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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.


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.


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.

Opt-in and Engage – Website Push Notification Success

ipad and laptop

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

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

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

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



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

Soft Prompt Before Hard Prompt

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


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


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

Subscription Overlays

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

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

Web push overlay example

Overlay used on Chrome

shopping.de subscription overlay edge

Overlay used on Edge


Time Your Prompts

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

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


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

Be Concise

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

Target Your Message

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

Limited Time Offers

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

Frequency & Timing

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

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

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


Where to Start

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

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

Goodbye Fabric, Hello Firebase

google logo

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

Why Use Crash Reporting?

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

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

Crashlytics & Fabric – The beginnings

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

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

The Google Years

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

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

Firebase Crashlytics

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

Migrating Over to Firebase

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

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


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

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

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

QSRs, Mobile and Customer Rewards | The threesome that’s redefining loyalty | 3/3

coffee and mobile

Part Three: Who’s smashing it

Loyalty and rewards apps are about so much more than user acquisition; what’s the point in 50,000 downloads if no one’s using it? (Clue: none whatsoever). So, while it’s very tempting to focus on acquisition when it comes to your loyalty app, engagement and retention will be the drivers of success – they’re also why the behemoths of the QSR sector are doing so well. Don’t believe us? After downloading an app, just over 30% of users will return to it, and 25% will abandon it just after one use. So, who’s smashing it when it comes to loyalty apps – which brands have nailed engagement, focused on personalizing their customer’s experiences, and now reaping tangible rewards for themselves in the process?


Chipotle was always ahead of the game when it comes to digital, launching their brand app in 2009 thru which customers could place their order rather than having to turn up at one of their near 2,500 restaurants. If you think back to 2009 – 3G, no Facebook Messenger, and a one-year-old App Store – this was pretty radical, and certainly way ahead of many of its competitors. It’s now nearly 12 months since 

chipotle loyalty appThe Chipotle Loyalty App 

Chipotle rolled out its much-lauded loyalty program (March 2019), and already they’re pick of the pops in the rewards stakes (no pun intended). Why? QSR’s loyalty program and accompanying app have seen the enterprise almost double its digital sales since launch, no doubt driven by the 7 million loyalty program signups since it was implemented. Result. What’s so great about the app? Let us count the ways:

  • Personalization: the burrito you like, where you like it, based on purchase history
  • Fast – allows quick ordering /reordering
  • Easy to pay with Apple and Android Pay functionality
  • Super-easy to redeem rewards and offers

The company have also implemented “Chipotlanes,” where customers can pick up app-ordered food without having to get out of the car (perish the thought!). 


Top US pizza progressives Domino’s launched their first app in 2011, and in the (almost) ten years since, we’ve seen their stock price jump nearly 1000%. All things considered (we won’t bore you with the balance sheet) that’s almost $7.8 billion in value creation since bringing their products to your smartphone. As if that wasn’t enough, last year the enterprise eatery had an ingenious loyalty idea, one that should have tanked, but instead propelled it to legendary status for its sheer boldness. 

During the 2019 Super Bowl, the company turned its own loyalty program on its head by launching the now-infamous “For the Love of Pizza” campaign – and rewarding its customers for eating any pizza. That’s right. Your mama’s, Pizza Hut’s, Papa John’s, even my pathetic midnight attempts at a margarita (base, ketchup and a handful of grated cheese – hey, at least I try). These pizza purveyors then had to upload a photo of said delicacy, when they would collect points that could be redeemed against a (much nicer looking) Domino’s pizza. This off-center idea paid off – on Super Bowl Sunday, the app moved up a whopping 158 ranks on the previous week. 


dominos loyalty appDomino’s loyalty app 

Post Super Bowl, Domino’s app continues to drive downloads and customer engagement offering:

  • Order tracking with Pizza Tracker – tells users where their pizza is in the delivery process.
  • Customization – customers can create their own pizza, however they want it.
  • Rewards – One of the most generous rewards programs, free pizzas are pretty easy to come by – and not the one-freebie-a-year so prevalent across the industry. 
  • Our favorite, Dom, the in-app equivalent of Alexa, means customers can order the way they would in an outlet – by talking. 
  • Easy ordering based on purchase history.

It’s worth noting that Domino’s success has digital transformation written all over it – no technology is an island, and they’ve been busy not just with their loyalty scheme but with a whole host of digital initiatives that are paying dividends: voice-based tech and self-driving delivery vehicles being our favorites. Key takeaway? Meet your audience where they are and the rest will take care of itself. 

Globally, consumers sourced food & drinks through apps 130% more often in 2018 than 2016


A piece on QSR loyalty apps wouldn’t be complete without Starbucks. Try as we might, we can’t get away from the fact that the coffee behemoth smashes it on every level when it comes to their rewards program – and the results speak for themselves: 48% of smartphone users who regularly use QSR rewards apps use Starbucks Rewards. 

starbucks loyalty appStarbucks Rewards App

Last year, Starbucks reported an increase of $2.65 billion in revenues, attributing most of that success to their rewards program. Not convinced? Over the last two years, Starbucks Rewards membership has grown more than 25%; 16 million loyal customers are in the Starbucks’ membership program which now accounts for around 40% of sales at their US outlets. Someone, somewhere is doing something right … CEO Kevin Johnson is clear about the reasons for this monumental success: “… a more seamless customer onboarding experience, greater mobile order-and-pay adoption, and enhanced personalization features”. Let’s take a look at what makes this the holy grail of QSR rewards apps:

A personalized brand experience – The epitome of a personalized mobile experience, the Starbucks Rewards app has it all – from telling users what’s “Now Playing” in the Starbucks store they’re in, to where their nearest outlet is to recalling a favorite order, this is all about the customer, just as it should be …

  • Mobile Order-and-Pay – the ability to order your coffee ahead and skip the queue when you get there to collect is one of the most popular app functions; the app also provides quick access to the Starbucks Card, moving customers through the queue even faster and without them ever having to reach for their wallet. Seamless customer experience? Check!
  • Speaking of ordering, the mobile ordering platform doubles as a smart digital marketing tool, enabling customers to see new products before they’re launched. 
  • The gamification of rewards – Customers win stars each time they pay with their app, as well as giving members “challenges” which can earn additional stars to use towards free food and drinks. App engagement? Check!
  • A geo-location feature means customers can find out where their nearest Starbucks locations are, the menu available at each location, and of course, the ability to order ahead so you can pick up when you get there. Helpful? Check!
  • Starbucks card management – customers can check their Starbucks card to find out their balance, transfer money between cards, top-up their balance, pay for food and drink at Starbucks outlets, see payments history, collect stars for rewards, and even leave tips (our favorite). A flawless brand experience? Check!


Of course, the big brands are the ones which make the biggest noise- but we’d be wrong if we think that big means better. Challenger brands too have been busy when it comes to loyalty. If anything, they perhaps understand more the importance of putting their customers first, grokking the necessity of relationship over retention and driving meaningful connection across an increasingly remote digital space. The result? Why, loyalty of course! And here’s our pick of the bunch …

Second Cup

The Second Cup Coffee Co. – now in the process of transitioning to new name “Aegis Brands” – is the largest specialty coffee retailer in Canada with over 240 outlets and a very loyal fanbase. Providing Canada’s coffee-loving contingent with over one million drinks every week, from over seven thousand pounds of fair-trade coffee every day, this challenger brand knows how to keep its fanbase happy. Launching their loyalty app in 2015, Second Cup customers today enjoy a loyalty app that offers points for beverages, tailored product offerings; order-ahead and mobile payments functionality and the nice gamification of rewards acquisition. You can read all about it right here.

second cup loyalty appSecond Cup Loyalty app


Our next pick of the challengers is Menchies, fro-yo superstars that are no strangers to innovation when it comes to looking after customers. Today, their highly successful mySmileage loyalty program continues to smash expectations, boosting customer count, driving new revenue streams and rightly earning their place on the loyalty leader board of the challengers. The figures speak for themselves; over 13 million mySmileage members, a whopping 17% average ticket lift and a 50% increase in customer frequency, driven by the smart rewards features in the mySmileage app. ‘Smiles’ points collection, a $5.00 birthday credit; personalized offers and discounts; a Menchie’s payment account, store locator and e-Gift cards – you can learn more about Menchies mySmileage app here

Menchies loyalty appMenchies Smileage loyalty app 

Pizza Pizza

In 2013 Pizza Pizza launched their Club-11-11 loyalty program, the first ever app for ordering pizza in Canada – result! Since then, their loyalty program has gone from strength to strength, powering impressive results across transactions, digital sales and repeat visits over any other touchpoint.

pizza pizza loyalty appThe Pizza Pizza rewards app

Value-add features such as order ahead and order tracking, outlet location, payments functionality, weekly deals and gamification of the ordering process (users can opt to play a game on closure of an order and can win a free item with their next one) keep Pizza Pizza customers engaged and coming back for more. 

Big brands or challengers, QSRs are leveraging mobile strategically to both reach and engage their customers through their smartphones – the devices that never leave the side of these customers. That’s one of the reasons that in 2018 we spent 140% more time in food and drink apps than in the two years prior. But access to, and growth of, mobile technology doesn’t a great rewards app make – this particular ecosystem is about simplicity, efficiency and the myriad on-the-move benefits that put ME at the center of the brand experience. A brand experience that must be relevant, personalized and bridge the (increasingly diminishing) gaps between the real and digital worlds. 

87% of companies are primarily using Loyalty data to optimize member experience, 60% for measurement and forecasting, and 48% for marketing (LoyaltyOne)

The best loyalty programs and apps which manage to successfully create these bridges must provide customers with value – such as the super-convenient pay-and-collect facility, the gamification of relevant, niche rewards, or the personalization of the purchase experience. It’s that satisfying, seamless, engaging customer experience that meets all of the demands of a new digital audience – and the digital brands that are ready to embrace it. And it’s not all about the customer (I know, sacrilege!) For brands ready to take on the mobile marketplace, the rewards are there too. The big data gleaned from doing business in the loyalty app space means the ability to create personalized digital marketing campaigns that can both reduce spend and increase ROI. Sounds like a win-win to us …

What to do Next…

To offer users a better experience on your app, create loyalty and see results like these brands there needs to be a focus on retention and engagement after customer acquisition.  Kumulos gives you the tools to understand user behavior and send relevant, highly targeted, personalized content. Connect with users, create loyalty and boost retention. Use built-in analytics to gain a deep understanding of your audience, better your campaigns and create amazing UX. Book a demo of our award winning messaging platform and see how Kumulos can create real business results for your app.

QSRs, Mobile and Customer Rewards | The threesome that’s redefining loyalty | 2/3

Pizza Loyalty App

Part Two: Why mobile – and what makes a good rewards app

In last week’s opener, we talked about the history of loyalty, and how you pretty much have to nail it in today’s rapidly evolving QSR sector if you’re planning on being around for the long-haul. Today, it’s all about loyalty on your mobile – our favourite! – and what a great rewards app looks like. If you’re in the QSR sector and looking to loyalty to drive customer retention, today might just be your lucky day …

What’s so great about mobile anyway?

Here’s an interesting fact: according to the Pew Research Centre, a huge 20% of Americans primarily use their smartphones instead of having internet access at home – and we’re not just surfing. We’re spending around two hours every day using apps – to play, to share, to email, to message and to shop. What’s more, we use our phones during every stage of the shopping process – from discovering what’s out there to sourcing reviews, to performing price comparisons to making the actual purchase. We don’t just do it in our armchairs either, we’re doing it in the store, or walking to work, or on the train, or before we turn the lights off for the night… in fact, all the time … See where we’re going with this? Yep – rewards programs matter and are a super-charged, highly effective way to attract and retain brand evangelists, what’s more, mobile is the single best vehicle for doing so. Bottom line? Including a mobile-first strategy in your plan for rewards domination is a no-brainer – unless you plan on not being around in 5 years time. 

Unlike the loyalty drivers of yesteryear, mobile isn’t going anywhere. You’ve only got to look around you to know that wherever we’re headed on this spinning cybernated sphere that our mobile devices will be coming with us:

  • The global mobile population amounts to around 4 billion unique users 
  • As of February 2019, mobile devices accounted for 48 per cent of web page views globally
  • Around 2 billion people made purchases from a mobile device in 2019,
  • With around 95% of consumers conducting research via their mobile device before completing an in-store or online checkout. 
  • About $1 in every $4 generated in e-commerce comes via mobile, with annual spending figure surpassing $35 billion.
  • Searches for branded restaurant apps which enable reservations, tracking orders, and discounts have grown 120% YoY.

In 2018, we Americans spent 140% more time using food and drink apps than during the two years before. Why? Well for a start, there are simply more food and drink apps out there, but we’re also a demanding bunch. We want convenience (with bells and whistles, thanks) and the restaurants are listening. 

Brands spend up to 11 times more on recruiting new customers than retaining existing ones (Brand Keys)

Being able to order ahead and being rewarded for our custom is a compelling proposition which we really really like. The apps that answer our convenience cries provide value, but they also provide a bridge between a brand’s physical presence and their digital one, which means that wherever we are, our favourite QSR brands can meet us right there. If you’re a QSR looking to drive repeat business and loyalty from your customers, it’s time to start steering the future of your brand in the winning direction: meaningful, momentous – and mobile.

What makes a QSR app a great  QSR app?

For a loyalty program to find an enviable level of success, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. Customers are generally happier with a rewards app when there are few requirements as possible at their side to accrue and activate their rewards and when the whole app experience is as quick as possible. These are non-negotiable standard elements of any app worth its salt. No one wants to be spending more time than they need to glean what they need from your app – gaming being the only exception. QSRs need to aim for a level of personalization that feels niche, not mass.

  • Personalization that feels genuinely personal, relevant and which feels unique to the customer.

Personalization is one of the most persuasive tools in a successful reward app – both for you and for your customers. For you, the enormous potential of reams of customer data around their preferences and behaviors means you have the golden ticket that allows you to tailor your brand experience to each of your customers – you’re happy, your customers are happy, and you’ll also have the intel to hand that allows you to innovate with new products and services that you know your audience is looking for.  

  • The ability for customers to accept or reject offers 

Again, it’s an intel thing. Providing your customers with a selection of rewards which they can either accept or reject, you learn what type of offers your customers prefer and those which they’ll actually use. Over time, you can fine-tune your offers, and your customers get more of what they like. That means there’s a higher chance of them using their rewards, powering brand loyalty and ensuring that stickiness the clever rewards programs are known for. 

  • Providing personal recommendations based on a customer’s purchase history

Not everything in life has to be free – sometimes a personalised recommendation goes a long way to building brand loyalty too. Got a new product that big data has told you will be a sure-fire hit with some customers? Pushing these recommendations via your rewards app will help drive sales – with money off the next purchase if your audience is willing to provide a review of said product (you’re welcome).

  • Being notified when new products or services are launched 

Akin to the personal recommendations above, the ability to notify customers when you launch new products or services can be a great way to engage your audience base via your loyalty app. These notifications need to be relevant – as a vegetarian, I probably don’t want to be notified when you’ve put that new Big Bison Burger on the menu.

  • The ability to view detailed information on products

This one seems a bit ‘meh’ – but bear with me. In a world where suddenly everyone’s taking a vested interest in what goes into the food that they eat, its provenance, production, environmental and sustainability credentials, you bet I want to know what’s in that dairy-free cream bun, and if I’m helping or hindering the planet by eating it. Not critical, but hey, we’re talking loyalty here and my loyalties are to cleaner, greener, transparent businesses that are vocal about their social responsibility. It may not be big now, but who wants to be a follower when you lead by example?

  • Redeem rewards on relevant products and services – that is, personalized!

Your loyalty app should allow customers to redeem their rewards via the app – on products and services that are relevant to that customer. There’s little point at all in amassing a shed load of rewards on coffee that as a tea-drinker  I’ll never purchase, or services that I’ll never use (like that discounted delivery service that feels rather pointless when I can walk to your outlet in less than 60 seconds).

  • The ability to order products and/or services via the app  

… and the functionality to receive updates about order status. QSRs by their very nature are fast when it comes to service. But today’s consumer wants everything yesterday and waiting in a queue for more than 60 seconds can cause symptoms ranging from mild irritation to murderous rage (I speak from experience). As such, it makes sense for your loyalty app to provide the twitchy customer with the ability to order in advance and collect when turning up. You win for being an easy brand experience, and your customer wins for avoiding an uncomfortable restaurant rage incident.

  • Make it easy to settle the check

Ordering to collect, then having to wait ten minutes to pay while your staff struggle with the lunchtime rush makes absolutely no sense at all. Not only will the customer lose all sense of that warm, fuzzy jump-the- queue joy they experienced by being able to click-and-collect, you’ll also risk losing their custom to the outlet that bothered to make the whole purchase experience a seamless, irritation-free ride.

  • Location-based offers 

Make sure that rewards are relevant. Giving your customers a choice of how to engage with you, whether it’s via mobile, social or another platform, increases the likelihood of engagement.

The results are in … as more QSR brands embrace loyalty, the customer experience improves. And as the technologies that power our digital lives continue to advance, allowing brands to connect with customers in truly value-add, meaningful ways, mobile will undoubtedly be a core driver of this new customer-centric approach to growth. Already, the big QSR brands are making bigger waves across their customer base with their rewards apps – growing revenues, driving loyalty and laying the foundations of a truly mobile future. Who’s blowing the competition out of the water, doing rewards right, and strengthening their position in an increasingly crowded space? Check back next week to find out!

What to do next

Kumulos award winning omni-channel messaging gives you the platform to engage your audience and create loyal customers. Send rich, interactive push notifications that are personal and relevant to the user. Target the right users, in the right location, at the right time and optimize retention. Book your demo today and see how Kumulos can deliver real business results for your app.

Read Part Three: ‘Who’s Smashing It’ here.

QSRs, Mobile and Customer Rewards | The threesome that’s redefining loyalty | 1/3

starbucks loyalty card

Part One: The history – and importance – of customer loyalty 


Megacity, small city, town or edge-of-town, few of us can step out of our own front door these days and walk but a short few steps before encountering an artisan coffee shop, pop-up pie stall or concept cake outlet. It seems everyone’s offering us a piece of their pie; but whilst many of these new cafe staples can bring tears to the eyes of traditionalists, competition for your loyalty to our new foodie overlords is fierce. It’s also just one reason why customer loyalty strategies sit at the very epicentre of their business models: if they fail to get your repeat business, wave bye-bye to that free turmeric latte next time you’re passing.

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

For cafés, fast food drive-thrus and other quick service restaurants, repeat business is critical for long-term success: it costs a business between five and twenty-five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell to an existing one. What’s more, existing customers spend on average nearly 70%  more than new customers. Key takeaway – customer loyalty matters — and well-planned, well-executed customer loyalty schemes will usually end up paying for themselves. 

But hold your horses – it’s not as easy as printing a few stamp-cards and waiting for the stampede (no pun intended). It’s just that that loyalty is getting trickier and trickier to acquire the more crowded the sector becomes. Sure, a one-off donut purchase is great, but it’s hardly going to pave your drive-thru with gold, and nor is it going to have customers banging down your door for bags of the things for the next 20 years. No – it’s your devotees who sustain your business, and this fact of QSR life isn’t likely to be usurped any time in the future. Let’s tarry here for a second to emphasise:

  • Loyal customers convert and spend more often with brands that they like than the ones they’re indifferent about (or of course, actively dislike).
  • Loyal customers spend more than brand sluts (hey, don’t blame me – it’s a thing).
  • Loyal customers tell anyone and everyone about positive – and especially negative – brand experiences … 

So what does reward look like for these loyal followers? Frequent purchase stamps, booking priorities, a free (extra large for me please) bag of fries or a custom-built 4-storey pizza of your choice – these kinds of loyalty programs are good at getting us back through the door for more, but how hard are they really working for the brands that run them, and could they be doing better? Hell, yes! A lot better!
According to GartnerL2 research, 82% of US adults say they’re loyal to certain brands. That’s a lot of loyalty, but although many QSRs believe that their customers are salivating to buy into every loyalty program on the go, the fact is that only just over a quarter of us ever do – and another quarter of us don’t bother with loyalty programs at all. What’s more, only 27% of us think that the offers we get through these loyalty programs are actually relevant to us. In fact, these miserable figures are enough to make a brand think that loyalty probably isn’t that important anyway. Surely you’d be better off investing in other more profitable areas of your QSR business? Well maybe not … 

A (very) brief history of loyalty …

Loyalty programs have come a long way since the Donny Osmond Fan Club’s purple lollipop giveaways to loyal fans circa 1974 (don’t ask me how I know). But if Donny doesn’t tick your boxes (what’s wrong with you?), what about Green Shield Stamps, Air Miles or the coupons on the top of cereal cartons and cookie boxes – all early(ish) examples of brands attempting to drive loyalty across their customer base, and all operating in an internet-less, mobile-void world. Today, the world around us is a different beast, driven by digital and a very new world order – though sadly minus Donny and his lollipops.

stamp saver book

… and Loyalty in 2020

In my purse today, a Target, Walmart and Starbucks card selection, and a drawer full of others at home. I’ve also got over a dozen coupons to use at various malls, restaurants and leisure venues uptown, but I’m willing to bet I’ll never get round to using any of them. Traditional loyalty programs like these might sound good on paper ( does anyone use that these days?) but in reality, they’re just putting obstacles in our path. Forgot your card? Too bad – it’s full-price coffee for you today. Didn’t remember you have a $5 off coupon gathering cobwebs in your wallet? Sorry, love don’t live here anymore. Small wonder these programs do little for their creators. Sure, your customers might still be spending money with you, or maybe they got a better, more valuable deal elsewhere. But either way, how would you know what your customers are doing without the intel these programs are meant to gather? 

91% of consumers suggest that omnichannel experiences are either important or critical, with 29% suggesting that companies should be where I want when I want, ready to share and communicate how I expect (CMO)

And yet, the well-planned, well-executed Loyalty programs work – for business, for customers and for the bottom line. The best of the bunch mix a robust understanding of customer behavior, a seamless brand experience across each touchpoint they’ll find you, and valuable, relevant rewards that give consumers a reason to stick with you. If you think loyalty’s for the marketing department with too much time on their hands, it might be time for a rethink:

You’ll find it easier – a lot easier – to retain and engage your customer base. Elements such as gamification through points and rewards will give your audience reasons to keep coming back to your app. It’s not all about the purchase – engaging your customers beyond a mere transaction is the name of the game. 

You’ll save money, and likely a shed-load.  As we’ve already pointed out, it costs a business far more to acquire new customers (five – twenty-five times more)  than it does to sell to an existing one. 

Over time, you’ll find you can stop competing on price – instead, this new playing field will see you enhancing the customer experience of your brand by connecting with them on far more meaningful, value-add terms. 

You’ll enhance your CLV – or customer lifetime value. The data gleaned from your rewards program will mean that over time you’ll be able to calculate the CLV for each and every one of your customers and build out a business model which focuses on strategies to engage and retain them over the long-haul.

And you’ll inadvertently create brand advocates – OK, so maybe not inadvertently, but word-of-mouth is the key factor for between twenty and fifty percent of all purchasing decisions (Branderati), and  73% of millennials feel it’s their responsibility to help friends and family to make smarter purchasing decisions (the pressure!), you better be on that list of recommendations.  

Convinced? You should be!  Loyalty programs have moved on,  now a crucial element of the successful QSR business model that’s delivering massive opportunities for growth and longevity in an increasingly crowded marketplace. The numbers speak for themselves – Starbucks rewards program has seen them add two million active users to the scheme in just twelve months; Chipotle’s loyalty program and accompanying app have seen the enterprise practically double its digital sales since launch, and Domino’s stratospheric leap up the app charts with it’s For the Love of Pizza loyalty campaign, has yet to be beaten. If you’re ready to bring the love to loyalty, check back next week to find out what mobile’s got to bring to the rewards party, and what your loyalty app needs to do to keep that love alive.

What to Do Next…

At Kumulos we understand what it takes to retain and engage users on loyalty apps. Our award winning omni-channel messaging platform gives you the tools to target the right users, in the right location at the right time. Book your demo today and see how Kumulos can deliver real business results for apps.

Read Part Two ‘Why Mobile – and what makes a good rewards app’ here.

CCPA – What It Means for You and Your App


What is CCPA?

The California Consumer Privacy Act is a revolution in the data privacy rights of the American people.  Much like the GDPR in Europe, CCPA aims to regulate how companies can capture and distribute your data. America still has no federal law that governs the data rights of American citizens. California has always been a leader in data privacy regulations, previously operating by CalOPPA. This is a potential starting point for new privacy regulations to be adopted nationally. More than 10 other states are in the process of considering new laws regarding privacy.

CCPA came into force on the 1st of January this year to protect the data of the Californian people. Only the user must be located in California for CCPA to apply. The physical location of the company collecting data is irrelevant, they only have to be operational in California.  This means any online service that fit the criteria of CCPA have to make their intentions clear to any user from California and allow them to opt-out of data collection from January 1st.


What This Means for App Users

So, what does this mean for the app users of California? It puts the control of private information back in the hands of the user. They have the right to stop a company from selling their data to a third-party. This has previously been going on without ever needing consent. It allows control over what information is collected and holds the businesses collecting data responsible for any breaches in security. Within the first 6 months of 2019 4.1 billion records were compromised in data breaches, 3.2 billion of which were from just 8 cases.

Now users can have previously stored data deleted and permission must be granted by the user for the sale of their data. Companies cannot discriminate the service provided based on the users’ data preference.


What CCPA Means for You and Your App

CCPA has strict stipulations about when these practices come into play, the majority of apps on the market won’t fall into these categories. But if any of these 3-thresholds apply to your business then it’s time you pay attention to this new law:

  • The first instance in which CCPA will apply is to companies with over $25 million annual revenue.
  • The second states that the company must have more than 50,000 “consumers, households, or devices” data stored.
  • The last condition is that 50% or greater of profits come from the sale of data.

Below these and it doesn’t come into effect. If any one of these 3 applies to you then you should already be compliant with CCPA. Due to these thresholds, it shouldn’t apply to most smaller companies.

Why These Thresholds?

These thresholds make a lot of sense and are fair to smaller organisations or those who aren’t making use of data collection for their own advantages.

The first point targets larger companies, most people would agree that if larger companies are collecting masses of user data then they have a responsibility to ensure its security.  The Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019 found that there was a rise in the number of cyber-attacks last year. Around a third of businesses overall reported attacks, but this rises to 60% for medium and 61% for large-sized business.

The second point minimizes the hoarding of data. If you can avoid being affected by CCPA by reducing the number of data sets that are stored, then it’s likely you’d make a point of safely deleting any unnecessary information on record that isn’t of use.

The last point regards companies that are exploiting data collection for profit. If you knew a service, you were using was making more than half of its profit from selling information on its users… would you still use it? A company whose main income source is giving personal information to anyone who is willing to pay, is most likely a company you don’t want to have that information.

You’re probably now either relieved this won’t affect you… or you’ve stopped reading to look at implementing CCPA compliance within your app.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are still circumstances in which CCPA will still apply to businesses that are technically below these thresholds. If a smaller business is a service provider to a company that is above the limits set-out in the law, then the smaller business will need to comply. Any user information obtained from that partner company may be subject to the new law and by having access to it, you become liable. Therefore, businesses in these situations need to have methods in place that are capable of safely disposing of data.

Act quickly if your app is currently available for downloaded in California or face some pretty hefty fines.


Currently minor infringements will fall on a spectrum of fines between $100 and $750 per user. These fines are less severe than those that are issued for non-compliance with CCPA. These smaller fines are instances such-as a third-party that has been able to advertise to the consumer due to failure of a security measure. These claims can be made by anyone whose data has been breached in accordance with CCPA as statutory damages through the civil court. Clarip made the point that just 10,000 users making a claim after a breach (assuming they were only awarded the minimum amount) will cost a million dollars in compensation. 30 days’ notice will be given in these cases before legal proceedings commence. If the problem is rectified in this timescale, then no legal action can be taken by the consumer.

Non-compliance with CCPA is going to cost far more than this. In accidental cases the charge will be $2,500 but rises to $7,500 for cases of deliberate non-compliance. This still doesn’t sound too frightening does it? Well those figures apply per user that has had their data breached. If you’re not complying with CCPA then it’s safe to assume you’re going to be paying for more than one breach. Those fines mount up fast. Deliberately ignoring CCPA for just 133 Californian users is going to cost you just shy of a million dollars.

Data Collection

Now that CCPA is in place you should be monitoring where the data you have collected has been going. Californians now have the right to ask for data that was taken and who it was sold to. This backdates to the start of 2019. Now would be the time to go searching and make sure you have it ready when someone comes asking!

Private data can’t be stored without prior permission. The company collecting the data must ask if the user would like to opt out at, or prior to, the first point of data collection. Users under 16 must be asked if they would like to opt-in rather than out. There must be a portal in-app that can process the opt-in/ out request of users.

Data that is covered by this act and must be protected includes username, address, cookies, face or voice recordings, location history, search history, health, sexual orientation, employment and finances.

Those who CCPA does apply to need to have a repository of all data that has been stored that can be issued upon request. If a consumer requests deletion of their data, you must have processes in places to safely delete all stored data.


The Future of User Privacy

2020 will be a big year in America for the rights of the consumer when it comes to data protection. It is expected that some other states will follow the lead of California as demand increases for a blanket policy that controls privacy in the US, just as the GDPR does in the EU. California could be the first of many to have adopted this rigorous stance on privacy in 2020.

People should think positively of these advancements in user protection. Here at Kumulos we welcomed the introduction of GDPR and have been fully compliant since its initiation. CCPA is no different, new ways of protecting consumer data and ensuring safer practice for app users are always welcomed. We’re committed to data protection and privacy and enjoy seeing more government authorities introducing measures to protect the rights of the people. Hopefully CCPA is the first step towards a US-wide policy.

If privacy is a concern of yours when working with companies, or you’d like to find out more about Kumulos and what it can do to help improve the user experience of your app, book a demo today and see how we take data protection seriously.

Health and Fitness Apps – features that drive engagement!

health and fitness apps

It’s January, the start of a new year. Gyms around the world are flooded with new faces determined to better themselves. In the modern age there’s some ‘new year resolutioners’ that you’ll find are not reaching for the dumbbells, but for their smartphone. The market for health and fitness apps is booming and offers an alternative method to manage and control your own well-being. The key to customer retention in apps is to engage the user. Evaluate your campaigns using analytics and see what works for your users. Drive for success this year with the motivation levels of a January gym sign-up and use analytics to get a deeper understanding of your audience.

Research by Statista found that revenue in the fitness segment is expected to show an annual growth rate of 5.0% (CAGR 2019-2023). This is expected to result in a market volume of $20,499m by 2023.

For your app to be a part of this market increase you need to be focused not only on acquisition, but how to keep users active.

Retention and Engagement – essential for health and fitness apps

For an app to be successful it must be as good at retention and engagement as it is at acquisition. By delving into your app analytics you will be able to make data-driven decisions to optimize your mobile app screens and improve your user onboarding process. What’s more, it will help you with your messaging strategy in 2020. Not only do you want to increase engagement with in-app notifications but you want to boost retention with push notifications.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the leading health and fitness apps and highlight the features that create great users, giving you tips for engagement and retention. This post discusses health and fitness apps but this can be applied to other industries such as hospitality.

There is a huge market for health and fitness apps in the Google Play and Apple App stores.  They all claim to give you the necessary tools to improve your health or fitness.  There are apps to work on your physical fitness, mental well-being or even music apps designed to keep you in the zone when you’re working out. They all fall into the health and fitness category.

Health and fitness apps often find more success in customer engagement than other genres of app. Users become loyal to particular apps, often engaging with them daily. Mobile marketers in all markets can learn from the user engagement success in the health and fitness sector.

4 ways to boost engagement of health and fitness apps

So, let’s take a look at some of the popular health and fitness apps and the features that engage their users. People want a high quality health and fitness app to use from the comfort of their mobile device, wherever they want to work out, or whatever their health goals. Those who still enjoy a gym membership, probably still want a few health and fitness apps to compliment their workout schedule or they may even take a holistic approach to health with a meditation app.

So, here are the 4 ways to boost engagement when it comes to health and fitness apps.

  1. Easy sign-up – and onboarding for paid subscribers
  2. Convenience – with personalized notifications
  3. It builds loyalty – with an engaging experience
  4. Data privacy is taken seriously


1: Easy sign-up – and onboarding for paid subscribers

Many health and fitness apps start with a free trial and then encourage people to sign up for a paid account. It’s important that the sign up process is easy and is followed by a good onboarding experience for the user. Once the user becomes a paid subscriber there needs to be change in CX to give the feeling of becoming a valued customer.

Jillian Michaels Fitness App

jillianmichaelsiphoneJillian Michaels app is a one-stop-shop for all fitness goals. It’s a paid app and at around $90 per year, it currently has over 20 fitness programs (of varying lengths), adjustable difficulty settings, and a meal planner. Some folks describe it as like having a celebrity “tough-love” personal trainer in your pocket.

From the moment you download the app, it’s engaging. There is a video from Jillian explaining the benefits of the app and then a simple form to complete with your details. It all feels very positive. The prices are displayed up front, but with the option to start a 7 day free trial.

No matter the fitness level, this mobile app encourages members to keep going. Whether they are at an expert level or just starting out. This app drives membership retention and makes it easy to stay engaged at just a drop of a button. At Kumulos, we especially like the use of video content!

You can download the Jillian Michaels Fitness App here:

Kumulos Companion App Store Download
Kumulos Companion App Google Play


myfitnesspaliphoneMyFitnessPal is a calorie counter and diet plan app to help reach a healthy weight. This app has a really nice onboarding experience, especially for an app with so many features.

After allowing you to sign up with Facebook or your email, the app guides you through your goal. When you have set up your goal, MyFitnessPal has a step-by-step guide to get you acquainted with the functionality of the app. You then fill in your daily diet, water consumption and other health stats. The app is simple to use and doesn’t need much instruction. In terms of functionality, MyFitnessPal actually gives you a lot of free features before you have to pay.

You can download the MyFitnessPal App here:

Kumulos Companion App Store Download
Kumulos Companion App Google Play

2: Convenience – with personalized notifications

Users will of course download a health or fitness app for the health benefits. However, in addition to the convenience of having the health features on their mobile, users will be more engaged if they receive personalized in-app messages and push notifications. When mobile marketers take the time to analyse their app data and segment their audience to send relevant, targeted messages, they tend to see higher engagement and loyalty.

Comparehare found that almost 30% of fitness fanatics use fitness apps more than 10 times a week. The more personalized content you can send them, the higher this will be!  When it comes to monitoring and managing health conditions, this is especially important.

My Diabetes My Way

mydiabetesiphoneMy Diabetes My Way (MDMW) is an app that supports self-management of diabetes. It gives patients access to hundreds of multi-media educational resources, e-learning courses, and access to their NHS data (electronic health record), and home recorded data (home blood glucose monitoring, weight, BP, activity data). MDMW enables goal setting, secure communication between patients and health care providers, and gives automated tailored care reports and advice based on individual parameters. The use of messaging to send out personalized medication reminders is impressive.

You can download the My Diabetes My Way App here:

Kumulos Companion App Store Download
Kumulos Companion App Google Play

3: It builds loyalty – with an engaging experience

With so many apps in health and fitness and indeed thousands competing within niche areas of the health market (e.g activity tracking, sleep, relaxation etc.) app developers need to ensure that their app is engaging enough to stop users looking for an alternative. Whether it’s the use of messaging to alert people to the values of the app features or deliver premium content to paid subscribers, the mobile marketing strategy plays an important role in building loyalty.

Couch to 5K

The Couch to 5K app lets users choose from a selection of virtual coaches which give you audio cues during your workouts. You can also listen to your favourite playlist through the in-app music player. With GPS support, it logs all workouts and is easy to track progress. It’s a 9 week program and with so many positive reviews, the developers have done a great job to instil loyalty.

You can download the Couch to 5K app here:

Kumulos Companion App Store Download
Kumulos Companion App Google Play

Yes!GO App

yes!goiphoneYes!GO is the #1 Fitness Music Producer in the world. With the YES!GO App, users can access the entire ‘Yes!’ Fitness Music library of professionally pre-mixed albums or unlimited custom/non-stop mixes. Used by a large customer base of fitness professionals, the app has a loyal fan base.

You can download the Yes!GO App here:

Kumulos Companion App Store Download
Kumulos Companion App Google Play

4: Data privacy is taken seriously

Fitness trackers use GPS tracking or can connect to your mobile’s GPS which allows them to tell where you are at any given moment. Not only is your location stored but some apps have the capability to show data such as when you were in a deep sleep.  That’s why it’s essential for manufacturers of apps that use ‘wearables’  to build customer trust when gathering sensitive data.

Fitness app developers, just like every other app sector, have suffered data breaches. The breach that hit UnderArmour’s MyFitnessPal in 2018 will no doubt come to mind. It exposed the usernames, passwords, and email addresses of more than 150 million users. While hackers typically go after data they can easily monetize (like your credit card details) the thought that location data was exposed is especially bothersome. Given that joggers and bikers generally run and ride near home, attackers could also identify where the user lived by looking at where the majority of their routes began and ended.

Fitbit App

fitbitiphoneFitbit App is one of the leading health and fitness apps and ranked second highest in terms of downloads in the Google Play Store in the United States in November 2019.

When it comes to security, a lot of fitness apps have been subject to vulnerabilities. Fitbit still remains a strong leader in the industry when it comes to their privacy policy etc. Although it’s not clear how Google’s acquisition of Fitbit will affect security, we’re confident they will continue to value consumer privacy highly.

This app is also very good at allowing users to customize the push notifications, allowing users to switch notifications on and off depending on their preferences.

You can download the Fitbit App here:

Kumulos Companion App Store Download
Kumulos Companion App Google Play


calmiphoneCalm, the meditation app has helped millions of users reduce stress, anxiety, and improve sleeping patterns. Everything from the soothing blue screen to the copy “take a deep breath” defines the overall relaxing feel of the app. The setup is really easy and the onboarding process guides users to set their goals.  There is a free 7-day subscription before users would need to pay for the premium version.

The privacy policy notice is the first thing you see when you install the app…you need to read and accept this before you can see any of the features. They explain very well why they collect personal information and reassure users that it’s in order to improve their Calm experience.

According to App Annie, Calm was the number 1 free app in the iOS store in the US in December 2019. Calm certainly seem to know how to engage an audience. They’re definitely developing for the future market too, with a ‘Calm Kids’ section within the app.

You can download the Calm here:

Kumulos Companion App Store Download
Kumulos Companion App Google Play

Make it a healthy 2020 for your app

So, take a look at these successful apps and think about the features and messaging strategy to make your app a success in 2020.  With some extra thought about the sign up process, personalized notifications and a comprehensive privacy policy, your app engagement will improve.

About Kumulos mobile user engagement platform

Kumulos offers a number of features to assist app developers in engaging users through mobile messaging and measuring engagement analytics. To learn more about driving engagement, take a look at our push notifications and in-app messaging feature guide.

Kumulos platform provides app analytics so you can evaluate campaign results to improve your next campaign. Kumulos gives you everything you need to make an app successful. In one dashboard, you can also benefit from the App Store Optimization feature to help increase downloads and outshine competitors in app stores. When it comes to the technical performance of the app, there’s also a crash reporting and API Endpoint Monitoring feature.

Contact us for a product tour, or start your free trial today.