It’s not enough just to create an app and get lots of downloads in the app stores. To achieve measurable success, you need to engage and retain users. Engaging with your users right from the start is an important aspect that marketers and devs should look into. To be able to leverage word-of-mouth marketing and grow more sustainably, it is crucial to create a community of loyal users.
The number one strategy that an app developer must adopt right from the time their product enters the market is interaction with the users. We’re not saying that once your app has acquired thousands of users, you must go and speak to each one of them individually. But we do think that the communication with the initial set of users is important and eventually an occasional conversation should be a part of your mobile growth strategy. The best way to achieve this is to build an in-app community.
Benefits of Having an App Community
So why turn your mobile app into a community? Here are the key reasons:
- Reduced user acquisition costs. Retaining your existing users is 10 times cheaper than acquiring new ones. In-app user engagement reduces the cost of user acquisition by 90%.
- Referred app users have the retention rate twice bigger than those acquired via paid campaigns.
- Increased customer lifetime value (LTV) – a time period during which a person remains an active user of the app.
- Better understanding of users. You can use an in-app community to collect data about your users’ behavior within the app and use this information to improve the product.
- Communities enable user to user communication. Being able to chat and/or compete with each other within an app keeps the users motivated and engaged. For example, fitness tracker apps such as Fitbit enable users to monitor the progress of their friends who also use the app.
- Communities enable dev to user communication. Many app developers assume that only the community manager is responsible for continuous interaction with the users. But the truth is that the developers do need to step in every once in a while to interact with their users. You created the app and there is absolutely no one out there who understands it at your level. While the community manager might have a solution to a user’s concern, you might actually have a hack that they could use every time they get stuck somewhere in the app. And when you provide this level of instant gratification to a user, you build a loyal app community that will contribute to your app’s growth. Here are some reasons why we think that the dev to user communication is extremely important in the competitive app market today.
You can provide tips and tricks to your users
Users often don’t use the app as you want them to. Sometimes they take a while to find an in-app conversion and at times, they drop off before the same. This drop-off typically happens if they cannot achieve a goal in the app.
Instead of them having to reach out to others or your community manager for help, you could engage in a timely conversation with them. You can let them know that they can simply share screenshots of where they are stuck on their Activity Feeds, and then share tips and tricks that they can use to get ‘unstuck’ from where they are.
You get to learn from your users directly
Getting reviews and feedback from a third person is one thing. Sometimes a few aspects of the feedback from a user get unintentionally missed. But considering how important it is to keep the user’s experience seamless and satisfying, you wouldn’t want to miss out on even a little bit of data. Developers can use GetSocial live chats to have either one on one or global conversations with their user community to gather feedback on the app.
For example, you’ve launched a new level in your game but aren’t sure about how difficult you’ve made the level. You can let the users try it for about a week and then have a conversation with them to see what they think about it. If it’s too complicated for them to even understand, you’ll know exactly what to do!
You can encourage them to work as your ambassadors
When you frequently communicate with your app users, you create the impression of being someone who is customer-centric. This helps to create an in-app community of loyal users who are more likely to recommend your app in their circles or even invite their friends to it.
With GetSocial Smart Invites, you can create easy-to-complete in-app referral campaigns and encourage these users to work as ambassadors for you. You can incentivize the activity by offering them either a feature for free or a special discount on an in-app purchase.
You can personalize in-app purchase recommendations. Personalization and contextual marketing are very important if you want to achieve a high conversion rate. When you communicate with your users, you become able to better understand what they need as per their usage of the app. This helps you to give contextual purchase recommendations that they are more likely to convert on.
How to Build a Loyal In-App Community
Most developers, especially indie developers, face a challenge when it comes to effectively managing their app communities across various social channels. Your message gets lost in the middle of all the unrelated noise and consumes more time due to the continuous rise of new social channels: Snapchat, Youtubers, Instagram, and so on. However, there are several ways to deal with this challenge.
GetSocial Activity Feeds
Instead of having to build a community from scratch on a social platform, you can automatically create an in-app community with GetSocial Activity Feeds. On this platform, the users can keep an eye on what others are doing as well as network with them. They can also interact with developer notifications or get their concerns easily addressed.
The ability to easily talk to each other keeps the users motivated, increases their app sessions, and helps build a stronger community – without ever having to leave the app. Besides, by creating a community, you can also benefit from social-driven in-app sales and personalize your monetization models effectively.
App Community Managers
Creating an interesting app and letting your target market explore it on their own may result in a lack of user engagement. Adding a human touch will certainly make your app stand out from its competitors.
A community manager is a person who is in charge of regular communication with users. This is the team member that either understands the app inside out or can ask the developer questions on the users’ behalf. Basically, a community manager is the one who can make or break an app community and its brand name on the competitive market. Here’s why you need a community manager:
- To get first-hand user feedback. The first and foremost way to keep a user engaged with your app is to let them know how important they are. Getting their feedback on the current features and asking for future recommendations can make them feel valued. Involving a user on the base level ensures that they stick around long enough to see how ‘their ideas’ get implemented or issues get resolved.
- To keep the users motivated and engaged. You need constant mobile app engagement to keep your users motivated. In-app communication can help you retain your users and increase their sessions.
- To resolve issues before they spread. Instead of searching forums and social media for solutions to various app-related problems, your users can get help right within the app as a result of community management efforts.
- To give your brand a human touch. People like associating themselves with people. Knowing that there is a real person behind the app makes the users want to stay engaged with it longer. Community management helps you regularly interact with them as an individual, giving your brand a more human touch.
- To share and recommend valuable content at the right time. Community management also enables you to target your audience with personalized content and recommendations at the right time. As you know what the users are talking about, you can strike a better conversation with them.
Gamification is the use of game elements and mechanics in any non-game context, such as business, everyday life, education, and anywhere else. Mobile game developers first try to attract and then keep the player in the game. In any sphere, the goal of gamification is the same – to engage users, customers, employees, etc. in the process, just like games do.
For any game mechanics to work, players must perform certain actions. To do this, they need to be motivated. The following game elements help to do this:
- Reward. If a player knows that after their actions, they will receive a bonus, their motivation grows.
- Competition. People like to compete and win. Something that shows that a player has outperformed competitors can also become motivation.
- Achievement. A player must feel their worth. The most common tools that are typically used for this are badges, levels, bonuses, statuses, etc.
- Feedback. A player always wants to get a reaction to their actions. For example, they’ve completed the task and immediately seen the result. The result can also be bonuses, statuses, a place in the ranking. The main point for the player is to feel that they’ve done a good job.
In relation to in-app community management and mobile app engagement, the goal of gamification is to create an environment for interaction and communication among representatives of the target audience. This practice is most effective for highlighting influential and active representatives of the target group, strengthening the networking, and creating cohesive groups with their own slang, success indicators, and affiliation signs.
Gamification in-app communities can be compared with forums where most active participants receive points, titles, and recognition of other members of the forum. Badges issued for participation in competitions also create a sense of community, as they reflect the user’s belonging to a specific group.
Apps with Loyal User Communities
We’ve collected some examples of popular brands that managed to create in-app communities of loyal users.
- Nike. Nike+, a community built by Nike, one of the world’s leading sports brands, emerged around Nike’s Run app. You can use this app as a fitness tracker and calorie counter, and its Nike+ community now has over 30 million members.
- Duolingo. Duolingo, a language learning app, empowered their community to develop, test, and spread the word about their language courses. To add new language pairs to the app, the company reached out to some bilingual members of their community. This resulted in the release of the Incubator that allows the volunteers to help the app build new language courses by sharing their knowledge with other community members.
- Foursquare. Between 2010 and 2011, Foursquare managed to build a community of over 40,000 superusers. These were the most active users that were contributing hundreds of edits at a time and spending hours every week on the app.
To be constantly engaged with your app, users should feel that they are important and valued. One of the best ways to show them this value is to build a loyal in-app community. Communicating both with the app developers and other users will improve the user experience and create a sense of belonging. This will encourage the users to return to the app again and again.
If you’re looking to learn more about how to improve user engagement, we’ve created a guide with the tactics that every app should use. Check it out!