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Last update: May 2019

6 mins to read

App Promotion Summit London Panel: Keep Them Coming Back For More

Over the weekend of April 3-4, OpenBack CEO David Shackleton attended App Promotion Summit (APS) in London. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet and network with some top innovators in the field of mobile apps, and we came home with some great takeaways.

One of the highlights of the summit was panel on engagement, moderated by Shackleton, where representatives from five mobile apps spoke on the theme of “How To Keep Users Coming Back For More.” Some great insights were shared, and at the end questions were opened up to the audience.

Take a look at the panel below, or continue reading for a quick summary of the main points.

How Advertising Fraud Harms Engagement

Michael Paxman from mobile measurement company Adjust says there’s been a rise of fraud in the mobile app field, running alongside a struggle with engagement. Unsurprisingly, the two are closely related. Advertising fraud can give an app an inflated perception of follower volume, and a majority of bots following an app will obviously have detrimental effects on the amount of genuine engagement your app receives.

Emily Grossman from Skyscanner travel booking platform added that in addition to weeding out bot followers, it’s important to keep an eye out for click hijacking and paid followers, which will skew your user data set. Ultimately, so much money in the mobile industry is being lost to fraud that Paxman advised hiring a company to hack you or your attribution provider, to test where your vulnerabilities are and get a headstart on fixing them.

How To Target Different User Demographics for Your App

Rebecca Symmons represented the Swansea City AFC, and their driving challenge was how does a small football club like Swansea hold its own against competitors? Clearly there’s no way they’ll ever have as large a fan base as larger cities such as Liverpool, so they had to be forward-thinking. Swansea AFC became the first in the UK to introduce in-app ticketing, as well as other features, taking after the US and Germany.

She also talked about customizing the app experience for different age demographics. Symmons described the gap between older-generation Swansea fans and younger millennial fans as being bridged by the app. She called their app:

“The ultimate fan engagement, because it gives you that tool to communicate with the fans, not only on the ground but around the football.”

Symmons went on to talk about targeting bespoke marketing campaigns for different demographics, including a large campaign motivating season ticket holders to renew, including a countdown clock and rich video content to reach out to fans who’d be less likely to engage.

Personalization on a User-to-User Basis… Make No Assumptions!

Emily Grossman had an interesting aside regarding her experience working on the Major League apps, using European football apps as a model. Initially, they had assumed that US soccer fans would be a comparable demographic to European football fans, who are loyal to their particular football club, so they built their app experience around choosing which club a user belongs to.

However, once the data came in, it was evident that this was far from the case. In the US, soccer fans (often European expats) were more interested in just watching the game, or in following a particular player. Not so much the “one-club mentality” that football fans exhibited in Europe.

Ultimately, the key to engagement in sports is to make it as organic and personalized as possible.

Frequency of Engagement

Grossman also had insights on how the concept of “engagement” also needs to be judged on an app-to-app basis. An app like WhatsApp would consider daily use of their app to be satisfactory engagement, but other apps might only be opened once a week, or less. Grossman suggested a “depth-of-engagement strategy” for these apps, in which you layer on additional use cases that would drive users towards your app. For example, someone might only use your app twice a year to book flights, but if you offer capabilities such as booking a hotel, or hiring a car, you might recommend yourself to them further.

Pierre-Henri Outtier from Albert, an app for automating your finances, presented their situation, in which services are used on average once a month. However, they focus most of their customer retention efforts on the first month of app use, as after that point the user has enough of a data cache in Albert that it wouldn’t be worth the trouble of switching to another app.

How Much Is Customer Engagement Worth?

There is the temptation to equate a user’s worth in purely financial terms. However, it’s important to take a more holistic view and look at how much they bring to your app’s ecosystem as a whole. Do they use different features of your app? Do they engage with other members of your community? Do they leave constructive feedback on areas of your app that could be improved?

Responding to an audience question, Grossman went on to state that even negative reviews are valuable in that they are an opportunity to fix problems, and to reassure their community that they’re receptive to criticism and willing to do what it takes to optimize user experience.

Symmons added that to plan your mobile campaign long-term, it’s imperative to watch trends over time and make hard tradeoffs. For example, sending a notification that doesn’t get any engagement in the short-term may keep the user coming back to your app in the long run.