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Guide

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2020 Mobile App Engagement Benchmark Report

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Loyalty & Retention

Harness the Power of Push to Drive Mobile Customer Retention

Alex Walz  //  April 19, 2016  //  6 min read

This week, we’re back with yet another metric in our NEW App Marketing Metrics series. This time, we’re looking at the quality of your app messaging. A broad metric that can be evaluated through several different focal points, quality is the metric that will drive app marketers to success in boosting engagement and retention in a time when far too many marketers are still concerned about message quantity.

The most important mobile app marketing metrics of 2016

Update: We’ve concluded this series.

Check out all six installments with the links below. Or, download the complete series in pdf form.

1. App Uninstalls | 2. Return on Ad Spend | 3. Message Quality | 4. Customer Lifetime Value
5. One-Star App Reviews | 6. % of Customers Engaged


All too often, the efficacy of mobile app messaging is measured in actions: In push notifications sent, customers messaged, or rating prompts shown. As a result, we’re surrounded by brand communication, to the point where we’re exposed to 5,000 ads each and every day.

As marketers ramp up their communication, however, they’re greeted with marginally worse results (fewer clickthroughs, more app exits, and less engagement, to name a few). They then enter into a vicious cycle of increasing their messaging volume to make up for the poor results, all the while the customer is inundated with an app that now looks like Times Square. Over the remainder of 2016, we predict app publishers will recognize the need to move away from such volume-based metrics, and focus instead on the quality of their messaging.

Becoming pushy with push

While the tips in this post apply to all forms of messaging (in-app messaging, push notifications, email, SMS), we’ve focused our discussion on the one channel most ubiquitous in the app ecosystem: Push.

On the surface, push notifications seem perfectly harmless. They’re simple, bite-sized alerts that customers can simply swipe away to dismiss. In a manner of seconds, the viewer can read your message and either launch your app to learn more or return to what they were originally doing.

Their simplicity, however, is also their downfall. Push notifications are so easy and so seemingly unintrusive that mobile app publishers have come to use them as an alternative social network, sending out several of these miniature news blasts a day regardless of the recipient’s interest or timezone. Ultimately, push has grown in usage to the point where over one trillion notifications were sent in 2014 alone.

Push notifications on iPhone device

Over 1 TRILLION push notifications were sent in 2014. (click to tweet)
Image source: Buzinga


Push is primarily seen as a vehicle for driving customer retention. Inactive customers who see your messages on their lock screen will, in theory, recall your app and find themselves lured back into its clutches.

The irony, however, is that push is a primary driver of customer churn. In an Appiterate survey, annoying push notifications topped the list of the seven leading reasons people uninstall apps, with 71% of respondents claiming to have uninstalled an app due to excessive or irrelevant messaging.

So, then, if push is meant to drive retention, why is it doing exactly the opposite? The answer comes down to contextualization. Or rather, the lack thereof.

Augmenting the customer experience with contextualized messaging

There’s a reason push notifications and other forms of app communication are becoming increasingly less effective. Customers are completely and utterly bombarded.

In order to deliver your intended results in the customer-first app ecosystem of 2016, your brand communication must break through the clutter. It must be relevant, respectful, and most importantly, valuable in the eyes of the recipient.

Delivering value-packed messages is less a matter of which vehicle you use for communication and more about how you use it. Whether it’s a push, an in-app message, or an email campaign, approach each message through the lens of the customer: How will this add value to their experience?

If you have even the slightest difficulty answering that question, you should revisit either your message or your audience to identify a better fit. But, if you’re able to confidently and honestly equate your message with value, you can expect to see an increase in both customer satisfaction and engagement as your reward.

Mobile app retention based on proactive engagement

When executed around customer value, your app messaging strategy can boost three-month retention by as much as 400%.

At Apptentive, we’ve pioneered a framework and set of related tools for a better way to communicate with your mobile customers—one that breaks through the clutter and adds value. This comes down to two things:

  1. Personalization: Is the message relevant to the recipient? Is it unique to their individual wants and needs? Does it enhance their relationship with your app?
  2. Contextualization: Will your message make sense at the time and place it is delivered? Is it tied to the customer’s journey with your app?

To help you run your next message through each of these questions, we’ve created a free guide on the five pillars you can leverage to personalize and contextualize your message.

Over the remainder of 2016, push and other forms of app communication will become less of a general announcement and more of a personal conversation. And the publishers that move in this direction will find that messaging can, once again, be used to drive retention and engagement.

Are your marketing metrics doing your app justice?

For years, app publishers have been relying on the same metrics to evaluate their app marketing: Downloads, Ratings, and Average Revenue Per User, to name three of the most common.

For years, the app ecosystem has remained anything but the same. Over 2015 alone, we’ve seen some pretty remarkable changes, from the popularity surge of deeplinking and app indexing to an all-time high for CPIs and opt-out rates.

This all begs one question: Why should our metrics stay the same in an industry that’s constantly moving?

The New App Marketing Metrics ebookWe say they shouldn’t. And we’ve identified six new metrics (and six that we’d like to seen retired) more suited to measure app marketing in 2016.

We’ve covered three of these metrics so far (Uninstalls, ROAS, and now, Message Quality) and will cover the remainder over the course of the next three weeks. If you’d like to be notified for future posts, we encourage you to sign up for our email newsletter. Or, if you’d like all six metrics today, download the complete eBook: The NEW App Marketing Metrics.

As always, metrics are how you use them. If you have any other use cases for the metrics we’ve highlighted thus far, or would like to propose a ‘new’ app marketing metric of your own, we’d love to learn your thoughts in the comments below.

> Update: Part IV of this series is now available! Continue on for our fourth ‘new’ app marketing metric: Customer Lifetime Value

About Alex Walz

Apptentive's resident wordsmith, Alex can frequently be found cranking away at eBooks or scrawling down ideas late into the night from a local coffee shop. He's an avid traveler, coffee connoisseur, and tech enthusiast, and he shares his thoughts on each over Twitter.
View all posts by Alex Walz >

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