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How to Increase App Retention with a Brand Equity-First Approach

Hey guys, it’s your 360 Marketing Girl, Tiffany, and today I’m talking about the strategies to increase app retention with a brand equity first approach.

If you have a mobile app, one challenge you may be faced with is retention; getting people to repeatedly choose your app over others.

To retain customers it’s crucial that you do the app engagement, (smart interactions with the user inside the app) - strategically using push notifications and in-app messages, optimizing your onboarding process, tracking data, etc. But what’s equally important is building positive brand equity.

Brand Equity is the positive perception or emotional attachment that consumers have towards a brand.

Think about it as a consumer. Where do you shop? What products do you choose to buy and why? If you’re living in Kingston, Jamaica and you’re into skincare or if you’re a natural hair girlie like me, you’ll probably have a huge affinity for Earth Elements. No matter how much the containers get smaller or the prices increase, you’ll still shop there.

Why is that? One reason is that Earth Elements has positive brand equity, they are perceived as a safe space for the “natural” community. Some consumers even consider the brand an expert in the industry, so there is an emotional connection to the store.

We trust Earth Elements so much that we choose to repeatedly give them our hard-earned money and if we purchase skincare and hair products elsewhere, we’ll always keep them in mind for our beauty needs, at least I will. That’s brand equity.

Okay so back to app retention!


A Positive Brand Equity Is Good For User Retention

Adopt a brand equity-first approach to reduce app attrition. There are a number of ways to do this, but I'll focus on content marketing and community involvement.

You’ll need to genuinely connect with your audience with memorable experiences, tactfully avoiding any hard sell of your product. How do you do that as a marketer? Three simple ways - Engage, Educate, and Encourage your audience. So stay with me while I explain what this strategy entails using a personal case study to provide context.

Identifying Your Brand Response to Attrition

According to Forbes, brand response marketing combines brand marketing and direct response advertising into a single campaign distributed across channels.

The brand market side attracts customers by telling a story and then the direct response advertising seals the deal by pulling them to do something with a call-to-action. So think about it in terms of what you want to be known for (your value proposition) and what you want your customers to do.

In my capacity as a Marketing Executive at Digicel Jamaica, my major responsibility is marketing and championing a number of the Digicel apps.

One of these apps was D’Music, Digicel’s former music streaming app. The app was the carrier of the Caribbean’s largest catalog of music with over 45 million songs.

As I mentioned before, when working with apps, one of the lifelong challenges is app retention.

In the case of D’Music the challenge was how to get customers to use their free Digicel data to maximize usage of the app, making it their go-to place for all things music.

The D’Music team set out to change the customer’s behaviour with several campaigns and activations, one of which was the D’Music Ah Road series.

This series was a brand response to app retention. It combined direct-response advertising with content marketing and community involvement.

D'Music Ah Road was a spin on vox pops carried out in grassroots communities. It was designed to appeal to consumers' emotions rather than focusing solely on the product. It piggybacked on the anticipation of the release of cultural art - Masicka’s 438 album and Shenseea’s Alpha album. It also used the promise of an incentive to drive the use of the app and generate rich video content for social media.


A People-First Approach to User Loyalty: Engage, Educate & Encourage

You could have the coolest, most efficient app, but if there’s no room in your brand strategy for a people-first approach, you’ll have a hard time achieving and maintaining success. Consider your customers’ interests, lifestyles, and needs and go into their spaces to bond with them.

I. Engage Your Audience

They are your people, go hang out with them or talk to them! Interact with your audience in their space, leveraging their interests and key partnerships in an authentic way. The D’Music Ah Road series had its host spark a conversation with people in grassroots communities with supporters of Masicka (Crocs) and Shenseea (Shenyang).

What happened during the interaction was that community members saw D’Music, in their homes and not just randomly or with the sole purpose of selling something. Rather, D’Music was connecting with the people on the basis of a shared appreciation of Jamaican artistes and music.

It was a way of saying oh you like this? We like this too and we’re making this thing you love, more accessible to you. And don’t insult your audience by faking it, select the audience that complements your focus and have an authentic interaction that brings you closer to building positive brand equity and retention.

Key Takeaways & Tactics

  1. Identify the conversations and events your customers are interested in - you’re a Masicka fan? We’re fans too and we have his music here for you to listen to

  2. Speak to your audience in their language - if you use slang, we use slang too, not as a front, but because the people behind the brand get it

  3. Promote your messages in the right channels and locations - if they’re hanging on on the endz, go talk to them on the endz

II. Educate Customers

Inform people of how your interests align. Once you set out to engage your audience, make the experience more worthwhile for both of you by educating them about how your product will benefit them. But again, be very careful with the language and tone that you use, it doesn’t bode well for your brand equity if you come across as pushy and self-centered.

By focusing on the artiste and the music during the interviews, it was possible to operate from a place of relatability, familiarity, and trust.

Creating this atmosphere is a key ingredient in forming a long-term relationship with your customer. So when it was time to highlight how the app prioritizes music the Jamaican people love, the message was well received.

Not only that, only the most relevant features and benefits were spoken of - cost savings, convenience, regularly updated playlists with trending music, ad-free music, etc.

Key Takeaways/Tactics

  1. Focus on the event, don’t let your product be the highlight of the interaction

  2. Do product demonstrations to showcase the most relevant features and how they can improve customer experience

  3. Simplify your messaging so that it is easy to convey and recall

  4. Leave a keepsake that encourages consideration and reinforces the brand proposition

III. Encourage your audience

Reward preferred customer behaviour with incentives.

People won’t always remember the details of your exchange but they’ll remember how you made them feel. Rewarding your audience is a great way to inspire a change in your customers’ behaviour. With D’Music Ah Road, consumers had a chance to win instant spot prizes for participating in the interview, but they were also encouraged to use the app with the promise of more rewards in the long run.

D’Music leveraged the loyalty of the Masicka and Shenseea fandom to encourage streaming in the app with a Stream to Win gamification.

The mechanic was simple - Stream the albums in the D’Music app and the person who streams the most wins a prize. With Masicka it was USD$1000 and with Shenseea it was an all-expenses paid trip to Shenseea's Miami Concert.

The rationale was this, you’re going to listen to the album anyway, so why not listen to it in D’Music for a chance to be rewarded? People love to be rewarded, so mentioning the incentive is a huge attention grabber and made the whole exchange more successful.

Key Tactics/Takeaways

  1. Give rewards that are both desired by your customers and that align with your product to remain relatable

  2. Promote the chance to win on the right channels; reinforce your messaging with an omnichannel approach


Measuring Performance App Retention

It’s important to monitor the performance of your strategies over time to assess whether or not your strategies are ideal for influencing customer behaviour. When it comes to app retention, there are a number of metrics/KPIs to consider for retention.

I. App Usage Were people starting to listen to the album in the D’Music app? Yes.

Key metrics considered for usage in D’Music included:

  1. Time in app or average session time

  2. Number of playlist Streams

  3. Responses to in-app messages eg. click on a banner

The songs from Masicka’s album took over the D’Music Trending Top 10 Chart. After D’Music Ah Road, 9 out of the 10 songs on the chart were from the Masicka album. Jamaicans streamed the song so much that the streams in the other 25 Digicel markets worldwide for other artistes were pretty much negligible.

II. Rate of attrition Were people using the app more frequently because of the activation? Yes.

Metrics considered here include:

  1. Churn

  2. Rolling retention

After the activation, the growing daily rate of attrition fell by 4% in just one month. This means that more people started using the app on a daily basis than not using the app.

III. Brand Reach, Impressions & Engagement
Were people talking about the app more positively and frequently? Yes

Brand perception impacts app usage. Monitor how your customers interact with your brand to see what works and what doesn’t work in your attempts to retain customers.

Following the series, one Twitter user said, “ Everyday I see more tweets about 438 I really hope y’all not streaming it on D music” to which another user replied, “we are definitely streaming it on D’Music. Monitor those online conversations carefully.

  1. For brand awareness consider PR and social media follower growth, content views, reach, and impressions

  2. For brand perception, conduct some social listening to see what’s being said about your app.

  3. For impact, monitor your engagement - likes, comments, shares, and followers.


In A Nutshell

If you have a mobile app, one challenge you may be faced with is retention. Employing a brand strategy that focuses on building brand equity can reduce app attrition.

  • Brand Equity is the positive perception or emotional attachment that consumers have towards a brand.

  • Execute a brand response designed to appeal to consumers' emotions rather than focusing solely on the product.

  • Three ways to promote app retention in your marketing strategy are to - Engage, Educate and Encourage.

  • Engage and interact with your audience in their space, be honest and genuine.

  • Educate your audience on your product benefits with simple messaging and an easygoing approach

  • Encourage your audience to use your product by rewarding them with incentives

  • Maximize results by using an omnichannel approach to messaging.

  • Monitor performance and measure success for retention considering app usage and brand perception.


Special Thank You:

Shout out to Nasha Monique-Douglas, Carla Hollingsworth, Norvel Newby, Renee Moncrieffe, Kimberly Campbell, Tari Lovell, Kadeen Brown, Ewort Atkinson, Deneve Sweeney, Elon Parkinson, Jody-Ann Fearon, Monique ‘MJ’ Lawrence, Marishka Kaye Massey, Nicholette Macfarlane, Romeich Entertainment, Shenseea, Carleene Samuels, Creative Source, CH Photography, and, Tiffany Wiggan for making this idea a real locally produced series in reality.

1 Comment

Kimberley Foote
Kimberley Foote
Mar 14, 2023

Love this! So informative

looking forward to more

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