Mobile app marketers used to focus primarily on driving installs. The working theory here was that casting a wide net to rack up as many app installers as possible would lead to engagement by way of sheer volume. However, with mobile user acquisition costs on the rise, marketers are now shifting their efforts toward acquiring high-value users (those most likely to convert) rather than broadly attracting new ones. In other words, there’s been a pivot from quantity to quality in terms of mobile marketing goals.
As it stands, the mobile app user churn rate stands at 63 percent one month after installation. By three months after installing an app, the churn rate increases to 78 percent! In a world where only about one-third of users will return to an app one month after they’ve installed it, it’s imperative for marketers to leverage their mobile app lifecycle to retain users.
Mobile App Lifecycle for Users
It’s helpful to think of the mobile app user’s experience as a full cycle rather than a series of isolated steps. Instead of aiming to drive installs or conversions, consider how each action intertwines with the step that comes before and after. For example, an app experiencing a high churn rate likely has a user lifecycle that looks something like this:
- Install: A user installs your app after seeing an ad or noticing it in an app store.
- Engage: This user may then go on to check out your app’s features, create an account or make a purchase; depending on the app’s offerings.
- Disengage: The user stops engaging with your app, whether out of boredom, distraction, lack of storage space on their phone or busyness.
- Uninstall: After a period of dormancy, this user uninstalls your app to declutter their home screen or free up more storage space on their mobile device.
Paying for mobile users who eventually—or quickly—disengage with your app results in a poor return on ad spend. Furthermore, it’s especially difficult to monetize a free app when users fail to partake in vital post-install events.
A revenue-driven mobile app lifecycle looks more like this:
Install: A user installs your ad based on an ad or app store listing.
Engage: The user engages with your app in a way that strengthens their relationship to it and drives revenue.
Re-Engage: The user returns over time to convert—but most importantly enjoy the value your app provides them.
So, what can mobile marketers do to optimize the lifecycle for their app users?
Strategies for Reducing App Abandonment
Reducing app abandonment—the primary inhibitor to users sticking with the optimal life cycle—begins before users even install the app. Marketing to the right user base up front impacts churns rates down the line.
The best app advertising targets mobile users already predisposed to use and enjoy your app based on their similarity to other mobile users who do. This ultimately boils down to targeting lookalike audiences with the characteristics of your most active app users—including demographics, location, mobile behaviors and more.
Once marketers have identified the characteristics of their optimal user base, the next step is serving these promising mobile users dynamic ads, which are automatically personalized depending on the viewer being targeted. By appealing to quality users with targeted messaging conveying the specific value of your app to them, marketers can actually significantly boost post-install conversion rates. The same principle holds for retargeting app users periodically to encourage them to re-engage.
Higher conversion rates mean more mobile app users are continuing to enact the mobile app lifecycle most conducive to monetization. Marketing for engagement, rather than installs, is key to overcoming high app abandonment rates and generating a sustainable revenue stream.