The publisher world is becoming a very hyper-competitive environment. There are over 2.2 million apps between Google Play and the App Store across all industries competing for the same audience. Look at the money involved, and it’s easy to see why – App Annie predicts that in 2016 the global mobile app market will expand 24 percent to reach $51 billion in gross revenue across all app stores. By 2020 gross revenue across all app stores will exceed $101 billion globally. With time spent on mobile (51%) now significantly higher than time spent on desktop (42%), according to KPCB, there is a massive opportunity for app developers and publishers to capture larger audiences.
Where many developers are missing the mark is actually after they get the initial download. While consumers today have more apps than ever before, they are only using a select few on a regular basis. According to Forrester’s 2016 Mobile and App Marketing Trends report, UK and
US consumers use an average of 24 apps per month but spend more than 80% of their time on
just five apps.
In order to make their app one of the frequented few, developers need to build a solid foundation in organizing and collecting data to understand and communicate with their users. Effective real-time personalization leads to increased consumer loyalty, decreasing churn and increasing Average Revenue Per User.
Over many years helping top app publishers form and implement a successful mobile-first CRM process, we’ve identified four key steps for developing a successful customer experience.
Step 1: Gathering and organizing critical user data
Utility is the ultimate litmus test for consumer apps. Consumers need to feel that they are getting value from an app – whether that be entertaining content, or useful tips and resources – or they’ll stop using it. The most successful apps not only deliver value through traditional loyalty rewards and offers, but also make content personally compelling and show they value the time and data users are investing in the app. Publishers need to be able to recognize unique behaviors of those using their apps, and engage those individuals outside of the parameters of traditional loyalty programs.
Vital components for achieving this include:
- Defining key performance indicators. These will vary depending on the purpose of the app, but can include things like usage, retention rate, session length, average revenue per user and lifetime value.
- Putting technology in place to collect data about all consumer behaviors, events, actions and preferences within an app.
- Creating a single profile of each user that shows what content is consumed, what level of gameplay the person has reached, what purchases are made and when, and what days of the week the app is opened…
Step 2: Creating a framework to analyze data
Once an app is capturing data, publishers need to figure out how to make sense of it. When used correctly, data can tell a publisher how consumers are using their app, what content they’re most engaged with and where to focus further development efforts. Developers can even use that data to A/B test different functionalities or identify the app’s most trafficked areas. These behavioral analytics provide a framework for engaging with users, and allows you to anticipate when they might churn or remarket to dormant users.
Publishers can begin to analyze their data by:
- Organizing and prioritizing the millions of data points captured by the app based on key performance indicators.
- Implementing a method for identifying patterns to understand what motivates their customers.
- Adding more sophisticated organizational layers to serve personalized campaigns to users, segmenting and targeting customers based on behavioral attributes.
Step 3: Customizing the user journey with personalized engagement at the right time
Now that the app is capturing data and making sense of it, the next step is putting that information to use. Every consumer-facing app should be utilizing data to make smarter, more agile marketing experiences and deliver personalized content throughout their user’s journey.
While this can take many forms, some key usages include:
- Setting up rules based on certain behaviors to trigger personalized messaging or promotions, supporting engagement and retention or remarketing to dormant users.
-A/B testing to find out what resonates with the consumer. Each individual responds differently to different messages and delivery methods, so testing can help customize communications to individual user preferences.
- Customizing the overall app experience based on a consumer’s behavior and preferences. Whether delivering tailored content on a news app, or free currency for a player struggling in a game, this is important for ensuring happy users.
Step 4: Offering incentives to maximize retention and loyalty
Retention is just as vital as acquisition, so it’s important to go above and beyond personalized engagement to foster loyalty in an app’s user base. Critical moments of impact, when leveraged properly, can spark engagement, encourage in-app purchases and even incentivize churned users to reengage.
Maximizing retention and loyalty comes down to two main components:
- Identifying high value behaviors that will drive app and business success.
- Reward users around those activities. This will mean different things for every publisher, so it is important to design a program that is relevant for the individual app’s purpose and users.