Critical Use Cases: Mastering the First-Time User Experience

Imagine you can Vulcan mind-meld with a new app user during those critical minutes, hours and days after original download and install. That’s every mobile marketer’s dream when it comes to optimizing the first-time user experience.

What will make them open your app more than once? What will facilitate their engagement and enjoyment? Could they use timely reminders if their FOMO wanders?

For the thoughtful mobile marketer, here’s a shortlist of smart onboarding tactics. Everything from increasing push notification opt-ins by explaining their value to reducing drop-off and dormancy with tips and tutorials.

Increasing Push Notification Opt-Ins

Day 1. Why is that generic system message — “We’d like to send you push notifications” — staring me in the face right off the bat?

first-time user experience

Without seeing the value, fewer than half of iOS users opt into push notifications — one of the most valuable ways to message and engage app users. Rather than bluntly asking users for an up front commitment, before they recognize value in the app itself, a kinder, cleverer approach may be in order.

In short, think value! For example, a retail app might want to mention that push is a fabulous way to provide updates on sales, abandoned shopping cart items or order status. A travel app might tout push to receive last-minute flight delays or gate changes. If users know how they will benefit, they are much more likely to accept the opt-in.

A Politer Way to Ask for Push

Tactfully, Leanplum’s Push Pre-Permissions help mobile marketers make this happen, placing an in-app message in front of the default iOS push opt-in, suppressing it for the moment, e.g., as soon as a user opens the app for the first time. Now you can take a breath and help sell why someone would want push notifications — e.g., those sales alerts or flight updates — so they’re more likely to say yes to push.

Even better, Leanplum allows you to use app events already being tracked as triggers for serving the Push Pre-Permission prompt. Common use cases including serving the opt-in after a user completes a milestone such as engaging with content, searching for an item, or registering as a user.

Tip: Last Minute Travel increased push notification opt-ins from 22 percent to 62 percent, thanks to Push Pre-Permissions.

Mastering the first-time user experience: Push Pre-PermissionsReducing One-Time User Drop-Off

Day 3. Uh, what was that app I downloaded a few days ago?

Maybe it’s the noise of 1,001 daily distractions or simply poor or non-existent app onboarding. Sadly, three out of 10 users use an app only once and never return — so much for that pricey user acquisition campaign, a third of its budget squandered.

Increase overall retention by giving users a second chance. Yes, often the best ideas really are that simple. By messaging users who have used your app only once — “We couldn’t help but notice…” — you’ll seriously increase the likelihood of them re-engaging.

Bake in Custom Messaging

Having a personalized conversation, even referencing how far a user got in their first session, can further increase the odds first-time app users will return. Including basics like user name, registration status and location work engagement wonders as part of the first-time user experience.

From push to in-app to email, Leanplum allows mobile marketers to create multi-channel campaigns to help re-engage users.

Tip: As a best practice, use messaging to promote the value of your app — Eric, did you know you can receive alerts on hot new restaurants opening near you?

Mastering the first-time user experience: custom message

Onboarding New Users With Reminders, Tips & Tutorials

Day 7. Remind me, just how do I use this app?

You’re probably not surprised to hear that day one app retention is 10 percent higher for app users who get a day one tip. Even better, day one retention is 40 percent higher for users who receive onboarding reminders.

So why not hedge your bets and opt for both best practices?

From account registration to adding that first item to the cart, every app has a set of onboarding milestones before users are officially considered activated. Sending automatic notifications is a good way to nudge users toward completing those steps. After all, as a mobile marketer, you want investment! The greater it is, the greater the chance users will regularly engage with your app.

Send Tips & Tricks

Naturally, virgin users won’t know jack about your app or its extra deep features, except what they’ve heard from friends or picked up by scanning your App Store description. That’s why education is a such a core goal. Sending daily tips and tricks during those critical first hours and days can be be a real top-of-mind awareness builder.

Leanplum allows you to automatically trigger tips based on when the user first opens the app, sequencing them one, two or x days afterward.

Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, Leanplum can also help mobile marketers personalize their notifications, paying attention to users’ behaviors and specific actions, e.g., trying out certain features or reaching certain milestones.

Optimize Onboarding Tutorials

Ideally, some form of step-by-step tutorial should be the first thing users engage with when they debut your app. Nurturing users can be the difference between retaining truly engaged users and losing potentially valuable ones.

Tutorials should educate users on how to use your app and get the most of it. By optimizing your tutorial process, you’ll do a better job communicating its can’t-live-without-it functions (and benefits), increasing overall enjoyment and engagement in the bargain.

Tip: Continually A/B test your tutorials to see which results in highest completion and retention rates. Make sure to measure downstream effects on engagement. For example, adding more content upfront can increase friction and reduce onboarding completion rates but increase overall customer lifetime value.

Mastering the first-time user experience: onboarding

First-Time User Experience, in Summary

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, especially with hard-won mobile app users. When it comes to the mastering the first-time user experience, remember to mobile market how you’d want to be treated (as an individual) and nurtured (with helpful tips, timely reminders, and personalized messaging).

For more on mobile use cases, visit our Resource Library

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.