Re-engagement: The Killer Strategy Behind App Monetization

By Trace Ronning | November 23, 2015

When someone installs and opens your app, it’s the beginning of a dialogue. They’re telling you that they’re interested in your product, or that your app might provide the solution to a problem they’re facing. But users don’t always convert right away, because most of the time they still have questions. Can I trust this app? Will it really do what it claims to do? Is it worth paying a monthly subscription fee for what I get in return?

Questions like that can be hard to answer on a small screen in an app install banner, so we typically rely on re-engagement campaigns to continue the conversation and educate users as to why they should consider using our service.

Traditionally, mobile marketers look at push notifications and email as the top two methods for converting new users from install to purchase. At my company, FutureAdvisor, we find a great deal of value in educating and activating new users of our personal finance app with retargeting ads.

More often than not, mobile retargeting is thought of as a tactic to reclaim lost or dormant users, but if done right, retargeting is a killer tactic to employ as part of a user acquisition campaign. Follow these tips to build out relevant re-engagement campaigns to convert your app installs into paying customers.

Segment your audience based on how they found you

Set up mobile attribution tracking and segment your users based on their origin. The conversation you have with a user who organically installs your app is most likely going to be different than one who comes in from a Twitter ad campaign. If you have multiple products or services, make sure users are segmented that way as well. Few things are more off-putting to new users than being marketed a product they’ve never expressed interest in. Your re-engagement ads need to be relevant responses to what your users are telling you; make sure you listen before reaching out to them

Once you’ve partitioned users based on available behavioral data, the next step is to target them with corresponding copy, A/B test the creative and optimize for your desired action (e.g. purchase, reserve, subscribe, share).

Use all the tools you have to re-engage new users

One of the most important things to evaluate in running a re-engagement campaign is how much of your user base you can reach with the channel you use. Push notifications offer great engagement rates with those who opt-in, but depending on operating system and app type, your push opt-in rate is typically less than 50% of your installs. As for email, if you collect email addresses upon sign-up, email is an excellent way to communicate with users. But if you don’t collect email address, this channel is out of the question.

The tool that gives you by far the best coverage of those who install and open your app is mobile retargeting ads. While push notifications and email can be effective in reaching those who opt-in, retargeting ads allow you to reach virtually every one of your users with a personalized, visually appealing, and persistent message.

Get to know your audience

Your users come from different backgrounds and are at different stages in their lives. It’s important to keep this in mind when crafting your messaging to give each segment of users the most relevant experience with your app.

For instance, at FutureAdvisor, we have users who are new parents looking to start their child’s college savings plan, users who just started their career and want to invest in retirement, and older users who have been investing for years, but still think they could be doing better. Our users are all unique and we have to recognize this fact in order to provide them with a great mobile experience. Education plays a huge role in converting installs into active users, and using the data we collect helps us have a more meaningful conversation about how they could benefit from using FutureAdvisor.

Ask for feedback

In addition to evaluating your communications through A/B testing to find out what works best, directly asking customers what they like and dislike about your app helps too. Using a service like Mixpanel, you can easily insert a survey into your app and gather qualitative feedback from your users. While surveys are certainly useful for the product team, you can also learn how to better communicate with potential users by analyzing the language survey respondents use in their responses.

As marketers, our job doesn’t end when a user installs the app. To convert more app installs into paying customers, consider treating re-engagement as a component of your user acquisition campaigns, rather than a standalone campaign targeted to dormant users.