Mobile engagement strategies for the 1st time app publisher.
It’s not enough to just have people download your app. Yes, it is important for monetization purposes
but it is also important to get more users because that’s how App Store search algorithms rank an app.We will walk through the best mobile engagement tactics to ensure your app gets the traction it deserves and have users returning for more!
- Start strong:
Remember when your parents dressed you up in your best outfit for the first day of school? That was because back then, and still today, first impressions matter! Make sure your app’s UI and UX is optimized for a first time user who has no familiarity with your app. The user needs to be both impressed by your design and interface, and also clear as to what your app does and how it does it. If a user can’t quickly recognize how it will solve a facet of his life, your app may be doomed to deletion. A Compuware study found that as many as 80 to 90 percent of all downloaded apps are used just once then ultimately deleted by users. These numbers reveal the importance of making a great first impression! While your parents may not be much help, your developers are there to make sure your debut in the App Store is flawless and free of bugs and glitches.
- Get the word out:
Your app should not exist in isolation; rather, it should inhabit a dynamic ecosystem of users, and, if applicable to your app’s scope, content creation. Especially applicable to social media and networking apps, a community can emerge that is both sharing and contributing content to your app. This will not only enable new content creation by users but also engage non-users. By sharing your app’s content users tap into their social networks, providing trusted and free marketing for your app to a wider audience! Ensuring that your app’s content can be shared across multiple social media platforms will not only increase the mobile engagement of current users, but also drive new users to your app. Social is inherent to mobile; Forrester (a tech market research firm) found that 14% (over twenty five minutes a day) of total time spent on mobile devices is on social networking apps. Leveraging user’s natural tendency to share content on mobile is invaluable for your app’s engagement. Numerous apps in the marketplace that would otherwise seem unlikely to be platforms for ‘sharing’ have tapped into this well established marketing tool. Sharing can become an even more effective tactic once paired with gamification, applying game-like competition to your app.
Increasing mobile engagement has been tried and tested by the gaming industry, which has led the app world looking in their direction for cues. Gamification in your app can improve user engagement by adding elements like competition, challenges, tracking, achievements and rankings. Giving a user points for certain in-app actions and tracking their score can lead to increased engagement as users seek to increase their score or rankings. Users respond especially well to tracking their progress, with distinct milestones and achievements to work towards or unlock. Incorporating these small elements can transform your basic health monitoring app into an engaging health tracker that allows users to share their best workout times!
- A gentle reminder:
A push notification is an easy way to get users that aren’t currently using your app to instantly think about
it. However, push notifications should be used sparingly or a user will simply disable them and this effective tactic for engagement will be off the table. Use push notifications sparingly, but make them really count! Make sure the notifications are relevant, timely and useful. Engaging users who have been away from the app can be most effective by tempting them to return through notifying of missed content or upcoming opportunities. Ideally these messages would be tailored to a degree based on the user’s prior in-app actions (e.g. favoriting a certain category). Targeted notifications based on location, time of day or an event are all effective methods especially for apps offering deals or promotions. Lastly, notifications are of course natural methods to inform users about updates to their profile, their content or in-app friends. Be conscious about using notifications and it’s best to use them sparingly in a targeted fashion rather than regularly without any tailored message. If an app’s notifications become an annoyance then a user is likely to disable them and unlikely to re-allow.
- Mobile to real world:
Allowing your users to engage with your app, its community and content (not just in-app but also in the real world) is an effective way to drive mobile engagement. Bringing mobile engagement outside of strictly the in-app space adds another layer to your user interaction and creates stronger user communities. Bridging this gap is an ongoing challenge and is most successful when mobile engagement is full circle, the app prompts a user to engage in the real world and then that engagement is completed through an in-app experience. One example is a simple QR code, which a retail app could prompt a user to scan for a deal then purchase that discounted item through the app. Social media apps leverage real world engagement by prompting users to photograph certain objects, events or unique circumstances then share the content, often utilizing gamification in addition to offer rewards for the most shared or liked submissions.
- In-app Engagement:
Rather than always chasing your users once they’ve left your app to improve mobile engagement, engage them at a deeper level when they’re active! This can be done effectively in combination with your analytics findings (link) to focus re-engagement on specific user actions. For example, if your app is a mobile shopping solution and based on your analytics findings, the average user closes your app after just one purchase. Ideally you want your users to make multiple purchases so you can create an in-app engagement campaign to message users before they ‘checkout’, offering a 20% discount for any additional item purchased during this session. Such targeted messages and campaigns can drive increased user re-engagement.
- Deep Linking:
The idea is not as complicated as the name implies, it simply refers to links for your mobile app that will direct a user directly to a screen, not open app to the home screen. This is most effective when wanting to direct users to in-app content via your relevant and timely push notifications. For example, if your app is used to track whether changes in your area then a notification that a severe snow storm is nearby would link to a page forecasting this storm, not the app’s home page. This ensures that your notifications are timely and relevant , and the content that they are directing users to is tailored to the message. It is not a user’s responsibility to increase their engagement, it is your role as an appreneur to continually incentivize and channel a user’s engagement with your app.
- Gifts and giveaways:
Everyone loves free stuff. Frankly it doesn’t matter how big or small the item, free is free! There are numerous ways to incorporate giving your users gifts or prizes through a giveaway. However, central to this method of mobile engagement is that the user has to do little to participate and become eligible for winning. The type of action for a user to become eligible can be tailored to your app’s engagement needs, weather your app requires broader engagement or deeper engagement. If broader engagement is required, then a campaign to incentivise users to share app-related content, invite friends or review the app would be best. However, if deeper engagement is required, then a campaign to incentivize users to make more in-app purchases, use the app more frequently or for longer sessions would be most effective. The best gifts and giveaways tie back to user engagement, this can be done through ‘app credit’ like a giftcard, a massive discount like 75% off or free app marketing material like a t-shirt or mug. Such promotions will not only increase engagement as users participate but also allow spreading via ‘word of mouth’, “app XYZ is giving away a ____, check it out!”
- Educate and Teach:
No one enjoys feeling like a noob and everyone wants to be a master. Why not make every user a master of your app? This allows them to not only get more out of your app and increase enjoyment but also earn the tech status of a ‘power user’ to show off your app to friends. The best method to make a user a master of your app is through a tutorial or help screens. A brief walk through of the app’s main functions and buttons will enable the user to feel empowered from the start. However, be wary of information overload; only give the user pointers as they need them. This is also a great opportunity to convey the value of your app, especially if you can drop stats and figures about tangible ways the app will improve their lives (more dates, fewer lines or faster managing). You can also show users way to optimize their experience using the app, specifically highlighting the benefits of inviting friends (familiar community) and push notifications (timely and relevant updates).
- Engagement on other platforms:
Communicating with your users not on your home turf can be tough, but it’s important! Engagement on other platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are valuable opportunities to make your app seem more personable and multi-faceted. This allows your brand to develop deeper mobile engagement with existing users and broader engagement with non-users. Additionally, these platforms are optimized for sharing and creating content that is likely unique from your app’s so new opportunities to engage emerge. Lastly, users won’t spend all their mobile time on your app, so continuing to engage with them on other websites like those listed above is an effective tactic. Ideally, engagement on other platforms will result in non-users becoming users and existing users to be re-directed back to your app!Now that you have all the engagement tactics in front of you and know a little bit more about each, it’s time to choose one or a combination of the above for your app! An app’s engagement is vital to its long term success and ongoing growth. The above tactics should be understood in the context of your app’s unique niche, while some will be applicable others won’t. However, it is important to drive user engagement through multiple tactics from the above list. The best strategies for mobile user engagement will not just use multiple tactics in isolation but rather in tandem to increase their efficacy. Lastly, user engagement is finicky and dynamic so your tactic should change as your user base reacts and adapt to new opportunities or challenges as they present themselves. To learn more about app engagement strategies contact us at Messapps. We help big companies and entrepreneurs in transforming their app idea into a successful app business.
Author: Vasily Malyshev, CEO & Founder of Messapps.