Mobile Commerce Bounces Back

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Bringing new users into the fold of your app may be exciting, but, historically, it’s also been expensive — especially when you consider that the average app loses 90% of its users within weeks. Clearly, ad dollars are much better spent engaging and retaining existing users than courting new ones. The COVID-19 crisis has brought this into heightened focus. 

A recent analysis of Adjust data shows that as restrictions relax and consumers return to pre-COVID consumption patterns, companies have stepped up their game by focusing on re-engaging their app users. Comparing the last week of March to the last week of April, 43% more users are returning to their favored e-commerce platforms. This higher re-engagement rate is being driven by a combination of paid campaigning and users warming up to spending again.

Companies investing in existing user engagement are smart to do so. According to mobile monetization and marketing company ironSource, the average global cost to acquire a single paid install from an individual user in 2020 is $2.24 — which adds up quickly when you start to scale into thousands or hundreds of thousands of users. So, while it’s important to keep spending on acquisition, retention and retargeting, informed by smart audience segmentation, are perhaps even more essential to ensuring app marketers are monetizing all of their users. 

Rebecca Nackson, formerly of iHeartMedia, Audible, and IBM — and the founder of growth consultancy agency Notable — says the two must work hand in hand. “There’re a lot of examples of companies that have failed because they had very impressive topline numbers. But if you’ve brought in a ton of users in a way where you haven’t monetized them, and all of a sudden you have to flip that switch on and it’s not built into the DNA of the product, they’re going to leave,” she said. “If you’re not using your marketing as a tool to get people in the moments right before they’re dropping off, or right after they’re dropping off in the product, then I’m not sure what your marketing is doing.” 

Know the baseline

But first marketers need to know and set realistic retention marketing goals, an exercise that starts with knowing how well (or poorly) their app category retains users. At the top of the scale, shopping apps rely heaviest on retention marketing. Seventy-three percent of attributions for this vertical are a result of retargeting efforts, according to the latest global app trends data from Adjust. This makes sense if we consider the mission of these apps is to win back lapsed users who abandon shopping carts or simply present them with campaigns to clinch a sale. 

So what goal should marketers strive for? Data shows that, on average, any retention rate above 6% at Day 30 is good. As marketers, though, our goal is never to be “good enough.” Settling for 6% retention after 30 days just isn’t good business. Data suggests the time to start nurturing and engaging users is between Day 1 and Day 3, a period when the app is still fresh in their minds. So, here are three tips to help marketers keep customers engaged from the get-go.

3 ways to engage and retain app users early

  1. Fresh content is king. It’s no coincidence that News apps are among the stickiest. Content keeps people coming back. Global brands like Red Bull know the power of content marketing, and it’s high time app marketers start putting it to good use. Nike is well ahead of the curve with an engaging, content-driven app, which its CEO, John Donahoe, has called “the sharp point” of its growth. Nike offers users of its e-commerce app invitations to exclusive events, behind-the-scenes content from athletes and designers, and tips on the latest trends — all with the aim of being “more personal at scale.” 
  2. Acquiring and retaining users should happen along a timeline. It’s important to think about retention windows in a coordinated way — to map out the full lifecycle and have an idea of what you want your users to do before they even enter the app. While times are hard now, by providing a subscription for free you can entice users to pay later once the recovery is in full swing. Spotify, for example, recently bumped its free trial from one month to three months. This kind of thinking can help ensure customers avoid churning before they reach a point where they’re ready to convert to being paying users. 
  3. Deep linking drives engagement. App marketers know that if you’re not utilizing deep links — simply put, these are just links that open in a native app instead of a web browser — you’re missing out on a big opportunity to re-engage app users. Providing users with an offer, and then redirecting them to the correct app page in a single click, is a simple yet effective means of keeping them going longer. Best of all, when tied to an email or push notification the cost to “re-acquire” is paltry. Make sure every click on a deep link drives users to content and special offers to keep them engaged once they are back.

Stay ahead of the competition by making engagement your priority

Now, more than ever, every marketer is looking for a way to differentiate their brand from the competition while connecting with their customers on a personal level. Something as simple as getting focused on the experience they have after install can set your app apart and keep users coming back for more.

Provide your customers with relevant, personalized content they can use and special offers to make them feel valued, and you’ll turn what might have been a casual user — or worse yet, a former user — into a brand ambassador, loyal to your product. The experience you create today will determine whether your customers will keep coming back to your app long after the crisis has passed. 

Kia Saedi is regional sales director, West Coast at Adjust.