Critical Use Cases: Mobile Retention & Organic Acquisition

This is the final blog of four part Critical Use Cases blog series on improving strategies for mobile retention, onboarding, engagement, and conversions. If you missed part three of the mobile app use cases, here’s a quick four-minute read on Mastering Mobile Conversions.

Your acquisition team is hard at work bringing in new users, and you want to leverage every possible mobile marketing hack to keep your audience engaged. Retention and organic acquisition are certainly easier said than done, but thankfully you’ve come to the right place to learn a handful of new strategies to keep users engaged.

App engagement effects go beyond getting someone to click here or there. Getting users to engage with new elements outside of the their current experience is also an area that will have a direct effect on ROI. When you think outside of the app, ahem box, interesting questions start to surface.

  • How do I let users know about new features? 
  • Can I retain more users with app update messages? 
  • What’s one way to boost organic acquisition with app ratings?

Mobile marketing experts go circles about the answers to these questions, and without discrediting anyone let me offer up a new perspective. Specifically, I’ll walk you through using cross-channel message campaigns to achieve your mobile retention and organic acquisition goals.

Announce New Features Across Multiple Channels

Your product team is constantly cranking out new features that your app users would love, but only 21 percent of iOS users will upgrade to the latest version the first week it goes live –       . This adoption is much better for Android where 76 percent of users will update in that same timeframe, but is still a major concern since that means a quarter of your users may not be monetizing on new features.

Tip: Leverage push notifications, in-app messages, and emails to encourage new feature adoption.

Mobile Retention | Leanplum

The benefits here are simple. Initially, you’ll increase new feature adoption. At a level deeper, assuming the features have a tie to either improved engagement or retention, you’ll drive more revenue to the app by promoting the features to more people. By alerting users of new features with an email, a push notification, and or an in-app message, you’ll help them see even more value in being a loyal user.

Ok, now we’ve created a new concern. Do we need to make the update mandatory, or should users be allowed to keep old versions? The force awakens some users, but not all.

There are two schools of thought around executing this. They are both are highly effective, but this is a perfect use case for segmenting and a/b testing these messaging campaigns. On one hand you can require that all users update to a new version whenever a release is made available. This effectively forces users to update with a message that blocks any other interaction in the app.

On the other hand you can allow users to update at their leisure and continue to engage with the older app version. The latter is less ideal given app updates should be driven to improving the app, but keep in mind that some users will simply enjoy the legacy version.

Retain More Users With App Update Messages

So how does this actually impact retention you ask? New features are a great way to encourage users to update the app, and help keep your app top of mind. Prompting users who don’t already have automatic updates enabled will surface the value of downloading the new version. Global app updates are great candidates for message automation since they’re planned ahead. They also lead to increased retention since they encourage people to download the latest and greatest.

Tip: Segment users and schedule messages based on planned update timings.

Mobile App Segmentation | Leanplum

App update announcements can also help reduce risk of the app update itself and lower maintenance costs. We recommended that you A/B test everything, from messages to in-app features. The announcements associated with these updates can help expedite adoption of a new and improved version. Dedicating developer time to supporting older versions of your app is a tradeoff to new, revenue driving features. Simply notifying users to update the app shifts development focus from maintaining the status quo to creating new growth opportunities.

Increase 5-Star App Ratings for Organic Acquisition

Earning revenue is one way to prove that your mobile marketing campaigns are successful, but saving money can also solidify that success. While your mobile app user acquisition team is firing on all cylinders, you have the opportunity to influence the behavior of your current users. Make the current users your champions and give them ways to help improve your app’s ratings and reviews.

Tip:  Increase organic downloads by sending happy users in-app messages to capture a positive rating.

Mobile App User Organic Acquisition | Leanplum

The people actually engaging with your app can be a significant resource for app promotion. Think about the last time you downloaded an app and realized it had a poor rating. Better yet, think of one of the many times you searched for a restaurant and went for the one with 4.5 stars instead of the one with 3.5 stars. This is exactly the thought process potential users go through when considering whether to download your app.


Having a 5-star app rating will surely catch their eyes. You need to have your current users be excited about leaving “the best”, “fantabulous”, and “amazing” reviews will help you win more organic traffic. Since you’re the engagement aficionado, you know exactly when the users are delighted. You can intermittently capture that moment by encouraging them to give your app a 5-star rating.

Remember that you want them in a good mood, so also keep in mind the timing of the request. The last thing you want to convey is that your app is spammy or desperate. Find the optimal times of delight, whether that be after they just purchased a flight to the Bahamas or just advanced to a new game level. This will ensure that your users are much more likely to leave a positive review and help your app earn more downloads.

Acquire, Retain & Repeat

Creating an engaging experience for your users lives inside and outside of the app. When you think outside of the app, the focus shifts to retention. Delivering timely push notifications and emails, for app updates for instance, helps your users to remember the value of your app. For organic app store user acquisition, delivering a valuable message is pretty subjective. Engage your current users and ask them to leave rave reviews, to positively influence the likelihood that new users will download your app.

I hope this series on improving strategies for retention, onboarding, engagement, and conversions has you excited to ramp up your mobile marketing efforts. Learn more about the entire user lifecycle in our Mobile App Use Cases Library.

More than the tip: Our latest Mobile Marketing Trends report, Win App ❤️  (& ) With Emojis. Tl;dr emojis lead to 85% higher push open rates and directly influence conversions.

Leanplum is building the marketing cloud for the mobile era. Our integrated solution delivers meaningful engagement across messaging and the in-app experience. We work with top brands such as Tinder, Tesco, and Lyft. Schedule your personalized demo here.