Mobile engagement features, such as surveys, messages to dormant users, video tutorials, among others, can’t be sprayed all over an existing mobile app.
Suggest something to a user at the wrong time or, worse, to the wrong user, and you’re out.
That’s why writing about using mobile engagement features sounds like a mantra: “the right engagement feature, at the right time, to the right audience”.
But how do you choose “the right feature?”
Over time, I realized that choosing the right engagement features is simpler when we look at where users are in their user lifecycle as it relates to the app.
What’s the user lifecycle? It is where the user is on their journey you’re your app? Are they onboarding, novices or masters of the app?
This perspective makes a lot of sense when thinking of engagement features, like those mentioned above. So, let’s take a look at the user lifecycle phases and how they positively correlate with mobile engagement features:
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1. Onboarding New Users
Onboarding is about exposing the inherent value that’s in your app, whether on first app launch or as a sequential, phased onboarding process. Some of the thought process that’s inherent in onboarding, acquainting users with your app, its core features or upgrades, will also be relevant in later stages of the user journey.
For onboarding, use features like:
- App walkthrough: taking users through an onboarding carousel.
- In-app welcome message: these can be used to drive a certain action that needs to be completed first, or as a way of beginning a personalized dialogue with the user.
- Mobile tooltip: used to point at a specific feature of the UI to clarify its meaning or drive action.
2. Initial Engagement
When users are in their novice days of using your app, your focus is initial engagement. Engagement is about growing app usage, time in app, and the app’s physical and emotional presence on your user’s device (and mind). Initial engagement can be driven by:
- Banners: unobtrusive, yet graphical and compelling, banners can drive user actions or alert them of deals, coupons, or anything else (for instance, gamified achievements).
- Interstitials: fullscreen promos that commonly appear between phases.
- Registration messages: having users register drives an altogether different user experience in your app (and one that’s highly personalized).
3. Advanced Engagement
Now users are ready to master more use cases of the app, and maybe tie it into their daily habits. As users begin to use the app more, you may want to grow the sophistication and breadth of how they use the app. The more personalized and contextual you get, the more chances your users will positively respond to your new offering.
- Mobile tooltip or highlight app area: these are both useful features to draw user’s attention to a valuable but not yet used feature.
- Video tutorial: when you try to convey a more emotional message and/or one that requires a more detailed explanation, video may be the best way to deliver this timely message.
- Push notification with a relevant deeplink: when a user is nearby your physical location or in your store.
4. Understand Users
Learning more about user needs and preferences helps you optimize the user journey and get better at each part of the lifecycle. You can do this by offering them to complete:
- Surveys: ask users about their preferences, satisfaction, and more. Then, after the survey is complete, move people to different spots in your app based on their real-time feedback.
- Fun quizzes: entertain your users by offering fun quizzes, which will enable you to potentially tie their responses to the next move they should make within your app.
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5. Transact and Convert
Sooner or later (but probably sooner), you will want to grow conversions, re-start sales funnels and convert more users. This can happen early on in the app lifecycle, or later on, depending on your business model. These are the features that can help you with that:
- Coupon: use your knowledge about your user preferences to offer the most relevant deals.
- Push Cart reminder: ensure that abandoned carts stay on top of the user’s mind, driving them to return and complete the purchase.
- In-app message: to re-engage the sales process once a user comes back to the app or on same session if X amount of time passed and purchase has not been completed.
Sometimes users slip off into a dormant state and if you are unlucky this will be the end of the lifecycle. In this case, we want to re-awaken them by cautiously using a variety of engagement features, to avoid an uninstall.
- Push notification with deeplink: this message will drive users back to an area in the app that is useful or compelling to them, based on careful segmentation and their past actions in the app.
- Email invite: use an out-of-app medium to re-engage users, and pull them into a specific area of your app.
The end of the lifecycle is also when issues relating to app upgrades pile up. When upgrades aren’t automatic (typically, when users have disabled this function on their devices), user engagement can be harmed, and issues with maintaining old versions of the app may grow. These actions can solve the problem:
- Upgrade app: in this case, the goal is to encourage an upgrade, using a message with a deeplink. Don’t forget to tie the upgrade to an onboarding flow, in case there are significant changes to the new app.
- Enforce upgrade: here, the idea is to force an upgrade from a version that is no longer relevant. Forcing should be accompanied with valid reasons and a simple process.
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Engaging users requires personalizing their experience, not by using their first name repeatedly but by remembering who they are. Using the engagement features that apply to where they actually are on the user lifecycle journey is a great way to do this.