When it comes to developing a revenue generating app, initial customer interaction is only one part of the story for brand mobile marketing strategies; in fact, a far more significant ROI can be achieved if marketers put focus on keeping and reactivating those already signed-up.

According to Bain & Company, it costs 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, making it more important than ever to keep current customers engaged with the brand. By introducing the ability to re-engage dormant users, brands can reduce both the pressure and cost to create new app downloads. However, in order to achieve this, marketers will need to facilitate even more granular engagements which include new levels of audience targeting techniques, deeper segmentation and analysis of mobile app and web users, to determine the users’ level of activity, behaviour and past interactions.

Analytics are essential for marketers, as knowing how effective the messages you’re sending out are can mean the difference between sending irrelevant and annoying campaigns that accidentally push customers away, or getting the message spot on but being unaware and not repeating the successful message. Segmented analysis can be used to formulate a personalised offer based on the preferences and behaviour of different audience segments. Furthermore, a brand that can deliver a relevant message at the right time can build trust, loyalty and brand identification with its audience that significantly improves retention rates compared to apps without these targeted messages.

Why is it useful to identify active and dormant users?

The latest development for marketers and app developers is the ability to categorise app users as either ‘active’ or ‘dormant’ – dormant being defined as someone who has downloaded the app but hasn’t re-entered it or used it within 31 days. So why should this matter? Well firstly, there is a big difference in the type of messages you should be sending to someone based on whether they are active or dormant. Messages to active users can be catered to match how they’ve been using it – the nature of the message should also be designed to reward the user for using the app, and give them reasons to stay. Dormant users, however, need encouragement to re-engage with the app with messages nudging them to update their profile or to send them great features that will inspire them to use the app again.

By creating a segment containing all active users, brands can make sure the right message is getting across when building engagements. This segment can be saved and re-used over and over again as it will work in real-time. Personalised messages aren’t the only benefit of this new development, there is also a huge saving in cost; this deeper segmentation allows marketers to re-engage with users for as little as 1p, as opposed to re-acquiring new customers at £15 per user.

A campaign can be created to encourage the reactivation of dormant users that were last seen more than three months ago with, for example, a limited time only special offer, or active users can be targeting with offer codes for use on specific days to encourage repeat activity and increased loyalty. This can then be tracked in the brand’s audience analytics, showing how customers are converting between active and dormant statuses to identify where marketing is positively impacting.

By targeting mobile app customers by their status, brands can create communications and offer designs to drive re-engagement and increase active audience size, while offering significant cost savings.

How to target Anonymous users

Customers are either known to a brand by means of a unique user ID, associating them with relevant contact information and allowing all of their devices to be connected to create user centric marketing campaigns, or otherwise they are anonymous, aside from the detail of the device they are registered on.

If a user hasn’t shown much sign of life on the app yet, or provided user information, it’s difficult to target personalised messages towards them so in that case it’s a good idea to encourage them to add more to their profile. When a brand knows more about the user, they are able to send hyper personalised communications which are contextually relevant to the specific type of device they engage with. One of the key features of this segmentation is the capability of being able to track conversion of anonymous to known users for more effective marketing strategies. For example, gaining the clarity of what exact engagement or communication has driven the change from anonymous to known.

Through the ability to re-engage dormant users, brands will be able to benefit from the increased insight gained through deeper segmentation to help them to better understand their audience as best as possible, while improving campaigns and developing loyal customers. Paired with segmentation and analysis capabilities when building campaigns, marketers will not only gain a step up in the ongoing bid to provide timely and relevant communications with their customers, but can increase active consumer interaction and reduce their spend on new customer acquisition as they activate existing users.


By Paul Putman, CEO of Donky. 

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