Winning with Apps: 5 Ways to Punch Up Your Mobile Playbook

Mobile apps are an integral part of people’s daily routines. More than 90% of smartphone owners say they use apps.1 But we also know that 80% of all app users churn within three months. Numbers like that suggest the odds of becoming a statistic are high. That’s why it’s critical to understand how people use apps — and how to attract and engage more of the customers you care about. To help, we’ve identified five tips that can shape your mobile app strategy.

1. Really get to know your user

Did you know that 52% of gaming app users are women?2 Apps are a go-to resource for gaming, entertainment, news, and sports, but digging into app user demographics across these categories may surprise you. Men overindex on news apps, and the average age of entertainment app users is 34. People are investing, on average, an hour each day on news, sports, gaming, and entertainment apps,3 so it’s critical to understand what they find value in.

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2. Show up in search

Apps are helping people to be more productive, stay on track, and meet their goals. For instance, on the time-saving front, brand-specific searches for “delivery” and “pick up” apps have shot up more than 200% year over year.4 Proving health is top of mind, searches for “bodybuilding” or “weightlifting” apps have grown more than 190%,5 while queries for yoga and meditation apps such as “mindfulness apps” or “yoga for beginners app” have seen a 65% increase year over year.6 People also want tips on how to save and grow their money. Investing and stock-related app searches, such as “penny stock trading app” and “investment apps,” have risen 115% year over year.7

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3. Lean into customer lifetime value

With so many apps vying for people’s attention, it’s no wonder 80% of all app users churn within three months. How can app marketers ensure they’re not a statistic? Employing customer lifetime value (CLV) is a start. CLV measures the value a person brings to a business across all of their interactions over time — not just a single transaction. A focus on increasing CLV is crucial for app marketers, because it attracts more of the customers you care about, stokes ongoing engagement, and leads to retention.  

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4. Apply machine learning

With its ability to streamline data, unlock user insights, and engage users in highly relevant ways, machine learning is a game changer for app marketers and developers. Not only are mobile leaders using it to disrupt traditional business models, they’re finding that the technology helps refine categories and challenge the way we think about marketing.

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5. Think small for big app growth

To help drive CLV for our own apps, like Google Photos and Google Search, we apply the following principles: approach growth as a game of inches; understand growth begins and ends with insights; and think retention before acquisition.

Achieve your app growth goals by focusing on the smaller improvements that will bring high-value users back and engage them regularly with your app. By thinking of growth as an iterative, repeatable, insights-driven process, you'll be well positioned for big changes — and big opportunities.

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