Taming the Mobile Loyalty Stallion

Connectivity on the go isn’t enough to maintain customer loyalty. The question you should be asking yourself is how to make your mobile app the one that users just can't do without

Erez Romas
May 25 2017

It sounds embarrassingly obvious to declare that every retention manager’s agenda must include a dedicated mobile strategy. Be it e-commerce, Gaming, services or content – users of every field to-date require absolute connectivity.

However, supplying just connectivity to your clients might prove effective only if these clients are already loyal to your product and their priority is the ability to use it on the go. The hardest part is getting the consumer hooked specifically on your app, and not your competitor’s. And this, both fortunately and unfortunately, requires immense efforts and a well-calculated strategy.

Before we break down the desired mobile strategy to achieve your retention targets, let’s take a quick look at the most recent numbers surrounding mobile potential.

More Potential Means A Bigger Challenge

When looking at the numbers it’s important to examine only smartphone-related statistics. So, let’s talk smartphone penetration rates. You can look into the numbers in detail below, but to give you the bottom line, we’re looking at:

  • 68.4% in the United States in 2017, expected to go up to 78.7% by 2021.
  • 64.7% in Western Europe in 2017, expected to rise to rise to 67.3% by 2018.
  • 51% in Asia Pacific in 2016, which might sound lower but if you translate it into nominal figures you reach well above 1 billion users.

Combined, these figures give us approximately a third of the Earth’s entire population using smartphones (!), with numbers rising exponentially each year. If you add to that data uninstall rates, which rise to 38% in the first day, 64% in the first month, and about 89% over 12 months, you get one hell of a stallion to tame in order to maintain loyalty over time.

The Keys to Mobile Loyalty

Except for some of the mobile-only apps, when a user is downloading a company’s app, it usually means he has an extra added layer of affinity to that company. Otherwise, why would he want to consume that company’s line of service on the go?

This consumer poses a bigger opportunity, but at the same time a bigger challenge for companies to make sure he is not disappointed. If you consider the above-mentioned statistics, (the longer time goes by, the more likely it is for a user to uninstall your app), you can understand why it’s not just a fight over “the today,” but rather over the “tomorrow.”

So how can you achieve this goal? Here are some ideas:

Distinguish and Reward:

A guaranteed way of ensuring a user’s loyalty is treating your app like a reward for the user, a reward that goes beyond your “usual” service. This way you kill two birds with one stone; you distinguish your app from any other service you provide and you give your client a sense of need and joy in using your app.

What can be counted as reward? Special features that are unavailable in any other of your services. For example, coffee shops and some fast food chains allow consumers to skip standing in line by ordering through their app; some e-commerce platforms allow users to collect special points on their mobile device, which can later be redeemed to money. iGaming companies offer special, mobile-only game versions, and even airline companies use special features for their apps, like an e-ticket QR code or a luggage tracking system.

However you choose to do it, if you want to succeed over time, you must distinguish your app from your other services (and if possible other similar apps) and make the user feel he is rewarded every time he uses your app.

Use the App to Communicate:

The ability to send users push messages is a powerful tool. This way, you can “ping” your users, reminding them why they should use your services, even when they aren’t using the app. Additionally, via push messages, you can communicate with your client in a much more exciting way. Who doesn’t like the ability to get a push message the second his package left the e-commerce’s vendor? What trader doesn’t want to know the second his position was closed to find out how he did? You get the idea.

Lastly, you can use push messages to drive users to non-app-related activities, like letting them know about the launch of your revamped website, an arrival of a new clothes collection to your store’s chain, or introduce new features to your service.

Research and Analyze:

Mobile usability is different from desktop usability, so it cannot be overstressed how crucial it is that you make sure to integrate your app with BI tools as soon as is humanly possible (preferably before it even goes live). We’re talking about user behavior, page analytics, and in-page click rates and patterns.

Learning about your clients’ mobile usability can teach you a lot not only about their mobile habits, but also about their general affinity to your brand/product.

For example, if you’re a gaming company, recognizing specific mobile usage patterns allows you to further personalize your client’s experience, such as offering him more – or even exclusive – mobile-simplified games. If you’re an e-commerce platform, recognizing your user’s specific mobile interest points allows you to target them more successfully with in-app promos and tailored purchases.

Easier to Spread the Word:

Lastly, using your mobile app as an effective means of retention can also facilitate turning your consumers into “retention agents.” Research show that mobiles are twice as “social” as desktops. A user is twice as likely to share something he liked on his mobile than in front of his computer screen. And now, with Apple adding the social app sharing option, you can literally share anything with the world.

Think of it this way, getting a reminder from a friend or family member about the existence of your brand/app is much more powerful than getting one through an ad. Massively integrating sociability into your app is a must for your retention efforts.

Summing up, you know you can’t go without an app in your retention efforts, but going about it smartly and distinctively is absolutely essential if you want to push (pun intended) your app to the front of the line and ensure it nurtures that-ever-so-important dependency.

Once you distinguish your app from other services you offer, once you treat it as a reward to your client using it to communicate with him while allowing him to share your app, and once you monitor and analyze his usage patterns — you are bound to increase your retention rates significantly and over longer periods of time.

We’ll finish with 5 killer apps that are doing it right:

  1. Allstate‘s Good Ride App: This insurance company’s app helps bikers plan for road trips, giving the company an entry point to connect with motorcycle enthusiasts.
  2. Metromile insurance app: Offers auto insurance with premiums based on how much you actually drive.
  3. Delta Airlines: Provides a dedicated luggage tracking app, which shows where the luggage is located at any given moment
  4. Shoppers Drug Mart: Offers an embedded digital savings card and the ability to configure tailored discount push alerts
  5. Starbucks: Allows you to order in advance, track previous orders, and collect rewards in the form of stars that are later redeemed into rewards.
Erez Romas

For the last ten years, Erez has seen the financial media industry from almost every angle. He has worked as a correspondent and editor of foreign affairs in Israel's leading financial daily newspaper, Calcalist, later assuming the role of the paper's news desk's head. He left Calcalist to become Editor-in-chief of Finance Magnates, a global leader in news, research and events in the field of currency markets, later becoming COO. He is proficient in four languages, an avid swimmer and a swimming instructor for adults and children.

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