This sponsored post is produced by Appboy.

Remember when people used to ask which was better, apps or the mobile Internet? Since at least mid-2014, apps have been the hands-down winners of the skirmish for the hearts and minds of mobile users. Mobile users in the U.S. now spend 86% of their time in apps, compared to only 14% on the mobile web. And, according to Nielson, they spend 65% more time each month using apps than they did two years ago.

But before we all break out the Champagne, first comes the reality check: most downloaded apps sit unused and are not nearly living up to their promised potential. As a result, companies are not capitalizing from the time, effort and money that went into creating their app, and many lack a clear strategy for how to do so in the future.

We also see a compelling economic argument for companies to take customer engagement seriously. Instead of paying dollars per download for casual users who are likely to lapse, a pennies-per-user strategy will help ensure a long-term, invested audience.

Understanding the basic building blocks of a strong mobile engagement strategy will allow you to build a stronger relationship with your mobile customers and increase the likelihood that they will stay loyal to you and your app.

Users are people too

Your users are not devices or numbers. They are just like you and me. Each app interaction is vital to understanding your audience and how to improve and effectively prepare your product for the next million downloads. As a mobile marketer, you should be in a position to answer the following questions about your user’s interaction with your app.

  • Did they use the app once and leave?
  • Have they ever made a purchase?
  • What features have they used or ignored?
  • Where are they located? Did they add something to their cart and never return?
  • Are they a power user?

There is an incredible amount of data sitting at our fingertips. Using it to create individual user profiles can be incredibly powerful; using it to build relationships is priceless.

Communicate with your customer using their preferred methods

To ensure that you leave no customers behind, there are four key channels you should use: push notifications, email, in-app messaging and a proprietary News Feed.

Given that 60% of customers disable push notifications, a diverse communication strategy is essential. While resorting to more traditional methods may not be your first impulse, don’t underestimate them. Email is not dead; in fact 66% of messages are first opened on a mobile device, which can allow for email to be the driving force of your engagement strategy and increase retention outside your app.

Other options include in-app messages which effectively nudge users toward key actions and drive in-app discovery, and Appboy’s industry-first News Feed which provides relevant, real-time content. Mixing different messaging channels allows you to precisely tailor your marketing strategies to a user’s behavior and interactions within your app.

Think of ways to delight your users

It can often be difficult to grow your user base without losing the personal touch. Because mobile is such an invasive technology, it is essential to maintain relationships and ensure that users feel valued. Creating user segments and A/B testing your campaign and content within a controlled group of customers puts you 10 steps ahead. Selecting delivery times based on when users are most likely to read it will also increase engagement.

Marketing with mobile is just beginning. We all want to do it right, and there are many proven strategies. However, finding meaning in your user’s data by knowing who you’re talking to before reaching out is what’s really going to get your mobile app users to stick.

Mark Ghermezian is the CEO of Appboy, a Marketing Automation for Apps platform based in NYC.

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