2021 taught us that customer engagement should not be taken for granted. In just one year, e-commerce apps gained unprecedented popularity as a result of the pandemic and then shifted dramatically to competing with in-person shopping again — and, oftentimes, losing. In the year-long research of e-commerce app growth, Pushwoosh stated a significant decrease in the mobile shoppers’ activity, and even the anticipated Black Friday rush didn’t help.
With fewer customers returning to e-commerce apps, sales and further growth are called into question. How can marketers keep the customer interest burning? We’ve got an answer.
In this post, we’ll take you through the key aspects of an effective e-commerce app growth strategy: the choice of communication channels, target audience segments, strategic shifts you may need to make, and content formats that will get (and keep) your customers engaged. Be guided by these data-based and field-proven tips, and may you see the progress you strive for!
#1 Focus on App Growth through Customer Engagement Channels
Why do we recommend customer engagement over growing through new user acquisition?
First of all, numerous studies we conducted internally at Pushwoosh have proved that high engagement rates correlate with higher conversions, retention, and overall app growth. All in all, it is more efficient to re-engage an existing user than acquire a brand new one for your app.
Another advantage is that the channels used for customer engagement such as push notifications, in-app messaging, email, WhatsApp, and SMS are easily accessible by in-house marketers via marketing automation tools. Whereas acquisition channels have their limits that can hold back e-commerce app growth severely.
Knowing this, you may want to take the following steps:
Maximize your opted-in audience
The more customers that are subscribed to your push notifications and emails, the easier it will be for you to execute this growth strategy. Announce the value of opting into your communications and, of course, deliver on your promise. For example, mention that you treat your subscribers with exclusive offers and discounts and only send messages containing them.
Leverage the full range of communication channels — preferably, through an omnichannel strategy
When all the customer engagement channels work in harmony, you can take the necessary steps to ensure that your target audience has heard (and acted upon) your message. Drive micro-conversions at every touchpoint to get your ultimate campaign goal achieved. How? Ensure first that your emails are opened, and push notifications are clicked. Then, finetune your CTAs: you don’t have to be straightforward and suggest a customer to “Shop now” in the very first message. Instead, consider developing a multi-step communication funnel like the one below, with CTAs gradually evolving from “Check out the new collection” to “Seize the offer just for you”.
#2 Fuel Sales Among your Active Customers
This is a quick-win move: before you think of expanding your audience, serve the existing demand! Here’s how…
Recover abandoned carts and favourites
From a technical standpoint, your action plan will be the same when you target those who left items in their carts and those who forgot about their favourites, but, certainly, you may expect higher conversion into purchase from cart abandoners.
First, you will need to segment the customers who triggered a certain event in your app (for example, adding a product to the cart or a wishlist). Then, you’ll send them an effective reminder, similar to these ones from the La Redoute app:
Level up: create a personalized push notification or email mentioning the exact product a customer considered purchasing, like in the examples below.
By doing so, you can recover up to 70% of sales normally lost to cart abandonment.
Promote repeat purchases
Those who completed orders in your e-commerce app in the past are 9 times more likely to convert, compared to first-time shoppers. In addition, you can check their purchase history, meaning you can execute more relevant and personalised offers related to their previous purchasing habits.
Continuous communication with your actual buyers results in higher customer lifetime value — a solid case to prioritise re-engagement for e-commerce app growth.
Share special offers with your most engaged non-buyers
There is a type of user that can be categorised as an ‘almost purchaser’ – one who like screen shopping but end up buying nothing. Would they be more interested if the prices were lower, or delivery options were more convenient? There’s a way to find out! Drop them a message with a relevant incentive — a limited-time promo code in a push notification or an on-the-spot offer through in-app messages work a treat. Track conversions afterwards. If the offer has boosted purchases, you may want to scale it to more customer segments or use a similar incentive in your next campaign.
#3 Set off the First Spark with your New Shoppers
Now let’s talk about how you can get more of those engaged shoppers. This part of the strategy can bring you results in the mid-term.
Make a great first impression
User engagement with your app starts on Day 1, so you want to onboard and activate your newcomers properly. As early on as at the first app open, you can even try to entice users to make their first purchase.
Encourage first-time conversions
Offering a discount for the first order and/or free delivery is very common — and proved to be very effective for e-commerce app growth, too!
#4 Flame it up with Non-cliche Communication Formats
The competition among e-commerce apps is high, and it’s getting harder to grab and retain customers’ attention. To engage a major share of your app audience, you may have to invest in a long-term strategy.
Go rich (media)
In many of the examples above you may have noticed the use of images and emojis. It is not a coincidence: Pushwoosh research has stated that adding visual elements to e-commerce messaging can be very effective. The use of rich media is found to double push notification CTRs, compared to plain text!
Be there for entertainment, too
Trying to achieve your e-commerce app growth, you may think of the bottom-of-the-funnel techniques first and foremost. And although you are 100% correct to prioritize them, we encourage you to plan some regular brand engagement activities in your app too.
For example, in-app stories have become a trendy element of mobile shopping apps’ home screens. Oftentimes, such stories do not overly promote available products — instead, they drive the engagement needed to prepare shoppers for more direct communication.
And when it comes to in-app messaging, there are even more use cases and interactive formats that can help your app grow. For instance, in-apps with the wheel of fortune and scratch card mechanics have become popular lately. In essence, they deliver a simple message: “get a promo code and make a purchase”. But they do this in an engaging form, attracting attention and incentivizing even those customers who might not have been ready to convert.
Consider the norms and best practices
While you certainly want to stand out among the competition, you may also want to follow some of the unspoken rules. Messaging frequency is one of them: our data study has discovered that most shopping apps stick to the golden standard of 1–2 push notifications per day to avoid spamming.
And as for the best practices, it appears to be, that nothing works better than the good old sense of urgency. Our thorough analysis of e-commerce notification copy determined that the most popular emotional triggers are CTAs like ‘Order Now’ and ‘Shop Now’.
Grow your E-commerce App Confidently
When you meet the customer engagement challenge, you may feel like the stars have aligned for your e-commerce app. Having tested various communication channels and techniques, you will be informed about what your audience expects from you and what kind of conversions you may expect from them.
Try and follow the tips we’ve shared in this guide, and may you make part of the glorious statistics on successful e-commerce app businesses.