While mobile games continue to account for the majority of app store revenue, fierce competition, fickle users, and growing user acquisition costs make profitability increasingly challenging for game owners. Success in such a fast-paced space often requires mobile gaming marketers to focus on driving long-term growth by maximizing engagement, retention, and monetization.
Let’s say you already have an established audience of users who have downloaded a new mobile game. Is it fair to expect that the majority of players will abandon the game by day one? According to the data, yes! “90% of users are about to fall out of your marketing funnel soon after downloading the mobile game.” Wait, but why?
Looking into our AARRR (acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue) a.k.a “pirate metrics,”,we may notice problems like using ununified and unreliable data sources, addressing retention drop-offs based on assumptions, poorly designing our mobile monetization, and more. Reasons for losing users at each step of the funnel might be different and hard to identify, but as it often turns out solving problems like these is the key to mobile success. Retention hacking, after all, much like growth hacking, is about strategic thinking and communication!
Let’s take a step back and examine some of the problems and possible solutions.
Problem: Push Opt-ins Are Low
Push notifications engage users during every step of the funnel, from account registration to purchase and beyond. But opting into push is typically quite low as the prompt for it often appears at the worst possible time. Imagine being bombarded with access requests to your phone’s camera, photos, contacts, location, microphone, and more. It’s no wonder that only 42% of iOS users, on average, opt-in to push notifications. Losing the opportunity to engage over half their customer base, mobile game marketers soon boil down the problem to communication and timing.
Hack: Push Pre-Permissions
Build your audience with a push pre-permission that suppresses the default prompt and asks users to opt-in at a more engaging or incentivized time.
Asking for an opt-in to push notifications right after a user has installed the game may not only be ineffective but also harmful for retention results. Better wait until you are pretty sure that players understand the value you have built in your mobile game and are happy with it. For example, you may ask for an opt-in straight after a user has unlocked a certain level, or beaten the boss. That’s definitely a moment to savor for the player because you have built the game this way. Just follow that up. It’s moments like this that justify the value proposition behind push notifications and drastically increases the success rate of reaching your players.
Problem: Trying Product Changes Is Risky
Trying to fix mobile retention problems often leads to product changes, which in itself might be a risky endeavor. There are countless examples of games, not just in mobile, that have introduced a major product change to 100% of their users without thinking about the possible ramifications. By filtering your audience, you can experiment with these changes and create personalized content that serves the users that need it most.
Hack: Segmented Experiments
Try new onboarding flows to different segments (ex. 20% of the users who came in via a specific acquisition campaign) and incentivize to activate with free currency at the right moment.
Specific player segments allow mobile marketers to create automated flows that help them improve players’ engagement and LTV (lifetime value). A recent case study shows how the usage of Leanplum’s segmentation and A/B testing functionalities helped IMVU to triple their retention. Read the full IMVU case study here
Problem: Engaging with Players Instead of Hoping They Engage with You
Well, this is a major problem not just for mobile gaming, but for mobile apps in general.
What usually happens is that you build a fantastic app, attract users’ attention, invest in onboarding and retention but after some time players stop seeing the initial value of downloading the app. Sitting in the background of your users’ phones and minds, your app is soon uninstalled and forgotten. As it turns out, building an awesome product is not enough when you have so many different channels at your disposal for engaging users.
Hack: If they’re gone, incentivize them to come back
While the number one reason for uninstalling apps is excessive and irrelevant push notifications – you can only win back dormant users.
Nobody complains about the free stuff!
This is a hack we learned from and verified with different customers across a number of different industries. It’s as simple as that: if your users leave, don’t just make them aware of the fact that they have left. Rather incentivize them to come back.
And don’t be shy. You can offer discounts, free credits, free premium, etc. The only thing you lose by not doing so is the user. There is no loss in giving them a little so they stay a little longer.In fact, this is an example we saw with Via, a ride sharing company, that is quite adventurous with the discount offers that they make to pull back users in a very competitive space. Via’s campaign with special offers on dormant users led to a 27% increase in users returning to the app and actually staying for seven days are long.
Really nobody will complain about getting free things. Yes, keeping your users by discounts may cost you a little, but in the long run, it proves to be worthy!
Finally, let’s recap our top three recommendations on boosting and optimizing your player retention and revenue:
- Identify a single source of truth by choosing reliable tools and unifying data
- Test your product against drop-offs and eliminate any assumptions from your mobile strategy
- Engage with players instead of hoping that they will engage with you
Learn more about how Leanplum helps game publishers build deeper engagements and form long-lasting customer relationships by delivering personalized experiences across all touch points, by signing up for our next webinar or contacting our team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Industry leaders like Zynga, Lumosity, and Pocket Gems trust us to help them become best-in-class at engaging and monetizing their players. Let’s discuss how we can help you boost your mobile retention and user happiness!
To learn more about multi-channel campaigns and how Leanplum can help you effectively engage your audience, see our unique approach to mobile engagement and mobile retention.
Leanplum is a mobile engagement platform that helps forward-looking brands like TED, Afterpay, and Tesco meet the real-time needs of their customers. Schedule your personalized demo here.