Why retention is going to be more important for app marketers than new users

In the future, flashy ad campaigns to attract new app users may no longer be enough. Research from Gartner says users are looking to integrate apps more deeply into their daily lives, and they’re generally satisfied with what they have today.

Today, most app marketing is focused on recruiting new users, and major money is being spent. While it’s not a productivity app, the developers of Game of War: Fire Age are in the middle of a massive campaign to gain users for its mobile game, backed by a $40 million ad budget and swimsuit model Kate Upton.

App marketers may need to shift their strategy though from recruitment to retention if the trends unveiled by Gartner hold true. According to the research firm, as users integrate apps more deeply into their lives the app providers will need to stay ahead of the by focusing their marketing, development and branding more on retention strategies.

“After eight years of searching for, downloading and using smartphone apps, users are maturing in their usage behaviors,” said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner, in a statement. “However, we may see those patterns change in the future as users integrate apps more deeply into their daily lives.”

According to Gartner’s research, users are beginning to settle in with those key apps they’re using more often, there will be less bouncing around from app to app and less likely to try new apps. It means recruiting new users will be more difficult for app developers, so retaining the users you already have will be more important – in essence, keeping app churn low.

Their research found that app usage is high across all categories, particularly within categories such as social networking and video, and that most users are content with their current level of interest in apps. Gartner expects app engagement may be reaching a plateau that solidifies current usage patterns, so as users become locked into their app consumption patterns it will be hard for app product managers to get them to switch to a new app.

“It’s not that smartphone users have lost interest in apps, users remain excited about what apps can do for them in their daily lives, including for work and nonwork app scenarios,” said Blau. “However, app users need to be convinced about the value of the app. Their willingness for new app experiences is open-ended, but their plan is to keep their same patterns of use. Users will try new apps, but they need to be convinced of an app’s value before they adopt them and change use patterns over the long term.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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