Only 25% of an app’s downloaders return after day one. Can you beat those odds?

With the world’s population spending increasing amounts of time on their smartphones, enterprises are challenged with crafting an effective mobile app strategy. After all, a Criteo 2016 report found that mobile apps boast 3x conversion over mobile web and 1.5x over desktop web, and that savvy app retailers realized 54% of mobile transactions in-app. But in a marketplace with millions of apps, how can enterprises build a dedicated following?

Well, organizations are doing the hard work on acquiring app users. Chick-fil-A, for example, saw their app downloads rise 14,285% in one day on a back of a free sandwich promotion in June 2016. In fact, for a few days, they had more downloads than Facebook.

But acquisition can only be part of your mobile app strategy. If 75% of your users don’t return a day after downloading your app, that’s a lot of future revenue lost. Therefore, you need to follow up acquisition with effective retention by delivering a superlative user experience.

“Half of all time spent on smartphone apps occurs on the individual’s single most used app”

That’s according to a comScore report that highlights the investment that users make with apps they really connect with. But many clients I speak to expect their app to simply be a scaled down version of their website. Delivering an engaging experience that keeps app users coming back day after day requires you to do much more. Here are four focus areas to keep in mind when creating your app strategy:

  1. Identify and solve a customer problem

In 2011, Starbucks pioneered mobile payments in-store with an easy-to-use app interface, firmly establishing them as a leader in mobile engagement. By streamlining the customer’s experience in store through an app, Starbucks now sees over 21% of transactions in US company-owned Starbucks stores happen through the app. Similarly, Starwood Hotels launched a keyless entry mobile app for loyalty program members to be able to bypass tedious check-in procedures.

Spend some time thinking about how the mobile app can ease a particular pain point for the customer. If you can address that, then you’ve got a winner.

2. Leverage native capabilities

Enterprises that create immersive experiences through integration of smartphone cameras, microphones and more, will see greater engagement as users revel in the added convenience provided by these capabilities. Think about how enabling live video streaming on social networks has made Periscope & Facebook Live so successful.

L’oreal’s Makeup Genius app taps into the same space, allowing users to virtually try on different cosmetics in real-time, review the results, and place orders. Indeed the virtual try-on is increasingly catching on in the apparel and accessories space, to simulate in an app the tactile experience that users currently have to go to a store for.

3. Involve social seamlessly

In the digital realm, users want to be part of a group of like-minded individuals so they can share experiences, gather feedback and feel more secure in their interactions and their purchases. But, traditional social media integration, ratings & reviews and community boards are now par for the course.

Increasingly, organizations are seeking to more deeply link to social apps or even bring social elements into their own apps. Real estate marketplace app Zillow allows users to send home info and photos through iMessage right from their app. Mallzee not only recommends fashions for users, it also allows their friends to vote on whether they should buy the item or not. If you’re connecting users with their peers while on the app, it helps them associate with your brand with more confidence and loyalty.

Engage through personalization

Users are much more willing to share personal information on a mobile app with the expectation that the enterprise will tailor the app experience to their unique tastes and requirements. But, personalization cannot be limited to ‘You may also like…’ and ‘Customers also bought…’. App users expect content, catalog, offers, and indeed, experiences that are specific to their demographics, purchase history, current location and even activity on other apps. As Raj Aggarwal, CEO of Localytics, notes:

“People want their apps to know who they are, where they are, and what they want to do, but only if this personal data leads to a richer, more personalized experience”

For example, a user doing a price comparison in a mall food court could be alerted to a relevant offer from a retailer at the same mall. In-app messaging and push notifications offer this advantage of communicating in real-time with a customer and when personalized and used sensibly, it will keep users coming back for more.

It’s been found that enterprises that focus on new user retention can attract up to 90% more conversions. But, trying to carve out a niche for your app in this increasingly crowded space requires you to truly stand out. When you set out to address a customer problem by leveraging native smartphone capabilities, thereby providing a personalized experience and a sense of community in the interaction, you have just increased your chances of having more than 25% of users returning after day one.

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