Moving Beyond Instant Gratification to Building a Long Term Relationship with Your App Users


Polly Alluf, VP Marketing at Insert

As a mobile app owner, you want to acquire as many new users as possible, but you also want them to consistently return to your app, engage, and convert.

Sometimes apps get so caught up in acquisition that they forget how important it is to pay attention to the users they’ve already got (and worked hard to acquire and often pay for). Even though app owners realize the majority of their revenue comes from their most loyal users, they still struggle with creating meaningful interactions with them.

The challenge in app loyalty lies in the ability to segment your users and respond to real time interaction with the app. This is all in preparation for getting on first-name basis with these users (and let me tell you, first name basis is really just the beginning).

This post focuses on how to develop more meaningful relationships with your users by developing truly meaningful engagement with your users.

Transform a One-time User into a Loyal Customer

In order to entice your users to return again and again, we’d like to offer you four tactics to help you increase your retention: proper onboarding, personalized content, two-sided communication and ‘give and take’. We’ll elaborate on each of these tactics below.

For starters, you want to show first-time users the value of your app immediately through proper onboarding.  Whatever you do, don’t overwhelm them by showing all of your features during their first visit. Depending on the nature of your app, consider highlighting your app’s best features with a carousel (allow users to move on with a deep link at any given moment), a short video tutorial or even a simple mobile tooltip.


Onboard users with highlight features carousel. Use deep links to let them on to their desired activities.

Once your users return for more, it’s all about carefully choosing when to show them the right personalized content and present the offer at the right mobile moment.

It’s a two-step strategy for engagement with returning users. First, you’ll want to collect and store data about your users’ preferences and past interactions with the app. Secondly, you’ll want to segment your users to target each with the relevant promotional banners, cart reminders, gamification messages, etc. Being personal means you relate to their past behavior and also consider their real-time interaction in the app. Which screens did they just see? Which elements did they tap (or didn’t tap)?

For example, if you’re a grocery app and your user is organic food savvy, you may want to reward him with an Earth Day special offer while acknowledging his organic preferences.


Display contextual and personalized in -app messages, relating the user’s preferences

Understanding your users’ digital body language and responding to it with personalized messaging is just one level of being responsive to customers. A higher level approach is to have a more two-sided communication where you actually ask your users to explicitly share their feedback and preferences, using for example various types of surveys and forms. Collecting the data from your users not only helps you to get more personal with them but is also important for giving them a relevant real-time response. For example, if they filled out a satisfaction survey and they’re happy, now is a good time to ask them to rate your app in the App Store. If they’re unhappy, don’t just thank them and leave it at that. Display another survey to figure out what it specifically is that they aren’t happy about or offer them something special to change their mind.

Finally, don’t forget that everything is a game of give and take. Want your users to create a full profile in your app so they become more loyal and so that you can offer them even more? Great. Make sure to give them enough value in the first place before asking them to move forward. If you’re a retailer, let them check your inventory and pricing before they register for checkout. If you’re a restaurant booking service, why not offer reviews as an extra service to convince them to provide more than just email?

More Meaningful Interactions, Higher Retention

As the old marketing adage says, it’s more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an old one. That’s certainly true in the mobile app world as well. Although you’ll still want to acquire as many new users as possible, in order to keep them with you for the long term, you must become adept at having meaningful interactions. Whether it’s personalized messaging, proper onboarding or higher levels of interaction such as two-sided communication and give and take, these four tactics should give you a good reference for building those long-term relationships that are so vital to your app’s success.

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