Mobile Engagement Crash Course #5: Creating a Dormant User Strategy

By: Kahuna | April 21, 2015 | Mobile Marketing
Mobile Engagement Crash Course

A key element of intelligent mobile messaging is speaking to users differently, depending on their level of engagement with your brand. These engagement states help you define your messaging goals and avoid irrelevant communications. In our last lesson, we talked about getting new users to understand your value proposition, creating the momentum to inspire habitual use, and making a great first impression. Today, we’ll focus on the strategy for another group: dormant users.

What defines a dormant user?

Dormant users are customers who have engaged with your app in the past but have since dropped off. Depending on how frequently customers who are fully engaged use your app, a dormant user could be someone who stopped engaging two weeks ago (e.g. for a travel app that’s meant to be used occasionally) or two days ago (e.g. for a messaging app that sees daily usage from most users).

Dormant users are important for two reasons: they represent a large proportion of your total user base and include some of your most valuable customers. Unlike new users, who are a black box, it’s likely that you also already have some useful information about dormant users, including their past activities and preferences.

What are your goals with dormant users?

For dormant users, your goal is to inspire them to re-engage with your app and take the key actions that will get them back on track to becoming frequent, long-term customers. You should make sure to take into consideration the previous activities of different dormant users and the information they’ve shared with you as you’re crafting your strategy, especially taking a close look at how engaged users have been over time, what key actions they’ve taken, and what information they’ve chosen to share with you. As you create your dormant user strategy, you’ll want to leverage these insights to bring users back into the fold.

What inspires dormant users to re-engage?

In the sea of mobile apps available today, people will only regularly use the apps that both excite them and remain relevant to their lives. Dormant users have forgotten why your app satisfies these criteria and require reminders to re-establish relevancy and enthusiasm. Here are three tactics that create a sense of relevancy or excitement and bring users back to the app:

Affinity-based offers and incentives. Leverage what you know about the user’s past behavior or preferences to give him a personalized offer. Instead of sending a generic promotion, you’ll activate his interest and re-establish relevancy at the mention of his favorite brand or type of product. Below is an example, for a user who frequently viewed Banana Republic apparel before going dormant.

Affinity based campaign

New features and product functionality. Everybody has a bit of an adventurer in him, ready to explore and tinker—especially when there’s some downtime. Entice your dormant users with the promise of something new and exciting at times when they’re likely to engage. Make sure you only target dormant users who have never experienced this specific feature, or you risk being disregarded as spam. Below is an example:

Feature Spotlight Campaign

Fear of missing out. Mobile users don’t use apps for pure utility; they’re also looking for apps that keep them up to date on what’s hot and the latest trends and happenings. In a world where we’re all searching for one-of-a-kind experiences that lift us out of the mundane, apps that instill the fear of missing out will win users’ attention. Below is an example:

Fear of Missing Out Campaign

How do I put it all together?

The tools you have at your disposable are the tactics that inspire re-engagement and what you know about your user. Put them together to design your dormant user strategy.

What you know about your user can help you in many ways. As we’ve shown in the first example above, knowing users’ past behavior and preferences can help you cater to their current interests. Knowing who they are, such as specific gender or location, can also assist you in sending targeted messages that speak to them in a relevant way. The final type of data, the actions your dormant users have taken in the past, can serve an important purpose when you are planning out a program of messages that drive users toward re-engagement. For this programmatic strategy, you need to think about what type of messaging you’ll send out as users remain dormant for longer periods of time, as well as how you will adjust your messaging based on the actions they’ve already taken.

Below is an example of a hypothetical programmatic strategy for dormant users of an e-commerce app:

Dormant for 1 day → Send out an affinity based offer with the goal of encouraging users to browse or purchase.

Vary your messaging based on the actions the user has already taken.

Dormant for 7 days → Send out a “fear of missing out” campaign with the goal of encouraging users to browse or purchase.

Vary your messaging based on actions the user has already taken.

Dormant for 14 days → Send out a feature spotlight with the goal of encouraging customers to try new features, which makes them more invested in the product and more likely to continue using it.

Vary the features you highlight in your push notifications based on actions the user has already taken to avoid sending messages about features that he has already used.

Dormant Day 7
What’s next?

In this lesson, we’ve laid out a strategy to re-engage dormant users, based on an understanding of who dormant users are and a clear idea of what you are hoping to achieve. Once they’re engaged, however, how will your strategy change to focus on monetizing active users? We’ll cover that in our next lesson, so look for that next week!

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