New users are fresh faces to your app whose interest you need to capture as soon as possible. Successfully gaining their attention separates the products that thrive from the ones that fall into the graveyard of forgotten apps, an all too common fate.
There is a short window of opportunity for brands to turn new users into actively engaged users. Every new user engagement strategy needs to show these newbies the value of the app and to create the momentum that excites them and inspires a long-term habit of use.
What defines a new user?
It is important to understand what defines a new user, so you can be sure that your mobile engagement strategy speaks to these new users in a way that’s relevant and effective. First, think about the characteristics of your new users. They are people who were curious enough to download your app recently but don’t fully understand your value proposition. A great new user engagement strategy simultaneously capitalizes on new user intent and addresses a user’s lack of understanding about your product.
The second question to think about is whether all new users are created equal. The answer? Not necessarily. Some new users may be more invested in your app, depending on the acquisition source. If a user downloaded your app in response to a paid campaign, he will likely have less knowledge or interest in your app than someone who searched for your app organically after hearing about it from a friend or news article. Your new user onboarding process should take these different levels of investment into account, providing more information and incentive to new users who know less about your app.
Third, how long do you talk to new users like they are new? How frequently your ideal users engage with your product determines how long you should consider a user to be new. For a travel app that’s meant to be used for occasional travel, a new user could be anyone who downloaded the app less than a month ago. For a messaging app that’s meant to be used daily, the timeframe that a user is considered new would be much shorter. If a user is not engaging with the messaging app within a few days, it likely means he’s lost interest and you’ll need a different strategy to reactivate them.
What are your goals with new users?
Your goals for new users should be three-fold: to show them the value of your app, to create the momentum that inspires habitual use, and to make a great first impression.
1. Demonstrating your value
What problem are you trying to solve for your users, and what actions do your users need to take in order to experience the key value that your app adds to their daily lives? Whether it’s finding an apartment or finding their favorite songs, determine what problems and challenges your app solves and figure out the simplest and easiest way to show them. One way to accomplish this is to ask the question, “What would my ideal user do on the first day?” You need to pare down the new user onboarding process to the key actions that truly define your app and show new users why investing in it is worth their time. For example: for an e-commerce brand, the key actions an ideal user would take on the first day would be browsing an item, registering, and favoriting an item. These actions speak to the heart of the product—shopping, personalization, and curation.
2. Creating momentum and inspiring habitual use
Now that your users understand the value of your app, how do you get them to make it a part of their everyday lives? Before they become habitual users who think of the app every time they think of the problem that it solves, you need to create that positive association in their minds. You need to create the momentum that will keep your users coming back for more.
All habits start with triggers. According to Nir Eyal, an expert on the psychology of user experience, before any action becomes instinctive to the consumer, the product must build a foundation for that behavior change through external triggers that prompt actions. A consumer must find it easy enough to take an action following an external trigger and also receive a reward for his action. With sufficiently satisfying rewards and more investment into the app, these triggers then become internal triggers for the customer, which are activated automatically by emotions. Below is a visualization of Nir Eyal’s framework for establishing habits:
An intelligent new user strategy propels users toward completing key actions by knowing what actions they have already taken and prompting them to take the next action. To accomplish this, you need a program of messages that is deployed based on the user’s current relationship with your brand.
For example, an Internet radio app could segment new users based on their progression through a typical onboarding flow—registration, browsing playlists, favoriting playlists—and send them onboarding messages according to the actions they’ve already taken in the sequence.
3. Making a great first impression
In the beginning of relationships, the first impression is the most important. During the short period of time that new users are forming an opinion of your app, you want to give them a unique and memorable experience and avoid bothering them with irrelevant messages. That’s why it’s important to consider timing, segmentation, personalization, and cadence in your new user onboarding strategy. The onboarding process consists of several steps and spans a period of time; you can learn from your users’ reactions in real-time to inform your messaging going forward. What time are they browsing? What are they browsing? Should you address a user by first name? Are users responding well and should you amp up the number of messages you’re sending? Delivering an amazing experience will help you win over new users and set them on the path to become valuable customers.
The beauty of mobile marketing automation is that you can create a variety of automatic messages for users that have different relationships with your brand. For new users, your mobile messaging strategy can be an opinion maker that inspires their retention and engagement. In the next lesson, we’ll talk about creating a strategy for another group: dormant users. Stay tuned!