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features

App retention: Staying sticky

Bob Lawson explains how digital fitness platforms and apps can maximise retention and prevent churn

Published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 1

We talk to a lot of mobile app creators in the fitness space. Some of the world’s largest and most successful fitness, health and wellness apps are on the Kumulos platform.

Our stats show that fitness apps have found it relatively easy to collect new users – in some cases downloads are up by more than 60 per cent year on year.

The biggest challenge facing mobile fitness tech is keeping users once things return to ‘normal’.

Just a 1 per cent reduction in churn can deliver a 10-17 per cent increase in profitability for the app, especially if this is among your high value, highly engaged app user cohort. So getting the retention strategy right is critical to success.

Here are our top five ways to drive up user retention in fitness and health apps.

1. Get a holistic view of app users
The most successful fitness app suppliers think of app user data as a three point triangle: user behaviour, user experience and user sentiment. Each is equally important and interlinked.

Most have decent sight over the basic user behaviour analytics – downloads, engagement, retention and the rest. The temptation, because it’s easy, is to focus on just this, missing the other two sides of the triangle. The challenge with this is that user behaviour is a rear-view mirror for your app. Often, what users do is the effect of what’s happened elsewhere.

If the app becomes unstable then many users will give up on it and leave. Understanding the user experience by tracking trends in app crashes and getting alerts when things run slow means you know when problems are brewing.

Most successful fitness apps build customer sentiment into their KPIs. Poor ratings or bad reviews in app stores can put off new users and new customer acquisition rates fall.

2. Predictive churn
Every app drops users. It’s a fact of life. To really improve user retention, you need to be working proactively and catch fitness app users before they even think of churning. World-leading fitness apps use automatic predictive messaging to contact users when a behaviour change could signal churn.

Studying user cadence is important. When user cadence changes, apps should trigger a series of situational messages to engage users and draw them back into the app. This has driven up user retention from between 15-23 per cent in 12 months.

3. Perfecting situational messaging
For some apps, users might be happy to get four or more messages a day. But from another app, just one message a week might annoy.

If the message is relevant to my here-and-now, and if it’s information I want, then I’m happy to get the message. If not, it’s just noise and may actually encourage me to uninstall the app.

Relevance is especially true for fitness apps – the content needs to support my goals (the reason I downloaded the app in the first place) for it to be valuable to me.

4. Content is king
Rich media content messages drive substantially better results. We see up to 43 per cent greater message interaction from rich media messages compared to text only. Fitness apps are perfect for highly visual, rich media messaging.

You might want to embed video to promote new content or to coach technique. Send out a series of messages on technique optimisation to maximise users’ results. This is good for your highly engaged “super-users” as well as capturing those at risk of churn.

5. Intelligent timing
Lastly, time of day matters. Not everyone exercises at the same time of day. So, don’t send messages at 8am if a user’s routine is to exercise weekday evenings, after work.

Apps that know my routine and send me encouraging prompts at the time of day that I am most receptive, will get my attention. We see interaction rates rise by more than 38 per cent when messages are intelligently delivered at the time of day that fits the individual’s exercise patterns.

Bringing it all together
So to sum up, big successful apps capture users’ attention with contextual and situational rich media messages that keep super-users engaged.

They know when users’ cadence has changed, spot the signals of churn early and re-engage users before they have even considered deleting their app. And lastly they understand what each individual user is trying to achieve, and they communicate with them in language that supports their goals.

Bob Lawson is founder of user engagement platform, Kumulos

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
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We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
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We’re ultimately bringing health monitoring technologies from the doctor’s office into the home, to help patients and their physicians make life-saving changes

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Get Fit Tech
Sign up for the free digital edition of Fit Tech magazine and the free weekly Fit Tech ezine
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Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
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features

App retention: Staying sticky

Bob Lawson explains how digital fitness platforms and apps can maximise retention and prevent churn

Published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 1

We talk to a lot of mobile app creators in the fitness space. Some of the world’s largest and most successful fitness, health and wellness apps are on the Kumulos platform.

Our stats show that fitness apps have found it relatively easy to collect new users – in some cases downloads are up by more than 60 per cent year on year.

The biggest challenge facing mobile fitness tech is keeping users once things return to ‘normal’.

Just a 1 per cent reduction in churn can deliver a 10-17 per cent increase in profitability for the app, especially if this is among your high value, highly engaged app user cohort. So getting the retention strategy right is critical to success.

Here are our top five ways to drive up user retention in fitness and health apps.

1. Get a holistic view of app users
The most successful fitness app suppliers think of app user data as a three point triangle: user behaviour, user experience and user sentiment. Each is equally important and interlinked.

Most have decent sight over the basic user behaviour analytics – downloads, engagement, retention and the rest. The temptation, because it’s easy, is to focus on just this, missing the other two sides of the triangle. The challenge with this is that user behaviour is a rear-view mirror for your app. Often, what users do is the effect of what’s happened elsewhere.

If the app becomes unstable then many users will give up on it and leave. Understanding the user experience by tracking trends in app crashes and getting alerts when things run slow means you know when problems are brewing.

Most successful fitness apps build customer sentiment into their KPIs. Poor ratings or bad reviews in app stores can put off new users and new customer acquisition rates fall.

2. Predictive churn
Every app drops users. It’s a fact of life. To really improve user retention, you need to be working proactively and catch fitness app users before they even think of churning. World-leading fitness apps use automatic predictive messaging to contact users when a behaviour change could signal churn.

Studying user cadence is important. When user cadence changes, apps should trigger a series of situational messages to engage users and draw them back into the app. This has driven up user retention from between 15-23 per cent in 12 months.

3. Perfecting situational messaging
For some apps, users might be happy to get four or more messages a day. But from another app, just one message a week might annoy.

If the message is relevant to my here-and-now, and if it’s information I want, then I’m happy to get the message. If not, it’s just noise and may actually encourage me to uninstall the app.

Relevance is especially true for fitness apps – the content needs to support my goals (the reason I downloaded the app in the first place) for it to be valuable to me.

4. Content is king
Rich media content messages drive substantially better results. We see up to 43 per cent greater message interaction from rich media messages compared to text only. Fitness apps are perfect for highly visual, rich media messaging.

You might want to embed video to promote new content or to coach technique. Send out a series of messages on technique optimisation to maximise users’ results. This is good for your highly engaged “super-users” as well as capturing those at risk of churn.

5. Intelligent timing
Lastly, time of day matters. Not everyone exercises at the same time of day. So, don’t send messages at 8am if a user’s routine is to exercise weekday evenings, after work.

Apps that know my routine and send me encouraging prompts at the time of day that I am most receptive, will get my attention. We see interaction rates rise by more than 38 per cent when messages are intelligently delivered at the time of day that fits the individual’s exercise patterns.

Bringing it all together
So to sum up, big successful apps capture users’ attention with contextual and situational rich media messages that keep super-users engaged.

They know when users’ cadence has changed, spot the signals of churn early and re-engage users before they have even considered deleting their app. And lastly they understand what each individual user is trying to achieve, and they communicate with them in language that supports their goals.

Bob Lawson is founder of user engagement platform, Kumulos

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
people

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
people

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
people

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
people

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
interview

Mathieu Letombe

We’re ultimately bringing health monitoring technologies from the doctor’s office into the home, to help patients and their physicians make life-saving changes

Refining augmented reality

London boutique The Refinery has created an avatar-led digital fitness offering called ALFI, which utilises augmented reality (AR) to demonstrate movements. Zoe Bertali, one of the co-founders of the gym, tells us more

Jessica Ennis-Hill: founder of Jennis

Jessica Ennis-Hill is on a mission to close the gender data gap in health research. Her app, Jennis CycleMapping, is designed to help women understand their cycles and how to train during each different phase. Steph Eaves speaks to Ennis-Hill to find out exactly how it works

How usable is your product?

Your fit tech product might be a game changer, solving problems or creating new possibilities for clients, but none of this will matter if it’s not easy and enjoyable to use. Industrial designer Nick Chubb explains why usability is key, and the factors to consider when designing your new product

Put on your red light

Red light therapy promises a variety of benefits, including better recovery, skin rejuvenation and increased energy, but is it all too good to be true? Fit Tech spoke to Bryan Gohl and James Strong of Red Light Rising, and Wes Pfiffner of Joovv to find out more
interview

Kilian Saekel

A-Champs is a platform that delivers sports science-based programmes and games through interactive sensor pods that come with light, sound and vibration

Adrian Hon

Zombies, Run! is one of the most enduring fitness apps, with half a million users getting active while engaging in ‘missions’ against the zombie apocalypse. Its co-creator spoke to Steph Eaves about the power of story

Digital community

Matt Stebbings of SLT Group talks about the creation of their Community Portal, a new platform that aims to help anyone to get active, whether that’s inside or outside of SLT’s facilities

Funxtion: A vital connection

NonStop Gym, Switzerland’s no frills gym chain, has appointed FunXtion to create its member training app

Monitoring mental health

New technology uses advanced machine learning to monitor patients’ mental health between visits to their medical providers
people

Devi Mahadevia

Facebook director of sports and fitness partnerships
With Facebook paid online events, publishers can charge viewers to attend a video livestream on their Facebook pages or a third party video service
people

Andy Etches

Founder and sports director, Rezzil
Rezzil was able to have an injured player learning his new manager's philosophy, positioning and playing style – all from a seated position
interview

Preston Lewis, Black Box VR

We’ve had to create training experiences that show users how to grab handles in the virtual world that are mapped to our real-world machine
More features
FIBO Exhibition
FIBO Exhibition