How is it possible to interest customers in a lasting way for your brand? Mobile digitization offers a wide range of opportunities to address new customers with mobile platforms and to build loyal customer relationships.
If you are offering an app, the foundation for successful mobile engagement should already been implemented in its design & development phase. If the app is downloaded ten or even hundred thousand times, much has already been accomplished.
But how do you get the customers to actively use the mobile app and its offers and services and to recommend the app to other potential users?
App downloads are only half the battle
On average, 23% of all users delete an app after its first use, as Localytics found in an analysis of over 37,000 apps. A look at user retention figures for iOS users also shows that just 36% of all iOS users use an app 11 times or more.
These figures give legitimate reason for asking which measures can make sure that the app is among the 36% regularly used after the download. Or, in other words, how do you ensure successful onboarding and an effective user (re-)engagement so that interested parties become loyal customers?
The first impression matters
During the first few minutes after installing and opening the app, the user decides whether to like it or to delete it from the dashboard.
The following factors are crucial for a first positive user experience:
- Top Usability: The main features of the app should be easy and quick to access, so the user immediately knows what to expect.
- Simple log-in processes: For example, the possibility to log-in with social media accounts or with a staggered login (certain data will be queried in subsequent steps).
- Outstanding Performance: It is important to avoid long initial load times (e.g. by pre-caching) and to convince with high performance (no crashes, offline availability of important content).
- Opt-ins staggering in time: Some app features such as push and GPS localization require customer approval. We recommend that you do not present all of these opt-ins in the first minutes of use, as this can be perceived as being annoying.
But even after a positive first impression, according to the above-mentioned study, only 36% of all users become loyal customers.
So what are the ways in which user engagement can be specifically promoted?
Effective user engagement with targeted messaging
Push messages are an effective way to remind users of the app and animate them to open and use it.
But: push messages can also be a trap: too many pushes that are not relevant to the user are quickly perceived as a disruption, and the original consent is just as quickly reversed.
Push messaging should therefore be well thought-out:
- Explain advantages: Already when obtaining the permission to send push messages, the associated benefits should be made clear to the user. Instead of only displaying the standard message, a specially designed pop-up can also explain the advantages.
- Too many pushes are aggravating: With news apps, for example, the user expects to be informed about important news via push. This, however, should ideally be used only for real breaking news or to specific areas of interest, which can be defined by the users.
- The more relevant, the more effective: The more a push addresses an existing need, the higher the chance that the recipient opens the app to learn more. Thanks to customer segmentation, push messages can be targeted to the needs of specific target groups.
- Rich pushes: Since the release of iOS 10, so-called «rich pushes» are possible with Apple devices. This involves text as well as images, which enhance the effect of the message and increase push opening rates.
In contrast to push messages, in-app messages appear during use of the app. They point out, for example, competitions or promotions, provide support for onboarding, recall expiring vouchers or tease other content of interest.
They can be displayed in the form of a discreet banner, a message icon with number badge or a pop-up at different places within the app. Important: The messages should be relevant to the user, as with push. Especially pop-ups can quickly be seen as a distraction and should therefore be used sparingly and only as a result of user action.
In App-News Feeds
Because both push and in-app messages are clicked away, it is important that the user can continue to access them in the app, for example, in an in-app newsfeed.
In addition, other news and offers can be communicated, which are not specifically pushed. For example: apps that use gamification, inform about new status updates or changes, customer portal apps keep customers updated on important innovations, shopping & loyalty apps send coupons, inform about bonus account balances, new products or promotions.
A newsfeed makes an app lively and encourages regular use. It is important though that it is actively maintained and offers relevant content.
Successful apps allow the user to interact directly with the vendor, for example via in-app chat or email contact.
The management is not quite trivial and must be well thought out, but the benefit is huge: Customers who need help or are unhappy will be satisfied, which has a positive effect on loyalty.
The more personalized the more effective
Whether it is push, in-app message, in-app news or email: The better a message is tailored to a recipient and its current needs, the more relevant it is and the greater the chance of its success.
The right segmentation is thus of decisive importance. It can be CRM-based, e.g. by segmenting clients by demographic criteria or purchasing behavior. Segmentation allows target group-specific , personalized campaigns, with highly relevant content.
New approaches in the area of marketing Automation are based on a behavioral approach: for example, new customers are welcomed automatically with a welcome message; or a long app abstinence or an unchecked basket give reason to remind all customers in this category with a push to the app. It is important that automated measures are used discreetly in order not to be seen as annoying.
According to a study by Localytics, today 75% of all push messages are sent to individual customer segments rather than to all app users. The performance indexes confirm the positive effect: click rates of target-group-specific or behavior-dependent pushes are 7.4% (versus 4% for pushes to all) and the average number of sessions in the week after a push dispatch is for target group pushes at 8.55 (versus 2.8 for non-segmented transmissions).
App analytics & more with mobile engagement platforms
Another success factor for effective mobile engagement measures is to analyze campaign results consistently in order to learn from successes as well as from failures.
Analysis tools such as Google Analytics enable the measurement of key performance indicators (KPI’s), such as unique users, the number and length of sessions, conversion, and retention rates.
Meanwhile, there are also many (paid) tools that can do much more than pure app analytics: With mobile engagement platforms like Localytics, App Boy Leanplumb or Urbain Airship , personalized mobile campaigns can be planned, defined, implemented and analyzed.
One of the strengths of these platforms is that they offer detailed analysis and segmentation possibilities. These are based on collected metrics, such as monthly sessions, views and events on individual pages, push opt-ins, push openings, conversions, or Lifetime Value (LTV) reviews. With this knowledge, both automated and manually triggered mobile marketing campaigns can be implemented, which can be customized to individual users or groups. Many tools also allow the integration of existing CRM systems of the app providers.
Consistent tracking and analysis of success and failure factors allow conclusions to be drawn about the optimal design of future campaigns. A proven optimization method is A/B testing: Parallel campaigns with slightly changed parameters – such as text, images, target groups, and timing – based on the measurements, determine which messages are better received by which customers.
In summary: Mobile apps have become one of the most important digital touchpoints. In addition to a top-performing app providing an offer that meets the needs of the target group at its core, mobile engagement measures such as push and in-app messaging are proven ways to gain long term loyal app customers.
The decisive factor here is a well-coordinated use of these measures so they are not perceived to be bothersome. The key is high relevance and personalization of news, as well as a consistent measurement of campaign success in order to be able to continuously optimize activities.