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Attracting customers to your mobile app is one thing, but what about keeping them engaged? It’s a talent that’s essential for the subscription app model, as it’s not just initial attraction or conversion that matters, it’s ensuring a long-term commitment through repeat renewals.
Andy Carvell, co-founder of Phiture, has a wealth of experience in this area. As creator of Mobile Growth Stack, Carvell was one of the first to put his finger on the mobile pulse, and now with an industry-leading consultancy, he has guided brands such as Lego, HBO Max, and Adobe on their ventures in the mobile ecosystem.
In this episode of CleverTap’s The Big Leap, Carvell joins host Peggy Anne Salz to discuss how to go beyond conversion, how to use all the data at hand to analyze the signals and build long-term user fidelity and why the key to all this is “personalize, personalize, personalize.”
To Carvell, the idea of optimizing to ensure a long-term relationship with a user looks different depending on an app’s content. For those that focus on content, it’s simple: “If you’ve got content, then the key thing is to be continually making sure that the user is engaging with new content, and that you are producing and deploying new content into the platform, and so that subscription gives them access to new premium content on an ongoing basis.”
For those apps that aren’t inherently content-focused, Carvell sees a clear and consistent proposition as more attractive than constant reinvention of the wheel: “I do see a lot of apps also trying to continually build out new features and functionality to try and keep users interested and engaged. I’m not always sure that you need to keep building new functionality. I think it’s more about being clear about the value proposition that you’re delivering and to continue to deliver that on an ongoing basis.”
So what’s the key for marketers as they seek to keep users coming back? “I think user research is a constantly underrated and underutilized technique. Actually talking to users, being curious about their psychology, and understanding their hopes, fears, and frustrations.” Of course, the human element that user research uncovers must also be augmented with data analysis.
Carvell sees the sweet spot between the anecdotal and the analytical as having defined goals: “You need to be super quantitative. You need to be data-driven, data-informed. But it’s also about being clear about why you’re running certain experiments, what are you going to learn from them?”
Subscription apps face the challenge of building for initial conversion, the short-term purchase approach, and then making sure their customers remain satisfied. As well as optimizing the paywall experience and showing the customer exactly what they’re getting, it’s essential to know what’s next: “I think the key difference with subscriptions is you’ve got to build that long-term relationship, otherwise you can over-optimize for conversion. You can kind of trick people into buying the subscription, but if they’re not happy with it long term, they’re not going to keep paying.”
Gaining customer commitment also requires commitment on the side of the app’s marketers too when running data analysis: “If you want to see if they’ve actually stayed in that subscription for three months, six months or a year, then you’re looking at crazy time-horizons for experiments, which is a bit of a change in mindset for a lot of conversion rate optimization folks who are, you know, looking to get those quick wins and to experiment on a fast cadence.”
In the latest Mobile Growth Stack, Carvell looks at signal testing, looking for the identifiers of a users’ propensity to a certain action or tendency: “It could be propensity to purchase, or propensity to be a highly-engaged user. Whatever the revenue model, the ability to get an early signal on the value of a user is super important.”
Discovering the signals comes back to the data. Analyzing a user’s early actions, seeing if they purchase. What do purchasing users do differently, and what are their behavioral patterns? Carvell sees that as an essential part of segmenting and personalizing: “The data will guide you in terms of what these high-value users are doing which other users are not doing.”
Carvell believes in the strength of personalization, and particularly how data can lead to a personalized message based on a user’s individual needs. “Personalization can be quite subtle and just being there at the right time in a way which acknowledges where the user is in their particular journey.” He continues: “I’ve seen great results from personalizing paywalls based on user behavior. If you’re not sure what to personalize, then ask the user with a survey or a pop-up in-app message. You can deliver this through CleverTap. Just ask the user the information that you’d like to use then to personalize, and then use that information to personalize the experience. It’s not rocket science, but a lot of apps don’t do it.”
To hear more of Carvell’s mobile app retention wisdom, listen to the episode in full.