Tag: Mobile backend as a service

MAU vs DAU: How to measure mobile app retention

Mobile app rentention

Generating more downloads and attracting new users to your app can be (and generally is) an expensive business. It’s estimated that a 5% decrease in mobile app abandonment rates can actually increase overall app profitability from as little as 5% to as much as 95% (Bain and Company). While decreasing app abandonment rates can greatly improve profitability, it costs approximately 700% more to acquire a new mobile app user than to stimulate retention with existing users. If you’re running a mobile app development agency, it’s essential that you represent the best commercial and technical interests of your clients. Their success is your success and the best way to maximize the chances of a successful outcome is to focus on mobile app user retention.

Before we go further, here’s a great panel discussion on some of the issues that we’ll be writing about:

When it comes to developing mobile apps for your clients, your contribution won’t end when you deliver them their app. The days of being able to “drop-ship” an app to a client and walk away are over. Clients now expect you to be with them for the long haul, helping them make their app a success. With any clients app you have to ask yourself the question: how sticky is the app? In the same way that digital marketers are concerned with the engagement levels of blog content, videos and reviews (and a multitude of other types of content), app clients are concerned with one fundamental consideration: are my app users coming back for more? So serious mobile agencies are going beyond the design and development of great mobile apps. They are focused on how to leverage more value from those apps on behalf of your clients’. To do that they are increasingly thinking about how to measure retention.

Getting serious with mobile app retention

There’s a bunch of different ways to measure the retention performance of your clients mobile apps. Getting started with mobile app retention is all about understanding the needs of your app client, and each approach will possess its own merits and shortfalls in terms of selecting the right retention methodology. But the important thing is to focus on what matters. Bringing in new users at the top of the funnel via marketing efforts is totally superfluous if the bucket itself is full of holes and the UX of the app sucks. Mobile app retention is all about fixing the bucket, and making sure that the overall UX of your client’s app is adding genuine value to the experience of the user. So always start with the end in mind. It’s all too easy (and costly) bringing users in via paid channels, but getting them to hang around is a different ball game.

The purpose of mobile app user retention

The goal for each of your app clients is to convert each new app user into a paying customer or loyal advocate (depending on the industry sector and purpose of the app). Your job, as a mobile app agency owner, is to help take your clients on that journey. To to this it’s important to keep the purpose of what you’re trying to do clear: focus primarily on retaining the people you’ve already attracted and learn how to drive more engagement and revenue for your clients.
mau-vs-dau

Here’s a short article to give you some ideas on how to improve app engagement.

This will help you to grow a profitable app development agency, built around mobile apps that produce tangible results for your clients.

If your client’s mobile app is churning too many users after a single use, you have a serious problem, purely due to the cost of attracting new users vs. the cost of retaining existing app users. This comes back to the leaky bucket analogy, because the economics of filling the bucket in order to patch it up are incredibly costly and damaging to your client’s commercial welfare. This is why the economics of mobile app marketing will always favor retention over acquisition.  So with this in mind, consider very carefully how and where you invest your clients technical and commercial resources and always keep the end in mind: what does success look like? This is a difficult question to answer, but when it comes to industry benchmarks for mobile app retention, there are some guidelines, which will be covered later in the article. Based on the fact that you can only optimize what you already measure selecting the right retention methodology is the first step in the process.

Each mobile app client will view the science of retention from a slightly different perspective. If you’re developing a mobile game, you’ll live and die by the retention performance of the software on day one. If it sucks first time round post launch, you probably won’t get another chance to fix it. On the other hand, if your client has a B2B app where take-up will be slower, you might need to think about starting to track retention at a much later date, maybe month eighteen. The better you can understand their app, their commercial goals and the journey each of their users take through the app, the better positioned you’ll be to nurture it to success.  In order to choose the right mobile app retention methodology to use, you’ll need to understand which options are available. This is where snapshot retention comes in.

What is snapshot retention for mobile app users?

Snapshot retention is a specific method of measuring the retention rates of mobile app users. It refers to a retention methodology that’s based on a snapshot of time of mobile app user activity. This is one of the best places to start if you’re trying to figure out the easiest and most basic way to measure retention rates for your app clients. Start off thinking about your client’s business goals and what they want to achieve. If the launch of the app is being run in parallel with an expensive marketing campaign, and the goal is to generate paying customers quickly, you’ll need to snapshot different time periods. The first day will be essential, but it won’t provide the full picture and help to identify if the app is sticky. This may only become clear after several days or weeks (or possibly months and years), so it’s essential that you work out the best way to measure each snapshot of app user retention in terms of time. But what matters, is that when you’ve decided on the right time frame, you’ll end up with one very concise way to express mobile app user retention as a single metric (or ratio).

The MAU vs DAU ratio for mobile app user retention

The MAU vs DAU ratio is a great example of a snapshot metric, whereby the DAU’s and MAU’s are simply the number of unique mobile app users who engaged with your client’s mobile software during a specific time period. A DAU, or daily active user, measures the number of unique app users in any given one day time period (often you’ll be referring to the performance of your client’s app for the previous day). An MAU, or monthly active user, measures the total volume of unique mobile app users, who are active in any given month or thirty day timeframe. This will typically be a rolling thirty-day time window whereby you can glean performance insight not just by each calendar month, but also by a fixed or ‘windowed’ thirty-day time period.

mau-vs-dauOnce you have your MAU vs DAU metrics for a given timeframe, calculating mobile app retention rate is just a simple process of developing a ratio of DAU’s to MAU’s. Instinctively, when it comes to working with your app clients, this should represent the proportion of monthly app users that are active on a single day. Clearly, when it comes to enhancing the performance of your client’s app, the job is to increase the ratio, ensuring that you maximize the proportion of MAU’s who are liable to actively interact with their mobile app on a single day. Once you have the data, you’ll be in a position to make recommendations in terms of changes that can be made to the app, in order to cause a greater proportion of users to interact with the software on a regular basis. What you’re striving to achieve, is a ratio of one, because this means that every single mobile app user who engaged with the app in the last month, is active again on any chosen day.

Again, getting this part right will depend on the type of app your client has. Different apps will have different DAU/MAU benchmarks. It’s all to do with what the expected frequency of use should be. If it’s an app that is to do with something the user will do every day, then you’d expect the engaged user to be using the app daily. A diet tracking app for example. If it’s an app that you’d expect less frequent use, a restaurant booking app, then monthly may be the expected use frequency. It’s about setting the right benchmark use for the individual app. Irrespective, it’s essential to continually track the DAU/MAU ratio, to make sure its getting better and not worse. A falling ratio is a good lead indicator that things need addressing.  Rule of thumb, for most mobile apps, 0.20 DAU/MAU is considered to represent decent level of engagement. So generally speaking, if 20% of MAU’s are interacting with the app on a daily basis, this is good. Another option is to consider using a DOD (or ‘day over day’) retention metric.

What is day-over-day (DOD) retention for measuring mobile app performance?

DOD retention is much like the MAU/DAU ratio, but provides a detailed snapshot metric. With DOD retention analysis of mobile app user behavior, you simply establish the ratio of the app users who are active today and yesterday, relative to the number of app users who were only active yesterday. This retention measurement ratio symbolizes the proportion of users who are liable to use your client’s app regularly in a short timeframe. In order to calculate this ratio, you establish the number of users who were active yesterday and today, and divide by the total number of users who were only active yesterday.

The constraints and limitations of snapshot retention for measuring mobile app performance
Helping your clients succeed and nurturing their apps to success, it’s going to be important establishing a mechanism for measuring mobile app users. Some of the methods detailed in this blog post represent a good starting position and will increase your client’s chances of success in mobile. As always, your ability to track the right data points will depend on your ability to garner the right information, and this means having a robust analytics platform. You must always ensure that this has been considered at the front end of your client’s project. You need to think about developing a clear and concise series of KPI’s and understand in detail how snapshot retention can bolster performance over time. But snapshot retention metrics are relatively simple in their nature, and do possess certain drawbacks and constraints:

  • These techniques will determine all mobile app users who are active only during a certain snapshot, regardless of when their first touch point was with your clients app
  • This provides very little or no distinction between mobile app users who are completely new to the software, and habitual mobile app users who could be considered as advocates or evangelists
  • Determining the cause of why specific data patterns appear in the analytics can be extremely difficult and understanding how to improve mobile app performance and knowing what to do can be ever harder.

That said, having the data that helps you build insight into how the app is performing at least arms you to ask the right questions and dig for the solutions.

How to avoid an unhealthy DAU/MAU ratio

So you’ve spent months, designing, developing, testing and polishing your client’s mobile app and it’s now ready for launch. You’ve established your KPI’s and key measures of success. You’ve also integrated an analytics package that enables you to track mobile app retention performance. Now what?

mau-vs-dauThe classic mistake to make when launching a new mobile app for your client is to focus on creating a bloated MAU ratio. If you accompany the launch of the app with an integrated marketing campaign, you’ll likely see a huge spike in activity in the first day or two after launch. Adopting this type of ‘Hollywood or bust’ approach, whereby you rely solely on the success of an initial marketing flurry, is liable to result in failure and an unhappy app client.  Getting this process right requires time and making sure you know when to bring new users in at the top of the funnel. The best time to bring new users in at the top of the funnel, is when you know that your bucket is fixed, and you’ve maximized the probability that the greatest number of users possible will use the mobile app on a regular basis.

The problem is that all too often, an impressive MAU metric is viewed as being a positive thing. What tends to happen, is that users who were acquired as part of a ‘Hollywood or bust’ style marketing campaign, will possess a significantly higher churn rate than other mobile users. The fact of the matter is your client does need a large MAU metric. Your client wants the type of mobile app user who isn’t just a passer by. Your client wants the type of app user who discovers the software and sticks around because the features contained within the app are delivering something of value to them. The net effect of this type of marketing approach, is usually a weak DAU/MAU metric and the key to solving this problem lies in relentless and pragmatic approach to measuring and refining the onboarding and in-app experience. What’s more, an initial burst of marketing activity will impact the MAU metric within the first thirty days, but it wont explain what’s actually happened or why. So a good MAU metric on its own is a vanity measure and one that offers very little insight into whether the app is succeeding or not.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the best way to approach this problem on behalf of your app clients is to tread a careful line between mobile app user acquisition and retention. Yes, you need to bring users into the app in order to test if the bucket has holes, and this involves marketing be it paid or organic. But the trick here is not to over invest in marketing that is ultimately the equivalent of pouring water in a bucket full of holes. You need to pour in just enough water, without over investing; in order to get the right data to inform how you fix the UX issues associated with your client’s app.

If you’re a mobile app agency looking to bolster the retention performance of your client’s mobile app (or apps), Kumulos can help. Our Mobile App Agency Platform comes with integrated app Analytics to let you measure engagement and Push Notifications to manage engagement programs. This lets you offer your clients App Engagement Services that helps drive the right outcome for your clients and get apps on retainer, so you build reliable recurring revenue streams for your business.

You can sign-up here today to learn more.

MAU vs. DAU AND MORE

OK, so we’ve told you about MAU vs. DAU, but what about when you have MORE questions about your mobile app business? No worries – we’re here to help. That’s why we’ve started a FREE business webinar series to help out mobile software development agencies.

The webinars are intended for Business Owners, CEO’s, Sales & Marketing VP’s and Commercially minded CTO’s. They’re 100% business focused, so they’ll give you ideas on how to drive more retainer based income for your Mobile App Development Business.

Feel free to look at some of our past webinars, or take a gander at some of our upcoming sessions. These webinars are popular and seats are limited, so be sure to register early.

The Key to Analyzing User Retention in Your Mobile App

analyzing user retention

A successful product, in pretty much any category, is not defined (just) by how many people are using it, but (also) how many people are using it – frequently.

Think about it – if you hear a really good song on the radio – you’ll probably want to hear it a hundred more times. If you find an awesome restaurant in a back alley somewhere, you’ll keep coming back for that teriyaki wok. So what do radio editors and restaurant managers do when they notice you like the song/food? Radio editors might keep playing the same song every day. Restaurant managers might send a glass of wine your way, on the house, to let you know they appreciate you coming every once in awhile.

The same thing as with apps – important as it is to have people downloading your app, that doesn’t mean you’ve completed your work. On the contrary, my dear Watson – only then is your true task just beginning.

Building the app is the easy part – now you need to focus on making people return to the app. In turn,  transforming them to regular users and giving you various chances for monetization. That is the true challenge here – to get as big of a retention rate as possible, and to convert one-time users into regular returnees.

Analyzing user retention

The best way to measure how successful an app is to track retention. Some may argue that engagement is the best way to go – but not all apps are created equal. While some (for example, Shazam) might have fairly low engagement, others (Facebook) might have it high. That doesn’t mean both apps won’t be able to monetize properly, which is why it is best to focus on retention.

Retention is a metric allowing you to see how many people are returning to the app. As you try to engage with them, retention will help you understand which parts of your app are working and which are not. This will help you make tweaks in order to keep your users coming back for more. By constantly making improvements, you will keep your users and keep that conversion rate high.

If you want to measure retention, you need to understand how often users are returning in a set period of time. That is best done through cohort analysis, which groups together people who have started using your app at approximately the same time and shows you, in percentages, how many are returning.

Through cohort analysis, you can look for specific patterns in behavior, identifying your most loyal users, as well as those that were the first to quit. By looking at specific groups, cohort analysis can help you figure out if your retention strategies are bearing fruit or not.

analyzing user retention

Example of retention cohorts

Now, we won’t go in depth on what you need to do to keep your users engaged, and coming back for more – that’s a whole other post(s) in and of itself. Assuming you already know, and have devised a strategy, we will just focus on how to measure the success of that strategy: user retention. In particular, we’ll  on that little extra you can do to improve that analysis.

Quantity craves quality

Quantitative analytics will tell you plenty about your app and its users – it can tell you the number of downloads over a specific timeframe. It can tell you how many active users your app has, how long they stick around, and how often they come back. You can get plenty of information about the time of day, week and month when your app is at its highest, and lowest points.

But all that information won’t help you improve the retention rate among cohorts, as it tells you very little about the experience users are having with your app. It doesn’t tell you what they’re doing when they open the app up, what they find most enjoyable, and what they’re struggling hardest with. The time of day when people use the app will tell you very little about the frustrations of a poor user interface, or if you have a non-working button, somewhere in the app.

For that, you’ll need that ‘little extra’ we mentioned earlier – qualitative analytics. All the engagement users have with the app, including tapping, swiping or pinching. Which parts of apps they interact with most, and which are just there to collect digital dust. All that information, which can prove invaluable to improving user experience, thus improving retention, is accessible through visual app analytics – something Appsee, for example, has to offer.

Now we will go through some the features visual mobile app analytics can offer, which can be a gamechanger when it comes to improving retention rates.

Touch Heatmaps

First up are touch heatmaps. This feature will place a visual layer over the entire app to show you exactly where people tap, pinch and swipe within the app. Using the same color-coding principle thermal goggles use, the feature will show you which parts of the app are used the most, and which are being neglected.

touch heatmapsHere’s an example of how touch heatmaps can help you improve retention. Let’s say you have an app with a login screen. It allows your users to log into the app using either a custom account, or their Facebook and Google accounts. In that screen, you’ve noticed through touch heatmaps, that a lot of people are swiping across the bottom of the screen, looking to proceed without registering, or logging in at all. After they realize they can’t enter the app without registering, they quit, never to be seen again.

This might prompt you to create a ‘Enter as Guest’ feature, solving an important issue for a group of users, effectively improving on the overall user experience and beefing up that retention rate. That is exactly what touch heatmaps can do – the feature will give you more insight into user behavior, which is essential to understand if you want to improve the user experience, and ultimately – retention.

For more examples of how touch heatmaps can improve your mobile user interface, make sure to check out this infographic, as well.

User Recordings

Real-time, information sensitive session recordings of users interacting with your app can be crucial to your app’s success. This feature will let you see exactly how users engage with your app, what they do, if and where they get stuck, and which parts of your app cause frustrations.

user recordings

For example, if you have a mobile game and you notice that many people reach level 10 and just quit there. You know that a lot of people quit there, but don’t really know why. By watching a replay of a user session, you could potentially find a design flaw which makes it close to impossible to finish the level, frustrating users and making them quit.

Or another example. Let’s say you have a shopping app. One of the biggest challenges for many shopping apps is that people tend to abandon their carts (shopping cart abandonment rate for mobile is at a stunning 97 percent). You see that they’re quitting, but can’t point a finger at a concrete issue. By watching user sessions, you realize that many users experience multiple issues before actually making the purchase.

Events like these happen all the time, and only by visualizing what your users are experiencing, you can optimize your user interface to keep your retention rates high, bring back old users and even onboard new ones. Session recording is the most powerful qualitative analytics tool, as it literally puts you into the shoes of the user and allows you to experience both good and bad sides of your app. Understanding your users’ troubles can help you build better future versions, and there is no better way for user retention than actually solving the problems they’re having.

Monitor, optimize, rinse and repeat

User retention is a process – not an event. You are never done optimizing your app. If you want to keep your users engaged and keep them coming back for more, you need to be engaged as well.

It all comes down to monitoring, optimizing, then repeating the process.

Every strategy, user retention included, needs to be based on solid, actionable data. Quantitative data can tell you a lot about who your users are and how much time they spend with your app, but it won’t tell you how they actually feel using it, and if they’re experiencing hair-pulling moments.

Through qualitative analytics, and tools such as touch heatmaps and session recordings, you will be able to understand exactly where the problems and nuisances lie within your app, and where your focus needs to be next. And that information is, without a doubt, essential to optimizing your retention strategies.

Hannah Levenson is the Content Marketing Manager at Appsee .  A UX and mobile app enthusiast, she has a great affinity for discovering and sharing unique insights and resources with the mobile tech community. Hannah also loves photojournalism, classic rock, and pretending that she’s the only one with a “foodie” Instagram account. You can follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahLevenson.

Five Steps for Building a Successful Mobile App

image of phone - twitter

Mobile apps are so ubiquitous nowadays that almost all companies can think of at least one way in which an app could enhance their business. On top of this, an increasingly large number of hugely successful companies have an app at their very heart – just think of Uber, Shazam and Flipboard if you need a few examples.

Whether you want to build an app to provide a better service to your customers, or build a whole new company around an app in the hope of becoming the next big thing, it’s important to consider certain things before you get started.

This article lists five steps for building a successful mobile app – don’t begin your app development  without reading them!

1. Gain a clear idea of what you’re aiming for

This may sound really obvious, but it’s extremely common to hear of companies wanting an app (after all, “everyone else has got one”) without really having a clear idea of what it’s going to do. These unfocused people can land themselves in a whole range of undesirable situations; Unfocused thinking leads to an unfocused app – and modern technology users are a demanding bunch with a short attention span.

If you don’t have clear ideas, you are at risk of being provided with ideas by app developers who are often only trying to help. While it’s essential to work in partnership with your developers, it’s crucial to start out with a spec for what’s actually needed. The people who best know what your app needs to do are people within the business and, if the company is already in operation, the customers.

2. Be prepared to treat your app as an ongoing project or business

A HUGE misconception about apps is that they are a “job and finish” task. If this were remotely true, we’d never see software updates, and apps would all look the same as they did five years ago!

Even if you don’t think the core of your app will change much, there’s absolutely no way that you won’t have to treat your app almost as a living being.

Technology will move on, customers will demand new features, and sometimes something as simple as an operating system upgrade will require some coding for compatibility. So don’t think of an app as something that’s done once it’s built. This is merely the first step in the journey. This is even more relevant if the app is at the core of your business!

3. Keep an open mind on pricing

There’s no doubt that you’ll be able to find individuals who will build you an app “on the cheap,” such as students who’ve just learned objective C, or inexpensive off-shore freelancers.

image of moneyUnless you’re happy to manage them extremely closely and shoulder some risk, think really carefully about taking this route and allowing a “race to the bottom” in terms of price. As per the previous tip, creating your app is not a one-off job if you want to take it seriously, and plenty of people come unstuck when they end up with an app that’s unsupportable because nobody really understands how it was put together in the first place. This was (and remains) the case with website and database projects too.

What you should pay for an app is a quintessential “how long’s a piece of string?” question. The answer is probably a little more than you’d hoped, but not as much as you’d feared! According to the folks at Dogtown Media, app development can run anywhere from $25,000 up to $500, 000 (and beyond).  Finally, remember that you need to account for the ongoing development and support for your app, and not focus on a one-off headline price.

4. Get a prototype ready

Nothing puts the nails in the coffin of an app more than launching it without proper testing. Consumers can be savage when an app doesn’t provide instant gratification and will show no mercy in uninstalling and leaving a negative review – which (of course) will put off future customers.

For this reason, it’s essential to create a prototype and test it to within an inch of its life, perhaps with a select group of beta testers, before letting it anywhere near the public. Bear in mind too that, as discussed above, your first app release will be a 1.0 version!

This is widely known as a “Minimum Viable Product.” Within days (if not hours) of releasing this, you’ll probably start to think of new features that should be incorporated into version 1.1 and beyond!

5. Launch only when ready!

space shuttle launchingIt’s really unwise to set a date to release your app and stick to it regardless of what happens. Do you want an app released on time to widespread negative reviews, or an app released several weeks late to widespread acclaim? Hopefully the answer is obvious.

Once you have launched, you’ll want to see how your app is performing – obviously the reviews will give you a broad picture, but you can go way beyond this by using mobile analytics to find out exactly how customers are using your app. Analytics will help you find which features are working and which your users are engaging with. From there you can go back, refine, improve, and move towards the next version – just as we discussed above.

What do you think? Any steps we left out for building a successful mobile app? Feel free to leave a comment below! 

3 Ways to Optimize Agency Push Campaigns

optimize push campaign on a phone

Push campaigns and push notifications always play a crucial role when it comes to app engagement and monetization. If you’re a mobile app agency delivering push campaigns for clients, a well optimized push campaign, that utilizes highly personalized, timely and relevant push messaging, can help to bring dormant users back into your client’s app. It can also help to stimulate deeper levels of engagement with users who are already frequently using the app and casual app users can be prompted to make a purchase. We recently explored the steps you should take to create your first successful agency push campaign and how to grow recurring revenue using push. In this post, we’ll be exploring how to optimize push campaigns.

When you’re delivering targeted push campaigns for your app clients, there’s nothing worse than deploying the wrong messages to the wrong users. Providing context and value in a timely way, with the right degree of cadence and frequency, is absolutely key – but getting to this point can be  tricky. The only way to accelerate your progress, and deliver better results for your clients in the long-term, is to get serious with the data and campaign analytics.

Push messaging is also the best way to engage and monetize users while also preventing them from  abandoning and deleting the app. If you’re already running a push campaign for your agency clients, it’s time to start thinking about how you can leverage the power of your campaign analytics to deliver better results.

If you’re looking to optimize your push campaigns, here are some of the things you should consider:

1) Work out how to increase push opt-in rates

All mobile app users are familiar with the message that appears when an app is first downloaded requesting opt-in to future push messaging campaigns. The reality is that most users will elect not to opt-in to your clients push campaign. App users will spend time downloading many apps, but will only opt-in to a small percentage of push campaigns in order to avoid promotional message overload. You need to work with your app client to understand how you can get permission to access the user’s home screen. The best way to do this is to ask for permission at exactly the right time and avoid making it too easy for app users to opt-out. You need to provide a clear call-to-action and provide a value statement in terms of what the app user can expect to gain as a consequence of an opt-in. This is all about trust and convincing the app user that you will not deploy push messaging that is irrelevant, overly frequent and overly intrusive.

When it comes to increasing push opt-in rates, the best way to get started is to benchmark your current performance. The rate at which users opt-in to push campaigns will vary massively depending upon the type of app you’ve developed for your client. But the key is to understand your current level of performance using your analytics package and develop a performance improvement program. You can get started by working out the total number of downloads your app has received and dividing this number by the total volume of app users who have opted in. This will provide a clear picture of the ratio of app users that opt-in to push messaging versus the total number of downloads. What you;re trying to achieve is to increase the number of users who opt-in relative to the overall number of downloads. If your clients app currently receives a 20% opt-in rate, think carefully about how you can increase the number to 30%, 40% or even as high as 50%.

You should also think about providing a clear time frame in which you expect this to happen and work towards that goal. Remember, it’s essential that you manage the expectations of your app client and constantly strive to under-promise and over-deliver. The only way you can create a realistic level of expectation is to benchmark current performance and implement a series of measures that will help your client work towards their push opt-in goals.

For example, if you tell your client you can increase opt-in rates from 20% to 50% within a 3 month time frame, you’ll need to have a fixed idea of the actions you plan to use in order to make this happen. If you’re unsure, or not confident you can hit the numbers, go back to the drawing board and create a series of targets that are sensible. You’ll need to focus on timing, using a clear call-to-action at opt-in level and a clear statement of why the app user should opt-in.

Test different messaging techniques in terms of creative copy and make sure you get the timing right. You should check the analytics to test the performance of each variation and triple down on the tactics that consistently deliver a higher percentage of opt-in’s relative to the overall number of app downloads.

2) Create user segments and strive to improve relevancy

For most mobile agencies, managing push notifications for app clients can be a tricky business. There is always one sure fire way to get push messaging campaigns wrong, and that’s to adopt a blanket bomb approach whereby you deploy a one-size-fits-all message to an entire audience. The reality is, that within any push audience, the same message will not be applicable to all users. The way to overcome this is to segment your app clients push audience into different groups based on behavioral and spending characteristics.

One easy way to get started with audience segmentation, is to break down your audience according to who have made a purchase (assuming monetization is your goal) and app users who are yet to buy. If you have assets that can be used to stimulate engagement for app users who are early in the buying cycle (such as a whitepaper, questionnaire or downloadable report), you can even create a three phase approach whereby users can be organized into early buying cycle, mid buying cycle and late buying cycle.

Again, if monetization is what your app client wants, you can start by focusing on users who have already made a purchase and send push messages that promote in app purchases. You can further segment the app users who have paid already into bands, from light spenders, to mid-tier spending users, all the way up to the ‘whales’ (these are the small percentage of users that create the vast majority of revenue from within your customers app). Using your push analytics, you can target the whales with high-ticket promotional offers and provide more cost effective alternatives for app users who are deemed to be more price sensitive.

If app users have lapsed in terms of engagement, you can ping them a push message offering them a free trial or a special discount. You can also think about analyzing which of your users have the most social connections and incentivize them to share with their network of friends.

There are a million different ways to segment your app client’s audience. But the key is to use your analytics package to focus on adopting the tactics that you can prove will consistently deliver results. The aim of the game is to push app users through the buying cycle, from people who have never made a purchase all the way through to the big spenders. Again, if you’re currently adopting a one-size fits all approach, you’ll need to benchmark the existing performance of your efforts, create a plan in terms of your goals and establish a timeframe in which you can achieve targets for your app client. It’s important to have regular meetings with your app client to explore the analytics, explain your rationale in terms of how you can improve the performance and produce regular reports that outline how your agency is performing relative to the agreed plan of action.

3) Focus on the right data points

When it comes to push campaign analysis and ongoing push campaign optimization, it’s better to do the right thing badly than the wrong thing well. In other words, you can do an OK job of analyzing the right data points and get results, but if you’re focused on the wrong things, you’ll never succeed on behalf of your clients – no matter how hard you try. Sometimes, the right data points to analyze are not always the most obvious ones. It’s easy to look at the wrong metrics and focus on doing the wrong things. Very often, app open rates will feel like the right thing to analyze, but might not adequately reflect the end goal of your clients campaign. Unless the end goal of the campaign is to reinvigorate lapsed or dormant app users, then this is not the KPI you should be focused on.

So in order to focus on the right data points, you need to understand what success loptimize push campaigns for app performanceooks like on behalf of your app client. You should involve your app client at the very start of the push messaging campaign and work out exactly what they want to achieve. This will depend upon their own commercial goals and objectives.

Once you have a clear understanding of what your app client wishes to achieve, you should develop a smart set of goals that you can work towards. You should track, via reporting, on an ongoing basis the success of the push campaign relative to the original objectives. If you’re over performing, you can raise the bar and increase the targets (this is a sure fire way to consistently delight your app clients), or if things aren’t going according to plan, you need to ensure that the clients expectations are too high, or that you’re simply not doing the right things in order to help them hit their goals.

If the goal is to increase sales revenue, it’s absolutely essential that you learn to track sales conversions. If the goal of the campaign is to stimulate social virility, you need to triple down on the number of app download invites sent versus the number of invites accepted. Working out what to analyze doesn’t need to be a permanent fix either, you can always change the focus of your analysis as the campaign develops and in conjunction with your customers commercial goals (these may also change over time).

The key is to be flexible, create a sensible starting point based on your app clients requirements, and analyze and adapt the campaign over time, according to what works and the overarching strategic objectives. Use your analytics to chart where you are in reality, relative to your goals and app KPI’s. Once you have an understanding of how your clients push campaign is performing relative to the campaign goals, you can develop a strategic roadmap that enables you to continuously optimize your push campaigns.

Why Optimize Push Campaigns?

If you’re a mobile agency developing apps for clients, you’ll already be aware of the value of implementing a well crafted push campaign to decrease opt-out rates, increase app engagement and stimulate monetization. Launching your first push campaign can feel like a daunting process, but this can be a key driver when it comes to developing recurring revenue for your company. But getting push messaging campaigns right involves serious commitment to the data and analytics in order to optimize the performance of each app on behalf of your customers.

Remember, their success equals success for your agency – so it’s essential that you’re providing the right advice at the right times. You’ll need to focus on how to increase opt-in rates (depending on your client’s objectives), how to improve push messaging relevance through audience segmentation AND develop a plan that only factors in the most important areas of data analysis.

App Backend Design (Part 2 of 3)

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The App Build feature in Kumulos is a mobile Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) on which you can very easily and quickly build and host your App Backend. App Build provides secure, scalable SQL based data storage in the cloud that can then be accessed and manipulated via a REST API and/or RPC API methods from one of our many client SDKs including iOS, Android, PHP, Windows, OSX and more. This leaves you free to focus on building the rich UI and UX that your clients crave, without having to worry about the hosting and availability of your app backend.

In part 1, we looked at how to design the relational data model for your app backend with Kumulos. Now, in part 2, we’re going to use these example data models to implement your app backend in Kumulos, showing how this then allows related data to be retrieved from a single API method.

Implementing one-to-many relationships in Kumulos

In part 1, we used the example of a mobile application that allowed users to upload and share photos to illustrate how the one-to-many relationship can be used to model related data. We also showed how this relationship can be implemented using a Belongs To field. We’re now going to look in detail at how to implement this data model for your app backend.

First off, we need to add a table to store a user’s name and the date of their birthday.

app backend users table

Next up, we need to create a photos table, containing a data field for the photo data, a title and a description.

app backend photos table

A photo has a photographer who took the photo, and any given user has a collection of photos. The Belongs To field is used to express the one-to-many relationship as follows:

This record belongs to ‘Users’ as (their) ‘photos’. This record has a ‘photographer’.

When a user is deleted, any photos that they’ve taken will also be deleted.

We can extend our data model further and introduce the ability for users to comment on photos. To do this, we need to add a comments table to store comments on photographs.

app backend comments table

This table used two Belongs To fields to implement two one-to-many relationships. First, we say that the comment has an associated photo, and the photo has a collection of comments.

Next, we say that the comment also has a creator (a user who posted it) and therefore each user has a collection of posted comments.

Because a comment belongs to both a user and a photograph, when either the owning user or photo are deleted, the comment will also be deleted.

“postedComments” is used instead of “commentsPosted” because Kumulos determines the relationship type from whether or not the word in the “as” section is singular or plural. So, you must use phrases ending with either a plural (for one-to-many relationships) or singular (for one-to-one relationships) noun.

Implementing many-to-many relationships in Kumulos

In part 1, we used the example of a mobile application that allowed users to share their favourite meals to illustrate how a many-to-many relationship can be created using  two one-to-many relationships. Lets look in more detail at how to implement such a data model for your app backend.

Lets add a table to store information about people. Essentially we want to know their name and why they like food.

app backend people table

We’ll now add another simple table storing a title, description, and the name of a chef who is famous for the meal.

app backend meals table

Now, here’s where the magic of this data model happens. We add a favorite meals table to store the link between a person and a meal. It also stores what the person likes most about the meal.

app backend favorite meals table

The many-to-many relationship between people and meals has been captured by these two one-to-many relationships:

  1. One person has many favorite meals (through connoisseur)
  2. One meal is the favorite dish of many connoisseurs

So, to select a person’s favorite meals, you should select from favorite meals (including the meal record) and filter the select by the person’s ID. Similarly if you want to know who likes a particular meal, select from the favorite meals table (including the connoisseur) and filter by the meal ID.

Because a favorite meal belongs to both a person and a meal, if you delete a person then the entries for their favorites will be deleted but the meal itself wont. The same is true if you delete a meal. Any people who like that meal will stay put but any trace of them ever liking it will disappear.

Fetching related data from your app backend

Having added Belongs To fields above to implement the one-to-many and many-to-many relationships in your app backend, you can now exploit these relationships to fetch related data from your app backend with a single API method. When you create a new API method with a select action, the API editor will allow you to include records linked by “Belongs To” in your result from select actions.

Using our mobile application for sharing photos as an example, we can add a new API method on the photos table.

app backend create api method

Then, we can check the comments box to say that we want the related row(s) from the comments table returned with each row from the photos table. Neat huh!

app backend return related data

In Part 3, we will look at how we can go a step further and filter the data you fetch from or update in your app backend based on the data it is related to. But again, if you cannot wait until then, further information can be found in the docs.

The iPhone 5C, Apple’s salvation or poison?

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The rumour mill has been turning in overdrive since Apple’s announced September 10th 2013 conference date. We all speculating exactly what Cupertino are going to bring to the table after what feels like a long hiatus.

The 5C has had a lot of attention in the leaks circuit. Photos are cropping up daily, but we’ve not had an official yay or nay from Apple (not that’d we expect one, honestly).

The question, and we’ve looked at this a little bit before, is just what the 5C is going to do for Apple upon its release.

Apple is built on a premium branding, it’s whole design ethos is aesthetics, user experience and quality based. Releasing a budget handset seems like a step in the wrong direction when you take all that into account. It seems like it will cheapen the brand, add that plasticy tinge to an otherwise shiny metallic logo.

But then, the 5C isn’t for the premium crowd to begin with.

It’s for the emerging markets in India and China, and it’s for those of us who like our SIM only packages and aren’t as fussed as to whether we have the latest and greatest piece of hardware. After all, and it’s sometimes hard to believe when your daily existence is to keep yourself up to date with the cutting edge, but not everyone wants to be running a 2 month old handset that can run half the stock market on its own. A good majority of customers just want a handset that’s capable, reliable and of good quality; and the 5C will likely provide all that in spades.

It also makes business sense for Apple because their only budget offerings right now are the 4 and 4S, and they’re still being manufactured with aluminium and glass, which is expensive. The margins are low on these handsets now, and their 3.5inch form factor just doesn’t really cut it these days. The 5C will have the same size and shape as the 5 but will be much cheaper for Apple to produce.

When thought of that way, it looks like we could be onto a winner. What it may also do is inspire a whole new range of iOS app opportunities as those who couldn’t afford an iPhone before now suddenly have one in their grasp.

Whatever the case, Kumulos will be here to support your app development project from its initial conception all the way through to its launch and beyond. Our Mobile Backend as a Service is designed by app developers, for app developers. So why not contact us today?

 

Amazon.com goes down as well, not to be alarmist but…

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Almost seems like there’s a pattern here doesn’t there?

In the last week; Facebook’s ban bot went mental and kicked a whole bunch of users, Google went down for a few minutes and took 40% of the internet with it, and finally Amazon.com went down for half an hour yesterday, dragging the Canadian site down with it.

Then there’s the fact that the NYT went down, and CNN and the Washington Post were hacked.

All these big bastions of the internet seems to be dropping like flies right now, and although paranoia is what the internet does best, it seems interesting to the casually observant eye that all of these big services have suffered glitches so close together.

“It’s very unusual to see such a number of high-profile websites all suffering peak-time outages within the course of a few days of each other,” said Chris Green, principal technology analyst at the Davies Murphy Group consultancy.

“People are going to be very interested to know exactly what the reasons were for the incidents that are still unexplained because the implications are huge: we’ve seen everything from users being unable to see their email to visitors and third-party retailers who use Amazon’s marketplace being unable to buy and sell goods – all happening seemingly with no warning.”

(source: BBC news)

So what are the explanations?

Hacking groups getting uppity? China or Iranian military trying to steal some more data? Could it be Skynet flexing its online muscles for the coming apocalypse?

Let’s hope it’s not the latter.

What’s interesting is that there’s been no press release from the major companies stating the causes of these faults. We shall have to see.

Until we find out, you can rely on Kumulos’s Mobile Backend as a Service to be reliable, and not associated with any apocalyptic machines. Promise. So why not get in touch?

Unbuntu Edge crowdfunding breaks record, but that won’t save it

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At Kumulos, reported a little while ago about the Ubuntu Edge, the Linux powered smartphone that, if it gets funding, will be easily the most powerful phone on the market for a good while. The company behind it, Canonical (which also created the Ubuntu Mobile OS), started a crowdfunding effort on Indiegogo, to the somewhat absurd tune of $32 million.

There was a lot of skepticism surrounding the crowdfunding project, and understandably. $32 million is 3 times the highest crowdfunding record ever recorded by Pebble on Kickstarter of $10 million. But the makers of the edge continued undaunted and now, they have officially broken the crowdfunding record set by Pebble, pulling in over $10 million.

However, with only a week to go, it seems increasingly unlikely that anyone is going to see their Edge.

This is quite a sad case of too much hope being put in the generosity of strangers, but also an interesting study of where the potential limits of crowdfunding lie. With Pebble and now the Edge topping out at around 10 Million, is it a sign that crowdfunding can only potentially take you perhaps as far as say, $15 million before people’s interest wanes. We all only have so much money after all.

What has been said to Canonical is that they should have been seeking more traditional funding as well, VC, Angel Investors and the likes; which makes sense. These rounds of funding can push a project’s budget up immensely in a short space of time.

This isn’t to say that Canonical have had no interest, they’ve been in talks with large manufacturers and have been praised for going straight to the buyers to find the project; as they are the ones who will ultimately be the users.

With a week left to go, it will be interesting to see if Canonical can pull something out the bag that pushes their successful, but not successful enough campaign over the edge (pun intended).

For now though, we’ll just have to see if the all powerful dual boot Android/Ubuntu monster phone see the light of day. Until that time, if you’re an app developer looking for a Mobile Backend as a Service, we at Kumulos have got you covered with a powerful, customisable Mobile Backed as a Service that’s designed to let you the user, get exactly what you want from it.

So why not get in touch today?

UPDATE 2017: If you stumbled on this article and want to know a little more about the whole Ubuntu Edge episode, here’s the Wikipedia page.

Internet popularity and gaming the system

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In marketing these days, virility is everything. Why spend thousands on a TV advert that people are most likely to switch off of when you can make something catchy, post it online and bang, you’ve got hundreds of thousands of people talking about you and your company. Just look at Psy (remember him?); despite Gangnam Style seeming to be an accident, it really was nothing of the sort. Go back and watch the video with a neutral eye; it has all the hallmarks of an incredibly clever plan to hook people in.

It’s got a catchy tune, a singer that looks and sounds unique (to western audiences anyways), he’s doing all kinds of zany things that you instantly want to mention to your friends and, of course, there’s a dance that’s as silly as it is fun and easy to learn. Package all that up and you have one of the biggest cultural phenomenons of 2012.

There was no good reason not to share Gangnam Style, and as soon as the shares and the likes started coming, they carried on in a state of perpetual growth. This is the power of social proof at its finest.

Incidentally, Apple understand the power of social proof all too well. Their products are expensive, deliberately so. Sure, the build quality is solid, but that’s no reason to charge an extra $300 for a computer with, let’s face it, average specs for the price. It’s the same with the iPhone. Compare it to any flagship Android currently in terms of tech specs and it falls flat on its face; and yet iPhones are consistently more popular overall. Why is this? To those who value performance over pure aesthetics, it can be baffling; but it’s simple really. Apple is premium, Apple is expensive, and Apple is social proof that you only buy “the best”. It’s the same reason why people buy Sony products for their living room even though, objectively, they are no better than other big manufacturer’s efforts usually.

It’s all about proving yourself to be cool, in the end.

And if you’re trying to market online, this is something you need to tap into. Recent research by Sinan Aral has found that by posting a link that’s already supported by a few likes or other shares, he could artificially boost its popularity by up to 32%. This is supported by the idea that, generally, we want to share things that are positive and/or if they are negative, they’re funny about it. After all, no one wants to be seen as a constant downer.

So if you’re marketing your latest app, bear all this in mind, you never know what will become the latest viral sensation. And if you’re still developing your app and you need a Mobile Backend, look no further than Kumulos.

Why Window’s failings may be Google’s winnings

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Google have always been ones to slip into any market that looks like its got some wiggle room. They did it with mobile, they did it with browsers, they’re doing it with wearable tech, and they’re also doing it in the PC market. That self same PC market that has been on the blink for years, shrinking and slowly spiralling down as Microsoft see their profits and margins go with it.

The result of this has of course been that Windows OEMs are getting twitchy. Acer has been seeing dropping profits recently, their Windows 8 tablets and computers really not doing well at all. So how can OEMs like Acer recover their loses?

Well, if Google has anything to say about it, it’ll be through Chromebook and Android.

Already Acer make the C7 Chromebook that sells for $199, riding on the back of the netbooks of old. Running Chrome OS, these Chromebooks aren’t the biggest players in the PC market by far, but they’re a strong indication of where things are headed. Acer are predicted to have some 12% of their revenue come from either Android or Chrome based devices by the end of the year, and Chromebooks alone are looking to be 3% of their sales. A small number perhaps, but when you take into account that these Chromebooks are essentially running experimental software and are largely cloud based in their storage, it’s quite an impressive number in such an entrenched market.

Windows 8 and especially Windows RT seem to be increasing the rate of the market move away from PC. ASUS have come right out and said that RT is killing their windows tablet sales, whereas the Nexus 7 is doing rather well for itself in comparison. If this becomes a trend, where Windows won’t sell but Android and Chrome will, Microsoft will be likely to see Mountain View take more and more of their customers.

Google have been very savvy in how they are managing their move into the PC market; by using OS that can all talk to each other across multiple different devices, we could easily see the day where your phone, tablet and laptop all sport the same OS and even the same homescreens as Google creates the “One account to rule them all” style mindset.

2013 has so far been the year of Android and Google, and as we approach fall, we can only wait and see if Apple can bring the magic and capture us all back from the little green robot.