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Save Your App From Becoming a Victim of the Next Pokémon Go Phenomenon

Don't let your app installers go idle

In the last three years, we have seen a proliferation of new apps from retailers, food delivery companies, travel specialists, social gaming, live video chat and many more verticals. One of the most prominent apps of recent memory was Pokémon Go, an augmented reality game in which users can collect Pokémon — fictional creatures “inhabiting” real-world spaces — via the app.

The popularity of this app was great for the creators of Go, but not so great for other apps. The issue was that, as users collected more Pokémon, the app took up increasingly more storage space on the device. So users had to free up space to continue to play the game. And the easiest way to do that? Deleting other apps, of course.

App Marketing Beyond the Install

Like any investment, some return on marketing spend is expected, but when it comes to app marketing, the budget and measurement KPIs have focused largely on the user acquisition stage, i.e., in driving more installs of the app on more devices.

However, when it comes to apps, the real return-on-investment actually happens at the other end of the customer lifetime: after the user downloads, installs, logs in, uses the app and (if applicable) purchases.

With its roots primarily in gaming apps, app marketing seems to have its own rules. (For starters, the apps stores themselves are often black holes of tracking and measurement.) In even in this new environment, app marketers must remember that there are customers behind every device who want to discover the same experiences they are used to from the brand they engage with. Indeed, increasing the number of installs has benefits, such as improving the ranking in the app stores (the app version of SEO), which in the best case can also bring more organic installs.

However, low app retention is a persistent issue. This is due to the industry’s inordinate focus on marketing to promote installs, often at the expense (literally) of reactivation of those who have already installed the app. Remember, just because an app is installed, doesn’t mean that the user has ever opened it!

So Your App’s Installed. Now What?

The rush for installs and the lack of retention are connected problems, with the first leading to the second. When brands focus their marketing on install campaigns, they often forget to engage the people who already have the app. If users are not encouraged to engage with the app, they may delete it the next time they go searching for more space on their devices.

It’s common to build an offline media strategy that focuses not only on user acquisition, but also on the loyalty of existing customers. For example, brands offer loyalty programs or spend marketing budget on reactivation campaigns.  So, why not follow that path when it comes to mobile — both for apps and the mobile web?

Your customers are already addicted to mobile, so it’s the perfect place to reach them to bring them back to your app to read, shop, chat, play, book or whatever it is you want them to do there.

Just like in desktop retargeting, you can launch app re-engagement campaigns, with banner ads that appear either on mobile browser pages or in other apps.  If the person has used your app before but hasn’t opened it in a while, why not reactivate them with banners or other ads showcasing your latest features or special offers in the same way? These are standard tools for other channels, and they work great for apps, too.

Test, Measure and Learn

By mapping events within the app and understanding typical customer behaviors, brands can create re-engagement and reactivation campaigns that target app users according to those behaviors. For example, you can run campaigns specifically targeting those who installed the app but never opened it, or those who have already completed a certain “micro-conversion” but not yet fully converted — like adding some hotels to a watchlist but not yet booking.

The good news is that there are plenty of app marketing solutions available that already make it possible to make data-informed marketing investments to help you increasing app engagement and, ultimately, ROI.

It doesn’t matter which monetization model you are using — whether you’re looking for sales within the app or selling ads against your active user base, an increase of retention and activity is always positive, because more active users mean more sales or more impressions to sell. This way, advertisers can reach their goals more easily, and the app users get reminded of just how great your app really is.

Case Study on Boosting App Activity

In Asia, online marketplace Bukalapak had a high discrepancy between number of app installs and monthly active users. So they turned to in-app display ads to help them reach inactive users and bring them back to their app.

Check out the video to see the results:

In conclusion, remember to spend not only on promoting installs, but also in engaging users and looking at the entire lifetime of your customers, so that you always have a place in your customer’s devices. That way, when the next Pokémon Go phenomenon comes along, your app will save its space on your customer’s devices.