Increasing app engagement – how to get consumer cut-through

eMarketer predicts that by 2019, mobile will be the leading channel in terms of time spent – an essential channel for engaging customers and driving revenue. But it can be daunting.  Investment in any given non-games app can start at around £20K and run into hundreds of thousands so, in terms of risk and return, building an app is a big step.

Leanplum recently carried out an app engagement study in conjunction with Liftoff that looked at how mobile marketers can enhance the performance of their apps. It found that whilst a relatively low percentage of users are active (15.5% of Android users and 18.1% of iOS) over a period of 30 days, retention and usage can be increased by as much as 62% just by sending push notifications.  

What does this data mean for marketers? Joyce Solano, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, Leanplum, looks at how you can get users, keep them and figure out what they want.

The recent research has shown us that to be successful on mobile, you have to understand that user acquisition and retention go hand-in-hand. The key way to ensure you get a return on your acquisition and to retain customers throughout their lifecycle is by forming a relationship — and that begins with contextual mobile messaging.

Begin by getting your onboarding right

An intuitive and frictionless onboarding experience is the first step to stronger engagement and retention. Start with a clear goal for onboarding and make sure you can help users through the process in five screens or less. It’s not the time to overload users with features and functionality — you need to focus on the product’s core value as quickly as possible.

An intuitive and frictionless onboarding experience is the first step to stronger engagement and retention.

For example, a gaming app should have an onboarding flow introduces the objectives and navigation of the game.

Then, reinforce the onboarding experience with a cross-channel approach. If a user drops out of the onboarding flow, send a push notification to remind them to pick up where they left off. Once they complete, send a welcome email with tips and tricks.

Set the engagement goals that matter most to your brand

Continuous engagement helps brands avoid user churn and drives long-term loyalty. To start, understand your product’s North Star metric.

For e-commerce apps, the North Star metric is on user conversion and maximising purchases during each visit. A successful engagement strategy should drive users to increase their visits and optimise the checkout flow.

For apps that monetise via ads — e.g., media and gaming apps — the North Star metric is session length. The longer users are on the app, the higher their lifetime value. In this case, a good engagement strategy is maximising the time users spend in the app.

For example, if a user has just finished watching all of Downton Abbey in a streaming app, an in-app message that recommends Pride and Prejudice or previews its trailer is an effective way to enhance the in-app experience and keep them logged in.

Employ real-time personalisation

Personalisation begins with building rich customer profiles, which means breaking down data silos and having a consolidated view of the customer across all digital touchpoints. As the customer moves along their journey, brands can deliver the best experience at the right time on the right channel.

For retail, it can mean delivering personalised coupons based on the local weather. For gaming, this may mean customising the difficulty levels based on skill to ensure players don’t get bored or give up because it’s too hard.

A key aspect of personalisation is reacting to customers’ needs, wants, and requirements in real-time. For example, Sephora leverages data from a customer’s online shopping activity in-store by employing beacons, which send notifications when the shopper is near an item they left in a digital shopping cart.

A/B test absolutely everything

You’re not an expert on what your customers want. Your customers are — so let them tell you what they want via in-depth A/B testing.

Experimentation gives you a data-driven understanding of the impact of any changes to your product. Every aspect of your growth strategy should be tested — from messaging campaigns to UI/UX changes, from features to the onboarding flow, from emails to price points. A/B testing gives you real-time answers and the confidence to ensure you’re on the right path.

You’re not an expert on what your customers want. Your customers are.

When Tinder rolled out Tinder Gold, it tested its premium feature in select markets to understand the impact. Before launch, it also tested price points — and then went on to become the highest-grossing app on the app store.

Don’t forget to measure

Finally, a caveat for marketers: The key to executing on your growth strategy is to ensure you have the right data at hand. This means tracking the right metrics to measure the effects of your campaigns.

For example, your latest campaign or feature might garner more subscriptions, but if it results in your retention rates going down, is that a feature you want to release? Having the right data helps you decide if the behavior is universal or merely a non-starter to a specific user segment. Getting insight into your customers’ needs and choices will make for a better product, leading to higher engagement and greater revenue.

So as the last word, don’t end up spending millions on users who ghost your app. Taking all the steps above will ensure that investment in mobile marketing will be worth its weight in gold.

Joyce Solano, SVP, Global Marketing at Leanplum


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