We’ve already discussed the importance of customer retention, so I won’t bore you with reiterations about how important it is to retain customers, how it is cheaper to keep existing than to acquire new customers, how it’s a critical component to success, or that according to the Gartner Group, 80% of your future revenue will come from 20% of your customers…you get it. But in case you do need a reminder, you can read our blog post on the importance of keeping your customers engaged and interested. For those of you who’ve read it, you should be excited to know that today we’re focusing on the importance of regular updates to your app in order to keep your users engaged and interested. When you make regular updates to your app, not only does it mean you’re continually changing and (hopefully) improving it, it also communicates to all of your customers that you care about their experience with your app, and are regularly focused on ways to improve it. And it comes down to three key points: updating regularly for reliable functionality; reminding your users that you and your app still exist; and keeping your users interested, excited, and actually using your app.
A Functional App Is A (More) Successful App
If there are bugs affecting the usability and functionality of your app, it’s pretty much a guarantee that it will affect your customer retention; people won’t keep using your app if it isn’t working properly. So the most obvious (and important) reason to update your app is to eliminate bugs, but don’t stop there. There’s potential to turn these updates into something so much more. When you make these little fixes, take it a step further! Reach out to those users who notified you of the bugs and let them know that, thanks to their feedback, the bug has been fixed. Whenever possible, communicate through a social media outlet like Facebook or Twitter to users whose feedback prompted bug fixes. You want all of your followers to see that not only do you listen to the feedback of your users, you actually DO something about it. If a social media outlet isn’t an option, you should reach out to them directly. Letting your users know that their feedback had an impact on the app will give them a sense of ownership and contribution, and showing your users that you actually value their opinions will go a long way towards retaining them as customers.
Remind Your Customers That You Exist
Yes, it’s kind of sad to think that you have to remind your users that you exist. But let’s be honest, who reading this blog can name every app they have installed on their phone? This is why you should use periodic updates to give your users a little reminder that your app is still on their phone, and just continues to get more and more awesome. The tricky part about this approach is the timing of your updates. If you don’t submit updates often enough, it’s almost as bad as not submitting updates at all, and you’ll end up losing too many customers in-between your updates because it will seem like your update is dead and not growing or changing anymore. But submit them too often, and you’ll run into a whole other slew of problems: you run the risk of devaluing your app and making it seem so ‘broken’ that you have to constantly make changes to keep it running; if they receive too many update notifications they may stop caring about what changes you’re making, and will simply ignore your app or get annoyed and delete it; and you may run the risk of releasing so many different versions of your app that very few users will actually have the current one on their device. We recommend updating your app once every 3-6 weeks, and make sure that each update contains some significant improvements and changes.
Keep Your Users Using Your App
The end goal of all of this, of course, is to make sure your users remain users, meaning they continue to use your app regularly. Fixing bugs will prevent them from deleting your app; making regular updates will remind them that you’re still around; but keeping them engaged means you have to keep them interested. And to keep them interested, you have to give them new and exciting things to be interested in. Introduce new levels; make extras your users previously had to pay for free; add new customizable features and introduce useful new tools to keep your users coming back to check them out. Give them reasons to come back to your app to see what’s new But as with the frequency of the updates, you’ll want to stagger the frequency of releasing new and exciting features. Send them too often, and your users won’t have time to explore and experience them, or even worse, they’ll see them so often that they won’t care if there are new features. You want to keep them interested, not overwhelmed.
Building and keeping a successful app is a never-ending process, but hang in there because in the end it will be worth it. As our friends over at Apptentive said in one of their blog posts about customer retention:
We’re seeing developers who are active about modifying and updating their apps be more successful on a regular basis. This is because the updates mechanism creates an opportunity to re-engage with customers who might have forgotten about your app or who gave up on it.
App updates are more than maintenance on your product; it’s a critical part of user engagement and customer happiness, and the successful app developers know this and take advantage of it. Look at your recent updates; are you encouraging your users to come back and use your app, or are you performing simple maintenance? What changes, both small and large, can you be making to your updates to better engage your users? We want to know what tricks have worked for you, and what new things you’re going to try from here on out!
Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.