Elena Kozlova, Content Marketing Manager at Pushwoosh, a customer engagement platform that automates push notifications, in-apps, emails, and multichannel event-triggered communications.
To provide a seamless customer experience across every digital channel is the ultimate goal for every marketer. The gradual shift in technology helps drive user engagement, create value for customers and drive revenue growth.
The times are a-challenging — now as ever.
The IDFA depreciation has cut you off from volumes of iOS users’ data, and your attribution strategy must be shaken.
You may have already considered switching your marketing focus to customer engagement strategies, but the increased competition for users’ time keeps you concerned. Rightly so: even top apps don’t enjoy the undivided attention from their audience anymore.
Is there a way to resist these negative conditions?
With a bunch of tried-and-tested user engagement strategies, you can retain and even strengthen your positions.
Let’s get straight to them.
1. Engage new users on day 1: onboarding hooks that work
You don’t want to lose 75% of your hard-earned users in the first 24 hours after the app installment. No one does, but these are the stats.
Luckily, you can improve your user engagement and retention with well-thought onboarding.
To create an engaging welcome flow in your app, we recommend you apply a powerful “hook” technique:
- Trigger a simple action
Let’s take Evernote as an example — look at the screenshots below as you’re reading through the points. For starters, the app suggests its newcomers create their first note.
- Promise a reward
Show how the required action will take the user closer to their goal.
Evernote sees its value in helping people to remember things and keep the information at hand. This is the promise they mention in their first, second, and even third onboarding in-app message, presenting their key features one by one.
- Ensure user investment
People get attached to anything when they a) invest their effort in it and b) personalize it.
Evernote suggests the user installs the desktop version of their app in order to get their notes synchronized and accessible from multiple devices.
The user gets their extra benefit, and Evernote gets another customer connected to the brand.
Example: engaging user onboarding flow in the Evernote app
2. Personalization: a simple way to improve CTR
At the onboarding stage, your new user has familiarized with your app.
Hopefully, you have got to know your customer too: their name, age, gender, geo location, app settings and preferences, and maybe even their social media accounts.
All these types of data will make your further communication feel closer. So the next time you send a push notification, include some dynamic content in it. You can put it in the push title or subtitles; you may set a particular send time and root params. Of course, your push icon and sound of notifications can be customized too.
Push notification anatomy
Personalization is a confirmed way to improve open- and click-through-rates of your marketing messages. Specifically, the use of emojis can increase push notifications CTR from 15% to 40%, as the most recent experience of Pushwoosh clients shows.
3. Advanced segmentation: an almost individual approach at a scale
Your users may be pleased to hear you call them by their names and see you add their favorite emojis.
However, it’s your ability to deliver timely and relevant messages that will get them hooked.
To practice precise targeting and maximize engagement in your app,
- Segment your audience by user preferences
Take a cue from news apps: they typically ask readers about their topics of interest as early as at the opt-in stage.
Look at the examples from the top media below: they will only notify their users on the topics they ask them to.
Examples: CNN, USA Today, and RTL info apps create segments by suggesting their users to choose the topics they wish to be notified about.
- Create segments based on in-app behavior
If you have never done it before, you’ll have to analyze your users’ past behavior and divide them into several groups.
For example, you can select out those who visit a specific feature/product page often. They have all chances to convert!
Take a look at Yazio, a calorie tracking app. It targets those users who got stuck on a paid feature page. Does the price seem to be too high? Not at all, insists Yazio, if you compare it to another indispensable purchase. Then, a call-to-action follows.
You may track your users’ in-app behavior in real time and vary your communications based on where they are in their journey. Skip to the chapter on event-triggered messaging to read more on this.
4. Time- and location-triggered messaging: engage users at the right time and in the right place
What is the best time to engage users in communication?
Start with the basics: you wouldn’t disturb your professional contact after hours, and you wouldn’t wish a good morning to someone going to bed. You can be as appropriate with your mobile marketing communications if you set timezones and silent hours.
Furthermore, you can ask your users to select the hours when they are open to engage with your app. Here is a great example from Memrise, a language learning app. They don’t ask for the right to send push notifications — rather, they offer a caring gesture to remind users of their daily lessons.
Another example: SmartNews, a news aggregator, suggests several time slots when their readers will receive updates.
This way, the app avoids sending unwanted and unclicked notifications, minimizes their opt-outs, and maximizes user engagement.
Apparently, the technique works: in 2020, SmartNews became the second most popular news app in the USA.
Where should you catch your users to get them engaged?
While we’re talking about user engagement in mobile apps, it still matters where your customers are in the offline world.
When a customer passes by your physical store or restaurant, it is the best time to send them a push invitation to come over. All you need is to request access to your app user’s geolocation beforehand and set geo-based targeting.
This is a great opportunity for offline businesses to inform their customers of reopening and remind them the way to their once favorite place.
From our experience, geo-based targeting improves more than app user engagement.
Telepizza, one of the largest pizza restaurant chains worldwide and a Pushwoosh customer, achieved 4–7% conversion rates and increased sales. All thanks to timely geo-targeted push notifications.
5. Automated event-triggered communications: the key to efficient mobile marketing
Do you want a far-sighted strategy? Opt for event-triggered marketing then! It implies sending communications in real time based on user behavior.
This way, each customer receives the most relevant message at the most appropriate time. They are more likely to click on the message and heed your call to action.
Here are several scenarios you may want to work on:
- User-oriented onboarding
You can achieve high user engagement rates right at the onboarding stage. For this, build your welcome sequence around the actions a user takes. Depending on the features/products your newcomers show interest in, you will choose which in-app tip they will see next.
A user will see that your app provides the value that they need and will be more likely to stay engaged.
- Re-engagement and retention
Pay extra attention to the users who haven’t opened your app for three to seven days as they are very likely to churn. To prevent this, send re-engaging messages to those dormant users.
Another option: select a segment that uses your app regularly but ignores some features. Communicate the value of this extra functionality to these customers — keep them satisfied and retain them in your app.
- Loyalty programs
Keep your most active users engaged: reward them for daily achievements and frequent purchases. Make exclusive special offers and encourage them to spread the word about your app with friends.
- Feedback and surveys
Is there anything you could improve in your app? Let your users answer.
Choose the moment when they are the most satisfied — say, when they’ve just purchased something — and ask them to share their feedback.
This is how you strengthen user engagement in your app — or simply show your customer that you care.
Example: an event-triggered communication sequence encouraging users to share their feedback. Source: Pushwoosh Customer Journey Builder tool.
You can pursue bottom-of-the-funnel goals with event-triggered communications too, but this merits a separate discussion.
6. Cross-channel approach: ensure user engagement across the platforms
Your goal is to create a user habit: open your app whenever they have a need it can satisfy.
To instill the habit, meet your users where they are via their preferred channels.
- Push notifications are the best for implementing a habit.
Do you assume a user will play your game while they commute? Send them a push then.
Do you know a customer will go searching for a holiday gift a month in advance? Remind them of your e-commerce app on the estimated date.
- In-app messages are great to communicate with the users while they are still engaged.
The most appropriate formats: guiding tips on how to get the maximum value from your app and special offers — rewards for your customers’ undivided attention.
- Emails create a cross-device connection
You may know that your e-commerce customers like adding items to their cart at night, while watching TV series, but decide on a purchase with a fresh head the next day.
A morning email will be of use here: they will get a chance to look into their chosen items on a desktop and then return to your app for purchase.
Maximize user engagement in your app
External turbulences may shatter many opportunities for mobile apps, but user engagement is the aspect that any business can keep under control.
In this post, we’ve walked through the core strategies and techniques for efficient user engagement growth and seen how top apps apply them.
Will it be a better onboarding flow, personalization, segmentation, time-, geolocation- or event-triggered messaging that will make a difference for your app?
We believe it's the combination of methods you apply across the channels that can take your user engagement to the next level.
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