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#ReThink: Your app has a million installs, so what?

There are now over a billion apps in each of the iOS and Android app stores, so surely it’s not as easy for a single app to stand out. Hence, successfully driving installs is undeniably the crucial first step to get on users’ screens, so that apps can go on to achieve their purpose.

But what happens after an install? In 2015, 25 per cent of global users abandoned an app after just one session, and this figure reaches 37 per cent in China. Acquiring installs is necessary but, on its own, insufficient in creating value for the business. The missing half of an effective app strategy is re-engagement.

Between June and September 2015, I’ve personally noticed a delta of 40 to 55 per cent between the number of installs and the number of monthly active users an app has in a cross-section of APAC advertisers. That is a terrifying statistic revealing the untapped potential of apps currently. There are app publishers who express understanding of the importance of user activation, but even then they have some reservations.

In response, I’d like to leave marketers with three points to #ReThink app marketing.

Problem 1: Marketers shun any solution that involves SDK (software development kit) integrations
#ReThink this. The primary goal of brands should always be to deliver a great customer experience. So if technology can help achieve that goal with a favourable ROI, marketers should really be pushing for its implementation even if set-up may require some effort. What more an implementation that is quick, easy, and does not impact app load time at all? And that is exactly what SDK integrations for in-app capabilities can be — the fastest set-up thus far took no more than four hours.

Problem 2: Brands personalise desktop and mobile web experiences, but not so much on the app
#ReThink this. In China, 55 per cent of the online population has made a purchase via a mobile phone. And that was back in 2012. I’m confident that the numbers are even higher today given that six in 10 Chinese who are online are Taobao app users now. If brands understand the value of personalising desktop and mobile web experiences and re-engaging customers back then, it is only natural to do the same on apps — where customers are today. Because again, an app does not create value for brands unless it’s being actively used.

An effective form of re-engagement on apps is deeplinking a customer back to a relevant part of the app when a personalised creative is clicked, e.g. last-browsed category or product, instead of a generic homepage, as this demonstrates understanding and care towards each individual customer.

Problem 3: App publishers are often contented with high number of installs
#ReThink this. Brands with native apps may be over the moon in achieving milestones of n million installs, but the high number of installs may mean nothing if the number of abandonments and deletions are also high.

Solely relying on the number of installs can be dangerous. It is an inaccurate way of measuring app success, tempting marketers to be complacent with their app marketing efforts. An alternative metric that should be considered instead is the number of active users, which better reveals the actual impact an app makes on businesses.

Driving app installs helps brands to compete for a piece of estate on mobile device screens. After which, it is an uphill battle for apps to fight hard to prove why they deserve to take up the devices’ limited storage space. App re-engagement via personalised marketing technology may be one of the best weapons out there to win that battle.

Rohit Kumar

Rohit Kumar is the Managing Director Asia Pacific of Sociomantic Labs from dunnhumby. He joined Google in 2007, and later, was a founding member of Google’s EMEA Ad Exchange team, leading the commercialisation of RTB technology to the marketplace. He also ran his own ad technology advisory business. He holds a Master’s degree in management from the London School of Economics.1