5 Ways to Reclaim Inactive App Users
Driving users to an app is the single best way to create paying customers and boost their lifetime value. However, just because they download an app doesn’t mean that they’re creating business—for that, they need to consistently use the app, and that’s where things get difficult. The average mobile app loses 71 percent of its users 24 hours after download, 90 percent of its users a month after download, and 96 percent of its users three months after download.
User dropoff is unavoidable, but just because someone has stopped using an app, it doesn’t mean that they’re done with the brand that created it. If someone downloaded and used an app in the past, they saw value in it—and reminding them of that value can help them see it again.
There are a number of time-tested ways to re-engage users who have gone silent or inactive, and they can all mean a boost to a brand’s bottom line.
Here are five ways to reclaim inactive app users:
Email marketing is one of the easiest (and least expensive) ways to reach customers. A company’s email list offers a direct pathway to any user they want to reach. Since 70 percent of emails are opened on mobile, there’s a great opportunity to deep-link from email directly into an app and reactivate lapsed users rather than send them to a mobile site.
The success of an email marketing campaign is measured in a few different ways—open rates refer to how many emails are opened by recipients, while click-through rates reflect how many users click the links sent in the emails. Finally, conversion rates let marketers know how many sales resulted from their email campaigns.
Of course, there’s a whole litany of best practices for email marketing that, when followed, ensures the best success rate. One crucial factor is proper deep linking, where links sent in emails seamlessly lead users to the correct pages in apps. Fully functional deep links keep click-through rates (and by extension, conversion rates) as high as possible.
Push notifications are the most popular tactic brands use to get customers to re-engage with their apps. Personalizing push notifications makes users more likely to interact with them—brands can leverage users’ histories with their apps to include their name, interests, and past purchases in push notifications. Not only does this make the notifications more eye-catching to users, but it allows them to feel as though their previous interactions with the brands in question were valued on more than just a transactional level.
It’s critical for brands to ensure that their push notifications contain functional deep links to their apps—if a brand is engaging customers on their mobile devices to ask them to use an app, they should also provide a direct pathway for them to do just that.
QR codes are unique among app marketing tactics because they allow brands to connect with users when they’re not using their mobile devices. A printed or digital QR code can be placed anywhere—from a direct mail advertisement to a poster to a TV screen or computer monitor—and when a user scans it with their smartphone, they’ll be transported to a mobile website or app, depending on where the code is designed to send them.
Getting the most out of QR codes also requires fully functional deep links. QR codes are great for deep linking customers to specific app pages—i.e. “scan here for 10 percent off” or “track this order in the app.” It’s critical to make sure that these links work and that customers have as smooth an offline-to-online experience as possible—otherwise, the results will be evident in the form of drop off.
Banners and Interstitials
Just because customers have stopped using an app, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they're done with the brand the app supports—they might even still be engaging with the company’s mobile website. That said, app traffic is always preferable for companies—since the app is the easiest place for a user to make a purchase, app users have the highest lifetime value for brands.
Mobile websites can direct users back to the app by making use of banners and interstitial ads that appear to users as they peruse the sites. When built correctly, banners and interstitials will preserve users’ behaviors (such as visiting specific pages or adding items to their shopping carts) and bring them to the app, where they can execute transactions with the least amount of effort.
The process of mobile ad retargeting refers to showing a user personalized advertisements in order to drive them back to an app. Like with personalized push notifications, this tactic incorporates users’ histories to offer a customized set of ads meant to specifically appeal to them.
It’s important to note that ad retargeting is contingent upon the ability to access device-level information around users’ behaviors. Due to privacy regulations that took effect with the release of iOS 14, Apple users’ information cannot be accessed without their consent. For Apple users who give consent (estimated at 15%), or for Android users, ad retargeting is still a valuable tool for re-engagement.
The Bottom Line
Apps tend to work faster and store user information more efficiently than mobile websites, making them a more convenient (and popular) place for users to make purchases. For that reason, it remains crucial for brands to drive as many users to their apps as possible—especially lapsed users, who have already shown interest in the past. Engaging these users in myriad ways and offering them functional deep-linking pathways to in-app pages can help bring them back into the fold.
Mada Seghete is cofounder of Branch, the mobile growth platform of choice for over 50,000 apps and 2 billion monthly users around the world, where she leads marketing and new market development. Born and raised in Romania, Seghete came to the United States to study electrical and computer engineering at Cornell University and then earned a master’s in engineering and an MBA from Stanford. She invests in early-stage women-founded companies as an angel investor and a partner at xFactor Ventures and hosts the popular growth podcast How I Grew This.