How to Engage and Retain App Users. Part 1: Engagement.
In the leading app stores, there are over 5 billion apps available for download. The irony is that no smartphone in the world can tackle at least a quarter of the aforementioned number of apps. For a startup, it means cutthroat competition for customer attention. Statistics in overall app usage is also quite impressive:
- 90% of time on mobile devices is spent using apps, which leaves little room for mobile websites;
- 800 apps are downloaded every second from the Apple App store;
- An average Android app loses 77% of its daily active users within the first three days after the installation, and 90% within the first 30 days;
- 22% of installed apps are never used more than once.
What does that say about the chances for startups? With the help of mobile app advertising, marketing, and other user acquisition strategies, newcomers on the digital market have all opportunities for a successful business. While acquisition tactics are crucial early on, an engagement strategy is what makes a positive impact on your business in the long term.
Top global marketers are likely to tell you that to earn more, you need to invest more in post-download engagement. So, once you have some early followers, apply engagement tactics in your app marketing to make them more loyal. Engaged users are profitable users. According to Forbes, it’s five times cheaper to retain existing users than acquire new ones. The more effort you invest, the more revenue you’ll be able to get.
It inevitably comes down to mobile app marketing when discussing user engagement. The following tips and tricks should help you understand how to make the bright future of your app a reality.
Mapping the Customer Journey
Studying app engagement starts with understanding your customer lifecycle, that’s the cycle of a customer’s movement from state A to state B by completing a series of predefined actions that boost sales and growth.
Tip 1. Understanding your customer lifecycle is crucial for building trustful relations with your clients.
On the app market, the customer lifecycle isn’t a straight line, and it isn’t about a single purchase. Users can be active for some time, make a purchase and then disappear into thin air unless you get them back with an attractive offer. There’s no linear dependency between all user actions.
The following four stages of user engagement with an app are the basis for building the user lifecycle:
- Loyal users - strongly engage with your app and support your monetization campaigns;
- Active users - engage with your app on a regular basis;
- Lapsing users - become less active and less interested in your app;
- Inactive users - show no visits, no actions, and no response.
There are other numerous methods on the Internet, and you can even develop your own to fit your business goals perfectly. The primary purpose is to understand when it’s the right time to engage or re-engage users to maximize the results of your marketing efforts.
Tip 2. Don’t treat your customers like they're either moving down the marketing funnel or falling out of it. If you do, you miss countless opportunities to retain and re-engage your users.
Stand Out from the Crowd
Imagine that you’re in the airport standing in a crowd of people who’re meeting air travelers to help them get to the city. The biggest vendors take up the best positions at the forefront and take the first people. Fierce competition makes it hard to get to the first rows. When you’re entering the market, the situation is pretty much the same. It’s quite challenging to surprise app users with something, as they’re usually well experienced and cynical.
It’s a well-known fact that the first impression of your app has the greatest impact on the further user loyalty of your brand. Therefore, make sure that that your app is well prepared to make the best first impression on the first encounter with your users:
- Provide flawless app performance;
- Create the best possible user experience;
- Ensure app safety and security;
- Provide full control of app settings;
- Keep your app updated and bug-free.
Tip 3. Make speed a top-priority feature and create a fascinating experience for better mobile app user engagement.
Ticked off all the boxes? You’re moving in the right direction! Now it’s time to make your app even more engaging.
Captivate Your Customers
Imagine that you’re still standing in the airport. You should attract the attention of your potential customers and show that you’re the best within the next 10 seconds. What would you do? Speaking of apps, the first 10 seconds makes the strongest impact on a customer’s decision to stay with you or leave. Depending on your actions, you can acquire a one-time user or a loyal customer.
If your goal is a loyal customer, the first thing you need to do is ensure an error-free initial app experience. Even if you spend a lot of money and effort on building an app with a mobile app development company, all your work can pass by unnoticed if the first thing users see is an error. They can also abandon the app right away if the app takes too long to load.
Tip 4. Continuously monitor your app performance with the help of analytics tools to ensure that the first seconds of app loading and operation are smooth.
Here are some effective mobile marketing techniques for capturing the attention and engaging app users during the first moments of their interaction with an app.
- Make registration easier than ever before. Sign-up is probably the first screen a user sees in your app. Do you want to scare them away from your app with endless forms?
- Launch an easy and engaging onboarding process for new users. Onboarding must contain a clear explanation of key app features in only a few clicks. Motivate your users to get started with your app right away. Here’s how we did it for LaneSpotter and McDonald's.
Check the following Dribbble shop showing the onboarding process in McDonald's app developed by our team.
- Make sharing to social media easy. People love to be social. It concerns not only content-based apps but pretty much all of them. Let people share interesting information from your app to the most popular social media networks.
- Make app notifications optional. Push notifications are widely used for retention, but they can sometimes get annoying like in-app advertising. Give your customers full control over this feature. Earn the trust of your audience so that they will not want to miss another notification from your app.
- Provide rewards for sharing personal data and completing their profile. Give your users rewards or extra benefits for completing their profiles. It costs you nothing but allows building a detailed portrait of your end customers for further segmentation, creation of target campaigns and planning app engagement ads.
- Offer personal recommendations on the app to save the time of your customers. If you properly use the data you possess, you know what your customers have been recently looking for. Use it for your good and let your customers know that you care for their time by offering custom-tailored recommendations.
Tip 5. Be empathic and communicate with your audience. Let them easily reach you and get assistance and respond to their requests immediately. If users find help elsewhere, they might as well stay there.
Further, we will explain some mobile app engagement strategies that marketers apply today to convert newly acquired users to loyal customers.
Contact users in a personal way. Personalization is everything. There is no better way to engage people than to provide them with super-personalized deals. Who doesn't love best deals, discounts, and freebies? You can make exclusive and attractive offers based on user preferences.
Introduce free trials. Let users try your services for free. The length of a trial depends on your user lifecycle and engagement strategies. There are several options of how you can offer a trial:
- right after signing up in the app;
- upon completing predefined in-app actions (sharing a post to social media, filling in profile details, inviting a friend, etc.);
- as a reward for loyalty and stickiness to the brand.
Build such trial campaigns without compromising your business. Engage with your audience during free trials to conquer them.
Boost post sign-up engagement with gamification. Games are very effective tools in building long-term relations with your audience. Build a gaming strategy which brings value to your customers and motivates them to interact with your brand. Therefore, you need to look at the lifestyle of your users and their preferences. It will enable you to build gaming campaigns that will strongly engage users.
Run competitions and encourage personal wins. One of the greatest ways to make users active is running competitions and establishing leaderboards in mobile apps. People are more interested in taking next steps in the app when there is competition. It should also be easy to share personal wins to social media. Robust competition among users to boost your business growth.
Launch seasonal promotion campaigns. Seasonal promotion represents special discounts, and limited edition offers or items coincided with specific events during a year. The major purpose of such campaigns is to attract customer attention and convert one-time customers into loyal ones. You probably observe some periods throughout the year when you get the most revenue. Promotion campaigns are the most effective during such periods, so build a thorough strategy to boost your sales.
Tip 6. Always choose tactics and techniques for your mobile app engagement strategy carefully. They should perfectly align and fit the area you work in.
Personalization is the key to enjoyable user experience in the modern digital world. You need to follow the data-driven approach in user engagement to enhance your mobile customer engagement techniques.
A working mobile app is the result of efforts you put into implementing your business idea. You may have a perfect marketing plan and a sound business strategy, but it means nothing unless you measure and analyze your outputs.
There is a pretty large list of metrics which measure engagement, and it doesn't mean you need to apply all of them to track user responsiveness effectively. The most important indicators of user engagement depend on your industry and vertical, so you need to choose which of criteria make the most sense to your business.
Below you can find five essential metrics to apply to your app:
1. DAU and MAU
DAU (daily active users) and MAU (monthly active users) represent the number of customers who opened the app in a day and a month accordingly. They are great indicators for benchmarking.
DAU = Number of unique users who open an app in a day
MAU = Number of unique users who open an app in a month
It is a very simple metric and a clever way to define how often people get back to your app. Divide DAU by MAU to calculate a percentage of stickiness. The higher this percentage is, the more often users return to your app.
Stickiness = DAU / MAU, (%)
3. Session Length
It is a pretty straightforward KPI but not less effective than DAU and MAU. It shows how long users stay in the app per each session. You can apply it to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns.
4. Retention Rate
It is one of the great app engagement metrics to figure out how many users you retain and how many you lose. It represents a comparison of a cohort of users who used your app in a recent timespan (e.g. this month) with the same users in an earlier timespan (e.g. last month). Which numbers you put into this formula depends on what activity you want to track, for example, app downloads, first login, first purchase etc.
Retention Rate = Number of users who used your app in a set period / Number of users who used your app in a previous period
5. Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)
ARPU is a crucial metric for every app. It shows your revenue earned in a particular period divided per each active user in that period. It also indicates your business health and revenue growth while running marketing campaigns or throughout seasons.
ARPU = Total revenue earned in a specific period / Number of active users in the same period
When you go deeper into mobile app analytics, you can find way more metrics and indicators to learn about user experience, behavior, and satisfaction. Don’t apply all of them to your app at once in order not to get lost in the details.
Tip 7. Define your business goals and set up specific KPIs accordingly. Mix and match till you find the most appropriate set of metrics.
To Make a Long Story Short
The key to success of marketing plans lays not only in proper app advertising and other efforts of the app owner but also in users. The better you know your audience, the more profitable your app can get. Engagement marketing is all about the smart usage of data you get about your audience.
Whatever tactics and techniques you choose, measure the outputs to track your progress. With well-customized mobile analytics, you can build sophisticated and personalized engagement marketing campaigns. Personalization is a competitive edge on the saturated market.
We are right in the middle of our app marketing journey. In the next article, we will introduce more tips and tricks for user retention.
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