In-app Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) – 10 Step Roadmap

In app CRO

In-app conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is, quite simply, encouraging more users to fulfil meaningful actions in your app.

Whilst priming your monetisation journey can be considered the highest priority, CRO is relevant at any point of asking your user to do something of value to you along their app journey. Whether it’s completing registration, sharing a referral code with friends or subscribing to the premium version of your app, your aim is to prime your funnel, and drive a positive increase in your in-app conversion rate. Ultimately, some pre-requisite actions are indicative of high lifetime value users, and by creating a seamless user experience and journey, you can set yourself up with highly activated, retained and monetised users.

In-app Conversion Rate Optimisation: How to Get Started

1. Identify the user journey

The first building block of CRO is to understand what your user experiences, and for that, you need to know their journey intimately.  This should help you identify the A-ha Moment.

A-ha moment definition

PRO TIP: Don’t make the mistake of focusing only on the Paid journey – users begin to build a perception of your app as soon as they download it. Optimising the free journey is a key part of decreasing user churn.

2. Fix the bugs

During your user journey research, you might have stumbled upon some low-hanging fruit: a screen that doesn’t load properly or a checkout process that won’t complete when accessed a certain way. 88% of people report they’d stop using an app because of bugs, so there’s no need to A/B test whether fixing these things will increase your conversion rate: They will. Fix them. All of them.

3. Use data to determine what you’re going to improve

Make sure you implement a robust analytics tool such as Mixpanel, Amplitude, or  Google Analytics for Mobile  (free) that can provide you with clear data on key metrics. Integrating an analytics tool is not optional, it’s essential for your app’s success. Typically, the metrics you should be looking at to get a better overview of the gaps in your CRO are:

  • Daily Active User (DAU) or Monthly Active User (MAU)
  • D1 retention, D7 retention, D30 retention
  • Stickiness
  • Average User Lifetime Value
  • Conversion rate from free trial to subscription
  • Average Revenue Per User

These not only act as a guide for what needs improving, but they’re also numbers that you can measure over time to assess whether your optimisations are working. It’s this data-driven approach that will mean that whatever you decide to dedicate resources to will be worth the investment.

4. Define the user funnel

By now, you should be able to identify the funnel you’re wishing to improve, plotting the events that someone is taken through in pursuit of your ultimate goal. Write down the steps someone takes towards the conversion you’re tracking. 

Let’s take a language app wanting to move users from a free trial to a paid subscription as an example. The events in the funnel might be:

  1. Opening the app
  2. Signing up
  3. Onboarding
  4. Choosing a language to learn
  5. Using the in-app test to determine their current proficiency level
  6. Playing a language game
  7. Using the in-app CTA screen to find out more about a paid subscription
  8. Subscribing

Tracking these events via your product analytics tool will allow you to build a funnel and see where your users are dropping off. It should then be relatively easy to see where you’ll get the most value for your efforts. Are users completing the onboarding journey? Are users responding to the positioning of your subscription CTA screen? Wherever you see a lot of drop-offs is an area worth focusing on. 

5. Do your research

Innovation is great, but there’s often no need to reinvent the wheel. Your competitors probably have a similar funnel, and it’s wise to check out what they’re doing and how you might adapt that for your offering. 

In the case of a language learning app, you can see that Duolingo and Babbel employ slightly different strategies, with the former swiftly getting into the gamification of learning, while the latter offering a subscription opportunity early on. While you’re unlikely to know the success rates of either app, it does provide insight into some possible tests that might be worth running. 

duolinguo user journey

Expand your research to include other apps from outside your vertical that are popular with your target demographic. You can even look at popular eCommerce sites, which is where the idea of customer retention optimisation originated from. When it comes to CRO, there are lessons to be learned everywhere.

6. Hypothesise

Now comes to the fun part: the part where you can claim “No idea is a bad idea!” to your team (spoiler: some ideas are terrible ideas, but they’re entirely necessary in the process of getting to the good ones).

Let’s go back to our language learning example.  If you want to improve the conversion rate of users moving from a free to a paid subscription and you’ve identified that you see a lot of drop-off after the aforementioned language test and again at the CTA screen, you know to focus your efforts on these conversion points. 

Possible solutions could involve giving users the chance to change the speed of the programme, making the test more engaging, changing the position of your CTA screen, or making your pricing more attractive. 

And that’s just to start with…

7. Prioritise your tests

As you can see, that’s a lot of ideas, and any dev team that overhears your brainstorming session is likely to run away and hide under their desks. Now’s the time to prioritise where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck. 

The ICE framework is invaluable here. It stands for Impact, Confidence, and Ease, and gives you a numerical value to indicate where your efforts are best spent. Simply assign a number out of ten to show how big an Impact a test would have on your conversion rate, Confidence that you’ll be able to achieve those results, and Ease in executing that test. 

An example chart might look like this:

ICE framework

It’s pretty clear that changing the pricing of the subscription is a good place to start. In fact, it’s an easy, impactful place to start that you can be pretty confident will have the desired result.

8. Define and document details

So you know you want to start testing pricing, but how are you going to do it? 

There are many possible scenarios to consider: offering some users a cheaper subscription, offering a discounted annual subscription, or designing an in-app screen that highlights the cost saving on a renewal.

And that’s just the What. Then there’s the Who.

If you are set on running an A/B test (which we recommend if you have a big enough user base) you can leverage segmentation. You can get as granular as New Users or Users Referred via Facebook campaigns. But first, it is important to ensure that you have enough users to use as a test group and as a control group. Anything less than 1000 people in a group won’t net you the kind of statistically significant results you need. In the case of user groups, the more people in the testing group the quicker you’ll see useful results.

All this needs to be decided, defined, and formalised into documentation that everyone involved in the process can work from. 

9. Execute 

By now, you’re probably champing at the bit to actually get on with some testing. It’ll be up to your developers to implement the code, but if you’re pressed for time, dev capacity, or have other resource limitations, you might want to explore other options.

There are plenty of third-party tools that allow you to create product tests without the need for excessive coding implementation. Giving more power to the marketer, they allow you to implement tests such as changing CTA buttons, fine-tuning content, or even making changes in your app flow. They’re particularly useful for running tests at scale. Wrong hypotheses happen all the time so very often you need to go back to the previous version of the app, which can be a frustrating experience for an overworked developer. Utilising these tools will mitigate the strain on your resources.

10. Assess your results

You now need to analyse the effect your test has had on your essential KPIs. Whatever analytics tool you set up initially will provide you with the data you need. 

If it hasn’t changed or it’s got worse, you’ve still conducted a really valuable experiment because you know you need to focus your efforts elsewhere.

If it’s improved, you’re not done, you’re merely on the right track. In the case of a pricing experiment, what happens if you reduce your price still further? 1,000 people paying £5 is worth more than 500 people paying £7, after all. 

By iterating based on your data-driven results, you’ll be able to find the optimal level of anything you’re testing to maximise your return on investment. 

Next steps to in-app conversion rate optimisation…

Now, do you want the good news or bad news? The bad news is, that this process is unlikely to double your revenue in mere days. It might even be *whispers* incremental progress. But the good news is, it’s by making this kind of incremental improvements and building on a strong foundation, that you can move the revenue needle in the direction you want in a world of ever-increasing competition. 

And when it comes to in-app conversion rate optimisation, there’s no time like the present.

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If you want to find out more about how improving the mobile customer experience can impact your app marketing campaign or you have any app marketing questions feel free to reach out to the Yodel Mobile Growth Team. Additionally, you can sign up to our newsletter for exclusive industry updates and app marketing insights from the ASO Agency of the Year. Want to find out more about optimising your app? Make sure to subscribe to our Mastering Mobile Marketing video series. Follow us on LinkedIn, chat with us on Twitter @yodelmobile, and join our #AppMarketingUK LinkedIn group.

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Smokehouse Yard, 44-46, St John Street, London, EC1M 4DF 🇬🇧