So you’ve established a kick ass plan on how to acquire users for your new app? Great, well done you. Unfortunately, here is where the hard work really begins…
It’s all well and good generating a decent amount of downloads after the initial app launch, however, if you can’t convince these users that your app is worth sticking around for then I’m afraid it’s gonna be game over in a couple of months. Maximising your mobile app retention rate should be your main goal as the loyal users are the ones you're going to make the most money from.
Mobile app retention is one of the most important, and possibly overlooked measurement in the world of apps. Infact only 18% of companies have been found to focus mostly on retention, which is shocking considering that an increase in your user retention efforts by just 5% can increase company profitability by 75%!
In order to bring you the best advice when it comes to mobile app user retention we have partnered with some pretty cool mobile experts to get their first hand knowledge on the following question…
How Can I Improve My Mobile App Retention?
1. Keep Making Improvements
Marta Miklinska, Mobile Marketing Manager at IAC
“Listen to the app users; make amendments if necessary. Review your strategy and never settle for less than excellent. If your app is good, your retention rates will be high. If they are low, continue improving the app, pause all marketing activities and relaunch when ready.”
App store reviews are great for gaining constructive feedback about your app. Of course the last thing you want is a large number of negative reviews to damage your brand. However, if you respond carefully to these and show that you are taking all feedback on board and using it to improve the overall user experience, you will be greatly respected for it. Ignoring your customers needs will only result in them going elsewhere.
2. Timely, Relevant & Valuable Communication
Rachelle Garnham, Marketing Manager at Mallzee
“Retention is one of the most challenging elements of app marketing. Whilst consistent engagement with your audience is important, mass communication will alienate your users. Leveraging insight and understanding user action will allow you to develop a strategic and targeted strategy and communicate with your individual users in the way that works for them.”
Iain Russell, App Marketing Manager at Moneyhub
“Provide timely communications via email, in-app messaging and push notifications to keep a user engaged and ultimately retain them - keeping them coming back for more.”
Keeping your user engaged is without a doubt a key factor of user retention. However, as Rachelle points out, plaguing your user with emails, push notifications, in-app messages, text messages or anything else you can think of, five times a day, is not the way forward. The only outcome you are likely to achieve from doing this is to drive your users to uninstall your app.
When implemented correctly, push notifications have been shown to increase user retention by as much as 180%! Using the right tools you can learn so much about how your users including how they interact with your app, what are their likes and dislikes and even what time of the day they are most likely to engage. This information will allow you to tailor your messaging towards each user to make it more relevant, personal and valuable for them. Show your user how you can add value to their life and I can almost guarantee you they will be hooked.
Just be careful, because when done wrong, push notifications can be one of the top reasons for the dreaded uninstall.
3. Loyalty Schemes
Peter Adams, Mobile Digital Marketing Manager at Shell
“Retention is driven by customers continuing to find your app useful and if it has a loyalty element. They are finding it beneficial enough to earn and burn their rewards. For retail based apps, make sure offers are made available frequently.”
Giving your user an incentive to use your app can do wonders for driving engagement and retention. For example, Starbucks give you stars when you use their app in-store and once you reach a certain number of stars you are rewarded with a freebie.
Image credit: Starbucks
This is just one example, and obviously how you can incentivise your users will depend on the nature of your app. Apps such as ASOS which survive by encouraging in-app purchasing will benefit from time-sensitive discounts such as “24% off everything for the next 24 hours!”, whilst freemium apps can incentivise their users with usage-based rewards.
4. Multi Channel Strategy
Mirela Cialai, Global Digital Marketing Manager at Zinio
“Adopt a multi-channel communication strategy, use personalisation, and test as much as possible.”
As touched on earlier in the post, push notifications are a huge tool for mobile app retention and engagement. However, it doesn’t have to stop there. There are a range of benefits that come with utilising other communication channels such as emails, in-app messaging, SMS and social media.
Number one, if a user chose to opt out of push notifications to begin with, then you have no other option but to use other channels to engage them, and also use this as an opportunity to encourage them to opt back in. Also, instead of spamming your users with daily push notifications and trying to compete with all the other apps they have installed, you can try out other channels to test if they drive a higher engagement rate. Finally, push notifications don’t allow you to say very much. Whereas, with the likes of email marketing you can provide you users with richer, more tailored content.
5. Monitor User Activity
Andi Jarvis, Marketing Strategist at The Tomorrow Lab
“For retention I'd focus first on how people use the app. Lots of apps take on a different life when people download them and find other uses for them. If you’re not monitoring that, then it's difficult to make sure you keep your messaging on point. And don't just rely on analytics. Focus groups and talking to users can be expensive and not fashionable in the numbers-obsessed world of analytics, but they're vital to get the whole story. Once you have that data, find a way to engage with the user base and push the key messages.”
Don’t get me wrong. Analytics are great. But unfortunately they don’t always give you the bigger picture. Arrange focus groups and talk to your users in depth as Andi suggests and you might be surprised what you could learn about the way different users actually use your app.
6. App Onboarding
Cédric Oeblinger, CEO of Owlie
“You don't get a second chance to make a first impression, so you need to create a kickass app onboarding to improve user retention.”
The first moments after a user downloads and opens your app for the first time are critical. If there are too many hurdles to jump through to begin using the app or if it doesn’t come across as beneficial then, the chances are, they will exit from your app, hit delete and never return again… ouch.
When new users are onboarded effectively, their lifetime value has been shown to increase by up to 500%. So keep things simple; reduce the steps needed for signup or provide the option to sign up via Facebook, Google etc. and don’t overload the user with information from the get-go. Give them a chance to get a feel for the app and show them features and usage tips as they navigate around.
Learn more about what each of our Industry Gurus had to say about mobile app retention plus their key advice into many other areas in The Complete Guide to App Marketing from Industry Gurus.
Thank you to all our App Marketing Guru’s for sharing their valuable knowledge!