4 Ways App Marketers Can Prevent Churn & Increase Conversion

11 minute read

Upland Admin


If you’re an app marketer, chances are you’re terribly concerned about the “Two C’s” – conversion & churn.

They are the big win and the ultimate fear. The light and the dark. The high hope and the crashing blow.

OK, so that’s a little dramatic, but you understand the underlying intent. All marketers hope that they can get customers to convert and continue their relationships, just as all marketers hope they can simultaneously prevent churn. It’s all a necessary part of creating and facilitating engagement at every step of the app user lifecycle.

The biggest stumbling block marketers face today is finding the right data to identify at-risk-of-churning users and to discover conversion opportunities. Building these data discovering capabilities in your analytics is hugely time intensive and error-prone. So, how do you uncover both and move the needle on reducing churn and boosting conversion?

The answer lies in predictive analytics, which can surface up users who are at a high, medium or low risk of churning or users who have the highest and lowest likelihood of converting. Essentially, you can discover your users who are most primed to convert in-app, and the users you’re at risk of losing, and you can do something about it.

In this post, we’ll cover the kind of marketing campaigns you can run to prevent churn, re-engage users, increase conversions, and facilitate better relationships – all with data at the heart of your efforts.

Pro tip: To get the most out of the recommendations in this post, first read our short guide on how to identify the churn risk factors in your app!

1. Re-engage High-Risk Users Before They Churn

Let’s start with your most-at risk audience: high/medium churn risk users – the ones who are almost guaranteed to churn. Predictive is your opportunity to reach them before they churn.

But how?

This is where app marketing tactics like push notifications, in-app messages, email marketing and remarketing become critical to reaching users and providing them with relevant, valuable content. You can use these tools to remind high-risk users why they downloaded your app in the first place, and to re-surface the inherent value they gain from using your app.

Create this User Journey – Media Use Case

The best way to get the most value as a user out of a media or entertainment app is often to have an all-access subscription, so that you can view unlimited articles, listen to unlimited songs, and share unlimited content. So your goal here is to get high-risk churn users to sign on for a subscription service.

#1 Push Message
Push can be a go-to tool for prompting conversions, as it surfaces up to the user different offers, content and campaigns.

Target audience: All high and medium risk users
Campaign content: Offer for one free week of an all-access subscription
Why it works: Give users a taste of what access to the full app experience would be like – for free! They’ll be interested in the special (free) offer and might find more value out of complete access.


#2 Email Campaign

Your app users aren’t just users – they’re prospects or customers who want to interact with across different channels. Use email marketing campaigns based on in-app user behavior and data to engage outside of the app and create a more holistic experience.

Target audience: Users in the original audience who did not respond to the original offer
Campaign content: Offer 30% off their first month of the subscription service
Why it works: If your users went for the original offer, after their free week, you’re following up with an added incentive to purchase! If they didn’t, you’re still offering a great deal to re-engage them and boost usage.

#3 Remarketing Campaign

Ads aren’t just a tool for acquiring new users. Enlist remarketing ads to reach high-risk users on the web or via the social networks they use every day.

Target audience: Users in the original audience who don’t convert on either of the two offers
Campaign content: Offer one free month of the subscription service
Why it works: Here’s where you pull out the big guns – remarketing is the most costly of these marketing tactics, so we advise only spending the additional money to target “holdouts” with one big offer – a free month of your subscription service.


2. Reach Low Churn Risk Users Early & Often to Boost Loyalty

Re-engaging and retaining users who are at a high risk of churning will clearly be your #1 priority, but you should also be thinking about your already loyal users, and how you can strengthen relationships with them and turn them into app promoters. When you concentrate on providing the most valuable experience possible, you’ll be creating app fans who actually want to spread the word.

Create this User Journey – Fitness Use Case

When you have a segment of users who aren’t likely to churn, it means that they are currently quite active in your app, and have the chance to turn into loyal customers. Here, you can harness their usage of and fondness for your app by turning it into recommendations and positive reviews.

#1 In-App Message

These users are most likely to be frequently active in your app, so starting with an in-app message during their experience is a great way to grab their attention.

Target audience: All low churn risk users
Campaign content: Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey
Why it works: NPS surveys are a fantastic tool for gathering user feedback about your app. You can also use NPS surveys to direct users to leave a rating on your App Store listing. Using an NPS will allow you to engage the users who are promoters, and who give you a high score, to show that their feedback is hugely important to your app roadmap and to gain more positive reviews.


#2 Email Campaign

Email can be a great tool for longer-form content, or sending users information that can’t be condensed in an app message. In this case, it’s a way to connect with your low churn risk users to invite them to participate in determining the future of your app.

Target audience: Users in the original audience who completed the NPS survey
Campaign content: Invite users to be beta testers of the next app version
Why it works: Inviting your most loyal users to participate in a beta test ensures that you have users enrolled who already spend a lot of time in your app and know it well. They’ll be able to give the most detailed and relevant feedback, and will be engaged in the process.

#3 Push Message

The third tactic in this series is a push message with the goal of asking your most loyal users to spread the word.

Target audience: Users in the original audience who gave you a high score in the NPS survey
Campaign content: Ask users to invite their friends for a special credit or contest entry
Why it works: Expanding organic reach is tough, so utilizing your happy and responsive users to help you in this effort is crucial. By offering the incentive, you’re providing a “thank you.”


3. Progressively Prompt Users with a Low Conversion Likelihood

In your app, you probably have a group of users who are the least likely to convert on an in-app event, such as complete a purchase, share an article, log a run, or sign up for a subscription. You want to provide them with reasons to convert – often in the form of discounts or special offers.

Create this User Journey – Retail Use Case

In most retail and eCommerce apps the primary conversion goal is completed in-app purchases. Just as your website and physical stores drive revenue through purchases, your app works to facilitate browsing, product views, adds-to-cart, and complete purchases. To prompt users with a low likelihood of converting (purchasing), use app marketing tactics to provide them with relevant or mobile-specific offers. 

#1 Push Message

Start with a push campaign with an incentive to come back to the app. Push notifications are a great “nudge” on the shoulder to re-engage users with the app by providing an actionable next step based on something that user is actually interested in learning more about. 

Target audience: All users with a low and medium conversion likelihood
Campaign content: Offer for free delivery on all orders greater than $20
Why it works: Push messages are a great channel for mobile-specific offers and coupons. In fact, most app users subscribe to receive notifications in the hopes that they will receive special discounts. For retail in particular, reach these users by providing this financial incentive – it could be exactly what they are looking for!


#2 Email Campaign

If you’re already using email to interact with customers, make those emails even smarter by using in-app behavior data to target new deals, give recommendations, and continue their app experience outside of the app.

Target audience: Users in the original audience who are not observed to convert in the three days following the push campaign
Campaign content: Offer 10% off their first in-app purchase
Why it works: You’re creating a slightly stronger incentive for these users to convert: if they weren’t intrigued enough to convert with the free shipping, a percentage discount is a more tempting offer.

#3 Remarketing Campaign

Remind users of the items they viewed and were interested in, and pair that with a really strong incentive: a discount specifically applied in the app.

Target audience: Users in the original audience who are not observed to convert in the five days following the email campaign
Campaign content: Offer $15 off towards their first mobile purchase
Why it works: For your third and final touch in the campaign, you’ll want to offer the strongest incentive you have – if monetary offers don’t work at this point, it would be difficult to re-engage these users in other ways.


4. Recommend Relevant Offers to High-Converting Users

Marketing to users who have a high likelihood to convert isn’t about pushing them to purchase as much as possible – it’s about pointing them in the right direction towards products, services, events or content that they best match their interests.

Create this User Journey – Travel Use Case

Travel apps have a host of data at their disposal to discover what locations, attractions, travel arrangements and hotels users are most interested in, and to use that information to better tailor the experience by showcasing highly relevant information.

#1 Email Campaign

Use the data you collect about user interests, favorites and desires in-app to send more relevant and interesting emails to them when they’re outside of the app.

Target audience: Users who are likely to convert
Campaign content: Showcase relevant recommendations based on the locations or hotels they have previously viewed
Why it works: If a user is planning a trip using your app, he or she is going to be looking for recommendations on the best option – is it the cheapest flight? The highest-rated hotel? The best local attractions? Email is a super visual way to send these recommendations based on the browsing they’re already done in-app.

#2 Push Message

Introduce a new rewards or points program for frequent travelers. This way, you can engage your most captive and likely-to-convert users by providing a special program that helps their conversions pay off.

Target audience: Users in the original audience who have viewed at least two hotels in the last week
Campaign content: Notify the user that he or she can get the most out of their app experience by signing up for a rewards program
Why it works: When users are more likely to convert, you’ll want to give them a reason to do so more regularly. Introducing a rewards program is a great way to keep users engaged, and to give high-converting users added incentive for converting often.


#3 In-App Message

Surface timely reminders about the items each user is interested in – and their availability – by employing an in-app message while he or she is researching.

Target audience: Users in the original audience who converted on adding a reservation to their itinerary and registered for the rewards program
Campaign content: Provide details on possible flights, things to do, or upgrades relevant to their reservation
Why it works: Using in-app in this way, you can help facilitate additional conversions or planning on the part of the user by providing other things he or she might be interested in doing during their now-confirmed trip. You can also use this to promote additional ways they can earn points or rewards by using your app during their travel.


To create the best relationships with your users, you want to be able to create for them cohesive, relevant and interesting cross-channel experiences – and using your data is the way to accomplish just that. By better understanding your users and investing that data into your marketing campaigns, you can create brand interactions that are more valuable across the board. That way, you have happy users and better business results.

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