Using Email To Promote Mobile App Usage

Mobile’s early boosters bragged that apps would make traditional email obsolete. Why mess with rendering, spam and deliverability hassles when you could just push messages right to your customers’ phones?

We all know how that played out. Users don’t always open all of the apps they download, and often dump unused ones to make space for new apps.

But new statistics from Localytics, an app analytics and marketing platform, show usage and retention are creeping up. Fewer apps are being opened only once after downloading — 20% in 2014, down from 26% in 2010 — and 39% are being used 11 times or more, up from 26% in 2010.

Localytics attributed the increases to “an increased understanding of and focus on user engagement that has enabled developers to create more useful and personalized apps.” (Sound familiar, email marketers?) The report had one oversight: It didn’t mention using email to drive app usage. So we’ll focus on that topic for this column.

Add Email to Your Mobile App Strategy

Email can help you address three big challenges you must overcome if you want your app to become of the 39% that gets opened more frequently:

1. Persuade users to download, install and launch your app.  Dedicate one email in your regular broadcast program to promote your mobile app. Focus on the benefits of the content subscribers will find on the app. Link directly to the download page, and be specific about technical requirements (which platforms it requires, how much space it takes up, etc.).

Add a condensed version of that message (benefits, link, etc.) to your other broadcast messages, to transactional and triggered emails and to your onboarding emails reminding subscribers to check out your app.

2. Persuade users to accept push notifications. Used judiciously, push notifications bring your users back to the app instead of letting it gather virtual dust on the phone. But many mobile promotions don’t bother to tell users that. If you don’t give them a reason to accept push messages, why should they?

Use space in your promotion email (see No. 1 above) to sell the benefits of accepting push notifications. Stress the benefits, content and expected frequency.

3. Use email to drive increased usage based on a user’s app activity. Create follow-up programs, similar to an email reactivation or win-back program, for email subscribers who:

  • Click the link to download the app but don’t download it.
  • Download, but don’t activate or show any activity within a certain number of days.
  • Infrequently use the app, but also do not use key features that increase value and stickiness.
  • Have used the app regularly, but then show a pattern of declining to no engagement.

An email can remind users to open the app and accept push notifications, provide a troubleshooting FAQ, or even link to a help desk in case there were problems downloading, installing or launching the app.

Make your app as valuable as possible to your users. For example, always deep-link promotions directly to a mobile-friendly landing page, as you would in an email message. The last thing you need is a link that sends your mobile user to your homepage, especially if it’s unfriendly to mobile.

Mutual Benefits of Email-Mobile Integration

Email and mobile don’t have to compete against each other. Instead, they can help each other grow and prosper.

I focused this post on using email to boost mobile app adoption and use, but you can also use your app to send you new email subscribers. These customers enter your community through the mobile app after learning about it in a store, on your website or some other location, but would be prime candidates for email as well.  So your app could include email-focused activities such as the following:

  • Subscribe to your email program. Users tap a button that opens a simplified opt-in page and launches an onboarding program.
  • View your current email. Add a prominent subscribe button that opens your opt-in page.
  • Send a push notification whenever you publish fresh email content.

Until next time, take it up a notch!

MediaPost | Email Insider