App Marketing Series: 3 Tips to Grow Your App by Putting Retention First

October 19, 2021 - 10 minutes read

Recently, the Dogtown Media team sat down with our friends at Yodel Mobile – an award-winning app marketing agency – to explore app retention. Be sure to check out their phenomenal app marketing services, and be sure to reach out!

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. So why don’t we start putting retention first?

There are now 8.9 million apps on the market – and most of them are actually free. With thousands of apps added to the app stores each day, the rates of app retention are decreasing. Now, more than ever, consumers have an extensive choice – finding an app with a similar service or features to yours has never been easier! It can take seconds for the user to move on to the next app without so much as blinking.

The Yodel Mobile approach? Think user retention before acquisition

How vital is retention, in the grand scheme of your app’s success?

Well, the research is quite daunting at first glance. Findings from Statista showed that on the day of installation, the average retention rate across 31 categories was 25.3%. By day 30, however, this percentage drops to just 5.7% – (ouch).

Initially, the question to ask yourself is ‘How can I prove that I am worth the consumer’s time, before another app does?’

Acquisition was once considered the vital metric to measuring an app’s success. Attracting as many users as possible to fuel the app’s rapid growth was seen as the centerpiece to a launch. In today’s market and competition, marketers have to take into account that 21% of all users abandon an app after one use! Therefore, focusing on more than the initial app installs can allow for a much greater emphasis towards in-app engagement and consumer behavior – increasing user retention.

After all of your hard work to get users through the door, only a small fraction of them are likely to stick around. So how can you ensure that you maintain strong retention and engagement rates? We’ve got three simple solutions:

1. Onboarding

We all know that a user’s first experience with your app is pretty crucial. A good onboarding process will familiarise users with what the app does, what value it can offer to them, and generally make it easy for them to get started. In the short term, this is integral to retention. It removes the initial barrier that can cause users to drop off before they really start using the app. In fact, app retention rates can increase by 50% after implementing a strong onboarding strategy.

So what does good app onboarding actually look like?

  • One of the most important things to remember is not to overload your new users. Keep these screens simple and don’t hit users with unnecessary permission requests up-front. Best practice is 3-5 screens that communicate information visually rather than through text. You could even consider whether there is a way you could spread the information out across their user experience.
  • It’s known as ‘progressive onboarding’ – baby steps essentially. You stagger messages and introduce the app gradually. Drip-feeding messages may be the right approach for you, but this depends on your app. With fairly simple features, it may not be necessary. But if the app requires a multi-part registration process, for example, then progressive onboarding can be a great way of breaking up a potentially tedious process. This can increase your chances that users will actually finish the registration process.

2. App review and feedback management

Have you ever downloaded an app, reached one of the pages and immediately felt confused? This confusion can very quickly lead to frustration, causing users to ditch your app and move straight onto the next. Even after you’ve made sure that the onboarding process is as smooth as possible, some users are still bound to have questions. How can you solve this? The answer is as simple as an effective FAQ page.

  • An FAQ page, or the addition of a support system of some kind, allows you to manage inquiries within the app itself. It removes that frustration that comes before users give up on your app altogether. You can even deal with issues when the user needs it most. You’re effectively killing two birds with one stone as you’re also minimizing the possibility of consumers turning to the app store to leave a negative review.
  • Bad reviews also have a knock-on effect on your acquisition efforts, reducing the conversion rate from app store impression to install. The better prepared you are before launch, the more likely it is that users will have a positive experience within the app. The domino effect will topple, as this can also impact the number of positive reviews that you receive on the app stores, helping boost your ASO strategy and draw in new users.

3. Push priming

Let’s face it, we all know  can be an invaluable tool to engage users! They’re a key tool for re-engaging users and can even cause app retention ratpush notificationses to almost double – if they’re handled correctly. So, how can you utilize push notifications effectively?

  • On iOS, push notifications require users to opt-in. As with any other functions that require user permissions, e.g. location tracking, this is much more likely to be successful if you ask at the right time…and in the right way.
  • Prompts are more effective if they’re triggered based on the user’s latest activity – but finding exactly the right point in the user journey will depend on the nature of your app. For a shopping app, it might be after the user makes a purchase, offering them the opportunity to get live updates on when the package will arrive.
  • In terms of how you actually ask for permission, make sure to pre-empt the native permission request with a screen in the app itself, priming the user and explaining the benefits of opting in.

Taking these steps will improve the conversion rate of users consenting to push notifications and other permission-based functions, which will in turn boost retention rates. For more advice, you can see the Yodel video guide on push priming here.

Once you have populated the app, the push strategy will be a key driving force in the app’s success and growth – fundamentally feeding into the Infinite App Growth Loop.

Maintaining Retention

Addressing retention before launch can be difficult, as you won’t have any historic user data to learn from. (Queue…the crowded app marketplace!)

There are likely lots of competitors already out there that you can take your learnings from. And once you have launched, remember that every aspect of retention can be tested and optimized. Ensure that you A/B test every message you’re showing to users, whether its purpose is onboarding or priming them for in-app permission. When it comes to retention, your work is never done.

The effort is more than worthwhile, and it shows.

A retention-first strategy safeguards you against one of app marketing’s biggest obstacles.

Launching an app can feel like you’re jumping off a cliff blindfolded at times!

This is why Yodel created the infinite loop – at each obstacle, there are strategies you can implement to allow for a smooth-running, effective approach. The infinite app growth loop will work to become a self-sustaining mechanism that will help you drive long-term, sustainable growth for your app!

If you have any questions on the Yodel infinite app growth loop or want to find out how you can put retention first, feel free to reach out to the Yodel Mobile Growth Team. Alternatively, you can check out their Mastering Mobile Marketing series or head over to their blog page, or check out more from our blogs here for more information.

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