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Push Notifications Best Practices – A Kumulos Guide

person using mobile phone

There are many frustrations thrown up by daily life – the bad hair day, the 6 o’clock news, trailing loo-roll around on the sole of your shoe … but few are as irritating as these messages …

You know the ones. Your phone buzzes, someone wants your attention – your mother, the dogwalker, perhaps your parole officer (just kidding!) – but you’ve been here before, and it turns out to be just another irritating push message from a company you’ve likely not heard from for months (maybe years!), offering you something that, to be honest, you’re just not that into. It’s an all too common rookie mistake – by someone who has obviously not heard of ‘intelligent targeting’. This should be at the heart of every savvy marketing team’s push strategy, and for good reason – it has the potential to boost retention rates by almost 40%, and rid recipients of the compulsion to delete your app faster than you can say, “Baby, please don’t go.”

What to do? With the average US smartphone user privy to 46 push messages every day, it makes sense to ensure that those you’re sending out are one of the 46 we actually pay attention to, particularly when over 60% of 18 to 34 years often or always opt-in to receive push messages (54% across the board). Reader – the opportunity to build long-term customer relationships and high lifetime value is there for your taking!

3 Key benefits of an Effective Push Strategy 

Knowing why you should be sending the perfect push isn’t on its own going to help you when it comes to formulating that effective, results-driving push strategy you want to implement. You need to know exactly what you want to achieve with your push campaigns, which will in turn lay the groundwork for gauging their effectiveness.

1. Reach the right people in the right place and at the right time. 

Location-based and geo-triggered campaigns are one of the most effective ways to reach your audience with the perfect personalized message – one that adds real value and not irritation. Want to catch attention with a personalized offer when your customer’s near a physical outlet? Check. What about providing customers in a specific location with relevant information tied to a valuable offer, “It’s gonna be hot in Honolulu this weekend – grab your BBQ must-haves in-store with this code that’ll give you a cool 20% discount!” 

2. Encourage user engagement

When it comes to marketing, there’s nothing quite like a healthy hyper-engaged user-base to boost the bottom line. And with the right strategy, push notifications can engage your audience in meaningful non-intrusive ways that provide real value, elevate loyalty, and boost retention. 

3. And boost conversions

Effective, successful marketing messages are key to boosting these conversion figures that your boss is so keen to see first thing every Monday morning. From triggering an instant purchase via a single click to completing abandoned purchases, boosting conversions nearly always depends upon the ability to successfully engage your customers through push to take the desired action. Get it right, and both you and your customers can look forward to a long and happy relationship.

Great! We’ve covered the why and the what – now its time for the how. The following Push Notifications best practices might seem obvious and simple, but they will help you reach the results you’re looking for.

5 Push Notifications Best Practices

1. Always add value

At the Top of the Push Notification Pops this month is non-mover ‘Add Value” – and here it stays, ad infinitum because if there’s one element that must underpin every push campaign your team crafts, it’s the ability to add value to your user’s life in some way. Failing to do so often does more harm than good (you know the ones … the annual ‘We’re updating our terms/Submit your electricity reading/Get free postage on orders over £500” messages … the ones that suck the living joy out of anyone’s day and are guaranteed to have your audience scrambling for their notification settings in the hope of never having to hear from you again.  

Here’s the thing – if you send a notification, there simply must be something in it for your audience. A limited-time discount for leaving feedback? Check. The opportunity to try out your new product before anyone else does (always a great engager for QSRs)? I’ll take it! Saying thank you for their recent participation in your survey – with a link to results and a free download of the report? Now you’re talkin’. Submitting that electricity reading in return for the chance to win a year’s free supply? Steady on! See where we’re going with this? How can your brand offer value in your next push campaign? Count the ways – then build your plan!

Just before you send though, make sure you use deep links to give  your users a seamless experience when they click on your push notification to open your app with the right offer, content or page shown. Having put so much thought into how to add value with your push campaign, it would be a shame to now fall at the final hurdle and just open the home screen of your app, leaving your users scratching their heads and wondering why the good stuff vanished!   

(This best practice actually transcends whatever channels you are using to engage your mobile audience – Email, SMS, even QR Codes – always use Deferred Deep Links to take the user to the right content in your app.)   

2. Time it right

Straight in at number two, timing. Timing is everything – a cliche, but even cliches have a place in your mobile marketing strategy. There are usually three key push delivery options – those that need to go immediately (for example, a discount code when customers are near your store, or a flight update for travelers); timezones, and intelligent delivery.

"2 for 1 subs" push notifications on phoneGet your timing right – a limited-time-only offer for those jeans when your customer is near your physical outlet; an invitation to feed back on a recent food delivery in return for a discount for your next one; or the chance to win a free meal when I’m already engaged with your app – and your customers and your business will reap the rewards: intelligent send times can increase engagement by 40%. But get it wrong – a middle-of-the-night time-sensitive discount offer, or Saturday evening survey-requests with no incentive –  and you’ll irritate your audience and trash their trust in the process.

Depending on your business, but not forgetting we live in an increasingly small world, the likelihood is that your userbase will be spread across different timezones. You’ll need to take this into account to ensure you’re reaching your audience at the optimum time – wherever they happen to be in the world.

These same users might also fall into a bunch of sub-groups that will affect the timing of your push messages. As a middle-aged grump who lives in the middle of nowhere, I probably won’t thank you for that pizza voucher at 10pm on a Saturday night – but I can almost guarantee that my city-living 21-year-old niece wouldn’t need much persuasion. Similarly, there’s little point in sending out a cinema discount code for Friday night when I’m miles away on the other side of town. 

The key to success? Intelligent delivery. 

Intelligent Delivery is really all about personalizing push campaigns using customer data. Using predictive technology and algorithms that work with a user’s historical and real-time app activity, platforms that offer intelligent delivery are a marketing team’s dream, enabling the automated scheduling of messages to push at the time that a particular user is most likely to engage with it. The reason intelligent delivery is such a big hit with mobile marketers is it works – taking the guesswork out of campaign planning and leaving it to technology to look for the best ways to optimize engagement, retention – and results. Onboarding new customers? Re-engaging lost ones? Advising on flight changes? Promoting new products? They’ll all need a different timing strategy – and intelligent delivery can figure it out for you.  

3. … and make it relevant!

Personalizing the content of your push notifications can lead to a 9% increase in open rates. Pretty good, right! However, before you go asking your dev team to prompt every user for their favourite pet name and salutation, there is more to personalization – we’re talking about behaviour-based audience segmentation and targeting. Behavior-based push notifications can deliver a 400% increase in open rates (that’s four hundred percent)! Now we’re  onto something!

A single intelligently targeted push notification based on real-time customer intel is always going to provide your audience with way more value than the spray and pray approach – one that almost always does more harm to your brand than good. Bottom line? If you’re finding your engagement or retention rates are dropping, or worse, they simply never got to where you need them to be in the first place, there’s a good chance that the messages you’re sending to your audience simply aren’t relevant – and you could end up struggling to re-engage their attention.


Relevant messaging is a fine art, but using data to perfect that art is key. Using data-driven insights, you’ll be able to avoid the guesswork that results in the spam-type messaging that turns your audience off, and start focusing on crafting engaging, relevant push campaigns that your users love – and want to share. Intelligent targeting has the potential to amplify engagement by 300% – try dropping that bomb at the Monday morning meeting! Time-sensitive offers on these jeans I put on my wishlist yesterday; an update on that news story I’m following on Reddit; a reminder that my pizza is on its way and will be at my door in 15 minutes – all valuable, useful, and relevant … and unlikely to send me straight to the block button. 

4. Use rich media

Rich, engaging push notifications that allow users to interact without having to open the app? Count me in! In 2020, we’re all visual creatures – you’ve only got to look at our obsession with Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and just about any other rich media platform, you can think of. Rich formats have the potential to skyrocket engagement rates by a whopping 25% – so, if you’re not already using rich media across your push campaigns, it’s time to get started!

Rich push notifications are messages that can include images, emojis, video, URLs, deep-links, audio, and gifs, and which often include interactive elements that can take users to content that sits either inside – or outside – your app. They work so darned well because they offer engagement opportunities that go way beyond a standard text link, providing an enriched CX,  hyper-personalized messaging, and an outstanding brand experience – and that’s just for starters.

5. And don’t forget to test, test, test!

All your hard work adding value, nailing timing, going postal on rich media and making sure each message that reaches every one of your users is relevant doesn’t mean you can kick back and assume your work is done. As any good marketer knows, unless you build testing into your mobile strategy, you could end up falling behind.

A/B testing allows you to test users’ responses to the messages you’re sending out – with the purpose of providing you with the intel to make any necessary adjustments as you go. Accurate, intelligence-driven A/B testing can reveal a lot about your audience, allowing you to fine-tune your push notification strategy for optimum results. That buy-one-get-one-free offer might be going down a storm with one segment of your users – but could the use of a different image garner even better results?  What about your message opener? Asking a question instead of presenting your offer straight off the bat might be what’s stalling your engagement rate – and there’s only one way to find out! 

Push notifications are a great way to reach with and connect to your audience – but they’re also a super-fast way to lose your fans if you’re not working with the insights and best practices that will give you the best chance of success. 

Timely, relevant, and valuable, finding the right balance between engaging and spamming is an art – one that can be mastered! The Push Notifications best practices we’ve included here will help you get started – if you’d like more inspiration, dive into these articles, and start planning! 

Still not completely sure just how to go about building effective push campaigns that will increase retention and drive up engagement? No problem! Contact us for your free demo and we’ll be happy to show you how!

Messaging Options for Apps and 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.

A 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.

iOS 14 Adoption – Good news for COVID contact tracing apps

iOS 14 Adoption - iPhone

iOS 14 adoption is now over 50% worldwide, but there are some significant regional differences. With the recent addition of contact tracing APIs to both the iOS and Android operating systems, gaining significant adoption of latest updates has never been more important. In this article we’ll look at the detail behind the headline iOS 14 adoption figure and what this means as governments around the world release their COVID-19 contact tracing apps.

iOS 14 Release

Its been less than three weeks since the September 15 Apple Event and while we were all expecting Apple to announce the upcoming release of iOS 14, no one was expecting them to ship it the very next day! With no time available for app developers and publishers to test their apps and games on iOS 14, many of the world’s largest publishers, including Nintendo, took the unusual step of advising users not to update to iOS 14 straight away.

Here at Kumulos, we wondered what impact such advice would have on user behaviour and so decided to monitor iOS 14 adoption using an anonymized sample of 500,000 loyalty, sports, fitness & well-being app installs around the world. This is what we found…

iOS 14 Adoption

Unlike the more complex Android ecosystem where developers have to cater for a long-tail of older Android operating system versions still in use, the Apple user-base has historically been quick to adopt operating system updates. The warnings from publishers that your favourite apps and games may be glitchy until they have a chance to update them would appear have had little impact on this. iOS 14 adoption surpassed that of iOS 13 within two weeks of its release and, as of 6th October 2020, iOS 14 adoption is now at 50% worldwide.

iOS 14 Adoption - Worldwide

However, there are big regional variances driving this adoption. Europe is leading the way, with iOS 14 adoption at 69%

iOS 14 Adoption - North America

Whereas iOS 14 adoption is only at 31% in North America with 64% devices still running iOS 13.

iOS 14 Adoption - North America

In practice, what does this mean for app developers, especially those working on regional and national COVID-19 contact tracing apps?

iOS 13 Adoption

Looking at all those devices still running iOS 13, the good news is that the vast majority (70%) are running iOS 13.7, which includes the COVID-19 contact tracing APIs.

iOS 14 Adoption - iOS 13 Contact Tracing APIs

Combined with devices already running iOS 14, this means that across our sample, 82% of all iPhones should be able to run contract tracing apps right now.

Of the 4% devices worldwide that are still running iOS 12 or earlier, 75% (approximately 15,000 devices in our sample data set) are unable to update to iOS 14. However, the vast majority of these devices were iPhone 6 / 6 Plus and can still be updated to iOS 13.7 to add the contact tracing APIs.

In fact, across our sample data set, the number of active devices that cannot be updated to iOS 13.7 was less than 0.5%

In Summary

Despite the warnings from major publishers, iOS 14 adoption around the world has been as fast as we have come to expect from the Apple user base. Although iOS 14 adoption in North America is lagging behind Europe, concerns around the compatibility of national COVID-19 contact tracing apps with the Apple install base appear to be unfounded. 82% of iPhones have the contact tracing APIs now and less than 0.5% iPhones in daily use will be unable to add them in future.

About Kumulos

Kumulos is an easy-to-use, omni-channel, user engagement platform. We help major brands in over 20 countries around the world to retain and engage their mobile audience and drive real business results from their mobile app. Contact us today to find out how.

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.

QSRs & COVID – the Mobile Response

Fast Food Drivethru

Haircuts, holidays, hugs. There are lots of things we’ve all had to live without for the past 4 months. And whilst we may be able to live with a mullet hairstyle indefinitely, the one thing we can’t do without – whatever the crisis or calamity that happens to be going on around us – is food. 

From yearning for some kind of ‘reward’ just for getting through yet another week indoors, to essential workers needing fed on the way to and from their workplace, to simply sticking to some kind of old routine, quick-serve restaurants have been a life – and sanity – saver for many of us as we weather the COVID crisis. Yet with many QSRs having to innovate faster than you can say ‘with fries, please’, just to survive the crisis, maybe we should ask ourselves, hasn’t it always been the case? The ability of the quick-serve restaurant sector to rapidly respond to a continually changing customer landscape, the rapidly changing and technologically-disrupted world, and an increasingly crowded market isn’t new. And while we can’t – and shouldn’t – ignore or make light of the fact that many a food establishment will have closed their doors for good, the QSR sector long ago set itself steadily on its front foot to be able to leap this hurdle, and it’s mostly down to one thing; mobile. 

So as QSRs around the world rush once again to innovate and meet their customers in the ‘next normal’, mobile technology is ready to take another bow in the spotlight, supporting global  efforts to keep customers and employees safe, cultivating much-needed loyalty, and reshaping (yet again) the future of a sector that’s proving extraordinarily adaptable in the face of unprecedented change. Not convinced? Before you read on, let’s take a look at QSR behemoth, Starbucks, and how they’ve almost completely redefined their business in the face of COVID – at breakneck speed and in record time …

  • deploying loyalty offers and digital campaigns through mobile in May to re-engage customers and drive business, leading to “a significant increase” in average weekly downloads and app activations. 
  • implementing new drive thrus, pickup stores, walk-up windows, and curbside-enabled locations – driven by mobile innovations, conversations and transactions.
  • Launching their curbside pickup initiative, allowing customers to pick up from the safety and comfort of their own vehicle, driven by, yup, mobile – providing customers with the option to pay in advance and to check-in at designated parking spots once they arrive.

The key takeaway – with a focus on mobile, it can be done!

QSRs right now – how are things looking?

Here are some pretty interesting stats pulled from a recent Bluedot survey:  

  • 80% of those asked said that they now experience fear or anxiety walking into a store or restaurant. That’s a lot of customers. 
  • But – during the COVID crisis, Gen Z customers have downloaded three times more fast-food apps than groceries apps. 
  • What’s more, 42 per cent of those asked said that they’re ordering food, groceries, and other items via mobile apps more often – or much more often

And while many QSRs are seeing foot traffic decline, many are seeing record mobile orders. Reader, there are, it seems, reasons to be cheerful. 

In our pre-COVID article about QSRs and loyalty, we discussed, amongst other things, the ways in which QSRs are continually innovating through mobile strategies and winning the digital transformation race through the ability to be ultra-flexible, data-driven and future-focused. The results have spoken for themselves – exponential growth for these early mobile adopters focused on delivering exceptional customer experiences and implementing the technology enabling them to do so:

  • Offering personalization that feels genuinely personal, relevant and unique to the customer.
  • Enabling customers to be kept ‘in the loop’ when new products or services are launched
  • Giving customers the ability to get detailed information on products and services
  • Delivering compelling location-based offers 

In order to protect their most reliable revenue sources, QSRs the world over have convened around their virtual tables to revisit their digital transformations and mobile strategies, rapidly restructuring once solid plans to meet the disruptions the sector is currently facing. 

In our previous article COVID-19 impact on Customer Engagement & Loyalty Programs, we talked about the need for all industries to plan for either resetting pre-COVID customer habits as things return to some semblance of normality – or, reinforcing new behaviors formed during the crisis. Behaviors that may well now be habits that business is going to have to adapt to if it’s to weather the current storms and emerge stronger. 

For example, amongst the top QSR mobile apps – Chipotle,  McDonald’s, Domino’s,  Burger King, and Pizza Hut – there’s been a whopping 36% year-on-year increase in the number of app store reviewers during COVID indicating it was their first time using such an app. If that usage turns into a habit – and it will for many – then we can expect long-term implications for the QSR mobile strategy. But what of right now – how is mobile already powering longevity for QSRs post-COVID? 

A word about contactless …

Like it or not, one thing that we can be sure of is the growing demand for contactless – in whatever we do. When it comes to spending money, even without the calamity of COVID, lots of us enjoy and prefer contactless transactions. But in summer 2020, worried about food deliveries being made by strangers, exchanging physical money, and handing over the 20” calzone with extra cheese, QSR customers are making the contactless preference an increasingly pressing one. We want drive-thru, curbside or venue pick-up – and we want to do it with our own devices in our own hands. 

Of course, we’re highly likely to be operating in contactless environments for some time – and though that’s about much more than simply ordering and collecting, the mobile component will remain a key driver of preparedness – QSRs that were already well underway with their digital transformations pre-COVID are going to find themselves much better placed to deal with the current situation and the rapidly changing future. OK – let’s take a look at what contactless is looking like from the mobile perspective right now:

  • Mobile menus – Digital menus have been growing in popularity long before COVID, but they’re about to become ubiquitous across the sector as we look to avoid handling anything that hundreds of strangers have had their ketchup-covered hands on before we got to it. Using their smartphones, mobile menus mean customers can browse menus on their phones in-venue and pay for their food at the same time … But more than that, there’s real opportunity here to both assuage customer anxieties, keep them safe and provide valuable information through the mobile menu experience that can cement loyalty – for example, where is their food being prepared? Where has it come from? How is it prepared in a way that keeps everyone safe and healthy? Expect the mobile menu to be BIG – and expect to see further innovations in the area as more of us return to the in-venue eating experience.
  • Ordering – projected to drive over 10% of QSR sales this year, mobile-based food ordering has fast been adopted as the safe way to get in the Friday night takeaway – it’s safe and convenient for customers, and is being rapidly adopted across the sector by these consumers and QSRs – powered by mobile technology. A great example of an enterprise crushing the mobile ordering is Allset, reacting quickly to reimagine its capabilities for contactless pickup – think information about designated ‘safe’ pickup areas, alongside its new “No contact” badge feature within the app which allows customers to identify the restaurants that are offering contactless experiences. 
  • Pickup – In a re-imagined and optimized order pickup process powered by mobile, customers can be advised when to arrive at the collection point, can be notified when their order is ready, alerted that their delivery is on the way or, flipping it on its head, the vendor can be notified  that the customer has arrived at the collection point (thanks to geofencing technology). No contact required during any of these scenarios.
  • Delivery – similar to the above, QSRs can notify customers when their food is in transit, along with an expected delivery time. Customers can also advise the restaurant their preferred ‘drop off point’ to avoid any face-to-face contact, and can ‘send’ a gratuity via their app. We call that a win-win!

As ever increasing numbers of QSRs begin to address contactless, they’ll quickly discover that embracing the myriad ‘contactless’ benefits that mobile delivers also provides them with the opportunities to engage in new ways with their customers, providing the safe, efficient services they require – and using the new two-way communication avenues available to power data-driven innovations in the new climate. Here are a few other key areas where mobile technologies have a place to play in the new world order and the benefits they’re bringing to an industry ready to embrace change …

Track and Trace

In some countries it has become mandatory for businesses to collect the contact information of customers so that they can be tracked if they may have been exposed to a confirmed case. It’s being implemented so far in the UK, France, Italy, Australia amongst others and is highly likely to be adopted by more countries and will start to become the staple of virus control.

Whilst businesses move towards the use of mobile apps to help manage the new normal, it makes for a seamless customer experience to offer this as a feature within the app. If consumers are aware that QSR’s are offering this service through their app it can not only encourage new downloads but prevent churn and present opportunities to connect with new downloads. A track and trace app feature is capable of using automation to message a user informing them if there was a link from the premises to a confirmed virus case. Customers will look to these companies as those that are being socially responsible and doing their utmost to offer peace of mind. Certainly a feature that might reduce that sky-high percentage of anxious customers.

Conversational AI

The growth of conversational AI – or the chatbot –  as an essential element of enterprise digital transformation in 2020 isn’t surprising:

  • 37% of people use a customer service bot to get a quick answer in emergencies.
  • Nearly a quarter of the world’s population was using chatbots during 2019
  • Over 15% of service organizations will be using chatbots within the next 18 months – though this will likely increase ‘thanks’ to COVID
  • Chatbots can cut operational costs by up to 30%.
  • 85% of customer interactions will be handled without human agents by 2021

These chatbots are a key element of any loyalty program worth its salt, however, this was all pre-COVID. How we interact with brands now – and how they respond – is changing rapidly … meaning we’re likely to see a very different set of figures come the close of 2020. 

Apple Business Chat and Google Business Messaging already allow businesses to have conversations with their customers – thru native apps direct from search listings, Contact Us details, Google Maps, and more. In many ways, this has been a game-changer, particularly during COVID – new customers don’t have to download your app or pick up their phone to speak to someone on premise (or otherwise) who can help. What does that mean? For the customer, convenience; for the QSR, a perfect opportunity to capture new custom through a seamless, effortless, frictionless customer experience, nurturing them to loyal customers that will hang around post-COVID. Customers can simply message in their order, pay in the same way, and schedule their pickup time – without having to talk to anyone. Result!

But there are other ways in which the humble chatbot can support and cultivate loyalty. Throughout this crisis, chatbots offer the savvy QSR the ability to deliver critical information to their customers in ways that reassure, reaffirm and realign with new needs and expectations. So for example, customers can chat with a bot which can:

  • Provide information on COVID opening hours
  • Schedule orders for them at times most convenient to the customer
  • Take payments to uphold contactless transactions – the favorite way to pay for anything and everything right now
  • … and relay critical information regarding safety restrictions both in-store, at drive-thru points and curbside pick-ups (more on that in a bit … )

But perhaps the most beneficial element that Conversational AI brings to the dinner table is the unparalleled insights into customer sentiments and behaviors gleaned from the rich data collected from chatbot interactions, enabling businesses to continually refine and reimagine their digital strategy in line with rapidly evolving customer needs. The ability to be this agile means the ability to better future-proof – even when we can’t see what that future looks like right now.

QR Codes

QR codes, one could say, have never really caught on in a big way – but that could be about to change. The humble QR code has the ability to turn our smartphones into all manner of tools that can support our need for safe, healthy environments as we weather the COVID fallout. Interestingly, they’ve got a lot to offer the QSR sector. From providing the means to download and view that mobile menu we mentioned earlier, to seamless integration with ordering systems, QRs are about to enjoy their moment in the QSR spotlight – here are a few ways we’ll see them do it:

  • QR codes positioned at self-service counters mean customers can have visibility of a restaurant’s health and safety procedures before they order – think  sanitization routines, how and where food is being prepared, where food is coming from, how to stay minimize health risks … and much more. 
  • Mobile menus accessible via QR codes – KFC in China – and numerous others – are already taking advantage of the technology, and are likely to maintain it over the long-term. 
  • QR codes are another way to keep your costumers informed during uncertain times – codes strategically places on ads, packaging, websites or apps can provide the opportunity to engage with customers, delivering relevant, valuable information and – you guessed it! – driving that loyalty you’re seeking to build. 
  • Contactless paymentspayments via QR codes help do all that contactless stuff we talked about above. 

Push notifications

According to a recent study of over two billion app installs, users have been  quicker to click on push notifications than they were before the current crisis kicked off. What’s more, direct open rates for mobile app push notifications reached their highest average rate in more than four years. The resulting increase in the number of push notifications being sent by businesses saw direct open rates increase by an average of 22% for apps and 119% for websites. Not to be scoffed at! So where might the QSR look to get the most out of Kumulos-favorite, the humble push notification as we head into that next normal? 

  • Focusing on areas that experienced the biggest declines during the crisis – such as Sunday coffee, breakfast on the way to work, takeaway lunches etc. – should be a key focus in driving these ‘old habits’ we mentioned earlier. 
  • Think about using push to entice customers to return to the on-premise dining experience (where appropriate) with relevant, personalized promotions and new menu offerings. 
  • Consumers are already demanding new information about the food they’re ordering – where it’s prepared, where it’s come from, who’s prepared it and how it will reach us safely. Push notifications are the perfect way to provide that information, reassuring customers before they order, driving transparency, trust, and by default, that loyalty that’s so important for future growth. 

Conclusion

With many countries now in the process of staggered re-opening, QSRs rethinking their near and long-term futures will be swinging their doors again, waiting with open arms, for the first time in a long time. Some are fully focused on take-out, deliveries and curbside provision. Others still will be running hybrid operations, aiming to cover all bases in an attempt to chart a course through these tough economic waters. What’s certain is that every QSR business is navigating unchartered waters with no clear view of the horizon ahead. 

Bottom line? As the challenges that COVID has brought continue to redefine the QSR industry, restaurants must start thinking now about their long-term mobile-driven strategy to future-proof, whatever the outlook. And whilst none of us can be sure about how this crisis will change customer behaviour, one thing we can be sure of is that the faster brands can advance their digital strategy to meet uncertainty however it manifests, the more certain their future will be. Agility and flexibility are key -along with the willingness to continue exploring new business strategies – but the sector is very good at that, and the future feels full of opportunities.

Kumulos and innovating your QSR app for success

With the uncertainty of what the future looks like for dining at physical locations, we can be sure that mobile will play a clear part in the customer journey from now onward. Kumulos offer a mobile communications platform that improves the customer experience and help you retain your app users. Send rich, interactive push notifications and in-app messages to one specific customer, all app users or define any demographic in-between. Use geofencing and beacon technology to highly target your audience and reach the right users at the right place and time. Turn your mobile app from an accessory to a necessity and capitalize before your competitors.

As the use of mobile apps becomes a permanent fixture of QSR dining, why not stay ahead of the curve and try Kumulos today? Book your free demo or trial and see for yourself how Kumulos can innovate your app for success.

COVID-19 impact on Customer Engagement & Loyalty Programs

No “Easy like Sunday Morning” any more thanks to COVID-19. Let’s face it, customer behavior has changed and in many cases changed for good. Businesses need to be thinking about how this impacts on how they interact with customers and build strategies that reset the habit of using their products and services where trading has been heavily disrupted. Other businesses, that have been huge beneficiaries of the disruption the pandemic has brought, have another problem. How to reinforce this new behavior and keep customers when some sort of normality returns to people’s lives. This blog explores this and argues that there are two distinct strategies. Businesses need to be thinking about Re-setting habits or Reinforcing new behavior if they are to emerge strongly from this crisis and mobile technology will be central to this.

How life has changed

We all know the huge disruption to our lives that the Pandemic has caused. It’s here for the long term, so this isn’t something that’s just a short term disruption, but something that will mean fundamental changes to routines and habits.

  • Homeworking is now more accepted, and likely to stay permanently for many, at least for part of their working week,
  • Video calls for things like medical consultations, team meetings, sales interactions, and customer account meetings are now acceptable across the board,
  • How we buy our groceries and internet shopping for electronics and durable goods is now safer, but also maybe more importantly easier, largely because we are at home when the delivery arrives.

Science says that it takes about 2 months for new things to become habit-forming.66 days to be exact according to James Clear in his book Atomic Habits a New York Times Bestseller. Given the impact that the virus has had on many of our lives for way more than 66 days, it is clear that many will find significant permanent changes to their daily routines and habits.

Indeed we can see how dramatic the shift has been from our own data. As examples, habits have changed around how and when we exercise and even when we kick back and have a coffee. Gone, it seems, are the lazy Sunday morning coffee meetups with friends and family.

COVID-19 change to coffee drinking habits

The diagram shows the time and day distribution of when users foreground their Coffee Retailer’s Loyalty app. The bigger the bubble the more users active at that time. Source: Kumulos Analytics

Also, the change in work/home routine means the early morning workout, lunchtime crunch, and after work sweat-out are replaced by exercise distributed more evenly across the day, as our data shows. OK, when gyms start to open again, the habit of home exercise may change. But don’t think that means that everything reverts to as it was before. For example, the location will more likely be close to home, rather than close to the office in the new normal.

COVID-19 changes to exercise habits

The diagram shows the time and day distribution of when users foreground their Exercise Apps. The bigger the bubble the more users active at that time. Source: Kumulos Analytics

Also gone seems to be the Monday evening guilt sessions working off the excess from the weekend. Presumably, excess now isn’t isolated to just weekends. Morning sessions start later, with no morning commute to accommodate. And much less evening exercise, replaced by box-set binges on Netflix. (or is that just me?)

What’s the business impact

So what does this all mean for business? Well if your business has been operating differently during the COVID-19 Pandemic, on the simplest level it could mean that your customers just get out of the habit of using you. Their habits have changed and you don’t figure in their new routine. Re-engaging customers and encouraging them back to their Pre-COVID-19 habits will be important, will take effort, and will take time. So the sooner you start the better, even if you are not back to full operation.

Getting customers to pick up their coffee on the (less frequent) visits to the office and doing it in such a way that is convenient and they feel safe, is going to be essential. Also adapting to the new ways that customers want to interact will be important. Order ahead and pay on the app will be expected as will curbside pick-up. The lunchtime sandwich habit will also change. Food from home or prepacked food will be more prevalent over the build your own lunch that was the habit before.

Customers will expect menus on their phone and simple order ahead and office/home office delivery. If you don’t have it, they’ll go to someone who has. You see in this we have the biggest shift. Things that businesses considered as ancillary services, like order ahead/don’t wait in line, are now quite literally hygiene factors for any business. And making them accessible through a mobile app will be mandatory.

Customers won’t trust your technology anymore. Order at table or large form factor touch screens will be a put off for clients. They want to manage all of this on their own device. This is echoed by a recent blog post from our friends at Tacit Corporation on fast casual restaurant dining and the important changes restaurants will have to make to successfully bring customers back.

So, to summarize this, there are in essence two main challenges facing businesses in the new COVID-19 world.

1. Re-set the habit and re-established the Pre-COVID-19 routine you want them to have.
2. Reinforce the habit. Hold onto the surge in customers that some businesses have enjoyed – like home fitness apps, and reinforce this new home exercise habit.

And one other thought, if the chance to reset the routine is gone, then how do you keep the customer close and still give them your brand experience. One example, from one of our North American Coffee shop retailers, is they bring the physical store experience to the home. Home delivery may be an option, but more practical is to let them buy that special coffee bean blend themselves, so they can have that premium artisan coffee experience in their own home. They retain that brand attachment, so next time they are downtown, near a store, they’ll automatically come to that store, to get that experience for real.

What can you do

Well here are a few suggestions that hopefully will spark ideas that can apply to your own business.

Reset

Catch people when they are interested and ready to interact. Understand how habits have changed and then go with it, rather than fight against it. By that I mean, if Sunday isn’t a big thing for Coffee any more, then engage your customers when they are now ready to buy. Through your loyalty app trigger, messages that prompt coffee drinkers when they are near your store or better still your competitor’s stores will remind them you are still around and draw them back. Reassuring them that you have their safety and convenience in mind with the changes you have made, will give them the confidence to buy from you again.

Put loyalty programs on steroids, double the points, increase the giveaways. This may be hated by your Franchisees as it can cut into their margins, but investing is going to be critical to get habit-reset happening. Geofence triggered messaging, be that push notifications, in-app messages or SMS can be very effective here.  With these, you can plot locations on a map, your stores, or your competitors, and when someone with your app is close-by, trigger contextual, personalized, and helpful information, direct to their phone, even if the app isn’t open.

Reinforce

For the businesses that have benefited from the COVID-19 disruption, customer retention and habit-reinforcement are key. Keeping them motivated to “stay with the program” as elements of their life drift back to “normal” is important. For this, it’s important to adjust your strategy so it stays relevant to how they now feel. You don’t want them to associate your brand with the negativity of crisis, but make them understand that you are the silver lining. The thing they wouldn’t have got if the Lockdown hadn’t happened. That way you’ll convert them into long term loyal customers.

With fitness in particular there’s a seasonal fad phenomenon. COVID-19 created a second January Guilt Spike for a lot of the home & self-fitness apps. Looking across our customers this spike has been 2 to 3 times as large in terms of new app user acquisition than an average new year resolution. And the hope for these businesses is that the 66-day rule holds true and the habit sticks. But my guess is that apps will have to work hard to keep customers engaged. The good news is that a small percentage increase in user retention can have a dramatic impact on the bottom line with repeat purchases and app license upgrades to premium services. And we have a great series of articles that offer real practical tips on how to keep customers coming back.

And if you are a Quick Serve Restaurant, Casual Diner or Fast Casual Eatery then we have an in-depth blog series that has never been more topical than it is today at tackling the challenges of re-establishing customer loyalty.

In Conclusion

So to wrap up, COVID-19 is going to introduce some fundamental changes to our habits and routines. For many, these will remain, even when things start to turn to a form of normal. There will be winners, businesses that have had a real windfall of customers. Their challenge is how to reinforce the new habit and keep customers engaged. For others, it’s about kick-starting their business and either adjusting to their customer’s changes in habits (go with the new flow) or re-setting the new habit replacing it with a close version of what they did before.
And of course, we are here to help. We have a range of technologies that can help you with the challenges that have emerged from this pandemic. Give us a try, we just may make the brave, post-COVID-19, new world easier to navigate.

Acquisition or retention – have you been doing it wrong all along?

mobile users

Whilst there’s little doubt of the importance of acquiring users, your mobile apps on a hiding to nowhere if you can’t keep a hold of them. Yet companies are still spending more on acquisition than retention, and an even larger percentage are sitting on the fence taking neither one stance nor the other. If you’re on that fence, or if you’re starting to realize that your finely tuned focus on acquisition isn’t working, it might be time to take a step back and revisit retention. But what does that look like, what are the advantages and how are you going to do it? Well, it’s funny you should ask …

We concur, acquisition matters – but …

In the US, the average CPI (Cost Per Install) range differs across verticals and platforms, but the average sits at around $2, rising to $3.34 at the top end. When app creators are willing to spend such a large chunk of their budget on acquisition – App Store Optimization (ASO), paid campaigns, ads – leaving something behind in the coffers for retention can sometimes be overlooked, and by many, often forgotten.

Some facts and figures to whet your retention appetite:

  • Acquiring a new customer is between five and twenty-five times more costly than retaining an existing customer.
  • Selling to a customer you already have has a success rate of between 60-70%, compared with a measly 5-20% success rate of selling to a new customer.
  • 44% of businesses say their focus is on acquisition, with just 18% looking at retention.
  • Increasing customer retention by just 5% can boost profits by between 25 and 95%.

… and yet, despite the evidence, most companies we talk to when it comes to metrics, measurement and money are hell-bent on committing a greater spend on acquiring new users than keeping the ones they already have. You could of course say, that in a way, they’d be right. After all, if no one downloads your app, there won’t be any customers to nurture and retain. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that no matter how impressive your acquisition numbers, failure to live up to – and exceed- user expectations means that users will continue to uninstall the apps that don’t measure up faster than you can say, “Baby, please don’t go”. Think your app’s too good to bin? Almost 1 in every 2 app downloads are uninstalled within 30 days, or to put it in business-speak, “Help, we’re hemorrhaging cash!”. I don’t know about you, but it feels like some kind of equilibrium needs to be found between acquisition and retention, one that neglects neither one nor the other, but instead brings ‘smart’ to the spread of marketing efforts and increasing the chances of a long-distance run in the App Store.

“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need before they realize it themselves,” – Mr. Jobs.

App acquisition – where are we now?

Inhabiting an increasingly mobile world has seen the mobile app industry morph into one of the single most successful stories of the 21st digital century. In this app gold rush, however, we’ve also witnessed an unsustainable infatuation with seemingly lucrative short-term gains and endless growth hacks – most of which have ultimately turned out to be empty promises (much to the chagrin of your accountant). We’re just starting to realize that only a well-defined, well-researched app strategy- one that embodies everything we now know about the makings of long-term app success – paves the way to both profitability and sustainability.

According to Gartner, 80% of your business’s future profits will come from just 20% of your existing customer base. Which means that the big budget spend on acquisition you insisted on last quarter might have been more effective if you’d been willing to look at what you’ve already got. Retaining these users will make the difference between your app’s success – or its sad decline and the long, expensive walk of shame to the big uninstall bin in the sky. Time to stop the madness.

How to boost your Mobile App Retention Rates

80% of users churn within 3 days after downloading an app. The message is clear – have an engagement strategy in place long before your app even makes it through the door of the App Store. Why? Retaining users is really all about engagement. From a smooth onboarding experience to easy in-app purchases, to gentle, effective nudges to complete your critical events, retention is all about keeping your users interested throughout their app journey. What exactly is retention? Most of us in the industry would say that it means a user returning to your app at least once over a 30-day period – which doesn’t seem like such a big ask. It’s worth noting that we tend to measure retention over a 90 day – or one quarter – timeframe. With this in mind, it’s a good time to drop the average retention rate bomb so that we can start thinking about where we’d like to get to: around 20% after that 90-day period. It’s not high, but there’s room for improvement! It’s time to step up to the retention plate, making retention one of these ever-changing KPIs your marketing department loves to talk about at these Monday meetings. Here’s how to wow them with a dazzling grasp of retention tactics:

  1. Perfect your app’s “low barrier” to entry. No one wants to spend an inordinate amount of time and effort downloading and using a mobile app – life asks enough of all of us (including these Monday meetings) without your app asking for even more. In other words, I expect your app to do all the hard work for me, which means ensuring the onboarding process is smooth, simple and as swift as possible. If I need to book time off work to run thru your movie-length video tutorials, to complete my registration or to figure out what exactly it is that you’re bringing to party, your churn rates will go through the roof. Key takeaway: kick off with a simple app that does what it says on the tin and takes the friction out of it at the same time, you’re halfway there already …
  2. Personalization, personalization, personalization!  Delivering a personal, valuable, human brand experience that our new digital customers demand is the holy grail of retention. And unless you’re not living in the 21st century (in which case, welcome time traveler!) then you can’t fail to have noticed that any 2020 brand worth its digital salt will have customer personalization at its beating heart, and for good reason. Companies getting smart around the Big P see between a 5 and 15 percent increase in revenues, and a 10-30% percent increase in marketing-spend efficiency.
72% of consumers will only engage with personalized marketing messages.

What does personalization look like? Take your pick: customized push notifications, personalized product recommendations; valuable, feels-like-all-mine rewards and offers; location-based marketing and much, much more. Check out these apps to get an idea of IRL personalization – your retention metrics will thank you for it:

  1. Starbucks – we talked about Starbucks in our recent loyalty apps piece, and here they are again because, frankly, they’re good at what they do when it comes to their customers ad personalization. From relevant rewards to personalized discounts to products suggestions based on previous purchases, this is every app developers first stop when looking at the brands that are getting it right.
  2. Airbnb – accommodation behemoth Airbnb have personalization down to a finely tuned art, tracking your trips, travel preferences and likes, pooling data and matching you with listings that they think you’ll like. But that’s not all … you’ll also get suggestions for restaurants, bars, tourist hotspots, shopping and just about any other holiday activity you can think of – just for you.
  3. Spotify – Never a brand for standing still, Spotify continues to take personalization to ever more fun levels … from Discover to new releases, nearby concerts to Taste breakers, there’s no excuse for listening to that same damned playlist over and over. Spotify analyzes what you’re listening to, and over time builds up a profile of the kind of music you like – or might be open to liking – and serves it up as you like it.

Make it a habit. Not that we’re trying to start a new Apps Anonymous movement, but habit is a retention technique as old as the proverbial hills. The average mobile user checks her phone around 150 times per day. Boredom? Perhaps. Hunger? Possibly – I’ve got over half a dozen food ordering apps on mine. Habit? Now you’re talkin! If you thought you were looking at Instagram, Twitter or Facebook because you want to let off election steam, or to laugh at Terrible Art in Charity Shops, you’re wrong. The reason these apps are so successful is because they’ve invested time and money in ensuring that they’re quite literally habit-forming. Nir Eyal, the habit-formation guru, believes that one week is all you’ve got to create your app habit with a new user: “If your product doesn’t engage people within a week’s time or less, it’s going to be very, very difficult to build a habit around it.” 

The hook model

The Hook model – of course.

Many call this habit-formation strategy the ‘hook’ model; one that involves four key elements

  • The App Trigger – The trigger is what compels a user to complete an action within your app and can be either internal or external. For example, a notification from a bank app reminding a user to top up their balance to avoid going into overdraft would be an external trigger. The internal trigger is that (oh so familiar) feeling of boredom that compels someone to open the Instagram app.
  • The Action – Users take app actions for all manner of reasons, but psychologically, reward tends to be at the heart of many of our in-app actions, even though we’re not aware of it (most of the time). Taking the example above of topping up your balance in your banking app; sure, the reward of not being overdrawn is compelling enough, but seeing our balance onscreen in a juicy green with a big plus sign beside it is psychologically both reassuring and satisfying. Bring an on-screen message into the equation: “Hey, you just earned 10 rewards points for topping up your balance!!”, and you start to get an idea of how powerful the Action element of retention is. Note: make sure the actions you implement require as little effort as possible, and that the reward is immediate.
  • The Reward – Our virtual friend Nil describes the reward as an ‘itch being scratched’ – and we concur. The rewards are usually why your audience uses your app at all – creating desire and anticipation, then reliably satiating it with relevant and valuable rewards. There are all kinds of ways apps reward us – and often they’re nothing to do with how most of us traditionally understand them – on Instagram and Facebook, for example, the rewards are likes and comments, and lord knows isn’t that why we keep checking in? Rewards and crucial in the retention game. Neglect at your peril!
  • The Investment – When users invest in your app, the hook model’s work is done. By successfully combining the trigger, the action and the reward, you’ve got a user who’s well on their way to making your app part of their life … in other words your user and your app and officially an item, or ‘invested’ in each other. The investment element ensures that not only do your users want to check in, but they’ve got a vested interest in doing so.

Use push notifications. Almost without exception, push notifications are the single most-effective method of engaging – and retaining – your user-base – study after study has found that using push notifications as a key element of your app marketing strategy can boost retention by up to 20% – not to be scoffed at!   However, push notifications can harm as well as help your app retention rates if you approach them gung-ho. The challenge lies in striking the right balance of timing, frequency and value – get it right, and you’ll be laughing all the way to these Monday meetings… get it wrong and you could end up with a whole lotta users who quite frankly don’t want to hear from you anymore, thanks very much. The bottom line? Planning is everything. To find out how to push properly, visit our musings on that very matter here.

Provide an exceptional customer service. To be honest, this is something that any brand worth its salt should be doing in 2020, and not only our mobile app overlords. We all expect it, which is why when a company falls short of providing it, we’re often incandescent with rage, inconsolable and taking to whatever social platform it is to vent our spleen. When it comes to retention, customer service matters – pre-purchase, post-purchase and everything in between. What does it look like within your mobile app? 

  • Easy to find ‘contact’ buttons
  • ‘Call back’ functionality
  • A Knowledge Base; help center; community area or FAQs center where users can access quick answers to general questions
  • A Chat facility to connect users to customer service reps
  • The provision of detailed product information
  • A location finder

…. are just a few ideas. Just remember to ensure that you cover all of your touchpoints. Lots of us still like to use email instead of chatting to an empty screen (take note: if you’re providing a service like chat, ensure there are humans at your side to respond, and in a timely manner!)

Before we go …

In all fairness, app retention is a science – you could add an almost infinite number of strategies to the above list, and you’d still discover something you’re not doing but that your competitor is nailing. The long and the short: if you’ve just launched your app and you’re seeing your retention numbers take a tumble, panic ye not! Retention is a long-haul activity that you’ll fine tune over time, filtering out what doesn’t work, and learning what does. But it doesn’t sit on its own … Smashing your customer retention strategy requires rethinking how you work with your budgets and investing in the technologies that will help you to measure, achieve – and exceed – your retention goals. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones (note: luck = hard work) and succeed at retaining half of your user-base … maybe, like the rest of us, you’ll be tipping the average, which, in the ever-growing world of mobile apps is pretty darn successful.

What to do next

Here at Kumulos our focus is on helping you to retain your hard-won audience through engagement. Push notifications have always been the most effective way to engage app users and Kumulos gives you all the tools to send rich, interactive messaging campaigns. The only platform that allows you to analyze campaign performance from both a commercial and technical standpoint. Book your free demo to see how Kumulos can turn your app users into loyal customers.

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.