Engaging mobile app users: when, where and why

Engaging Users


The idea of mobile app engagement gets batted around the office of every brand with an app. Clearly, it’s mission critical to attract and retain mobile users, but doing it successfully comes with a host of questions. When and how to engage your mobile app users? How much is too much versus not enough? What methods work best in which situations, and how do you define engagement in the first place? Perhaps most importantly and most nebulous, how do you define good engagement?


“In the end, for me, engagement is always about building a relationship. Building trust with your users from the get-go, respecting their privacy, educating them properly and nudging them down to the appropriate place in the funnel,” said HomeMe’s Kristin Lewis during a recent Mobile Growth House panel discussion at SXSW.



Of course, building that relationship of trust takes time.


“A lot of clients think it can happen overnight. We take a more methodical approach, looking at what do our clients really want to do with their users and what will actually drive revenue in the long run,” added Diana Kim.


The channel through which you reach your users can be as if not more important than the message itself. But how to decide? Like so many other engagement scenarios, it depends.


Beth Murphy of iHeartRadio says that for reaching users they rely heavily on in-app messages, push notifications and even humble email.


“Email still works. As much as we predict its death, it remains an important channel.”


As for personalization, HomeMe’s Kristin Lewis says it comes down to delivering a relevant message at a relevant time.


Poor engagement, like poor acting, is easy to spot yet difficult to describe. Between fears of over or under messaging and sending wrong or irrelevant messages, marketers have to be constantly aware of how much and how on-target their message is, and often experimenting to find what works.


“Don’t be afraid to be spammy and put people in a cohort to test your outreach. Test what reaching out with a push notification five times a week really looks like. Then you have a point of view versus an opinion,” iHeartRadio’s Beth Murphy advised.


“There isn’t a hard and fast rule about the number of times you should be reaching out to your users. It’s really contingent on your business. I think about Domino’s — I expect a push notification when I order, when the order is being made and when it’s being delivered,” says Diana Kim.


Testing is a popular way to experiment with your audience, but accurately measuring the results, and knowing which results to look at, is crucial.


“Definitely don’t test because your boss tells you to or for the sake of seeing what will work. Make it a controlled group and be sure you’re able to measure uplift,” adds Kim.


New tools for testing engagement are popping up all the time, but how do you decide which ones are worthy of your time and which are skippable?


“I always try to conceptualize if I’m solving for X, I’m going to really see what’s best in the marketplace, talk to peers and make a process about it. Just be really methodical about what’s best in market and doing a proper RFP. Winging it a little bit keeps you up to date but it can suck up a lot of time,” iHeartRadio’s Murphy said.


“I would say always test to make the argument for a tool, so if there’s any way you can manipulate the product or do some sort of manual tests to then outweigh the benefits of what a potential tool can do like an Appboy or maybe even an analytics platform,” added  Kim.


Budgetary and other considerations can also factor in when deciding which tools to incorporate into your testing methodology, noted HomeMe’s Lewis.


“For me, being at an early stage startup, it always comes down to resources. As I’m looking at tools, I also have to think about who’s actually going to be hands-on managing that tool. Oftentimes that person is me.”


Check out the full discussion from this Mobile Growth House panel at SXSW.


To learn more about how best to engage with your users and what common pitfalls to avoid, say hi@tmga.co today!





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