I was recently at the Dublin Tech Summit, where I had the honor of serving on a panel focused on how to retain users on apps after the install — a challenge that plagues mobile developers large and small. I joined a group of some of the mobile ecosystem’s best and brightest: Patrick Leddy, CEO of Pulsate; Donald Fitzmaurice, CEO of Brandtone; Richard Firminger, VP Business Development at Yahoo EMEA and Milan Jiang, CEO of VeryStar-Linked.
This superstar panel shared some excellent insights about what makes a successful app, how to keep users around and how to continue to provide real value to those users after you’ve gotten to first base (the install).
Here are some of the most significant takeaways for me, ones I’m personally internalizing for Softonic mobile strategies going forward.
Make it useful, stupid.
Patrick shared some very simple yet sound advice: make your app useful, and not just the app — the entire mobile experience. “Be there. Be very useful. Be frictionless. Get in and get out of their way.” It sounds simple, but when you need to monetize, this advice can become tremendously hard to live by as you balance those goals with that of keeping the experience simple and enjoyable (and free) for the user.
Build off the back of a platform
Patrick’s bit of advice advice applies to most apps in the mainstream ecosystem. But Milan also helped sum up a paradigm shift that’s already happening in China which is completely different from what we are used to in the West: mobile experiences within the WeChat environment. Chinese users consume all of their content within Wechat — most up to 90 minutes per day — and don’t want advertising to get in the way. However, WeChat has found creative alternative business models, such as integration with message notifications for Starbucks which allows users to give coffee to each other. Milan remarked that it’s like the Chinese “red envelope” tradition. A completely different way of approaching monetization through advertisers.
Feelings as your next KPI
Donald brought a completely different perspective, highlighting the importance that cognitive science will play moving forward, and how it will shape our future KPIs by showing other important aspects for user retention. According to Donald, “What you are paying attention to delights you. It’s not the other way around. So in the future, the metrics you use to measure will be softer and more related to engagement and investment in the experience.”
Make your app a pain in the ass (to abandon)
Investment was also a word that came up when I spoke about what we need to do to engage users. Specifically, the need to develop a vested interest in the user for your app. An example of this in gaming would be progressive advancement: after several months it’s hard to give up all your hard-earned coins or Poke potions or SIMs skyscrapers — you are invested. This also applies to information investment. A good example of information investment is Evernote — all of your information is there so you’re not going anywhere with it in the foreseeable future. Vested interest is very effective and needs to be a part of your strategy. In short: make your app a real pain in the ass to abandon.
Lastly, one thing that’s really important but that we tend to forget about is: actively listening to your users. They are telling you how they are using your app, what tasks it helps them achieve and also what they want more of. Listen to them closely and become obsessed with helping them be successfulwith the technology you’ve built, and it’s more likely you’ll be able to keep them around for a long time.