Mobile App Marketing Guide To Master User Retention

If you're struggling with high uninstall rates for your mobile app, this guide is for you. Learn how to master user retention and reduce your uninstall rate with effective mobile app marketing strategies. From optimizing your onboarding process to engaging users with personalized messaging and incentives, this guide provides practical tips and best practices to help you keep users coming back to your app.


By Quokkalabs LLP

04 May, 2020

Charting out an effective user acquisition strategy for your mobile application, like paid ads or influencer marketing, is a no-brainer. While this may be hailed as an achievement at the initial stages, where the main goal is to fuel your app's growth, it can only survive the fierce competition long in this market if a proper retention plan is implemented. Such initiatives to keep your users active on your application regularly and uninterrupted pay off well in keeping up with this highly competitive market.

Hence, user engagement and retention rates can be the deciding strategies for the success of a mobile application.

Should User Retention Rate Worry You?

Yes, it should. Your retention rate capacity is one prime factor determining your market profit, i.e., how much you can earn from existing users without adding a single extra dollar to acquire new ones! In the long run, an unhealthy retention rate will stress your marketing budget, making you lose out in the race. The report down here shall paint a clearer picture of my proposition.

The research report by BusinessofApps, the average cost per install rate in 2018 was ~$3, however, if we look at the cost per in-app purchase and cost per subscription, it was as high as ~ $70 & ~ $150 respectively. Does this justify my statement above? Indeed, acquisition strategies can only suffice to convert into economic opportunities if backed up by intense retention methods.

Why I'm not advocating being frugal with your spending on user acquisition channels. But, on the same lines, I'm convinced that your focus on user retention must be far greater than user acquisition to have the best return of interest (ROI). Let's move on to the article & see how to prevent your app from being uninstalled.

Reducing App Uninstalls - How Can I Improve My User Retention Rate?

Pay attention to drop-off points

There may be various reasons why users are abandoning your app; it is helpful to identify exactly where you're missing out & losing customers. Using app analytics can help you discover these drop-off points to deduce what is wrong with your app & how you can improve it to reduce such uninstalls.

You can leverage a combination of in-app events tracking & clever analytics to collect insightful data but keep in mind that every user is different.

Making Onboarding Easy Boosts Retention Rate

More complex your onboarding process is, the higher the chances of a user abandoning your app. To reduce the uninstall rates of your mobile application, you must offer a smooth onboarding experience to new users. Designing a user-friendly signup procedure removes multiple heckles that a fresh user might encounter, hence impressive the user on the first go!

According to ProfitWell's research, users who experience a positive onboarding experience are 12% to 20% more likely to pay for an IAP (In-app purchase) & when onboarding experience is negative, there is a 3%-9% drop in purchasers.

So, in addition to improving your retention rate, refining the experience will surely add some brownie points! A positive onboarding experience shall reduce uninstalling rates and convert your new users into loyal customers.

Let's crack some techniques to do this!

Here are a few tips to improve the Onboarding experience

  • Start with Easytone Guiding users on using your app may be required, but you should leave the information/path overloaded at the initial point. Keep the onboarding process very simple, smooth, and to the point.

  • Eliminate any additional login/signup process Ask me, and I will say that I hate the login/signup process. From my experience, this audacious process can significantly hamper our retention strategies. Avoid this prompt wherever it's unnecessary. To make this process smoother, one can try integrating different options such as social media, email, or phone number login to analyze which works best. Many high-end apps provide a one-touch login process for better user acceptability.

  • Swift opt-out feature at any step: At the onboarding stage, give your customer an option to opt-out anytime, be it any path (viz., sign up, demo, tutorial, etc.)

  • Indicate progress at each step An intelligent move to make the onboarding process compelling is to show the user how far they have reached and what steps are left. Highlighting this progress indicator will smooth the journey and ensure the user sticks to the onboarding process and does not bounce back. The issue of losing users at the onboarding step can be dealt with without a penalty.

Improve Functionality & Performance - App Updates

With the growth of the vast mobile app ecosystem, we have plenty of options. Generally, a loading time of more than 3-4 seconds may make your app seem junky & the customer may consider an alternative application. While an impeccable UI, functionality & performance, free from bugs and issues, are good to ensure user acceptability, it's always recommended to keep your app updated every few days (the top 100 free apps on Google Play Store give an update within a week or two). This way, the apps can be tailored toward changing technology trends and customer needs, enhancing user experience.

Pushing Notifications: The Smart Way

Though push-based notifications are a great way to keep users engaged, they may also be the primary reason for a user uninstalling your app. Despite being a great way to keep a user engaged, apprising your user incessantly can piss them off, resulting in a drop-off from your app.

It is essential to design how and when to use this feature. Push notifications to provide value to your users, such as keeping them updated with new features, products, sales, offers, incomplete transactions, and much more. But not having the know-how to use this option can be regressive for your product.

Here are some tips for sending push notifications the right way to increase user retention rate -

  • Send personalized notifications When you have all the information regarding the user's in-app behavior and frequency of use, why not utilize it best? Customizing the report can make the feature seem relevant to the user, who would be more interested in opening and using it. Understanding this data will help you fetch a fair idea about your users & how you may provide value to them.
  • Strategize your Timings Push notifications at improper timings can inconvenience users. This may extend to the condition that they might get irritated and, in turn, may uninstall the app. Here it is critical to understand when to send these notifications. Taking account of the type of your application, message type, and, more importantly, your target audience will prove to be the game-changer in this trade-off to make your user download any update or purchase a new feature.
  • Don't forget to do the A/B test When notifying users, any blind assumption of which type of messages may work best may be catastrophic. This can be annoying & make a user drop off your application.

It is essential to run A/B tests with different versions of push notifications to filter out the ones getting a deficient response. A good practice is to do an A/B test, starting with a small number of randomly selected users and analyzing the engagement insights. This will help you tailor the correct type of push notifications per your application, which you can start sending to the rest of the clients.

You can run A/B test experiments based on the following parameters -

  • Personalizing notifications
  • Test with wordings (short sentences, long sentences, etc.)
  • Adding Emojis/Gifs/Images
  • Timings

Offer Loyalty Programs

With the mobile app ecosystem flourishing, new applications are being launched daily, increasing the number of similar-looking & similar apps in the marketplace. In such a scenario, an alternative to your mobile app is just a click away. Loyalty programs play a huge part in differentiating your mobile application from the competition and give users a reason to retain your app.

A loyalty program is a system of structured rewards & offers offered to existing, customers when they shop with you again & again. It gives them a solid reason to return to your platform & establish a habit of buying from you.

Offering loyalty campaigns increases brand recognition, makes your product exciting among users & gives them a reason to return. You should take advantage of this opportunity if your business model allows for running loyalty-based campaigns. You can offer loyalty programs in many ways; some include giving advanced access to new products, additional discounts & free shipping, etc.,

You will not only benefit from this in terms of increased retention rates, but it will also help in your app marketing efforts by acquiring new customers via word of mouth & referrals.

Final Words

Quite often, the app owners campaign fiercely on their success of attaining the highest number of downloads in a given time as a part of their confidence-building measure among the customers. Such numbers continue to rise exponentially for a certain period.

Still, the thing that it does not reflect on your balance sheet dries out the marketing resources, resulting in the app's failure ultimately. These tips will help you improve the retention rate and also help you increase your user base. So, get back to your dashboard, chalk out plans to implement these tactics effectively, and watch your users grow. Good Luck!


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