Gone are the days when push notifications were considered invasive and in-app messages compared to ad spam. Instead, these tactics should be evaluated for what they truly do: drive engagement, improve retention and decrease churn.
As marketers, we know that the end goal is to create long-term, valuable relationships with our customers - not just to make a buck. That’s where tools like push marketing, in-app messaging, remarketing and email come into play; without considering a way to actively provide your mobile customers with targeted, relevant and valuable content, you’re giving up on those relationships before they even begin.
Think of it this way: securing the app install is simply the first step in creating lasting customer engagement. A killer app UX, great features, and a clear value prop are all essential in securing that install and keeping users coming back for more. But that doesn’t mean that your users are being presented with everything they need, right when they need it. For that, and to create interactions that stick, you need to employ personalized marketing tactics.
OK, so that’s the “what,” - how about the “why?” In our new 2016 App Marketing Guide, we cover all of the usage, engagement and retention data from 2015 you need to back up this claim, and to prepare for mobile success in the coming year. In this post, we highlight a few of the 20 data findings in our guide and some findings from a recent poll we conducted, to kick-start your efforts and understand the relationship between pre-empting churn and utilizing app messaging.
1. 92% of Users Plan to Use More Apps in the Future
The competition in the App Store is overwhelming, users have an abundance of options of what to put on their devices, and they have limited storage. Despite the rampant competition, people are using apps - the average number of apps a user has on their phone is 18 - and giving them a fair shot when they are first downloaded. Users will typically try out a new app an average of 4.5 times before deciding to stop using it (because it doesn't meet their needs). Plus, 92 percent of respondents told us they plan to use apps more or the same than they do today.
This means that apps as a medium, an experience and a way of creating relationships have been validated. Generally, people are interacting with apps more frequently and spending more time in apps. Apps aren’t a fad, and users are actively looking for more frequent ways to interact with apps for longer periods of time.
2. But, Retention Decreased 5% and Churn Risk is High
In 2015, we found that globally, there was a 5% decrease in retention, dropping from 39% in 2014 to 34% in 2015. On the other end of the spectrum, we also saw a notable increase in user abandonment (here defined as the percentage of users who abandon an app after one session), jumping from 20% in 2014 to 25% in 2015.
Then, we found that 58% of app users churn within the first 30 days.
Those aren’t great numbers.
There isn’t an unlimited amount of space on a device to amass hundreds of apps, which means users experiment and pick and choose based on which apps serve a purpose, provide the best entertainment, or are the most valuable. This is where apps today are losing at mobile: there’s a gap between the install and first open, and getting users to come back frequently enough that their risk of churn is minimal.
We know that the key to long-term retention and preventing churn is getting users to come back to the app more regularly (for reference: only 14% of users who complete 11 or more sessions in the first 30 days will churn). Facilitating this engagement is where mobile marketers need to focus their energy and resources.
3. Apps That Use Push and In-app Messaging Have Higher Engagement and Retention Rates
Users who have enabled push to launch an app an average of 14.7 times per month, versus users who have not enabled push messages who will only launch an app 5.4 times per month. This represents a 171% increase in app engagement, which has more than doubled since 2014 where the increase in engagement was 88%.
We also found that in-app messages drive 3.5x higher user retention. This means that these app owners are retaining nearly 50% of their users three months after their initial engagement, compared to their counterparts who retain only 13% of users.
Essentially, if you’re not using push and in-app messaging to create opportunities for personalized engagement in your app, you’re doing it wrong. When done right, these messaging strategies represent your ability to communicate with users by providing information, content or offers they are truly interested in, pointing them to relevant or useful features, and generally increasing the value they get from your app.
Here’s What’s Next: Personalization and True Performance Metrics
It’s time to invest in push and in-app messaging, not just in utilizing these tools, but in creating, optimizing, measuring and improving key campaigns.
Over the next year, your mobile marketing can’t depend on one-and-done broadcast messages to all app users - that rarely works. Instead, push and in-app messaging works best when they contain personalized content targeted to individuals or common audiences, or when triggered on an in-app event and personalized to that point in the funnel. This means advanced targeting parameters, using dynamic messaging to customize the content, and delivery based on location, timing, or immediacy.
Once you’re running campaigns that can impact the bottom line, you have to actually measure their impact. This means going beyond initial metrics like impressions, open rate, and click-through rate to ensuring you measure the campaign's’ impact on business goals, like the lift of engagement and retention. Initial metrics give insight into one point in time but they can be dangerous because they don’t take the longer term into consideration. Measuring your app marketing success by business impact provides the scalable approach you need to optimize your app marketing so that you are nurturing every user relationship you have.