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How to survive the iPhone 6s app purge

How to survive the iPhone 6s app purge

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus began shipping a few weeks ago, which means that iPhone fans everywhere are looking forward to the moment they can unbox their brand new device and start playing with Apple’s newest offering. For many, that includes downloading apps – both old and new – that can now be accommodated by those extra gigs of memory.

Along with this first spike of new device activations comes a highly significant – and vulnerable – time in an app’s life cycle. Within the first day of a new device’s “life,” users have already downloaded the apps they need, or use regularly; we also know that within one week, a user’s home screen has already been set to their preferred configuration (according to Localytics research).

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are already proving to be popular models: Apple is reporting record sales for both models, with 13 million sold in just the first three days. As we head into Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we can expect even more exponential growth.


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What this means is that this “great unboxing” marks the start of the great app purge that happens with every Apple upgrade. For app marketers, this can be a tricky and nerve-racking period. But take solace knowing that an app purge – the time when people get rid of the apps they don’t use – is not a foregone conclusion.

Here are six things you can do now to get users to stay with your app.

1. Be proactive about inactive users. Ensure that your app is top of mind. App purge or not, app marketers should already be targeting inactive users, engaging them through push, remarketing and email. By encouraging activity – through delightful and surprising engagement – you’ll thrill your users and stave off the purge.

2. New device = special offer. Users are inevitably excited about their shiny new phones. Bolster that excitement by running targeted remarketing campaigns to serve as a gentle reminder of all of the things your app can do. Also consider an email campaign with special offers to users with new devices.

3. Leverage existing users. Is your app store listing updated? Leverage your existing, happy users and solicit new ratings. Stave off the risk of new device users shopping in the app store for similar – but competitive – apps.

4. Evaluate your onboarding experience. For new users, are there enhancements you can make that take advantage of the 3D touch experience? Any special offers you can roll out with every new download? These types of value-adds will keep users engaged and build loyalty.

5. Predict the purge. Stop spending time figuring out who will churn and instead start testing different ways to get them to stay. Using predictive behavioral analytics, marketers can intervene in a meaningful and targeted way before users are lost, putting them back on the road to loyalty.

6. Apply the 3X3 rule. As it turns out, there is a high correlation between an app’s success and how often your app is launched during a certain time frame. App marketers should use the onboarding experience and marketing channels like push to encourage three sessions in the first three days after app download. In other words, the more sessions app users complete in the first 30 days after downloading an app, the less likely they are to become inactive. This is also known as the 3×3 rule.

With so many apps available to today’s mobile users, there’s a strong risk your users might be distracted or wooed to another app, or simply become inactive. In fact, on average, 58 percent of app users churn in the first 30 days after they download your app. Over the first three months, that number increases to 75 percent.

While this can seem scary, the news isn’t all bad. By taking the above steps as users open their shiny new devices, you’re making the important commitment to keeping app users happy and engaged. The result is they’ll keep your app top of mind and on their screens – no matter how many times they decide to upgrade.

Josh Todd is CMO of app marketing firm Localytics.

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