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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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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

Virtual wellbeing check

Feelings of pressure, isolation and performance anxiety are commonly experienced by athletes, however it isn’t always easy for clubs to identify those who are struggling. Richard Lucas, founder of GoVox, explains how technology can help
people

Kevin Dawidowicz

President, CoachMePlus
Fitness apps are designed to train clients, without a trainer on the other side. We give coaches a tool for connection
interview

Rodrigo Jesus, Salus Optima

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Fiit has secured a deal with TV giant Sky, to make its virtual workout platform available through the subscription-based Sky Q service. With 20 per cent of Fiit users now accessing the app through Sky, Fit Tech speaks to Fraser Stirling and Daniel Shellard to find out more
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

Fit Tech Leadership Report

Fit tech is a growing, competitive sector. Executive search firm, Stronger Talent, recently analysed the backgrounds of more than 300 fit tech executives to provide insights into recruiting strategies, as Pete Leibman explains
Editor's letter

Big (fit) tech

We’re entering the age of the wellness mega-corp, with the ultimate goal for investors being to dominate health and wellness markets in every channel. Prepare to expect the unexpected in this convergence of health, fitness and wellness

Digital retention top performers

Three digital fitness platforms tell Fit Tech how they work to achieve higher levels of customer retention
interview

Preston Lewis, Black Box VR

Game designers have figured out how to keep people unhealthily addicted to games. If only you could be the hero in a game that levelled up your life
interview

Robotic muscles

We identified the need to step beyond the current approaches to muscle weakness, and move instead to placing robotic muscles exactly where they’re needed – inside the body

Clubs without walls

Venueserve Fitness is working with the Health Club Collection to drive its digital customer engagement

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