Mobile apps help to attract new customers, increase engagement and drive conversions, but this often requires the user to keep coming back.

Some in-app offerings will be enough to keep the user returning, but other times the users might need a little reminder to send them back to the mobile apps they may not have opened in a while.

According to data from Localytics, 22% of people who download an app only use it once. This means that marketers really need to be thinking about how they can attract their customers back to their mobile apps.

This thinking should go beyond just app downloads and focus more on value and engagement. This can be done in a number of ways, in terms of marketing, these can include push notifications, location-based services, in-app messaging and SMS.

Target your audience through user behaviour

It has never been more important for brands to monitor how their apps are performing to ensure the app is continually being improved and in turn, deliver the experience users expect.

By actively targeting consumers through their in-app behaviours and the data they provide, brands are able send users information that’s relevant and engaging. 

As well as using mobile analytics, brands can also integrate their own CRM systems into mobile apps to help to even further understand user behaviour. This enables marketers to segment their users into different groups based on historical habits.

In a retail app for example, if a certain group of users always purchases books from a certain author, those users can be segmented and then delivered relevant messages on that author: an SMS with a discount on the author’s next title or perhaps a push notification letting the user know when the next title is available. 

Marketers are missing out on a great opportunity to engage and retain if they aren’t taking the time to look at their mobile analytics and CRM data.

Many marketers just aren’t aware of the analytics tools available to them when it comes to mobile and it’s essential we are starting to think about how data can be segmented to really target our marketing strategies.

Relevant messaging

The key to getting mobile messaging right is giving consumers the information they want, when they want it and where they want it.

When a message is sent to a user’s device, whether it be a push notification, an in-app message or an SMS, it’s important to remember that their day-to-day activities are being interrupted.

If the message doesn’t add value to the user’s day or include a compelling CTA, they aren’t going to be drawn in. Quite the opposite in fact.

Below is an example of how O2 is using analytics data and acquired knowledge to give an improved customer experience, either through gaining new customers or engaging and retaining current customers.

O2 & HTK

O2’s Priority Moments campaign is a great example of how targeted messaging can be used to retain and bring customers back to an app.

With help from HTK, O2 recently used analytics to increase customer loyalty for its ongoing Priority Moments campaign. For those of you who aren’t O2 customers, Priority Moments offers its customers discounts and vouchers in local shops and restaurants and at local events using location services. 

O2 used mobile analytics and CRM data to monitor:

  • The real-time data on the recency and frequency of check-ins within the app.
  • How many and which type of offers customers had viewed and redeemed.
  • The locations of customers when they viewed and redeemed offers.

From this data, carefully targeted SMS messages with third-party offers were sent to O2 customers.

The customers were segmented into a number of different categories and in the ‘about to lapse’ category, i.e. those customers who hadn’t opened the app in the past 30 days, there was an 112% uplift in app check-ins.

This just goes to show that from carefully analysed data, marketers can send out targeted messages, which can not only retain customers, but also attract new users and engage current users depending on the marketing objectives.

Know your users

Mobile apps have the ability to collect vast amounts of information on users and this information should be used by marketers to deliver customers what they want, when they want it and where they want it. 

It’s important for marketers to look at their analytics data with the aim of continual improvement. Marketers should adopt a test and learn approach by gathering data and feedback as they go along and learn what’s working and what’s not.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of data available but carefully segmenting the data will enable marketers to group together different user profiles and push out targeted content to the people who want to hear it most.

Mobile devices are always on the user; from the moment they wake up, to the moment they go to go to sleep, and this usage is only set to increase. This gives marketers real-time access to in-app user behaviours and preferences, as well as location history.

This, combined with existing CRM data, is helping marketers to understand consumers in a completely new way and marketers shouldn’t be missing out on the huge opportunity there is in the data within mobile apps. 

Clair O'Neill

Published 25 November, 2013 by Clair O'Neill

Clair O'Neill is Marketing Assistant at mubaloo and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow on Twitter and Google Plus, or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (4)


Cezary Pietrzak

Great post, Clair! Segmentation and targeting is exteremely important in mobile, given the highly personal and intimate nature of the medium. People are OK with above-the-line advertising on TV, but they're not OK with a one-size-fits-all message on their mobile devices. It simply seems out of place.

The delivery mechanism for engagement is of equal importance. A push notification serves a much different purpose than an in-app message, the first typically better for re-engagement and time-sensitive news, while the other less invasive and part of the in-app experience. There are also highly engaging channels like mobile email to consider, as well as new formats like the in-app News Feed.

One things is clear - context is king in mobile. The more you know about your audience and the situation they're in, the better you can add value to their experience.

over 4 years ago


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over 4 years ago

Alon Even

Alon Even, VP Marketing at Appsee

Thanks for your great post.

i'd like to stress the importance visual in-app analytics when it comes to understanding the user behavior.
The knowledge you stand to gain by implementing in-app analytics in your app will answer the big question: Why? The visual aspect now available in analytics gives you numbers as well as graphically communicates the why, showing how users are interacting with the app and will bring insights into user's behavior.
Visual mobile analytics tools include features, such as: user recordings and touch heatmaps, which enable app developers and publisher to measure and improve the user experience within their app.
A good example of a visual in-app analytics tool is Appsee (


over 4 years ago


Kaitlyn Brewer, Trainee at Localytics

Thank you for the awesome tips you gave in your article. I believe, they can easen the struggle of conquering the audience a lot for a startup. I've been searching for good relevant information on this topic for a while, and your article is one of the best I managed to find. Also, this one gives a good insider opinion on the topic of user engagement and retention:

about 1 year ago

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