Author: Lewis Hughes

Travel app engagement & retention – what you need to know

Increasing competition, declining confidence, and an industry on the cusp of a new golden age, keeping customers close to your travel app in 2021 is about to become the holy grail for travel marketers literally the world over. 

Long gone are the days of infatuation with quick wins and endless growth hacking to overcome challenges. During the next 5-10 years, the most successful travel apps will be heavily focused on user loyalty and retention rather than seeking out new audiences,  paving the way to sustainability, profitability, and long-term success. 

Travel apps – where we’re at and what’s next

We love our travel apps –  they boast some of the app industry’s lowest churn rates, with an impressive 47% of users returning to their travel apps, and just 53% churning one month after their first session (the average being 80%) – that’s good enough for me, But why so popular? 

Like any app, for a whole host of reasons, but it’s the sheer numbers of travelers driving these impressive rates. Pre-pandemic, around 1.3 million of us in the US traveled for business every day, with non-business travel reaching a stratospheric 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals, both fueling an industry worth almost $1.7 trillion. And whilst we need to approach future predictions around travel with a healthy dose of uncertainty at this stage, there’s little doubt that we can expect travel – for whatever reason – to enter a golden age once the world gets back on its feet.

How travel apps can successfully engage and retain

More than 80% of new users stop using travel apps within 90 days. It makes sense – travel isn’t something we do every day, so once we’re back on terra firma, the apps are put into hibernation, sometimes permanently. But hibernation or not, letting your travel app languish post-trip, never to be used again is a wasted opportunity. Let’s take a quick recap on why engagement and retention are so darned important:

  • Selling to an existing user has a success rate of around 60-70%, compared with a measly 5-20% success rate of selling to a new customer
  • Increasing customer retention by just 5% can boost profits by between 25% and 95% 
  • And companies that put customer experience at the heart of their growth strategy enjoy engagement and retention revenues 4-8% higher than those who don’t

Bottom line – travel apps need to provide an experience that’s so engaging, and so valuable that when users are ready to travel again, they pick up their phone and log back into your app, however long you’ve been apart. Here are our top tips on how to do it:

1. Make onboarding flawless

Onboarding is the art of delivering the optimum ‘a-ha!’ moment to new users … the point at which they understand the value of your travel product or service and are convinced enough to let your app live on their phone.  Think of onboarding like a first date. The first time your user meets you, it pays to make an impression – a flawless onboarding experience has the potential to increase your travel app engagement figures by up to 400%. 

Must-do’s when it comes to onboarding? 

  • Don’t force sign-up
  • Minimize effort and friction – make it as easy as you can
  • Help new users to understand quickly what your travel app’s about. Being able to quickly demonstrate your product or service in ways that engage from first touch-down will pay dividends
  • And highlight your travel app’s best features and showcase how they should be used – video is particularly good for this.

Hotel bookings giant HotelTonight are particularly good at this. Their app gives users brilliant last-minute hotel deals based on their location and does it quickly and easily – “three taps, one swipe, and you’re booked!” 

  • No sign-up required – bonus!
  • The app simply asks for the user’s location and delivers the relevant content immediately
  • If users do decide to sign-up, it’s the super-simple Google account or Facebook sign-in – no endless keyboard tapping required.
  • New users can invite friends, giving them £20 off of their first booking – and bagging £20 off for themselves, and can earn extra discounts and credits as they level up. 
Retention rates increase by up to 50% with effective app onboarding.

2. Tell a great story

Being able to tell a great story is critical, whatever industry you’re in. Stories engage us, connect us with each other, and allow us to dream of futures as yet unrealised. 

Destination storytelling gives users reasons to open an app rather than just searching or booking a trip. And one travel brand that consistently nails destination storytelling, captivating their audience way beyond the mere act of booking, is Airbnb. Engaging users with enchanting stories and postcard-perfect images of breathtaking locations for each of their offerings, the Airbnb app gives users the perfect excuse to dream of far off adventures – and to keep coming back for more … stories like this one:

Join me on a virtual interactive South African safari experience that is great for groups and corporate team building events We will take a look at the beautiful world of some of the most amazing animals on earth by exploring footage of the great savannas, grasslands, and wetlands of Southern Africa and virtually encounter my favorite animals that we would normally encounter on an outdoor Safari. I will guide you, as if on safari, and discuss the animal’s behaviors, habitats, and appearances to learn why they are so special and essential pieces to the ecosystem.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sold – and there’s plenty more to whet the curious travellers appetite, ensuring they return to the app time and again. 

Takeaway? Create a powerful story around travel deals – one that fires the imagination and gives users a reason to book other than cost. Make the effort to really understand who your users are and what inspires them to seek out new places and experiences – then find creative ways to show them that your destination has what they’re looking for (and more!). 

3. Enrich the travel experience

From nailing the competitive advantage to enjoying higher return rates, travel brands with digitally engaged users mean happier, more loyal users – and the smart travel brands are smashing it, ready to make 2021 a year to remember and elevating retention rates at the same time.

Delivering the enriching, valuable travel experience is a big part of engaging and retaining users – but what does that look like? For some, it’s delivering a straightforward stand-alone experience that can make or break a great trip, like LoungeBuddy. If like me you travel a lot, you’ll spend a significant amount of time pacing about in airports, sometimes for way longer than expected. LoungeBuddy has come to the rescue, giving users the facility to purchase lounge time at almost any airport in the world, and enabling holidaymakers to skip the crowds, and relax and recharge in an oasis of calm before jetting off.

Or how about HotelTonight, which allows users wherever they are to book hotel rooms at the very last minute. If you’re out exploring for the day and are having way too much fun to even think about getting on the train home, you can book a hotel room at a heavily discounted rate and party into the night.

But when it comes to enriching the traveller’s experience through mobile, it’s the big hotel brands that smash it. Kumulos favorite, the World of Hyatt app, provides a guest experience that truly excels, making it super-easy for travellers to get the most out of their vacation with one of the world’s most distinguished travel brands:: 

  • View room charges during your stay so guests can keep on top of spending
  • Back in your room after a day out and missing something? Request fresh towels, the all-important hairdryer, room service, and more, direct via the app.
  • Get access to your room without fumbling around in your bag on pockets with your phone as a room key.
  • Or how about the ability to stream your favorite movies direct via the Chromecast feature?  
  • Use the app to ask the concierge anything, doing away with the need to trek all the way down to the lobby

… lots of small, but highly-valuable features that keep loyal guests happy during their stay, and returning year after year. 

4. Reward users

Loyalty and rewards in the travel industry – indeed any industry –  are about so much more than points for purchases. With 90% of travelers expect a personalized digital experience when they book their travel, any savvy travel marketing knows the benefits of nurturing a two-way relationship with their users:

  • Loyal customers convert more (and more often) with brands they like rather than the brands they’re impartial about 
  • They also spend more than those of us who aren’t particularly loyal to any brand
  • And perhaps best of all, they’ll tell anyone and everyone about their positive – and especially negative – experiences with the brands they interact with.

The best of the travel brands out there mix a rich understanding of user behavior, a seamless brand experience, and relevant, tangible rewards that give travelers a reason to resist the uninstall.  

4 out of 5 people are more likely to engage with a brand that offers incentives (Loyalty360)

One of the most popular rewards programs in travel comes from Hotels.com – and with over 10 million downloads, they might just be on to something …

For starters, when a customer books 10 nights with Hotels.com, they’ll get one night free – and if you’re a regular traveler, these free nights soon add up. But of course, there’s way more to the success of their program than free nights:

Customers can bag plenty of these a-ha moments – like free breakfast or spa vouchers, and even more  at VIP Access properties

  • They get complimentary room upgrades 
  • And enjoy early check-in and late check-out at their super-popular VIP Access properties – ideal for guests who tend to arrive early to get the most out of the day – and leave late to savor the experience! 

Rewarding customers pays off. Once users are actually on board with their preferred brand, and that brand is providing real, tangible value, then the sporadic, passive decision-making that’s so prevalent in the travel industry eventually makes way for loyalty – and long-term advocates are born.

5. And ask for feedback!

The best way for an app to succeed – heck, the best way for any business to succeed is by listening to customers. Feedback will help steer your roadmap, underpin your marketing and sales strategies, help you shape your value proposition and most importantly, ensure you’re delivering what they’re really looking for. 

By using audience segmentation and pinpointing specific user pain points around your app, service or product, you’ll have valuable insights that will help you to enhance the user experience in ways that provide the most value to them — and thereby boost your retention rates.

There are loads of ways to get user feedback for your travel app:

  • In-app messages are a great way for users to engage with you in real-time quickly and directly – with the added advantage of catching any negative feedback before it hits the app stores. These two-way conversations are also the perfect way to build relationships with your audience while they’re using your app, negating the need for these awkward emails and irritating phone calls.
  • Social media is perfect for travel brands, engaging travelers through storytelling, trip-sharing, and rewards incentives and competitions. It’s also the place where travelers love to leave feedback – like this one for luxury hoteliers, Four Seasons. 
  • Not only is this kind of feedback the holy grail for every travel brand, posts like these have the potential to be seen by thousands. The key to success? Being present to respond quickly and engage with customers who have taken the time to feed back. 
  • Surveys are one of the most effective ways to get customer feedback on your app, providing the opportunity to drill down and ask the questions that are going to deliver the most value to you – and eventually your users. Who are they, what were they looking for today when they opened your app, did they find what they came for, and what could you have done better? By drilling down with short, easy questions, you’ll have nuggets of gold at your fingertips that will help you deliver the app your customers really want.
  • User Data. How users interact with your app is often the most effective way to glean insights on what they really think of it. How often are they using the app? How long does a typical session last? What are they doing in-app? Once you’ve got a handle on how your app is being used, you can deliver the optimum experience – one that engages and retains your audience and builds loyalty over the long term.

At the end of the day, gathering user feedback is about gaining a deeper understanding of why and how your audience uses your app. With these insights, you’ll be able to exceed expectations and turn casual users into loyal customers and brand advocates.

Conclusion

Driving engagement through an exceptional app experience is – and will continue to be – the key element of every successful app, regardless of what industry you’re in. Building meaningful, valuable connections through easy onboarding, storytelling, rewards programs, and more, means that you’ll be in a really strong position to nurture loyalty in a space where everyone is about to start vying for your users’ attention. To find out more about how Kumulos can help your travel app outrun the competition and stay relevant, talk to us!

Deferred Deep Linking – what it is and why you need it

Thinking about where your focus should be when it comes to increasing sales across your digital estate? Then it’s worth remembering that the gap between mobile app usage and mobile website usage continues to widen … A significant number of us “went digital” over the last 18 months, and as we did, we powered a new wave of in-app shopping resulting in global consumer spending in mobile apps tipping an eye-watering record of $111 billion – a massive 30% on the previous year. 

While mobile sites account for almost 50% of global web traffic, research shows us that 90% of our time spent on mobile is spent in mobile apps, with only 10% on websites. But here’s an even more compelling fact – mobile app users spend an average of just over 200 minutes per month shopping (generating around $50 billion), compared to a teeny tiny 10.9 minutes a month for mobile website users. The message is clear – spending increases significantly in-app, and for good reason! Competing successfully and increasing spend in a burgeoning sector where everyone is vying for your audience’s attention means delivering a seamless, friction-free CX; being on the channels your customers prefer, personalizing the CX at each touchpoint, and using big data insights to deliver value – all the things which apps do far better than a mobile site ever could … But how do you nudge users from your site – or your ads – straight to your app, especially when they don’t have your app installed? Step up to the plate, Deep Linking!

A bit about regular deep linking

In the olden days, links from one app or mobile website would only send users to the home screen of a different app. Once there, the hassle of searching, scrolling, and eventually landing on the page they were originally looking for was the user’s responsibility.  So when deep links came along, marketers everywhere breathed a deep (no pun intended) sigh of relief. 

Regular deep links send users straight to an app instead of to a website – and more often than not, to a specific location in the app. By default, this saves time, energy, and frustration for users – they land on the screen that has the item they want to purchase (or the subscription they want to sign up for, or the product they’d like to trial, and they get a great user experience until, that is, users are deep-linked to an app they haven’t installed. Why? Default deep links are only capable of directing users to an app if they’ve already installed it. If that’s not the case then the link won’t reach the intended endpoint and the dreaded error message will be presented. No one wants that.

So why use ‘em? Generally speaking, default deep links are really really useful for deploying as part of retargeting campaigns where a business is only interested in users that already have their app installed. They’re also used when targeting users who have a severe case of cart abandonment (a condition that costs businesses  $18bn in lost sales each year), encouraging them back to the app to complete their purchase … but there’s more:

  • Deep linking boosts conversions – for every extra step your users have to take to do what they want to do will lower your conversion rates.  Deep linking allows you to point your users straight to the point-of-sale in-app, even after the install.
  • Deep linking increase retention rates. Why? Because deep links contain contextual information so that your app can deliver a personalized experience before, during and after the onboarding process … and we all know how critical a smooth and frictionless onboarding experience is when it comes to retention.
  • Deep linking increases sales. Your users are twice as likely to spend money in-app as they are on your mobile site – and they’ll also spend more. Over 2.5 times more. Not to be scoffed at!

… OK, and Deferred Deep Linking?

55% of consumers say that a poor mobile experience makes them less likely to engage with a company, so it’s critical to provide the optimum customer experience, and that’s where deferred deep linking comes in.

Imagine you have a fashion retail app with various clothing types –  tops; shoes; outerwear etc … you get the idea – and you want to kick off a marketing campaign via SMS, Google or banner ads, or Emails, and which will include sharing links to these items. Wherever the recipient clicks on the link in your campaigns, the app will open and the user will land on the relevant item in-app if they have the app installed.

 

If the user clicks on a deep link and doesn’t have the app installed, rather than the error-message experience, they’ll be deferred to the relevant App Store where they can download the app. But that’s not where the cleverness lies … the brilliance of deferred deep linking is that when the user installs and opens the app, they’ll still be sent to the location of the link they originally clicked on, minimizing friction and increasing the likelihood of a successful sale. 

Yes – the additional ‘default’ deep link step of asking users to navigate the app to find what they were originally looking for might seem trivial or inconsequential, but the actual experience of these two routes to conversion – being directed straight to the required screen vs. searching for the app, browsing menus, scrolling through lots of different products etc – are markedly different and often the difference between a sale or a fast sprint elsewhere.

A few examples of how deferred deep links are being used

Finance: A trading app might want to run a referral program campaign. Using deferred deep links,  it could send a push notification containing a link to an existing app user. The user could forward the link to a friend via email or SMS, and when that friend clicks the link, the deferred deep link would take them to the app store, and then directly to a personalized screen deep within the app with the specific offer, for example, “Hi Kate! Jack has referred you to Free Trade. Sign up for free and you’ll both receive a FREE $25 share”.

Sandals DDL email flow

Travel: An app offering flight deals might run a paid search campaign. When a user searches for “flights to Boston” they’ll see an ad for the flight app. After clicking on the CTA the deferred deep link directs the user to the relevant app store. Once the user has installed the app, they’re then automatically sent deep within the app to the specific screen that features flight deals to Boston.

Sports: A sports app might run an ad on Facebook for tickets to a big summer game. When the user clicks on the link and installs the app, the deferred deep link sends them directly to the screen in the app where they can book seats and purchase tickets. 

The benefits of deferred deep linking

  • Minimizes friction. Creating a smooth, fuss-free path to conversion is every marketer’s goal. Deferred deep linking does this by minimizing user friction. By taking first-time users directly to the relevant screen within an app and enabling them to quickly and easily do what they came to do – purchase an item, sign up for a subscription, set up a free trial etc – they get an optimum user experience, and the app marketers boost their conversion rates.
  • Improving the user’s first-time experience: A favorable first-time app experience often influences the likelihood of a user returning to your app a second time or engaging with future campaigns. 
  • Increases the likelihood of conversion: With friction removed and a faster, easier, more streamlined app experience, users are far more likely to convert.

How can I use deferred deep links?

  • Links on your website and on banner ads that bring users to your mobile app
  • You can also send deferred deep links by email and take users directly into your app
  • You can engage users by sending links by SMS or Push Notifications
  • And acquire new users via social media and create incentivized referral programs.

Conclusion

A seamless, valuable customer experience is the key to success in any business. Today, with e-commerce sales at an all-time high, your business might well be struggling to deliver an optimum CX, increase engagement and boost those retention figures.  Deferred deep linking allows you to deliver a superb user experience – one that can create loyal, life-long customers. If you’d like to find out how Kumulos can support you to reach these goals, talk to us!

The best loyalty apps | Travel & Hospitality

woman using phone on beach

This year, after 12 months spent on its knees thanks to COVID, the travel and hospitality industry is gearing up to make one of the most long-awaited comebacks in a post-pandemic world.  And although there’s still some way to go before any of us consider this year ‘normal’ again, rapid vaccination rollouts are giving all of us more reasons to feel optimistic. 

The return of travel – and perhaps even a travel boom – as we emerge from what’s been a crushingly difficult period, is within touching distance, which means it’s time for travel and hospitality enterprises to lay the groundwork for glory in what’s gearing up to be a new dawn for travellers and travel brands. What does that mean? In this case, delivering the ultimate traveller and guest experience – a key part of which is the humble loyalty app.

Loyalty and rewards apps in the travel industry – indeed any industry –  are about so much more than straightforward user acquisition; we all know there’s little point in record-breaking download numbers if these users aren’t engaged:

  • Loyal customers convert more (and more often) with brands they like rather than the brands they’re impartial about
  • They also spend more than those of us who aren’t particularly loyal to any brand
  • And brand loyalists will tell anyone and everyone about their positive – and especially negative – brand experiences … 

Mastercard’s recent research report, “Recovery Insights: The Shift to Digital,” told us that travel is one of the top three activities that we’ve missed most during the last 12 months. What’s more, a similar report by Airbnb tells us that 54% of travellers say they’ve either booked a trip already, are currently planning to travel, or are expecting to travel at some point this year. As travel begins to bounce back, brands need to be reevaluating the new and emerging priorities of travellers in a post-pandemic climate and build their offerings accordingly.

So who’s nailing it when it comes to loyalty apps in travel and hospitality? Which brands are smashing engagement, staying focused on personalizing customer experiences – what the new traveller is looking for from a brand when they start travelling again? 

The best of the travel & hospitality apps

From nailing the competitive advantage to enjoying higher return rates, ensuring you’ve got digitally engaged guests means happier, more loyal guests – and the smart hoteliers are smashing it, ready to make 2021 a year to remember. 

From the straightforward simplicity of being able to order room service via your app to accessing your hotel suite with digital door keys, redeeming on-site offers to real-time concierge chat, innovative hotel engagement apps can deliver a truly 21st-century travel experience that promises to keep guests close. 

The best travel brands mix a robust understanding of customer behavior, a seamless brand experience across each touchpoint they find users, and valuable, relevant rewards that give travellers a reason to stick around. The benefits speak for themselves:

  • You’ll find it easier – a lot easier – to retain and engage your customer base. Functionality such as gamification through points and rewards will give customers reasons to keep coming back fpr more. It’s not all about the purchase – engaging your customers beyond the transaction is the name of the game. 
  • You’ll save money – we all know it costs business far more to acquire new customers (five – twenty-five times more)  than it does to sell to an existing one. 
  • Over time, you’ll find you can stop competing on price – instead, this new playing field will see you enhancing the customer experience of your brand by connecting with them on far more meaningful, value-add terms. 
  • And you’ll enhance your CLV – or customer lifetime value. The data gleaned from your rewards program will mean that over time you’ll be able to calculate the CLV for each and every one of your customers and build out a business model which focuses on strategies to engage and retain them over the long-haul. No pun intended!

Our favourites? The Hilton Honors and the Hyatt apps, who have made it their mission to put their brand firmly at the centre of the guest experience by delivering a veritable cornucopia of guest-focused benefits- from easy mobile check-in to digital keys, tips on local must-sees to real-time chat with the hotel concierge…

Hilton Honors

With two-thirds of frequent travellers staying with the same hotel brand for over half their stays, (regardless of location), it’s often up for debate exactly how (or why) reward programs win customers. Convenience? Habit? Genuinely rewarding features? I’m plumping for the latter. But once customers are actually on board with their preferred brand, and that brand is providing real value, then sporadic, passive decision-making makes way for loyalty and fans are born.

Millennial business travellers are willing to pay $41/night more to stay at a hotel in his or her loyalty program.

Earning the accolade of the “most rewarding” app in the sector, and with over 5 million downloads, Hilton know what they’re doing when it comes to keeping their customers close:

  • Beach view? Street view? Near the elevator? Guests can pick the perfect room direct via the app, just as you can do when booking your flights …
  • View and manage your reservations in one place
  • Use your device as your room key and check in out from the app

World of Hyatt

For loyalty programs to find a covetable level of success, there are a few factors that need to be considered. Most of us are generally happier with a rewards app when as little as possible is required from us to accrue and activate our rewards. We also like ‘em quick, and we like ‘em relevant – non-negotiable standard elements of any app worth its salt. No one, after all, wants to be spending more time than they need to when it comes to being rewarded for their loyalty to your brand.

18 per cent of us choose to become actively loyal to a brand based on their loyalty program, including the benefits and “perks” it provides.

One brand that’s been doing everything right and subsequently making big noise in the loyalty stakes is Hyatt. Their World of Hyatt app makes it ultra-easy for travellers to manage and enjoy their escapades with one of the world’s most recognisable brands. Here are just a few of the app’s features that keep its customers coming back:

  • The ability to use World of Hyatt points to book stays
  • Check-In/Express Checkout means users can bypass the front desk when they arrive and depart – my favourite!
  • The ability to view room charges during your stay so you can keep on top of your spending
  • Being able to request items for delivery to your room such as towels and toothpaste
  • Their digital key feature – aka your smartphone as your room key – no fumbling around!
  • The super-popular Google Chromecast feature so guests can stream their favourite shows straight to their room’s TV
  • The ability to track and spend rewards points – from earning extra nights and airmiles to bagging discounted car rentals and dining experiences.

… all the little (and big) things that keep their loyal fans coming back for more. Again and again.

American Airlines

A satisfying, engaging brand experience that meets all of the demands of the digital customer demands a personalized app experience – one that can both reduce spend and increase ROI for the brand, and cultivate long-term loyalty at the customer side. Not many get it right, but when they do, we’re all ears. That’s why we love the American Airlines app. 

American adults between ages 18 and 34 numbers 80 million and spends $600 bn each year. Come 2025, they’ll make up three-quarters of the workforce—which is to say, they’ll be frequent business travelers.

With the American Airlines app, you’re covered with the information you need exactly when you need it. Curious about traffic to the airport? Need a mobile boarding pass? Wondering where the closest Admirals Club® lounge is located? All of this info, and more, is available at your fingertips:

  • Mobile boarding pass: Check in for your trip and retrieve your mobile boarding pass. No need to print, and it’s updated along the way.
  • Interactive terminal maps: Navigating airports is a breeze with interactive terminal maps. Find the closest bar or get directions to your connecting gate. (I need this!)
  • Request and purchase upgrades and get eyes on the standby list to see what your chances are
  • Travellers can change their flight seat on the spot within the app
  • Track luggage from the time it leaves your hands to when you’re ready to grab it from the carousel at the other side.
  • And the app even integrates with the Apple watch so travellers have access to the most important info.

And that’s just the very tiny tip of the AA app iceberg. Not app-related, but part of their loyalty program, these guys have even got their own Chrome extension which delivers notifications to users while shopping online so they can earn miles “with the push of a button”. 

The feature automatically applies coupons at checkout, locates new stores that offer ‘miles per dollar’ and makes sure shoppers grab the lowest price possible with a price comparison feature. I’d call this smashing it when it comes to the customer experience. We LOVE this feature because it makes things so damned easy for the customer –  as every great app should.

Marriot Bonvoy

One of the largest hotel chains in the world, the Marriot Bonvoy loyalty app just also happens to be the industry’s No1, and for good reason.

75% of millennials would stay with a valued hotel loyalty program even if they lost all their points and status. (Deloitte)

Launched in February 2019,, members can earn and exchange points when they stay at one of Marriott’s thirty hotel brands across nearly 7,000 locations in over 150 countries. Divided into five different categories: Luxury, Premium, Select, Longer Stays, and Collections, travellers are rewarded for their loyalty with an ever-growing bounty of benefits, not just for their customers, but for the world at large – see the feature that allows users to donate rewards points that go towards providing support to communities severely affected by the pandemic.

There’s the usual digital check-in, room service and customisation, and dining rewards, but the reason the MB sits at the top of the charts when it comes to loyalty apps in the travel and hospitality industry is the sheer breadth of benefits that users can expect, and which are working hard to earn the loyalty of their ever-expanding fanbase:

  • The Mobile Dining feature means guests can order food for delivery at any location on the property – poolside, room, spa, restaurant, gardens, beach … you’ll never be hungry at the Marriot!
  • Shuttle Tracker means when guests land in their holiday location, they can track in real-time where their hotel shuttle bus is, and how long it will take to reach them. 
  • Mobile Chat allows guests to find out the hotel information they need – gym equipment, pool size, spa opening hours, restaurant availability … you name it.
  • Mobile key functionality opens your room, gives entry to the spa, parking and more … 
  • Guests can even opt-out for housekeeping via the app –  keeping their stay green, and earning points for doing so.

Sandals

To win the loyalty race, your brand must stand out. That means knowing your customers, understanding what they really value, and giving them the rewards that provide value to them.

Travellers favourite Sandals nails it with their app that delivers all kinds of bookings functionality, from booking vacation extras to restaurants to butler services (fancy!) – and putting mobile firmly at the heart of their customers’ vacation experience.

And of course, that’s not all – as you’d expect from a brand like Sandals:

  • Stay up to date with the latest Sandals news, exclusive membr events and special offers only available to program members
  • See at a glance your booking number, resort name, and travel dates for both future and past Sandals vacations
  • Guests can share vacation information through social media channels direct via the app
  • After the trip, guests can provide valuable feedback via the app by submitting a survey post travel and earn points into the bargain.

The best loyalty programs and apps successfully create value and meaning for their users – a satisfying, seamless, engaging experience that meets individual demands and stands out. For travel and hospitality brands in the mobile marketplace, the rewards are there. No two travelers are alike. If you’re successful in getting a customer to sign up for your loyalty program, it’s really just the start of your journey together. The ability to understand that customer’s motivation and deliver valuable, relevant, personal rewards that really matter, and then walk them from passive participation to active loyalty, is about building benefits for everyone.

What next?

To offer users a better experience on your app, create loyalty and see results like these brands there needs to be a focus on retention and engagement after customer acquisition. Kumulos gives you the tools to understand user behavior and send relevant, highly targeted, personalized content. Connect with users, create loyalty and boost retention. Book your free demo.

 

Messaging Options for Apps – How to Use Them Effectively

notifications on phone

For mobile apps, messaging is the most essential marketing tool at your disposal. Messaging is your direct contact point with your app users. Push notifications have always been the most effective way to gain interest in your app personal messages that entice the user to open your app.

Without regularly communicating relevant information to your app users, it’s difficult for apps to build a relationship with users and keep them active, using messaging allows apps to captivate users early, target lapsed users and continue to communicate throughout the lifecycle of the app.

It’s important to establish the needs and wants of your audience and establish what it is they are looking for from your app. The more accurately you can target your messaging campaigns, the more chance there is of keeping your users engaged and reducing users deleting your app.

We will look at the two main types of messaging options that you can use with Mobile apps.

  • Push Notifications
  • In-App Messages

But first let’s cover the common characteristics that you should always look for when selecting a quality messaging provider.

Key Features to Look for in App Messaging Platforms

Before deciding on your messaging strategy it’s vital to know what tools you can make use of that can benefit the way in which we send messages. Establish which of these would be beneficial to your business and be sure to find a provider who can offer the services you need.

The key features to look for in Mobile messaging platforms include:

Rich, Interactive Messages

Adding rich images or interactive buttons increase the likelihood of a user engaging with your message. The message contained within a notification is equally as important but when paired with branding, imagery, and the ability to interact with the message this turns notifications into a far more effective marketing tool.

Segmentation & Channels

Not all of your messaging is going to be relevant to all of your users. Segment your audience in ways that make it easier to send certain messages to a certain group of users. This allows you to retarget users with promotions. Create more relevant audiences to fit each type of messages you send. Good systems will allow you to use Analytics events within the app to understand what the user is doing and then send messages based on this behavior or lack of behavior that may indicate they are losing interest in the app and could be about to delete your app.

Automations

Sometimes called Mechanical Messages this lets you build a set of rules that when met will automatically trigger messages to be sent to the user. The messaging provider you pick should let you easily set and edit these rules within a web portal, to save the cost and time delay of having these manually programmed each time.

They will let you watch for certain activities, or lack of activities of the user and then trigger one or ideally a series of messages. Typical usage is when someone first downloads the app and is going through the onboarding process, then send a series of notifications designed to encourage them to complete. And if the user stalls through onboarding send notifications to get them back on track.

Another common usage is when someone hasn’t been in your app for a time, send a series of time-delayed notifications to re-engage and reinvigorate the user to keep them active.

Integrations with Rich Analytics Data

Good messaging platforms will come with rich, highly visual and easy to use analytics. It’s important when selecting a messaging platform to equally consider the power of analytics that comes pre-integrated. This is important as it allows you to use these events tracked by the analytics service to trigger messages. This means you can easily action the insights that your analytics service tells you to provide timely, informed and relevant messages based on the actual behavior and interest cues from the user.

For example, they have looked at one of the items in your product catalog but not made a purchase, you can then trigger a series of re-marketing messages to that user reminding them of your product and reinforce their purchase interest.

Kumulos messaging dash

 

Geolocation Targeting

Targeting users with geofencing and beacons allow you to only target users that enter a physical location you have defined. This is done through either GPS of the smartphone in the case of Geofences or Bluetooth in the case of beacons. It allows you to send messages to the user based on their physical location i.e. restaurants and clothes stores. This allows you to know that your messages are being sent in the exact place and moment your users could be most receptive to hearing from you.

Geofencing map

 

Confirmed Delivery 

Confirmed delivery is a feature that should be available from all good messaging platforms. They enable you to better evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign. Using services that don’t have this feature means you aren’t seeing the whole story. If only 30% of your users opened the message you could be disappointed by the results. But if not all who you intended to receive the message actually received it, then this could be masking the actual effectiveness of the message.

Intelligent Delivery

Intelligent delivery can be used to perfect the timing of notification based on the historic usage patterns of the user. This means that the message is delivered at the time of day that they are most likely to be using your app. It’s possible for app marketing platforms to intelligently work out when is the best time to target each individual user that is most likely to lead to an interaction. Users also have the power in their hands by being able to inform you of their preferred delivery options and specify when they want to hear from you.

Deep Linking and Deferred Deep Links

To make actions from your messages really effective you need a message platform that will let you link directly to the relevant page in your mobile app. That’s called Deep Links.

Deferred Deep Links allow you to send messages from one mobile app user to another. If the person receiving the link doesn’t have the app on their smartphone then the clever link will detect this and redirect the person to the app store to download the app. Once the app download is complete it will remember the section of the app that the original link was taking you to in the mobile app and take the user there.

deferred deep links graphic

 

Ability to contain external links to web content

For some apps it’s important to be able to direct the user to content hosted on a mobile responsive web page rather than having to have all your content stored in the app itself. This gives you much greater flexibility. For example, you can easily change the content on the web page, avoiding having to post an update to the app to change the information. So, it’s important that you pick a Messaging Provider that allows you to easily imbed URL web links for the user to click on.

What are Push Notifications?

The most common way to message app users is of course Push Notifications. The purpose of the following is to show you that there are a number of other options open to you. And to show you why it’s important to use the full arsenal of messaging options to fully engage with your users. These are messages that can be sent to a mobile device even if the app is closed. It will alert the user to the fact that they have a new message and good push notification services will let you include along with text, images, emojis, deep links, links to websites and action buttons to allow users to interact with the message.

With push notifications you can target users when they aren’t active with personalized and relevant messages that bring them back to your app. There are many features at your disposal when trying to create brilliant messaging campaigns, these can make your messages more than 50% more likely to be opened than a basic push message.

Where do Push Notifications work best?

Push Notifications are great to bring users back into your app. To alert them to new information in your app or something that you believe they’d be interested in finding out. They can appear even if the app isn’t open on the smartphone so are a very effective way to re-engage users that aren’t frequent users of your app.

What are In-App Messages?

As their name suggests In-App messages only appear to the user when they are actually in your app. They can be programed to appear immediately and the message pop up over the screen the user is currently on, or can be programmed to appear the next time the user enters the app.

What are the advantages of In-App Messages?

With In-App messages you have complete freedom on the design of the message. With push notifications this is heavily controlled by the operating system of the smartphone.  In-app messaging lets you create a fully custom design and include branding, images, action buttons and videos to engage users and encourage users to interact.

Another big advantage of In-App messages is the fact that you do not have to expressly ask permission from the app user to send them messages. That said, it is increasingly good practice to ask users to opt in for any form of communication, especially if they are designed to sell to the user. So you should go with a Message Provider that gives you the option to ask users whether they want Push Notifications and/or In App Messages, so you are future-proofing against future changes in legislation.

In App Messages can appear immediately, if the person is currently in the app it will pop up in front of their current screen. Similar to Push Notifications it can be set to appear at a predetermined day and time. In all cases it will interrupt the user when they are in the app.

Alternatively, you can set messages to appear the next time they enter the app. So, it doesn’t interrupt them with their current session

You also have the option for the message to only appear in the inbox in the mobile app. In this case no message pops up on the phone, but the app can be set up to show that there are unread messages in the app inbox to draw them in to view the message

Where do In App Messages Work Best?

They work best to inform and engage regular users of your app. They can be used to tell users about new features in the app or special promotions as they enter the app. Or important information that you know they would want to know. And of course, you can use all the important key features that we detailed earlier, so you can make them highly targeted and relevant.

Because you can completely control the design of the message they can be designed to look like they are part of the app itself and not a messaging add-on. You can create messages that look like pages of the app that are effective extensions to the content of the app itself avoiding the need to post an update of the app and easily. For example, changes to flight information or train arrival times.

Best of both Worlds

Most good Messaging platforms let you pair push notification campaigns with in-app messaging. This means you can “tickle” the user and re-engage those who aren’t currently in your app to alert them to an important new message. And use the rich media possibilities of an In App message and its “on brand” design to deliver high impact communications that maximize the possibility of goal conversion.

Creating Brilliant Messaging Campaigns

Having great technology at your disposal is one thing. But how you put this to good use is another. We have seen many, many mobile app marketers that have the best technology in place but aren’t delivering the results they expect. The temptation is to blame the tools. And while that could be part of the problem (set up too complex or toolset difficult to use) very often it’s how the technology is applied that’s largely at fault. So, once you’ve established what features you need from a vendor to target your audience, the focus shifts to the message itself. Marketing an app is easier with the right tools but without creating an effective message the efforts are futile.

Appearance

As we have said the style elements of a push notification are controlled by the OS of the device the message is sent to. For this reason, it’s important to make use of the stylistic factors you can control. Images and interactive buttons can be added to make messaging more aesthetically pleasing and conversion driven. This not only helps your message stand out from others but encourages conversion more than plain text notifications. Emoji’s can also be added to brighten the text within your notification and convey the emotion or tone intended by your message.

Adding up to 3 buttons as a deep link within your notification can give the user options of which they prefer and allows you to direct them to the exact page of your app you want to depending on which they click. This can be conversion driven in terms of directing to a page with an item on offer in the user’s basket.

In-app messages aren’t dictated by the OS of the user device and offer more options to customize. Use brand colors, fonts, videos, images, or work from templates provided by your messaging provider.

Knowing why to send a message

The frequency of how often you send notifications to a user can have a large effect on how users interact. For some apps, 1 a day or less is the preferred amount, ideally 3-4 times a week is adequate. It’s important to know that the message you are sending is of value to your user.

Valuable messaging typically falls into one of these categories:

  •  Retargeting funnel drop-off – Reminding a user of a conversion that they never completed in the later stages, such as adding an item to their basket without finalizing the purchase.
  • Onboarding – Making sure that new downloads fully configure and set up your app with prompts when users delay a step in the onboarding process.
  • Important Information – Company updates and changes to your app, trending news and relevant stories
  • Location specific – Using a geofence or beacon, a user enters an area within proximity of your location, and you want to target them with an offer to entice them to your store
  • Time-limited – Give users a sense of urgency with a promotion that is one-day only. This encourages users with the ‘do it later’ attitude to do it now instead

Use data gathered on what your users are using your app for, what is popular and what are they crying out for. This understanding should translate into the types of messaging you send.

Reaching the Right Audience

Messaging needs to be personal and relevant to individual users. Segmentation and channelling allow you to group users based on demographics and in-app behaviors that create smaller groups that allow you to create more defined campaigns rather than broadcast messaging.

An offer on a pepperoni pizza would absolutely encourage conversions in users that have purchased one in your app before. Receiving notifications like these from your app when you’ve only ever bought vegetarian options can be off-putting and may cause an unsubscribe.

This is why a good push notification provider allows you to create segments and channels that better define your users into relevant groups for targeting. You can set-up these campaigns to allow the platform to automate the sending of these messages based on a time-trigger, such as intelligent delivery or a location trigger such as when a user enters a geo-fence.

This is how you can send personal, relevant messaging at exactly the right place and time. Couple this with rich images, branding and interactive buttons that link to the specific deal you’ve chosen and let the platform automate the sending of the message then these conditions are met and you’re on your way to making the most out of the most effective marketing tool for apps.

Creating Your Strategy

For any app, in any industry it’s important to have a strategy that can be used to establish and evaluate messaging campaigns and improve each time.

  • Think ‘Why?’ – What is the purpose of the message in this campaign, think of your end goal and establish a message that best fits
  • Establish your audience – Segment and channel you campaign to send to only the relevant users
  • Create an aesthetically pleasing message with conversion driven relevant content
  • Time your notifications or set-up automations to send them on your behalf at the optimal moment
  •  Evaluate your campaigns success- Campaign analytics can show you user and campaign to evaluate success and constantly improve

 

Summary

Brands that utilize all the available tools in messaging marketing will engage users from the first point of contact, throughout the life cycle of the app.

Using all the available features to reach the exact users, at the right place and time with personal messaging will not only encourage engagement and conversion, but also boost the user retention rate of apps. This is not only valuable practice short-term by encouraging conversion but long-term by keeping users engaged and encouraging future re-engagement.

Using the right message medium for example, in-app messaging in combination with push notifications in multi-channel campaigns, allows interactions with users whether they are active or not and keeps all bases covered.

Start making use of all the features available to boost your messaging campaigns and start retaining your users long term with a messaging strategy customized to your app and users.

About Kumulos

At Kumulos we offer a purpose-built Mobile User Engagement platform with industry leading messaging features such as rich, interactive push notifications, in-app messaging, web push notifications and integrated analytics. With Kumulos you can build intelligent, informed, powerful automatically triggered messages. Our focus is to help you retain app users through engagement by allowing you to target the right user, at exactly the right place and time that they are able to interact with you.

Operate all aspects of your user engagement strategy from creating messages, managing your audience to evaluating your campaign using analytics in one place – the Kumulos Mobile Marketing Hub.

Our Messaging feature allows you to send rich, interactive push notifications & in-app messages with imagery, video and action buttons that increase your chances of user engagement. Combine these with location targeting to send personalized, highly relevant, engaging messaging to the user in exactly the right location and strive for better results from your user engagement strategy.

If you’d like to try Kumulos for yourself, we would like to offer you a free demo of our platform where we can show you all of these features and more. Book your demo here and start seeing better results from your app with all the tools you need to engage users.

The 5 Things You Need to Know to Get the Most Out of Deferred Deep Linking

woman using iphone

To get the best out of Deferred Deep Linking in your marketing campaigns it’s important to set clear business goals and then use the technology effectively. In this article we cover the 5 big things you need to consider to maximize this powerful marketing tool.

1. The Difference – Deep Links vs Deferred Deep Linking

What’s the difference? If you have experience marketing an app then I’m sure you’re familiar with Deep Links. Deep Links allow you to direct app users to a specific promotion or new piece of content within our app with one tap. This is usually done through the sending of a mobile push notification or in app message that when clicked takes the user to the specified content.

This allows you to offer targeted deals to your existing app users. Think of these as internal links shared with existing users. What’s more conversion friendly? If you want to sell a pair of shoes that your user has in their basket half price in your sale. Marketing the offer through a push notification, engaging the user and leading them to your app homepage – where they then have to find the shoes, apply the offer code, go to basket etc. Or the user clicks the notification where they are taken directly to their basket, shoes at the ready, 50% off applied. Then all they have to do is pay. It doesn’t take a genius to see that the more convenient option is going to outperform its undefined rival every time.

Deferred Deep Linking on the other hand is a link you can use external to your mobile app and send to people that may not have your app already installed. These have all the conversion friendly benefits we just spoke about, and more. Deferred Deep Linking broadens your horizons and allows you to reach out to users with compelling offers across many digital channels. This lets you offer specific promotions in places outside the app and then with a Deferred Deep Link take the person directly to the specific offer in the app. So, for example, send an email, a banner ad on a website, social media post or build referral schemes with product advocates to acquire new app downloads and motivated users.

This is where the magic comes in, if they click on the link on their mobile device and they don’t have your app installed on their phone, it takes them to the app store to download the app and then onto the correct destination page in your mobile app.  If they already have the app installed it opens and takes them directly to the relevant section of the app. It’s a perfect tool to acquire new users for your app AND re-engage existing app users.

deferre3d deep linking graphic2. How to Acquire High Quality New App Users

Deferred Deep Linking is a great tool to acquire new app users if you put it to good use. They let you run promotions across multiple digital media outlets – website, social media, email to target people who don’t yet have your app installed… then when they click from their mobile device the Deferred Deep Link system will know they don’t already have the app installed and take them to the relevant Appstore of the device to download the app.

Because you have caught their attention with a compelling offer, they will be much more likely to be highly motivated new users, interested in what you offer.

So, what is best practice at using Deferred Deep Linking in off-app promotions to convert high quality new users?

It works best by offering specific calls to action so it’s easy to engage with the promotion.

  • Book a discounted weekend break with Booking.com. Present the offer in the advert to catch attention and when they click, take them directly to the details of the offer in the appropriate section of the mobile app.
  • Telephone booking for a Taxi or order carry-out food, send a follow up SMS message with a deferred deep link encouraging them to use the app next time.
  • Email to customers telling them of a special offer or new feature available through your mobile app. Use this to capture new users and re-engage users who may not have been in your app for a while.

3. Win-back Lapsed Users

You can use Deferred Deep Linking to very effectively win-back lapsed users. These may be people who have used your app in the past but just aren’t responding to any Push Notifications campaigns. Possibly because they have off-loaded your app from their phone.

If they follow your social media channels or you have collected their email or cell number as part of their past onboarding, then you can use these to send offers to bring them back. And the beauty of Deferred Deep Linking is that it works regardless of whether they have deleted your app from their phone or just haven’t opened the app for a while. So, you capture both lapsed and gone-away users.

Another important advantage is that it also lets you target users that have previously opted out to receive push notifications. You can entice them back to your app with an attractive promotion.

4. You Can Get Personal… and Customers Love Personal

Personalizing marketing is one of the oldest tricks in the book. But with Deferred Deep Linking it goes one stage further. It lets you make the overall experience smooth and seamless.

With Deferred Deep Linking you can create highly personal links for each person you are targeting. The link can contain information about the person, so when they reach the app this information can be passed automatically into the app. For example, apply a pre-set discount to the shopping cart or pre-populating onboarding screens to make first set-up quick and easy.

The more you can do to make the user journey smooth and seamless the more users will convert.

5. Attributing Download and Conversion Sources

Knowing (for sure) where your downloads or purchase conversions are coming from is gold-dust for marketers. Understanding which media sources are generating the highest value customers means you know where to effectively channel marketing investment. Deferred Deep Linking can help with this also, you can pass information through the link that will then be associated with the customer when they install. This can contain the media source or even which specific promotion led the customer to download your app.  Being able to study your most valuable customers and understand which messages or media sources deliver your most engaged users means you know what campaigns are working best, and where to double down. It also allows you to very accurately calculate your Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC). Comparing this with the lifetime value of your customer (the total of what they pay you for as long as they are a customer) means you can calculate how much you can afford to pay to acquire new customers.

Some Final Thoughts

Here’s some additional things to think about when utilizing deferred deep linking:

  • 70% of emails are opened on mobile and using deferred deep linking is a great channel to drive mobile app use.
  • SMS has the highest percentage of opens for any type of messaging communication on mobile at 98%
  • Social media platforms can make it more difficult for marketers to use deep links, while this is a great tool to hit your audience, platforms like Facebook insist on opening a window within the Facebook platform rather than in an external browser. This can make it trickier for deep links to understand what’s happening but it’s not impossible with the right link and provider.
  • Websites are great ways to acquire new mobile app users. These could be simple landing pages heavily optimized in key search terms that relate closely to your target audience or bigger more functionally rich sites that your customers will typically visit first to find out more about what you do. A great way to encourage website users into your mobile app is to include a simple form asking for their phone number with a Deferred Deep Link in the SMS you send them. It then makes it easy to take them directly to the offer in your app, or first through the app store if they don’t have your app installed yet.

What We Can Do For You

Kumulos is one of the worlds leading Mobile Marketing Engagement platforms. We help you acquire, activate, engage and retain your valuable mobile app users for longer. Specifically, our Deferred Deep Link feature helps you user a broad range of marketing channels to engage your target audience. It also helps you effectively re-engage lapsed users or those who aren’t opted in for push notifications.

Kumulos provides enterprises with a single pane of glass to drive more app downloads, consistently engage and retain your mobile app users for longer, delivering greater mobile app success.

To see how we could help your business grow and deliver more from your mobile app, ask for a free no obligation demo or set up a free 30 day full system trial.

Guide to Location Targeting with Geofencing

Geofencing map

Implementing features that allow apps to easily define and target users makes marketing to your audience easier. This helps to keep users engaged and boost your chances of retaining them long term. For businesses that have physical locations or where it’s important to know where your customers are, geofencing can significantly increase the engagement you can get from your mobile app messaging. 

Often businesses don’t make the most of using the features available to them in the world of app marketing, meaning they aren’t maximizing their potential. One common mistake we see is app publishers focusing too heavily on acquiring new users rather than retaining the far more valuable ones they already have.  Last year only 32% of users launched an app more than 11 times.

Being able to define your audience and target them with rich, personalized messaging increases your chances of engagement by more than 50%. And doing this with accurate proximity-based marketing means app owners can catch their users attention at exactly the moment they are ready to engage.

Using geo-location, to intelligently deliver rich, interactive messaging will  increase user engagement by sending notifications that are timely and highly relevant to each individual user. 

What is Geofencing?

A geofence is an area you define that will automate the sending of messages. This can be when someone enters, leaves, or is present in a predefined area. It works by using the GPS services within a smart phone and the phone telling the app where it is, so this can then correlate with the coordinates of the geofence. If there’s a match then an action is triggered – a message is sent, or the location is logged.

For example, if a coffee shop wanted to target a certain area of a city with a promotion, say around one of their competitors stores,  they can define a geofence and when a user enters into this area with their app on their smartphone,  an automation will send their chosen message to the user. This means you are able to communicate with a user at precisely the time they are ready and able to interact with you, in the right place and receiving it at the optimal moment – Using mobile technology to drive footfall to your premises.

kumulos-features-update-geofences

A geofence can be set around a small physical location like the areas around a shop or shopping mall or as big as an entire city. Part of their brilliance is in their flexibility. Complex geofence perimeters involving intricate polygons around very specific areas are totally achievable. This allows you to be very precise about where you want the geofences to be and avoid areas such as freeways where you may not want to trigger messages to your app users. You can also have hundreds or even thousands of geofences or geofences within geofences. Used for the right reasons they are a very, very powerful message targeting tool.

How does it work?

There is no hardware required to install a geofence and can be done from within your service providers web console. To work, you require a mobile app on the smartphone and an SDK from a service provider, such as Kumulos, integrated into the mobile app. The smartphone user also has to grant you permission to track location (foreground as a minimum as well as background ideally) and particularly for Apple phone users then explicitly grant permission to send push notifications. 

Once the geofences are in place when someone enters, leaves or lingers in a geofence you can decide exactly what actions should happen.

  • Send a Notification  (now or after a time delay) like “Enjoyed your visit? Rate us on Tripadvisor
  • Send an SMS or email- Giving them important information about a location
  • Send an in app message – with rich media content
  • Add them to a remarketing list to then tell them about a future event at the same location.

To get the best from the technology, there are few things you need to know about geofences. Location tracking on a phone can put a heavy load on the smartphone battery. Anyone who has used Google Maps on a long journey will testify to that. So to manage this, the operating systems of the phone enforce certain rules, such as only sharing the location update every once and awhile (15 –  20 seconds for example). Also it wont repeatedly send location updates where the person hasn’t moved far from the last update. Typically significant change is over 500 metres. So to get the most out of Geofences you have to follow some important best practices, and understand these limitations. They will apply to ANY service provider you use. We will dive into this in more detail a little later.  

 Once this is enabled the geo fence will have all the necessary tools to automate the sending of the campaigns you create.

Why use Geofencing?

"2 for 1 subs" push notifications on phone

As we have said they are a powerful targeting tool for mobile marketers. Used wisely they can deliver huge business benefits, delivering higher revenue spend in the app, using mobile technology to keep your customers loyal and stop them being tempted by your competition. 

Here’s some examples of how geofences are used. 

  • Increase footfall by sending promotional offers as the user approaches your store
  • Catch your users when they are near a rival location by setting a geofence around that location, then incentivize with push notifications to draw them to your store
  • Know what your customers are interested in and send them relevant offers,  (based on previous in-app behaviors) when they are near your location – An offer like “We think you’ll like this dress. It’s now on sale”
  • Get feedback from customers that have been in your venue – like “we hope you liked your stay, rate us on trip advisor”.

Beacons Vs Geofences

beacon technology illustration

Location targeting options are not limited to geofences and in certain circumstances they may not be the best option. 

Beacons can be useful in indoor locations where the smartphone may not have a GPS signal. Also if you want to get very precise targeting, say down to just a few meters – they could be the best solution.  The downside is they require a physical device located at a cash point or store front,  that connects to your app users phone through Bluetooth when they are nearby. 

You can get the best of both worlds however and use Geofences and Beacons in combination. 

Geofencing is better for much larger, definable areas. Beacon range is generally just a few hundred metres, so will trigger messages when someone is very local…

Best Practice for Geofencing campaigns

There are key considerations to take into account when implementing geofencing within your app, these will help you get the most from campaigns and firmly establish a successful geofencing campaign.

  • Carefully consider the position and size of your geofence to capture the maximum number of users. Don’t make them so large (hundreds of miles wide) that they aren’t nearby or so small (10 metres) that you hardly message anyone.
  • Consider how people will be traveling through the Geofence – by car, walking. The speed that they travel is a factor in how large a geofence should be, to stand the maximum chance of them triggering the message.
  • Mobile phones only send location updates every 15 – 30 seconds and only when the person’s location has changed significantly from the last update being sent. So, you have to consider this when deciding the size of your geofences. So, don’t make the geofence too small where people are traveling quickly and could be through the fence before the phone has a chance to send location data.
  • Don’t try to use geofences where GPS location data could be poor, inside buildings or tightly drawing geofences around the building perimeter. Use Beacon technology if you can in these situations or target open spaces where people will be entering the building.
  • Limit the number of times someone will receive a message. The best way to encourage someone to un-install your app is to send them repeated (and possibly irrelevant) messages. 
  • Time of day – think about the relevance of the message and the time of day. Don’t promote your Breakfast specials at 2 in the afternoon. Either switch off messaging in your geofence when it’s not relevant, or better still have it set up to send different messages from the same geofence at different times of day.
  • Make the message REALLY relevant. Don’t just trigger a general message for every one of your users unless that makes sense of course. Send messages that are highly relevant for the user based on what you know about them and what you know they are interested in.
  • Prime the message based on their past usage of the app. If you know they have looked at a particular product but haven’t purchased it yet, then if it’s on sale and they are near your store – tell them about it.
  • Consider using Geofences in conjunction with Beacon technology, if that makes sense. So if you have a store, put Geofences around your place (and if you want around your closeby competitors) and then use Beacons for when they are close (100 meters or so) to bring them to your door. Also consider using beacons inside your venue to provide hyper-local information.
  • Use location information to remarket to the user at a later date.  Knowing that someone has been near your place, in the past, is valuable information. So store it and use it for later outreach marketing campaigns. “Hey the next time you are near, come in and see us for the latest special offers”.
  • Social proofing – for some businesses customer endorsements are really important. So you can use the fact that someone has been to your place to then ask them to rate you on TripAdvisor, or similar. Set the geofence system to trigger, say, 24 hours after their visit with a link to your page, for their endorsement. 

Choose your Geofence system wisely so you don’t have to chop and change when your needs evolve. Find a company that offers:

  • An easy to use dashboard to create, edit, disable geofences with no technical skills required.
  • A system that offers custom shape (polygon) geofences as well as simple radius options. 
  • A system that lets you manage geofences and beacons in one place
  • A system with flexible automation rules so you can easily build and adjust the rules that will trigger location targeted message
  • Frequency limited – Use a system that can let you set the maximum number of times anyone can receive a message in any one day/week/month.
  • Don’t just rely on Push Notifications. Also use Rich Media In-App messages to really engage your users.
  • Go omni-channel and use a system that can also send SMS and Email messages so you have complete flexibility over how you communicate with your customers.
  • A system that will build remarketing lists for you, so you can keep in touch with customers who you know have been near you in the past, to bring them back to you with attractive offers. 

Final thoughts

Geofence technology is ideal for any business where the location of the app user is important. Smart use of Mobile technology not only improves the interaction you can have with your customers it also means that you can catch their attention at precisely the time that they are ready and able to interact with you. 

It’s not right for everyone. Firstly, it only works if the person has your mobile app in their cell phone. There is NO way round that. They also have to give explicit permission to allow you to track their location and send them messages, so you have to have a good reason and sell the value of this to your app users. 

That said… picking the right system that doesn’t require you having a PHD in computer programming and having a friendly developer on standby isn’t important if you find a platform that will allow you to grow into its features. 

Used correctly,  there’s no doubt that proximity marketing delivers huge benefits to anyone with physical locations that you want app users to visit. Allowing you to build loyalty and entice them away from your competition. 

Who are Kumulos

At Kumulos we offer a purpose-built Mobile User Engagement platform with industry leading location targeting capabilities – ideal for anyone with a place they want their app users to visit. Main features include rich, interactive push notifications, in-app messaging and integrated award winning analytics that lets you build intelligent, informed,  powerful automatically triggered messages. Our focus is to help  you retain app users through engagement by allowing you to target the right user, at exactly the right place and time that they are able to interact with you.

Our geotargeting services including geofencing or beacons are easily integrated into your app. Kumulos offers an API that you can install for geofencing and monitor all aspects of your campaigns, including messaging and geofencing, from one place – the Kumulos Mobile Marketing Hub.

Our Messaging feature allows you to send rich, interactive push notifications with imagery and action buttons that increase your chances of user engagement. Combine these with location targeting to send personalized, highly relevant, engaging messaging to the user in exactly the right location and strive for better results from your user engagement strategy.

Other features such as analytics will allow you to evaluate your messaging campaigns and analyze location data to ensure your campaigns are sending the most effective message, in the most relevant locations.

If you’d like to try Kumulos for yourself we would like to offer you a free demo of our platform where we can show you all of these features and more. Book your demo here and start seeing better results from your app using geofencing.

Apple Event September 2020 – What You Need to Know

Apple products on desk

Here is your recap of the September 2020 Apple event so you can find out what new developments Apple have brought to the table for the rest of 2020. The main talking point from everyone post-event and the first question to answer for everyone was that there was no new iPhone model announced. What you will get is the iOS 14 update for your current iPhone and we did see considerable updates to service offerings as well as new models and operating systems for both the iPad and Apple Watch. Lets breakdown the event for you.

iOS 14

Released on September 16th along with WatchOS7 and TVOS 14.  One of the biggest aesthetic changes Apple has introduced to iOS in a long time will see a restyling of the homepage that now includes widgets on the home screen. These can be added by the user to suit their preference. A feature called Smart Stack will automatically update these widgets for you based on your usage. Apps also will now be housed differently in this new set-up with the ability to remove pages of apps and have your apps in the new app library giving more options to how apps are displayed. In the app library apps will be grouped based on activity with the most used remaining at the top, where they will be smartly grouped based on content by iOS 14.

Another interesting development sees Apple work towards making the iPhone able to carry out 2 functions simultaneously, that previous systems have not been able to. Features such as a Siri answer or an incoming call will now display as a notification at the top of the screen opposed to stopping you from using your phone for other functions as previous. Video can now be collapsed to a smaller window and will still enable you to watch whilst you navigate through other apps.

Apple are now introducing App Clips which allows users to use a certain function of an app without actually having to download the full app. Now users can make a purchase in-app without downloading.

 

iPad, Apple Watch 6 & SE

The new iPad 8th gen has converted its port from the lightning cable to USB C in a move that sees it become more compatible with a universal, open hardware port. This will be using the new A14 Bionic chipset expected to power the new iPhone 12 when it arrives. The new eighth-generation iPad is joined by the new iPad Air, the powerful iPad Pro, and iPad mini. Prices start from $599.

New models of the watch see the introduction of many health features such as tracking sleep and monitoring blood oxygen levels, this feature can be used to help spot disease (I wonder what made them decide to introduce this) . The S6 chipset sees battery life and speed increase by 20%, while it can now use a brighter display.  The SE model is capable of many of the 6’s new features but obviously comes at a reduced cost, starting from $279.

 

AppleOne & Fitness+

Why not take your Apple TV, Music and new Fitness+ subscriptions and consolidate them into one place? Well now there’s AppleOne which allows you to take these services as a bundle whilst saving you a little bit of money at the same time. Prices range from $15-30 per month.

Fitness+ is Apple’s new venture into the digital workouts industry where offerings will include yoga and cycling and can integrate with your Apple Watch. These will be expected before the end of the year and a monthly subscription starts from $10.

 

To Sum Up

So, we didn’t get the expected new iPhone but there have been some interesting developments from Apple and the now available iOS 14. We have an insight into what kind of chip we might see in the new iPhone. We can see Apple expanding  further into fitness and creating a multi-media platform in AppleOne. Stay tuned for the (hopefully soon) announcement of the anticipated iPhone 12.

App Store Review Guidelines March 2020

apps on iphone

For the first time this decade, Apple has reviewed its guidelines to continue to provide the best possible service to app users. 77% of Apple devices less than four years old use iOS 13, so Apple believes all apps on the store should also be up to date with the iOS 13 SDK by April 30th. Keeping the store regulated and forcing apps to update is how they can ensure the best possible functionality for iOS users.

Developers need to make sure their apps fit within the new guidelines not to be removed from the store. If there are any issues with your app, the app store team will be in touch to inform you, from which point you have 30 days to get your app in order or it will be removed.

So, let’s have a look at some of the key points that you might want to be aware of before you wake up one day to your app having been removed.

App Store Review Prompting

Personalized prompts for reviews are no longer allowed. The Apple API for reviewing has been updated to be less intrusive and allows users to review an app without being forced to do so on the app store. With this they’ve also made it the only acceptable method of review prompting “we will disallow custom review prompts.”. You have been warned.

There’s also been a change to the way you’re allowed to reply to app reviews, “Keep your responses targeted to the user’s comments and do not include personal information”. It would be interesting to see some of the replies to bad reviews that meant they actually had to put this in the guidelines.

Data Collection

States are adopting new privacy laws quickly in 2020, CCPA began in January and more than 10 other states are in the process of reviewing their privacy laws. In accordance with the constantly tightening restraints on user data collection, there has been a new update that will affect a small number of apps. It’s vital that apps are in line with data protection laws as the penalties are severe. New additions to the review guidelines state, developers should not submit apps from highly regulated fields such as healthcare providers or financial services. These apps need to be submitted by the legal entities that provide the services or will be rejected. 

Saturated Markets

They’ve updated the markets that are considered saturated, so if you have one of these apps in the pipeline… sorry guys: 

“…the App Store has enough fart, burp, flashlight, fortune telling, dating, and Kama Sutra apps, etc. already. We will reject these apps unless they provide a unique, high-quality experience.”

If your ‘fart app’ keeps getting rejected, it could just be that it isn’t unique enough and not that it wasn’t a very good idea. On a serious note, there are probably quite a few dating apps in development right now that this will be a huge blow to… There’s always Android.

Push Notifications 

Once authorized by the app user, push notifications can be sent to their device for marketing purposes. Push notifications have always been and are still the best way to retain and engage users on your app. This now allows you to drive towards conversions with your messaging. Highly-target users based on their in-app behavior such as ‘funnel abandonment after add to cart’. This could be huge for app marketing, but it must be clearly stated that notifications will be used for such purposes in the app UI so users can opt-out. The only time these kinds of notifications will not be allowed is when the user has opted-out of receiving marketing push notifications, which all apps must now allow users to do from within the app.

Apple Sign-In

Apps that offer a third-party sign-in verification alternative such as Facebook or Google now have to also offer an Apple sign-in option. You’ll need to implement this in your app unless you fall into one of these categories Apple has exempted: 

  • Your app exclusively uses your company’s own account setup and sign-in systems.
  • Your app is an education, enterprise, or business app that requires the user to sign in with an existing education or enterprise account.
  • Your app uses a government or industry-backed citizen identification system or electronic ID to authenticate users.
  • Your app is a client for a specific third-party service and users are required to sign in to their mail, social media, or other third-party account directly to access their content.

Bundle IDs

Don’t create multiple bundle IDs for the same app. If your app has different versions for users depending on variables like location or favored sports team, then these will need to be available on the app store as one app. Once downloaded, the app can offer a specific version as an add-on. If you do upload the same app, say 32 times, adjusted so there’s one for each individual team in the NFL – this is considered spamming. They will all be removed/rejected along with risking your inclusion in the developer program.

Banned Apps

Apps that are now blanket banned are any that involve any kind of attempt to evade the law, where this only previously applied to apps such as those that show where DUI points are. Other apps that were previously and are still banned are those that encourage the use of alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs etc.

Submission for Review and After

If you’re looking to submit your app for review be aware it can take a while, there’s a thorough process involved in making sure apps adhere to these standards. Obviously, these aren’t all the steps you need to take to get your app on the iOS app store and you can read the most recent version of the review guidelines here.

Once your app has managed to finally pass the test, it will be available for download in the app store. It’s a dog eat dog world there and you might not be seeing the results you had hoped for. There are some ways you can increase your visibility and boost your user acquisition. Kumulos offer App Store Optimization as a feature, the best way to make sure you outshine your competitors at the first point of contact.

It’s a huge success if your app is downloaded but a lot of brands focus way too much on the number of downloads. Apps need to retain and engage users in order to see real business results. Kumulos gives you all the tools you need to keep users engaged and boost your retention rate including – rich, interactive mobile push and in-app messaging. Create loyal customers from your new downloads and boost your MAU with Kumulos.

Opt-in and Engage – Website Push Notification Success

ipad and laptop

Successful website push notification campaigns are judged on how many users opt-in and then engage with your message (hence the title). These two go hand-in-hand, so you’re going to need to think of a way to boost both to reap the benefits of your web push campaigns.

Luckily, you’re reading this blog and we’ve done the thinking for you… you’re welcome. What’s so great about web push notifications you ask? Well, the click-through-rate is 11% for cases of less than 5,000 subscribers, which is pretty impressive if you realize that it’s almost unheard of for the CTR to hit even 5% for email marketing. Web push opt-in is a really easy process too – just a few clicks, no download or email address required, and you’re set to send.

There’s been some recent changes to how browsers handle web notifications with safari and Firefox requiring a user to interact with a page before a prompt can be shown. The chrome update detects if users are likely to reject notifications based on previous choices and decides whether to show the user the prompt or not. Optimizing your opt-in process is now even more critical to gaining subscriptions.

In this post we look at some of the ways in which you can maximize the success of your web push campaigns from the opt-in, to the message and everything surrounding the notification. Get all the tools you can use to engage your users and boost your CTR.

 

Opt-in

Before you can send the user any form of notification, permission must be granted through the acceptance of notifications via an on-screen prompt through desktop or mobile web. The hard prompt must be accepted by the user to allow you to send the notifications to their device. There’s no way around this unfortunately, the hard prompts are browser specific, un-customizable and… (when on their own) very forgettable. They look the same from website to website which isn’t what we want. We want our prompts to get noticed. There are ways to help you stand-out at this first point of contact and obtain the elusive opt-in…

Soft Prompt Before Hard Prompt

Create your own engaging prompt that represents your brand and message that pops-up before the mandatory browser prompt. This is the ‘soft prompt’. While this won’t count as a subscription to notifications, it does give you more power over the process. It’s like a Jedi mind trick, once you appeal to the user with your own brand message, the hard prompt isn’t so scary anymore. These are fully customizable which means you can change it at any time to represent your current campaign.

                                 

    Example of a soft prompt                                     Example of a hard prompt on Chrome

 

Another benefit is that if the user is to reject your soft prompt, then this can be used to postpone the trigger of the hard prompt. A second soft prompt can be used at a later stage and if accepted at this point, can automate the trigger of the hard prompt, maximizing the chances of acquiring a subscription.

Subscription Overlays

This is an effective tool to emphasize the prompt. To use the website further the prompt must be actioned. An overlay gives weight to the process of answering the prompt, let your users know this isn’t just some random pop-up, you want them to opt-in.

A tip to get noticed – adjusting the opacity levels of the overlay makes the prompt stand out from the page and has statistically been shown to increase the opt-in rate.

Web push overlay example

Overlay used on Chrome

shopping.de subscription overlay edge

Overlay used on Edge

 

Time Your Prompts

As a first-time user to a website, most of the time you’re not entirely sure this is the right place for what you’re looking for. A quick browse around the website is a pretty good indication if you need to look elsewhere. If you enter a site and you’re going to check through a couple of things to see if the site is going to offer what you need… are you likely to accept to receive notifications from this website you know very little about? Before you’ve even had the chance to find out if this is what you’re looking for?

So, time your prompts and give the user some breathing space. If they’ve figured out who you are and what you do and they’re still hanging around… now send them a prompt! They’re more interested than the user that bounced straight back out of your website in 3 seconds. You don’t need to waste your resources like that.

Engage

So, with all those tips you should hopefully get a few more subscriptions, but there’s no point boosting your subscriptions if your engagement is still lacking. Be smart with your messaging to increase the open rate. Here are a few things you can be doing to appeal more to your audience.

Be Concise

There’s a considerable drop-off in engagement depending on how concise you can be with your messaging. A study on mobile push notifications by Localytics found that the optimum number of words for a push notification was 10 or fewer with a CTR of 8.8%, up to 20 words was then 4.9% and more than this at just 3.2%. This applies across the board for push messaging, no matter where you’re receiving it. Get your message across but don’t drag on about it, people want it short and sweet when it comes to notifications.

Target Your Message

Why broadcast a generic message to everyone who’s ever let you send notifications to them when you can make niche, targeted content and only send it to those that it applies to? Segmenting your audience is a far more effective way to get the results you want. Once a notification has been opened, 54% convert from a segmented push notification compared to only 15% from a broadcast message. Target users based on their onsite activity or who they are – allowing you to specifically target your chosen audience (e.g. only females, iOS users or those who have funnel drop off after cart abandonment.)

Limited Time Offers

You can get a quick response out of a user by putting a timescale on offers. People are more likely to react when they have the fear of missing out. Notifications need to be actionable and if you’re correctly segmenting and targeting, the message should be relevant to the user that receives it.

Frequency & Timing

Don’t overdo it. No one wants to receive notifications at all times of day and night. It lessens the value of the message and honestly… people find it irritating.

Don’t dilute your message by sending it more than once within a few hours unnecessarily and don’t have your user looking at their notifications to find 5-10 notifications from your website (they’re not going to read them). Find your optimum frequency to stay relevant to your users without becoming off putting.

You should also time your messages. Obviously different countries have different time zones; different working and sleeping hours. These are all ways you can time your messaging to be more in-tuned with the specifics of each individual user. If you’re a food delivery service – target around dinner time. If you’re a de-stress app for the end of the day – target later in the evening. Think about when your users will need you most and aim to be there at that time.

 

Where to Start

Now you have all the tools laid out in front of you, you can choose which of these tactics will work for your brand and find a formula to boost opt-ins and engagement for your users. If you’re doing it right, you’re going to retain these users and create loyal customers through your web push savvy.

At Kumulos we love website push notifications and recently added them to our award winning, omni-channel messaging platform. We offer you the opportunity to send rich push notifications and analyze results from both a technical and commercial standpoint. If you’re interested in web push notifications, then why not try a free Kumulos demo and see real business results for your website or app.

Goodbye Fabric, Hello Firebase

google logo

As of April 1st, Fabric will be no more… no it’s not a terrible, drawn-out April fool’s joke. Google has deprecated Fabric and moved Crashlytics services to its new home in Firebase. You’re probably already familiar with Firebase but if not, we’ll get to that. Google is taking the approach of streamlining its app development services and incorporating things together in one place. If you’re a Fabric loyalist, I’m sure you’ll adjust. To make the transition a bit easier for you, we’ve taken a look at crash reporting and how you can get up to speed and working better than ever in your new Firebase home.

Why Use Crash Reporting?

It’s easier to achieve desired conversions with an existing user than it is with a new acquisition, 85% more returning mobile users will ‘add to cart’ compared to new users. How do you expect to engage users and gain conversions on an app that isn’t functioning? If an app is only opened once in a 7 day period there’s a 60% chance the user will never open it again.  If your app crashes, you lose engagement meaning you’re more likely to lose the user.

Crash reporting simplifies the process of fixing fatal and non-fatal errors in your app. It’s your safety parachute when things go wrong. Spend crucial time fixing problems instead of struggling to find them first. There doesn’t have to be a user interaction for crash reporting to spot something isn’t working. You can stay ahead of the curve and fix things before your users even notice something isn’t right, helping you maintain a seamless UX.

Crashlytics & Fabric – The beginnings

Fabric began life in 2011 as Crashlytics- a humble start-up. If you’ve been in the game that long, you’ll probably remember this savior coming along to make crashes infinitely less stressful. Remember way back when apple added iOS crash reporting? If you couldn’t source an error you had to send your reports off to Apple for them analyze and get back to you days, even weeks later. I don’t remember this, I was actually still finishing school at the time and not really concerning myself with app crashes (unless it was Temple Run).

So, along Jeff Seibert and Wayne Chang came with this new cloud-based crash reporting solution. “Let’s make crash reporting easier!” …one of them probably said at some point, because that’s exactly what they did. Instead of the arduous process involved with fixing crashes, Crashlytics made it simple. Pinpointing the exact line of code causing your app to crash – prioritizing the errors and faults so you only need to fix the ones that were fatal to your app. It’s still doing this today (until April) but goes by the name ‘Fabric’ after being purchased in 2013 by Twitter for the bargain amount of $100 million dollars.

The Google Years

Google then purchased Fabric from Twitter for an undisclosed amount in 2017 but the following year made the decision to incorporate crash reporting into its 2014 acquisition Firebase.

You’re probably a Firebase user or at the very least, familiar with what it is. In layman’s terms Firebase is a collection of SDKs and tools to build, improve, and grow your app” (that one is an actual quote). It focuses on backend practice so that developers can worry about the front-end of the app, safe in the knowledge Firebase has got your back.

Firebase Crashlytics

So, since 2017 we’ve had Firebase Crashlytics. Did you know that, or have you been too preoccupied with using Fabric? It’s no new invention so you don’t need to feel like a guinea pig or be afraid to migrate over. It replaced ‘Firebase Crash Reporting’ when it was deprecated (Google’s favorite pastime), with the aim of becoming the sole crash reporting tool offered by Google when it replaced fabric. They released a timeline of the migration in the transition plan from 2018, so if this is all news to you, well you only have yourself to blame.

Migrating Over to Firebase

To not be caught out by this move you’re going to need to migrate. Migration is a relatively simple process through the Fabric migration flow. You have to make sure you have no code from Fabric that is going to interfere with the Firebase Crashlytics SDK. A full explanation of this will probably be useful, which you can find here.

Once all traces have been wiped, you can download your shiny new Firebase SDK. Unzip the folder and initialize Crashlytics within it. Watch it get to work and collect all your crash reports for you. Now, I stress that I simplified that process considerably in the interest of not writing the world’s worst blog post. Although, actually doing it still isn’t that difficult, so before you try it based on my skimming over the process, you can use the handy Google official migration guide instead.

Alternatives

Finally, if you’re not a fan of Google… or I was too slow publishing this and they’ve had Firebase deprecated, then you have some other options. One such tool for crash reporting is Raygun. Raygun crash reporting comes with a lightweight SDK that is easily integrated into your app. Limited services start from $19 per month for the basic package and $79 for a more comprehensive experience of the program. This would be the recommended package to get if you’re in the market for a crash reporting tool as the $19 version does have its limitations due to the caps on the service provided.

Here at Kumulos, we also offer crash reporting & diagnostics as part of our mobile user engagement platform. While you work hard to acquire and engage your audience, you’ll always struggle to retain users if your app crashes, has bugs or is slow. Why wouldn’t you want to see what kind of experience your users are having and use this information to adjust your retention and engagement campaigns accordingly? Why should you have to use two different Firebase SDKs or login to two different vendors to get this information?

Kumulos includes unlimited crash reporting and diagnostics starting from only $75 per month. Get alerted via Slack or Microsoft Teams and push crash reports to Trello or Jira to track the development and testing of the fix. Gone are the days of wondering why DAU is falling and your beloved app is suddenly getting one-star reviews. Kumulos gives you a single-pane-of-glass through which you can see both the commercial and technical performance of your app. Allowing you to feed this into intelligent, targeted messaging campaigns to retain and engage your audience. Book your free demo and see how Kumulos can help you safeguard the user experience in your app.