The number of users a mobile app can acquire is an oft-cited metric, especially for short-term growth and visibility. But, focusing solely on user acquisition without connecting it to a mobile engagement strategy is an inefficient way to ensure your app thrives in the long term.
An explosive number of new users, or even a steady stream, is no guarantee of the health of your app. It’s easy for any company to scale its user acquisition efforts and bring in throngs of new users, but there will always be a steep churn. After seeing a boost to the vanity metric, you’ll see only a 10% retention rate after 90 days without an engagement strategy.
After the Install
A strong engagement strategy enables you to hold on to users after the install and make the most out of your user acquisition costs. You can nurture these users to become more valuable over time and reduce the burden on user acquisition.
The key is to understand users based on the channels they are coming from, in order to shape your mobile messaging strategy. The more you understand your users and how interested and informed they are about your app, the better you can target your communications. But it’s not always an easy task.
The ideal scenario is to customize your mobile messaging strategy based on how the user found your app. Not all acquired users are created equal. Some have seen an ad on a social network and clicked through out of a passing curiosity. Others may have heard about the details of your app through an article and sought it out themselves. You need to treat these users differently and give them a mobile messaging experience that will be the most helpful and relevant to them.
Someone who searched organically for an app in the iTunes or Google Play store and then downloaded it will have relatively more interest and knowledge. For these users, you want to create a mobile messaging strategy that nurtures their initial enthusiasm: create a personalized onboarding campaign that highlights all the great features of your app and showcases premium features. These users will be ready to get more acquainted with your app and are prime candidates for monetization.
The user who was acquired through an offer wall or incentivized download will have less knowledge and interest in your app. For these users, you can show them the value proposition of your app and gradually familiarize them with key features, without going overboard with your messaging. Your goal is to get these users to the same level of engagement and excitement that users who downloaded your app organically have achieved. Most companies will not spend additional dollars on users acquired through paid means, so taking the initiative to get these users acquainted with your app may give you a competitive advantage in gaining their loyalty in the long run.
Acquired users run the gamut between passionate and disinterested when they download your app. Understanding the differences among acquired users is the most difficult challenge when planning out an engagement strategy because often times there’s no straightforward way to connect acquisition and engagement data into one cohesive funnel. This makes it difficult to accurately determine what engagement strategy is most appropriate to use, based on the channel a user is acquired through.
Nevertheless, simply segmenting by acquisition channel can go a long way in guiding your mobile messaging strategy and complementing and enhancing the in-app experience. For most apps, new users will drop off sharply in the first three days after installation, if not sooner, which then slows to a steadier trickle. Unless you have an incredibly compelling app experience, this churn is inevitable. An intelligent mobile messaging strategy can significantly reduce that initial churn, which is where the vast majority of users are lost. At the same time, a well-executed messaging strategy can build brand loyalty among users to ensure that they stick around for the long term. Users who are loyal to your brand will be the ones to try out new premium features or even other apps that your brand may launch.
Connecting your mobile engagement strategy with your acquisition strategy is a smart way to increase the value of every user acquired and reduce the effective cost of user acquisition. Once users are acquired, every channel of engagement must work together to send complementary messages that are never irrelevant or redundant. Next week, we’ll discuss the importance of connecting your email strategy with your mobile messaging strategy in a mobile-first world.