Not all apps are made equal. But all apps are looking to reach the promised land of amazing engagement from frequent users, and have loyal customers who keep returning.
They are two sides of the same golden coin to us, let’s look at some great examples and methods of reducing churn.
Churn rate refers to the cancellation rate; the measure of customers or subscribers who stop using or paying for your app during a specific time period.
60% of users who don’t come back to an app within 7 days simply never return.
Fact is, you will lose customers. Period.
Churn shows the rate of people leaving and is the first step in understanding how good you are currently at retaining customers and identifying what actions assist in helping you reach your conversion and monetization goals.
Regardless of a free, paid or freemium based model for your app, you need to know what is a profitable/acceptable level of loss to your app.
It’s almost always cheaper and easier to retain customers than it is to go through the process of acquiring new ones. According to KISSmetrics, it is 2x more likely that a former customer pays again, as compared to a newly acquired customer.
Remember, churn is a necessary evil that needs mitigation to maintain predictability, so let’s keep it real and use some triggers that will certainly help lower some of it.
Consistent updates create a sense of anticipation and reinforces the value of the content an app has.
Take a look at the Bacardi Mixed app, which adds a new cocktail recipe every week and notifies consumers about it to re-engage with them instead of uploading an entire list of recipes that inherently keeps users passive.
Instead of coming back only on days they are looking for a cocktail recipe, users are engaged to learn something new with every update.
Bacardi turned potentially leaky customers into thirsty customers who come back for more.
Your app will most probably not be perfect or even complete at the first launch, and it doesn’t need to be.
When I started playing Kill Shot, the #1 simulation game in the US store, there were 3 regions. I patiently came back time after time like the sucker I was, to attempt a new region when it was ready. (I am currently waiting for region 10 to be unlocked)
I felt that I was growing with the app, and appreciated them for working on it to provide me with new content to keep me engaged. When things are this fun, you don’t want it to end.
The updates might not be drastic, but if there are considerable achievements to reach, users will keep coming back for more.
Along with consistent updates that keep users in anticipation, create intermittent ones that give an element of surprise, or even limit them with time to create urgency.
Disney and LucasFilms’ Star Wars Commanders game introduced a new time-limited campaign recently, and CSR racing has a brilliant feature which allows the player to experience a taste of the fun each day with fancy cars you do not yet own.
Of course, not every app is a game, but introducing a taste of premium features through time-limited campaigns and surprising them allows them to dive into the features you provide.
Take the robot out of your communication, or humanize them with careful thought.
Remember how Siri answers silly questions like “Do you love me?”
Slack has taken it one step further and allows you to customize responses and loading messages to keep teams personal and fun. They even created a physical version of their response bot!
Error messages from windows just annoyed us terribly, so remember that every part of your communication is being judged by the user for loyalty and reducing churn.
Text messaging is a great way to speak with them personally and is largely underutilized at the moment. Check out 2 quick ways you can use it to text customers.
Allow users to feel a sense of achievement and reward their mastery of learning how to use the app or even simply updating their details.
Google gave out 2GB of free space on Google Drive last month, in exchange for simply completing a security check up and ensuring your details are current.
Many apps teach you how to use their apps on the first instance or annoy you with tip notifications, but wouldn’t it be much easier to reward them when they do it right and progress within the app?
Mailchimp also complements the user journey with contextual interactions and digital high fives to reward your successful deployment of an email campaign.
Small rewards go a long way in reinforcing the habit of using your services, retaining customers and making them feel invested. (Are you a Yelp! Elite 2015 yet?)
You know how in app notifications can really annoy you at times? Apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp encourage users to create their own ever changing content, and in turn creating the notifications and updates to each other.
“Social apps buck this trend because they provide engagement with an audience and partnering with these networks could be a way to get your brand recognized and shared without the cost of an app,” he said. – Josh Martin
After all, 2015 will be the year user-generated content becomes marketing currency.
Every notification as a comment would then feel like a fun update as opposed to an annoying notification.
App burnout is real. Users reach an ‘engagement ceiling’ after a short period of intense interaction within the app, resulting in more frequent users over loyal, returning users.
As mentioned by Optimizely, it’s better to have 100 engaged, high-converting users than 1,000 who use your app once and then disappear.
If you were the first gamer to actually finish ‘World Of Warcraft’, you would have nothing to do but wait for the next expansion pack and twiddle your fingers.
“The most popular apps that sustain themselves day after day, month after month, at the top of the leaderboard, are messengers” – Fred Wilson
Tinder announced their attempts to charge inconsistent users for time limited swiping, forcing users to make a more conscious decision to swiping right. Gone are the days of 2 million likes a day.
It may be annoying to remove features and make users feel punished for previous offerings, but this goes beyond teasing your customers, and might allow for better long term engagement from them that emphasizes on quality over quantity.
If you have managed to create a hugely fun/important and engaging app, help users not to burnout. Allow them to reach the ideal level of engagement or allow them to communicate among themselves with their own content.
Earth to user, earth to user.
Contact users from external channels, but not with an alien tone of voice. Here is a Buffer email thats puts faces and pinpoint locations to their communication.
Take advantage of people opening your emails or reading your direct text messages.
Text messages are read on average within 5 seconds and the average click through rate (CTR) of URLs included in SMS messages is 19%, compared to just 4.2% CTR for Emails.
Users may be willing to provide feedback even after deciding not to use your app, since the trigger is as easy as replying a text.
Finding out the types of churn can improve ways to re-engage and retain customers.
From pro-active churn, to passive, happy and even fake churn, the different types of churn should help you to understand that not all users of your app are the same, and you should look at what you can do differently for free vs premium users or frequent vs power users.
Some level of churn is natural. You want to iterate your app’s value and communications through a refined onboarding process to keep users and make the app interactions personal, timely and relevant to keep the doors open for engagement and commerce.
Some apps are also naturally resistant to app burnout due to their inherent sense of organic, ongoing renewal. (news apps, daily deal apps, and TV streaming apps)
Including app communications such as what we provide enhances and increases social engagement and clearly helps with the churn rate.
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