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The 5 mistakes driving users to ditch your app

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Contxto – So you’ve got a startup, you may even have a nifty app and a good amount of downloads, but the users aren’t, well, using your product. What gives?

Well, by reviewing the research in Adjust’s Mobile App Trends Report 2020, we were shocked to find evidence that you may be really screwing up, friend.

Check out the five biggest mistakes making users drop your product quicker than a hot bowl of coronavirus:

Mistake 1: Entitlement 

If you ever thought you were special, the app economy will set you straight, and 2020 has not been a friendly place for online companies trying to get noticed. It’s worse for newbies. They barely make up 8 percent of total app downloads. 

Covid-19 in many ways muddied the picture. The virus locked people indoors and forced them onto the internet. However, with the rise of these captive users came a concurrent influx of apps, online content, and commerce.

The end result of this mass digitization has been the creation of a saturated sea of offerings of which your one app is just a drop in the ocean. The app economy is like the stock exchange in many ways. You’ve missed the boat if you join the trend too late. However, there are ways to catch up.

The solution:

Stand out. Easier said than done, right?

Many companies are not beating about the bush and finding the best way to your heart and to the top of your organic searches: Advertising.

This puts this type of marketing service at a premium. Indeed, adoption through paid advertising is up across virtually every sector. This is especially the case amongst increasingly competitive or declining markets, as can be seen in the case of casual gaming apps.

Although well-deployed ads can be useful it’s not enough and you can actually make a splash without paying money. Customers are “now expecting experiences that are highly relevant and genuinely valuable”.

So, ask yourself, what does your company offer that others don’t? And really hone in on that answer to push your wares into the right places. Answering what you have to offer focuses you on the market that is most likely to adopt and stick to your product. 

The time of “post as many ads as possible” is over, it is now the age of smart targeted marketing. 

Mistake 2: Quarantining your content

Don’t take the previous solution of specializing and targeting your marketing to the extreme. Picture the following situation:

You’ve got an amazing product. A few rave reviews to your name. A kick-ass business model. Only problem? No one’s found out about you. Perhaps it’s just a matter of time? “Build it and they will come”, right? Wrong!

You may be self-isolating, but there’s no reason your content should.

Targeted marketing does not mean limited marketing. Get out there and actively spread the word! There are countless forums and social media sites all across the internet. How many should you be on? All of them!

The solution:

Do your research and get out there as you’re doing it. Don’t wait to have all the data; go and promote your product.

Just look at the exponential growth of both TikTok and its ad sales in the last quarter of 2019. It overtook Twitter and hasn’t looked back since.  

Verticals ranging from e-commerce, music, marketplaces, all rushed onto the platform to advertise. 

Don’t go for the same old channels. Diversify. That’s what everyone else is doing. Last year saw companies opted to work with almost 20 percent more network partners to promote their goods. 

If you’re looking constantly and carefully you may well catch the next TikTok wave before it breaks and you may not even have to pay to promote yourself. 

Mistake 3: Not reanimating the zombies into your midst

Downloads as a success metric are so 2019. This year has proved that it is not enough to get people to download. The key is to keep those users active over a sustained period of time.

Downloads nowadays are akin to brand recognition. It’s a super important part of your user acquisition funnel, but without results, it is just a vanity metric. You need to optimize and measure the output at the lower levels of your user acquisition funnel.

Adjust illustrates a fascinating trend to drive this point home: Its data shows how all retention rates fall precipitously after Day 1. It means that around three quarters of downloaders will use your service once and then ditch it.

Afterwards, they’ll just have the app floating in their phones… not living… not entirely dead… a zombie user. 

Luckily, whether they come back to life is in your hands.

The solution:

You must become a user necromancer and to do that you must master the art of re-engagement.

A successful strategy to re-engage users literally makes or breaks many industries. Take online shopping for instance. This vertical tends to revive a whopping 75 percent of their zombie users through reactivation campaigns.

But, wait, stop! Don’t just spam your users. Your re-engagement needs to offer something of value to them. Marketplace startups may do this by offering juicy discounts. However, you needn’t give out freebies to appeal to your customer base.

Look at what Brazilian challenger bank Nu does. Notices from a bank are often bad news. Not so with this one. They’ll often write to you to check up how you’re doing; to offer their hand in solidarity if economic times are tough; to get your feedback… 

Getting a nice message from your bank is lovely. It also happens to remind you to use its products.

Mistake 3: Not having an app

Appification has done for brick and mortar companies what gamification did for menial digital tasks. 

An app, when properly constructed, is like a newsletter, an e-commerce store, a news site, and a notifications function in one tiny icon. 

This bit of tech that used to be a “nice-to-have” is now essential because it has become a retention strategy in itself. (This is why companies are always virtually forcing you to download theirs). 

The solution:

This is the triple win a well-deployed app can provide you with:

  1. Information collection—Get a full-funnel handle of what your users want now and see the trend evolve in real-time on your own terms. 
  1. Re-engagement—Edtech Duolingo has done gamification masterfully in something usually associated with boredom; language lessons. The app reminds you to use it and it even includes ad-watching into the learning process. Mildly dystopian? Yes. Highly effective? Also yes.
  1. Ride the trend—“Time spent on mobile web is gradually declining, while time spent in apps is steadily increasing.” The report found that in 2019, 90 percent of time spent on smartphone devices was in-app.

The trend to streaming that happened over the past decade has now hitched to the trend towards mobilizing. Movement is the name of the game: moving from device to device has been replaced with literal transportability, so people are moving to mobile. 

Ignore, Rick. Develop the app.

Mistake 5: Resting on your laurels 

Boxing yourself in also means not moving with the times, even if you feel your product is the right fit now. 

The sad story of casual gaming is illustrative. This vertical had the market completely cornered then it got hit by a double whammy.

First, tech caught up, so suddenly mobile phones became video game consoles in their own right. Flappy Bird gets dull after 12 hours, whereas half a day is nothing compared to a good RPG campaign.

Long-form gaming also had user retention on its side and while mobile technology allowed it to, then it invaded. And it took over casual gaming’s turf not only in terms of technological space, but lots of its physical spaces, like commuting—a practice decimated by the second slam; coronavirus.

The solution: 

What lesson can you draw from this sad tale? 

That hyper-casual gaming isn’t going to disappear. But now it’s going to have to work twice as hard on engaging its users to convince them that their gameplay is just as emotionally investing.

Plus, you should consistently be tweaking your product as trends evolve, actively listening so you don’t miss the boat, and applying these same tweaks to your marketing strategy. Maybe your Twitter strategy is spot on for the time being, but there is change afoot in, say, LinkedIn that you need to be adapting to now. 

Each social network requires different expertise of creative, targeting and incrementality measurement.

Moshi Blum, General Manager at Adjust 

The worst mistake you could make: Stopping here

These insights are just the tip of the iceberg. To really find out the trends making or breaking startups in the 2020 economy go to Adjust.com and download their report.

Because, while we’ve given you the top five tips on this article, there may be a nugget of info specific to your sector which may catapult you to success… or sink you into oblivion.

Ignore the data at your peril.

-AG

Alejandro González Ormerod
Historian, writer, and editor from Mexico City. He was a book publisher, academic, and cheesemonger before joining Contxto. Still deciding on which Latin American country to visit next; food and fun are the main criteria.

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