The arrival of the original iPhone in 2007 didn’t just change people’s relationships with mobile technology, it also changed how marketers connect with consumers. Following that watershed launched a new wave of marketing, set around the development of mobile first applications, was now set in motion. Developers and brands, alike, scrambled to create applications ranging from addictive games to fitness trackers and financial planners. Fast forward to today and people’s livelihoods revolve around the screen of their smartphones. Yes, apps have transformed daily life, but unlike other marketing trends, it’s difficult for developers and brands to see financial returns on even the most successful apps in the app store.
The rapid growth days of applications have come and gone; most smartphone users download zero additional apps per month. Which means that if you want your application to thrive, you’re going to have to tweak its performance rather than spend on additional outbound marketing campaigns. Rather than bolstering your marketing efforts in attempt to acquire a continuous stream of users, you can alter your in-app offerings to increase retention, stop crash rates, enhance engagement, and reverse uninstall rates. Here are a few analytics to pay attention to as you attempt to enhance overall performance:
One of the pillars of marketing 101 is that it is easier (and more cost effective) to re-sell to existing customers than it is to convert potential consumers into first-time buyers. The same philosophy can be applied to applications, as retention is more cost-effective than acquisition.
Monitoring retention is crucial to your bottom line; in their Guide to Customer Retention for Mobile Apps, Retentive states that a 2% increase in retention can decrease costs by 10%.
Retention is one of the most important mobile in-app analytics, but securing long-term retention is no easy feat. Apptentive found that one year after an app download only 4% of users still re-launch the app. Interest in applications, save for the primary mobile phone applications (Instagram, Spotify, Facebook, etc.) diminishes as time goes on.
If you notice a steady drop off in retention there are several actions you can take to reverse course, including:
Encouraging in-app feedback by giving your users the chance to share their opinions is the only way you’ll ever know why users stop returning to your app. Many app providers are afraid of intruding on the overall app experience by asking for feedback. Additionally, there is a common misconception that customer feedback stems from negative experiences. An Apptentive and SurveyMonkey survey, however, found 72% of respondents to be equally as likely to give feedback regardless of a negative or positive experience.
A high crash rate is a surefire way to send users running. Nothing is more frustrating than downloading a new app only to find that it cannot sustain usability. As indications of backend issues, crash reports must be facilitated often in order to ensure steady performance. If your application is plagued with consistent meltdowns, it will definitely affect your app store ratings and push your product further down in the market. Mobile users want immediacy, if they encounter an application problem they expect it to be solved instantaneously. The only way to truly stay on top of your app’s performance and avoid risking users due to preventable crashes is to run daily app diagnostics.
There is always an intention driving a user to download an app - whether they want to be entertained, informed, or equipped to track a certain aspect of their life, they download apps because they expect certain results. However, if they find the application to be unhelpful, unintuitive, or uninteresting they’ll likely churn and it will be increasingly difficult to convince them to give your app a second chance. Tracking engagement data including session length, session interval, interactions, and opt-ins paints a clear picture of whether or not they perceive your app to meet your expectations.
If you lose users to uninstalls almost immediately it could be an indication that users don’t know how to adequately use your app. Rather than letting users drop off, your businesses marketing arm needs to step in and send communications welcoming them to the community and tutorials showing them how to make the most of the application. If uninstalls are tracked on a consistent basis, it may be possible to step in, reach your users, and solve the problem they encountered on the application. Some methods for tracking uninstalls include app login metrics - although log in decreases could also stem from lapsed users - and silent push notifications. You can also leverage resources like Lean Plum Analytics to gain real-time analytical insights into how well your application is engaging users. Through Leanplum you can also choose to highlight and focus on specific campaign programs and make tweaks accordingly.
One of the issues plaguing long-term app performance is lack of consistency in app analytics. Too often mobile marketers focus on the wrong metrics or don’t know how to use app analytics to optimize overall performance. Many app strategies are focused on downloads but downloads are a function of marketing, not app analytics. While it’s difficult for most entrepreneurs to look past, 20% of apps that are downloaded are only used once. Additionally 95% of all app users are lost within the first 90 days after a download. In fact, download rates aren’t even considered among the top five in-app metrics. Rather than bolstering your marketing efforts in attempt to acquire a continuous stream of new downloads, you can alter your in-app offerings to increase retention, diminish churn rate and enhance engagement.