In a previous post at ClickZ, we shared the metrics you should be measuring in your mobile app. In it, we outlined a comprehensive set of metrics that impact all parts of your application lifecycle: acquisition, engagement, and outcomes. In presenting on mobile app analytics around the world over the last year, I've noticed too many marketers and developers continue to obsess over just acquisition metrics. Today I'd like to share why I think engagement, specifically loyalty, is a killer metric within your application you should be analyzing as a priority, perhaps even before acquisition.
Before we go any further, I don't want you to come away from this post thinking acquisition and outcomes don't matter. They do. But mobile apps are nearly useless unless users launch them, use them, and then use them again. Engagement and loyalty are key. Let's go through some of the reasons why:
Until you have loyal users, increasing acquisition metrics doesn't make sense. Say you launch a new application and decide to dial up acquisition tactics. You increase your online advertising spend. You engage a PR firm. You start to attend conferences and network. You put in all this hard work and drive thousands of new, excited users to your application. And then 90 percent of them install your app, launch it once, only to never open it again. This is an all too common scenario for app developers and marketers, especially brands that are creating and marketing an app for the first time. If this happens, you have a loyalty problem, and should dive into the "why" to discover the reasons your app isn't as sticky as you think it is first. Refine your app, build the right "hooks," then when you're confident that relevant uses will stick around (and you have the loyalty data to prove it), make a case to increase your marketing spend. To do so without understanding attrition first could prove a costly mistake.
Loyalty metrics tell you if your app usage is becoming a "habit." The goal for mobile app developers is really to make your application a "habit" for users. This event can be anything, from when they are bored waiting in line to when they're seeking a certain utility to when they're engaging in an activity. I'm sure everyone reading this who is developing mobile apps is working on ones which, in their minds, provide a ton of utility for users. Engagement and more specifically loyalty metrics such as session instances, duration, screens, and conversion rate will tell you if in fact your users agree that your app is a must-use and has become a habit for them. If not, you may need to go back to the drawing board to ensure your app is "sticky" enough to become a habit, or double your efforts on the content front to educate your users on what they're missing.
No loyalty, no or low outcomes! As we shared in our previous post on mobile app analytics, outcomes - the business value your app has created (sales, in-app purchases, etc.) - are clearly important to measure. But if your users aren't returning, you likely will see low or no outcomes from them. Just like on your website, outcomes (or conversions) may not happen on a user's first engagement with an app. Pending what your app does, this may take multiple sessions. Or, if you sell something within your app or your app generates advertising revenue, loyal users will generate much more revenue in the long term. Also consider how loyal users map to new revenue (a significant portion of word-of-mouth referrals will come from them) and focus on increasing this key audience.
While many app developers and marketers think purely about new users and downloads, think about active, loyal users and how to make them happy. This is the path to long-term app marketing success, and app loyalty reports can help show you the way there.
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Adam Singer is product marketing manager, Google Analytics, a marketing industry speaker, and blogger. He previously led a global digital consulting team and has provided online marketing strategy for top B2B and B2C brands in industries such as marketing, healthcare technology, consumer tech, manufacturing, advertising/subscription-based web startups, and much in between. Singer and his campaigns have been cited by top media outlets such as PRWeek, Entrepreneur Magazine, Techdirt, and Mashable for creative use of digital marketing and PR. Singer blogs at The Future Buzz - an award winning blog read by more than 50,000 readers per month.
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