How can I entice customers to come back to my app?

We believe the cardinal rule to making apps an essential part of a customer’s life is to create utility—in other words, serve first and sell later. Everything in your app should be delivered from the mindset of benefitting the audience. Here are a few best practices that help keep your customers coming back:

We know that the majority of apps are abandoned after customers open them just once, perpetuating a download-try-delete cycle. That’s why the user’s experience on that first open should be carefully engineered to promote ongoing engagement.

When customers first open the app, your goal should be to demonstrate the app’s value for their lives. While many apps hit customers immediately with the standard iOS opt-in screen, we’ve found customers who have had a little time to explore the app are more likely to opt in to push.

Consider it equivalent to a real-world shopping scenario: are you more likely to give a retailer your email address if a sales associate asks for it as soon as you enter the store, or if the associate asks you after you’ve had time to browse the store and approach the register?

Bottom line: weave into a customer’s first experience with your app a message that explains why they should opt in for push.

To encourage successive app opens, make sure your features benefit your audience. Is requiring a sign-in before each use improving security, or does it serve as a roadblock to the customer’s experience?

Integrate an in-app message center to offer rich content that can be consumed at customers’ convenience. You can alert customers to this new material badges on your app icon and on the message center in the app’s home screen. These are visual indicators that new things are waiting for them inside the app.

Another way to enhance your app’s utility is to integrate your brand’s loyalty card with your app. This increases use of the loyalty card and creates another touch-point that discourages customers from deleting your app, because they only have to bring their phone into the store rather than remembering the stack of plastic loyalty cards they’ve likely accumulated from dozens of retailers.

Use customer information such as purchase history to create improved app functionality. Details about products that are ordered and returned, for example, can enable you to offer a size predictor for whether an item runs true to size, a bit large, or a bit small. This reduces returns and increases customer satisfaction.

Finally, use customer behavior to improve targeting. Apps are full of information, yet customers only want what suits them. Use the fact that they typically add size 6 items to their wishlist to adapt your mobile messages to alert them to “new size 6 items on sale.”