher.
“To ensure the viability of their businesses, developers will need to find ways to make their apps grow organically and rely less on steeply priced user acquisition methods,” he said.
The importance of staying on top of the latest user acquisition trends is paramount. We live in a very different world from that we marketed and sold products and services to only five years ago.
“The world population is becoming a mobile-first one,” Abdur-Rahman El-Sayed said. “In the MENA region, 9 out of 10 people use their mobile devices to access the internet, according to eMarketer. Developing a mobile-first strategy is no longer an option, but a necessity.”