3 Steps To Keep Your Mobile Users from Leaving

By: Kahuna | September 9, 2015 | Mobile Marketing

How Mobile Marketing boosts retention
Kahuna Field Notes is a series offering observations, strategies, and practical tips from the Kahuna Customer Success team. Each installment will be authored by a different Customer Success team member, with the goal of providing insights for mobile marketing professionals.

Every week, you check your app’s download numbers and are delighted to see new users climb. It’s very exciting, but earning a download is only the start. On average, 80% of those users will stop using or uninstall your app within 30 days of download, providing you very little long-term value. Fortunately, there are three simple steps you can take to retain users and increase their lifetime value upwards of 500%.

Day 1: Invite them in

This has happened to all of us – you’ve downloaded a new app and are excited to see what it can do. Tap the icon, and … your screen fills with “Login or Register” forms and nowhere else to go. Why?

Having the greatest user acquisition strategy without carefully considering their first experience is like putting billboards all over town leading to a store with boarded-up windows and a locked door. It may be mysterious, but even eager patrons will probably move on to a more welcoming shop.

After recently downloading the Jet.com app, I was impressed with their approach to welcoming new users. They’re a new membership-based e-commerce company hungry to compete against Amazon. They’ve put significant resources behind their user experience, and the results are immediately apparent.

I was treated to a few friendly screens showcasing their value proposition, a how-to, and then immediately shown today’s deals. There’s no username, password, or registration required before getting to the best part of Jet.com: the shopping.

These onboarding screens can also be used to explain the value of notifications and then requesting opt-in to receiving push notifications. This onboarding flow is a great way to make your users feel welcome.

Retention examples in Jet.com app


Week 1: Show them around

Now that your user had a fantastic first experience and you’ve reaffirmed their decision to download the app, the next step is encouraging deeper engagement and completion of valuable actions. Consider their ideal first week: What will they accomplish within their first seven days to maximize their probability of becoming a long-term, high-value user?

You can use data or hypothesis to determine key user actions which lead to high retention and lifetime value. A media app, for example, may want a user to browse five headlines on day one, read two articles by day three, and view one video by day seven.

With these “virtuous actions” determined, implement a combination of push notifications, in-app messages and emails (once they register) to contextually encourage your users to take these steps. These communications should speak to each user as an individual, considering the actions they have and have not yet taken and preferences based on their behavior. I recommend some experimentation to get this right:

  • A/B test different creative. Experiment with tone, emojis, and potentially a special offer. This will help you determine the voice your user base is most likely to respond favorably to. Fun, serious, light or direct—the difference in results may surprise you.
  • Personalize the message. Get as deep as you can. If a user has shown an affinity for sports news, send them messages related to sports. Better yet, send them messages related to their favorite team or players.
  • Vary timing of the message. Try different durations of time between messages and each user’s most likely time of day to be receptive to your messages (based on their previous usage patterns).

When these onboarding communications are done well, you’ll benefit from a huge uplift in user retention.

Mobile marketing can improve mobile user retention

Month 1: Measure The Impact

While it’s exciting to see how effective these onboarding communications are, it’s important to not over-message each user. Consider that if some are completing all of the virtuous actions on their own, you may not need to send them any messages at all.

For those you do send, be sure to measure both the positive and the negative impacts of each against a control group, and always consider your user’s experience as the top priority. My key indicators are:

  • Engagement rate: The percentage of users who return to the app after receiving the message.
  • Goal achievement: A user’s likelihood to complete the specific action(s) the message encourages.
  • Uninstalls and opt-outs: App uninstalls and push notification opt-outs/email unsubscribes to measure adverse reaction.

Ensure each message causes more positive impact (in engagement and goal achievement) than negative, and adjust the creative, personalization and timing levers to achieve the best results.

Before you go out posting billboards, ensure you’re prepared to welcome new users with open arms. You’ll keep your users while maximizing their value!

Adam Szakacs is a brand and product marketing professional specializing in digital media with diverse industry experience. He builds trusting relationships by adding value through strategic thinking to help drive consumer engagement and purchase intent. You can follow him on Twitter @azakash or on LinkedIn here


Push 101: A Beginner's Guide to Push Notification MarketingPush 101: A FREE Beginner’s Guide

Master the basics and discover what push notifications can do for you and your app. Download our free guide today!