For your app to make an impact on a crowded marketplace, you need to launch strong. But you only get one chance at a launch – so our App Launch Marketing Series blogs are here to help you do it right. We’ve already explained how to put a mobile and app strategy in place, now it’s time to dig into the specifics – starting with the app marketing funnel.

The app marketing funnel

We’re all familiar with marketing funnel, which tracks the customer journey from exposure and attention through to retention. Generally, app marketers begin at the same end of the funnel that users do, focusing first on user acquisition methods like ASO (App Store Optimisation) and advertising.

However, this isn’t necessarily the right approach for app marketing. User retention is a huge challenge because, while people use an average of 30 apps per month, that can represent as little as a third of the total apps installed on their device. Your app has to compete for attention, not just to attract users but to keep them.

28% of apps are uninstalled in the first 30 days. According to another report, 71% of all app users churn within 90 days. What all this means is that, after all your hard work to get users through the door, only a small fraction of them are likely to stick around.

Putting retention first

Our answer to this problem is simple: flip the funnel.

It’s a phrase that sits at the heart of Yodel Mobile’s service offering. Our approach is to invert the traditional marketing funnel, focusing on retention first. It needs to be part of your app launch strategy, so that users’ first interactions are positive and they want to keep using your app.

This way, as you start to fill out the rest of the funnel, you can make sure that your user acquisition efforts won’t just be going to waste further down the line.

There are plenty of things you can do during the launch stages that will improve user retention, but here are our top three recommendations:

1. Onboarding

As mentioned, a user’s first experience with your app is all-important. A good onboarding process will familiarise users with what the app does, what value it can offer to them, and generally make it easy for them to get started. This is integral to retention in the short-term, because it removes the initial barrier causing users to drop off before they really start using the app – but also further down the line, because they understand what the app does and how to do it.

Onboarding is a huge topic in its own right – for more advice, see our dedicated blog on the subject – but a good place to start is with onboarding screens that provide a run-through of the app. Best practice is 3-5 screens that communicate information visually rather than through text.

The important thing to remember is not to overload your new user. Keep these screens simple, don’t hit the user with unnecessary permission requests up-front, and consider if there’s any way to spread the information out across their experience.

This is what’s known as ‘progressive onboarding’, staggering messages and introducing the app gradually as they start to use it. Whether it’s the right approach for you depends on your app: if its features are fairly simple, this may not be necessary. But if the app requires, for example, a multi-part registration process, then progressive onboarding can be a great way of breaking up a potentially tedious process – and make it more likely that users will actually finish registering.

2. App review and feedback management

Even after you’ve made sure that the onboarding process is as smooth as possible, some users are still bound to have questions and qualms. This can lead to frustration, causing them to ditch your app or even give it a bad review.

To head this off, ensure there’s an FAQ or some kind of support system in place to deal with the user’s qualms enquiries within the app itself. This means you can deal with issues when the user needs it most, and ensure they don’t take out their frustration in an app store review.

Bad reviews have a knock-on effect on your acquisition efforts, reducing the conversion rate from app store impression to install.

But the better prepared you are before launch, the more likely users are to have a positive experience with the app. As a result, they’re more likely to leave positive reviews, helping boost your ASO strategy and draw in new users.

3. Push priming

Push notifications can be an invaluable tool for re-engaging users, causing app retention rates to almost double – if they’re handled correctly.

On iOS, push requires users to opt-in. As with any other functions that require user permissions, like location tracking, this is much more likely to be successful if you ask at the right time, and in the right way.

Prompts are more effective if they’re triggered based on the user’s latest activity – but finding exactly the right point in the user journey will depend on the nature of your app. For a shopping app, it might be after the user makes a purchase, offering them the opportunity to get live updates on when the package will arrive.

As for how to ask permission – make sure you pre-empt the native permission request with a screen in the app itself, priming the user and explaining the benefits of opting in.

Taking these steps will improve the conversion rate of users consenting to push notifications and other permission-based functions, which will in turn boost retention rates. For more advice, see our video guide on push priming. Your push strategy will be incredibly important in keeping your users engaged once you have populated the app, so we’ll be covering this in further detail later in the series.

Keeping retention up

Flipping the funnel means addressing retention before launch. But this can be difficult, because you won’t have any user data to learn from. This is the benefit of the crowded app marketplace – it means there are likely lots of competitors already out there you can take your learnings from.

And once you have launched, remember that every aspect of retention can be tested and optimised. Make sure you A/B test every message you’re showing to users, whether its purpose is onboarding or priming them for an in-app permission. When it comes to retention, your work is never done.

However, the effort is more than worthwhile. A retention-first strategy safeguards you against one of app marketing’s biggest obstacles. Ultimately, if you can ensure more users will stick with your app after the install, every acquisition you then make will be all the more valuable.

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Launching an app can seem like a big feat, but there are plenty of things you can do to get yourself on the road to app success, so stay tuned!

Want to find out more about optimising your app and keeping up with the latest OS capabilities? Make sure to subscribe to our Mastering Mobile Marketing video series. You can also get in touch by visiting the Contact Us page. Follow us on LinkedIn, chat with us on Twitter @yodelmobile, and join our #mobilemarketingUK LinkedIn group