August 22, 2014
Here’s a scenario you probably know well: a new app comes out, and, excited to check it out, you quickly press “download” and add it to your regular roster of apps.
A few days or weeks later, you see the same app sitting on your home screen and realize you haven’t touched it since the initial download. So you casually delete it from your phone to make room for the next app that tickles your fancy.
For users, this is a common occurrence, but for an app developer, it’s your worst nightmare. Getting people to download your app is only half the battle; the real challenge lies in making it a destination consumers regularly visit. But building in features on top of the app’s primary function can remedy the situation and turn new users into repeat customers.
Here are a few ways to keep users engaged with your app and brand.
Create a feedback loop
No app is perfect from the start, and the early stages are a crucial time to receive and act on customer feedback. Create a form inside the app where customers can email you questions and requests and receive a quick response.
If users see a requested feature show up in the app, they’re more likely to continue using it and less likely to air their grievances or technical issues in public forums. Keeping a two-way line of communication open excites users about what you can do for them.
Follow up outside the app
Direct feedback through the app isn’t the only kind of communication you’ll get from customers. Aggressively monitor social media channels and app stores for negative comments and reviews, and find ways to follow up with each. People generally post about their problems in public forums because they want to be heard. Following up with these users can transform vocal defectors into your biggest advocates.
Utilities like mention or Hootsuite can help you find and monitor hashtags and keywords related to your business so you can manage the discussions around your app. With Android, you can respond to reviews directly and offer to help with an issue or apologize for any inconvenience. This sort of image management can go a long way toward winning customers and improving your rating in the App Store.
Collect data about your users
Does your customer have a birthday coming up? Does he like to attend certain types of events in the area? Did he just arrive in a new city? Knowing the answers to these questions means you can actively push useful information to his phone on a regular basis.
This is not only convenient for your customers, but it also reminds them that your app is still there and ready for them to explore. Regular, relevant push alerts allow you to advertise your product without coming off as spam.
Fine-tune the customer experience
Not every tactic works for every app or for every industry’s needs. If you have a photo editing or sharing app like Flickr, it’s important to make opening photos directly in the app as easy as a single tap. In iOS, this requires integrating with the “share” button; in Android, you can go so far as to offer it as the default camera app.
If your business is in the retail industry, regular push notifications with sales and discount opportunities can keep people coming back for more.
For social apps, delivering great content and providing easy ways to invite friends is key to creating a compelling experience. Social apps are only as good as the content and people on them; make sure both are abundant.
Although your app might be the next big sensation, employing these techniques can prevent it from becoming a flash in the pan. By engaging with customers on a personal level, you can turn the initial hype your great app inspires into a program people rely on every day.
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