Your user acquisition strategy zeroes in on high-quality users. Now you have to make that pay off. In Part 3 of VB Live’s mobile data series, marketing VPs break down how to go beyond value prop and design to amp up engagement, reduce churn, and bring lost sheep back into the fold.

Long-term value comes down to a single question: How do we structure the experience for the best results after acquisition? It’s easier than ever to execute great user acquisition strategies, but when it comes to engaging and retaining those users, things get tricky.

“First and foremost you need to establish an engagement goal, because a download — that’s not enough.” says Jillian Burnnett, director of customer success at mParticle. “What is it specifically that you want users to do in your app? Then think about how you can leverage your data to get to those outcomes, because your app is a goldmine of how users are engaging or not engaging with your app.”

With the data to unlock behavior throughout the customer journey, you then have the power to create the kind of engagement strategy across multiple channels that will propel users forward, and get them to keep coming back.

“For us, a big piece of this is making sure that the mobile app provides a unique experience so users are incentivized to come back again and again,” says Expedia’s SVP of marketing, Aaron Price.

It can be tricky for properties like Expedia, which have both a major website experience as well as an app. But there can be big ways to make the app more compelling, he explains, from leveraging the unique features that a mobile device brings to your users, such as location awareness or social awareness, to incentivizing people to keep engaging with your app by offering accelerated loyalty rewards, discounts, and deals that are only available in the mobile app, versus other spaces on the mobile web.

“There are a lot of ways we use post-purchase or ongoing purchase behavior to incentivize a mobile app,” Price adds. “Doing so for us really yields our best customers to be in the app. And that’s what we’ve found over time — by having a very good experience and incentivizing it, your best customers tend to migrate to the app and they stay stickier, longer.”

Rob Willey, VP of marketing at TaskRabbit agrees — keeping retention healthy is not only obviously the biggest driver of LTV, but also is ultimately what drives their business.

“Where that comes to be most evident is clearly within the product experience,” Willey says. Like Expedia, TaskRabbit has both a strong web presence and a mobile product, and they also see results by offering a variety of features and benefits that incentivize mobile app usage on an ongoing basis, from gifts and referral bonuses to promotions or discounts.

“Ultimately we try to remove the friction from what we call the booking process,” Willey continues. “It’s about making that a very seamless experience. And we find if we do that, at minimum, generally that the product speaks for itself.”

To further increase retention and stay top-of-mind in positive, organic ways, they surround app features with an ecosystem of tools. “We see email being the hardest working part of our business, although people seem to think that it’s traditional or archaic in the way that it works,” Willey says, “but it’s definitely very effective for us.”

New users tend to respond well to a variety of other channels, Burnett adds. “For a new user, this is a critical time period to get them coming back to your app and build stickiness before they uninstall,” explains Burnett. “So this is a great time to inform them of new features of your app that maybe they would be interested in visiting, through different channels such as push message and email or even social.”

But, they all agree, tread lightly in the social realm.

“I think we find better repeat behavior in having a good experience in the places where that experience gets shared, whether it’s in the app store review or in other places where people say ‘I had a great experience because I used this’,” Price says. “Having that happen organically is much more valuable than trying to prime it.”

“Activating our users socially is a big ask,” Willey says. “We are consistently and aggressively in social media. It’s a critical piece of our business, but for us, it’s a tall order that we let happen organically rather than try to force into the product experience.”

To learn more about why organic installs are essential, why reactivating and retargeting is key, and the metrics you need to nail, catch up with this free VB Live event.

Don’t miss out!

Access this exclusive VB Live event on demand as experts from retail, hospitality, and on-demand services demonstrate how to:

  • Use the right technology to maximize LTV of app users
  • Optimize each user engagement to avoid app abandonment and churn
  • Learn acquisition-engagement tactics such as: pre- and post-install segmentation, organic growth, retargeting and reward-based acquisition

Speakers include:

  • Aaron Price, SVP of Marketing, Expedia
  • Rob Willey, VP of Marketing, TaskRabbit
  • Jillian Burnnett, Director of Customer Success, mParticle
  • Stewart Rogers, Director of Marketing Technology, VentureBeat


  •       Wendy Schuchart, Analyst, VentureBeat

This VB Live event is sponsored by mParticle.