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6 Ways to Re-engage Lapsed Users

During the next 5-10 years, the most successful brands will be the ones heavily focused on retaining existing customers, and for good reason. Selling to an existing customer has a success rate of between 60-70%, compared with a 5-20% success rate of selling to a new customer. What’s more, increasing customer retention by just 5% can boost profits by between 25 and 95%

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Most mobile marketers have a robust retention strategy in place. But what many tend to overlook is re-engaging lapsed users. Existing customers that once enjoyed your company but no longer seem interested in what you have to offer. Ignore them at your peril; the average app churn rate currently sits around 80% over 90 days. That’s a lot of users and a lot of potential revenue – so it pays to implement a robust re-engagement strategy and remind them just why they fell in love with your app in the first place. 

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There are many ways you can do this. We’re going to focus on the six key strategies that we’ve seen deliver the most success. Dive in and start planning! 

#1 – Understand why users are disengaging in the first place 

Why users lapse can be complex. In the majority of cases, it’s simply a case of users failing to grasp an app’s value – and that’s down to a whole raft of reasons: 

  • A poor onboarding experience 
  • Complex functionality 
  • A confusing interface 
  • Excessive in-app advertising 
  • Insufficient updates 
  • Too many push notifications 

To get to the bottom of why users are disengaged, you’ll need to turn to – you guessed it – your analytics platform (though don’t overlook app reviews in the app stores – they’ll offer a veritable goldmine of insights). Once you’ve clarified the reasons for app churn, you can start to plan your re-engagement strategy, including the following to maximize your chances of success. 

#2 – Then make sure you’re targeting the right audience 

It almost goes without saying, so we’ll be quick: when it comes to an engaged user base – one that stays engaged – it’s about ensuring you’re aiming for the right audience in the first place.  Lots of downloads are great, and they can pack a punch at those Monday morning meetings, but these numbers will be meaningless if the people downloading your app open it once and never again.     

  • Use your analytics tools to dig deep into where you need to set your sights: Where do they live? 
  • What gender are they? 
  • How old are they? 
  • What do they do for a living?  
  • What devices do they use? 
  • What language do they speak? 

Once you’re clear about the basics, have created your key personas, and are building campaigns based on your findings, it’s time to turn to your analytics platform to drill down and mine the insights to discover more. By tracking campaign performance and analyzing user behavior, you’ll start to glean invaluable intelligence about what’s working – and what’s not.  

This continuous fine-tuning should – over time – ensure that you’re reliably shipping valuable, hyper-personalized campaigns that hit the sweet spot, and in turn, cultivate loyalty and reduce the dreaded churn. 

#3 – Quickly demonstrate your app’s value 

Most apps lose almost 80% of their customers during the first three days after installation, with a paltry 20% of new app users interacting only once with a newly downloaded app before abandoning it for a different solution. Ouch! 

Let’s face it, no one wants users to churn that quickly, so it pays to engage from the get-go. How? A smooth, enjoyable onboarding experience: 

  • Minimize user effort and friction (a.k.a. don’t ask for a ton of personal data, and don’t overload with information) 
  • Make your audience feel secure (particularly around data and privacy) 
  • Quickly help new users understand what your app’s about. Being able to quickly demonstrate the value of your product or service in a way that hooks from the get-go will stand your app in good stead 
  • Highlight your app’s most valuable features and demonstrate how they should be used 
  • Use in-app progress monitoring, so users know they’re not going to be spending the next hour getting from A to B 

Don’t underestimate the importance of an optimum onboarding experience – deliver an optimum CX from the off, and you can increase app engagement by up to 400%!  

#4 – Fine-tune your push strategy 

When behavior-based, insights-driven push notifications can deliver up to a 400% increase in open rates, you know you’re onto something – yet many brands are still failing on the push front by: 

  • Shipping too many messages 
  • Sending messages at the wrong time 
  • Sending messages that offer little or no value 
  • And sending irrelevant  push campaigns 

All 100% guaranteed to seal that ‘Uninstall’ deal! 

Crafting relevant, valuable push campaigns (ones that users have opted in to receiving!) is a fine art – and using data to perfect that art is key.  

Using data-driven insights, teams can ditch the guesswork that inevitably results in the spam-type push messages that send users running for the uninstall button. Instead start creating engaging, relevant push campaigns that they love and want to receive.   

“A discount on those sneakers I put in my basket last week (and promptly forgot about)?  An exclusive invite to an in-store sales event where items on my Wishlist will be heavily discounted? An update telling me that these sneakers I purchased are winging their way and will be on my feet tomorrow afternoon, just in time for the weekend? Yes, please!” 

All fabulously valuable and hyper-relevant and ensures customers stay close and keep their fingers away from that uninstall button. So, offer opt-in or out, and personalize! 

#5 – Make the most of deep linking – regular and deferred 

Regular deep links are really useful for deploying as part of your retargeting campaigns when you’re looking to recapture your audience that already has your app installed. Use them specifically in retargeting campaigns where you’re making offers too good to refuse. Or to recapture users with content your analytics has told you they’ll want to engage with.  

These deep links will take these lapsed users back into your app where – if you’re doing it right – they’ll stick around to rediscover why they downloaded it in the first place.  

Deferred deep links, on the other hand, are great for retargeting users that once had your app but went on to uninstall it. Use these links in targeted ads, emails, and social media posts to take this once-upon-a-time interested audience straight to your page in the app store, where they can re-download your app and take advantage of campaign offers. 

If you’re still not up to speed with deep linking, you can find out more here

#6 – And don’t forget to update your app – frequently! 

Take a quick gander through the top apps in the app stores, and you’ll notice one thing they all have in common: almost all of them are regularly updated. This isn’t an accident; fickle consumers who seek variety, a regularly improved user experience, and the thrill of new features will quickly get bored if your app refuses to evolve – and you’ll inevitably see those churn figures start to creep up. 

Updates that fix bugs, elevate the CX, and regularly introduce new features (and ditch those that don’t deliver) not only allow brands to remind their audience about their app but also demonstrate that they’re listening to feedback and acting on it – keeping users loyal and engaged.  

A final word 

While the re-engagement strategies outlined here can help re-engage lapsed users, like everything in mobile marketing, they’re not a golden bullet. If your mobile app isn’t delivering value, has a highly troublesome UX, or has failed to achieve market fit – it might be time to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate your offering.   

And if you’re already up and running with a great app? Re-engagement strategies can be exceptionally efficient when underpinned by robust insights and implemented well – but should always be part of your broader mobile marketing strategy (watch this space for more on that soon!) 

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Bob Lawson

Bob Lawson is Director of Mobile Offerings at Optimove. He joined Optimove early in 2022, when it acquired Kumulos, the company he co-founded. Kumulos was a market-leading Mobile and Web Messaging Platform serving a broad range of industries. Bob has spent more than 18 years in technology, particularly Mobile MarTech. He has held commercially facing roles in start-ups, scale-ups, and large enterprise businesses, particularly in Mobile Technology. Before working in the Tech space, he spent 15 years in Financial Services, most recently as Marketing Director of one of Europe’s largest Fund Management Companies.