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Despite the rampant competition in the popular app stores, many companies continue to invest heavily in developing mobile apps.

Because of the high costs frequently associated with building mobile apps and marketing them effectively, churn is one of the biggest threats companies face in delivering profitable mobile strategies.

High mobile app churn is a global phenomenon, and by some estimates, in some categories, apps that aren't opened for a second time within the first 12 hours after download will see churn exceeding 50%.

So what can companies do to minimize mobile app churn? Here are five tips.

Look at user experience

One of the biggest reasons for mobile app churn is poor user experience, particularly during onboarding.

The old adage "You never get a second chance to make a first impression" is particularly true in highly-competitive categories such as social and entertainment. So for companies that want to reduce mobile churn, getting user experience right is critical.

But getting user experience right is not a one-and-done exercise. OS and app updates are critical points that, if not handled well, can produce unnecessary churn, and as mobile device capabilities and design standards evolve, it's important for companies to ensure that their apps are keeping up.

Collect the data

While qualitative exercises such as user focus groups are often advisable, one of the best ways to identify potential user experience issues is to collect and evaluate analytics data.

There are a number of powerful third-party mobile analytics platforms that companies can integrate into their apps which allow for highly-configurable collection of analytics data and useful visualizations that can inform user interface and strategy decisions.

Ahh push it

One of the most common ways companies seek to address mobile app churn is to use push messaging. It's a no brainer and can be extremely effective, but push messaging can be tricky to get right and if used inappropriately, it can actually contribute to mobile app churn.

While the appropriate use of push messaging will vary from category to category and app to app, one general best practice is to provide mobile app users with the ability to control under what circumstances and how frequently push messaging is used.

Don't forget about email

Push messaging is a popular way to keep mobile app users engaged, and to reengage them when they are at risk of disappearing for good.

But it's not the only powerful technique for doing so. Email is still a valuable tool and to the extent that a company obtains the email addresses of its mobile users, exploring ways to integrate an app with email and using drip campaigns as part of an onboarding and retention strategy can be useful for certain kinds of apps.

Segment, segment, segment

Mobile app churn is a fact of life and there are lots of reasons that even companies doing all the right things won't be able to reduce it to minimal levels. Because of this, it's important for companies to try to segment users.

Some companies segment users by churn risk. For instance, if a company knows that it has a 50% or greater risk of losing users when they don't open the app for a second time within one day from the first use, it can target users accordingly. 

Other companies seek to identify the users worth fighting the most for. For example, if a company's app offers in-app purchases, it might pay closest attention to the users who make the most or largest in-app purchases.

Patricio Robles

Published 24 August, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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