Beating App Abandonment One Customer at a Time

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Apps turn smartphones into tech Swiss army knives. There are literally apps of every shape and size, colour and form, creating a network which transforms any given mobile device into something much more by empowering the user to complete a whole bunch of tasks simultaneously. Taken out of its pluralized form, however, and an application can suffer from user fatigue or disinterest.

Take the fact that one-quarter of all users abandon apps after a single use. Such high rates of app abandonment go hand-in-hand with limited retention as applications struggle to hold onto the users they have, with the same study showing that app retention after ten sessions falls to 32 percent of users.

Interestingly, app marketers tend to focus on user acquisition to begin with but at some point need to start working on retention. After all, there’s no point in filling a bucket when it continues to leak. Let’s discuss how app developers and advertisers need to address abandonment and retention numbers in plugging the gap.

Find out why people are giving up on you

People love apps – until they don’t. The largest fall in average user retention occurs just two days after the app has been downloaded. After just the second day of downloading an app, the average user retention falls to 22 percent. Furthermore, according to mobile app user retention rates from Statista, 55 percent of mobile app users abandon an app one month after downloading it, with the number ballooning to 68 percent after three months.

These are staggering statistics which should prompt app developers to sit back and ask themselves: why?

Are developers asking for too much information from their users? Is a particular level in the mobile game too tough? The truth is that these answers can only be gathered by conducting a funnel analysis to identify the points of friction. This offers an end-to-end view of the user journey so developers can clearly determine why people are not performing the desired actions. That’s not the end though, as the brains behind the apps have to take action to iron out the uncovered kinks.

Categorize your users by in-app events

Each person is at a different point in their user journey across any given app. With every milestone varying in difficulty and level of investment, it helps to divide users into unique audiences to address them differently.

App launch, login, content viewed, content posted, interaction, and user-to-user prompts help to classify exactly what users are doing on the app. Then, creators are best advised to rank these events by difficulty and value to their business, before coming up with unique ways to target and engage each category of user. This will help to devise a way to get users and keep them.

Remind and help users pick up where they left off

Lastly, but just as importantly, creators must work to remind their user base of the value their app brings. This starts with using push notifications smarter. More than 60% of users turn off push notifications in some categories, and there is a general feeling of annoyance if they do not provide value with their prompts. Publishers often rely on spamming users with push notifications to get their attention once more, but this is not a magic bullet and should be used (sparingly) when there’s some value for the user.

Adverts are not only for attracting new users, but can be used to retain existing ones as well. Consider using highly targeted ads, with unique messaging for each audience based on specific in-app events. For instance, if a user has abandoned an app game after completing all available levels, it would not make sense to show the same user ads featuring levels they have already completed. On the other hand, if the app creator just released new material in the game, this is a clear opportunity to recapture this highly engaged user with ads teasing of the latest updates.

If users are to return to any given platform, there must be a clear incentive for them to come back. Whether it be through new avatar items or a flash sale on interested products, some sort of perk works well to bring customers back. Further, app advertisers are best advised to use deep linking to send users to the right place in the app and minimize any effort on their part.

App makers are vying for consumer attention in a crowded and noisy market – and one limited by the storage of any given device. Consumers might be spending more time in apps, but most of that time is spent in a few favorites. Users spend almost three-quarters of their total smartphone app time in just their three favorite apps, according to comScore.

That does not leave much room for the rest of us, and developers must be smart when it comes to app decisions. People generally want smooth experiences with apps that do what they say. This means that app concepts and designs need to be better than ever to get the attention of users – and more importantly, to keep it.

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