It’s that time of year again; a time where families and friends gather to share good tidings, time-honored traditions and shop till we drop (as the kids on the street say). Yes indeed, Black Friday (followed closely by the effervescent Christmas season) is around the corner and no doubt those of you with apps in the retail industry are gearing up for the season.

We all know by now that the last few years have seen massive growth in mobile purchasing on Black Friday. In 2016, customers spent a whopping $3.34 billion on Black Friday, of which 48% of online orders were completed via mobile apps. This growth continued in 2017, and you’d be foolish to bet against this happening in 2018.

To take advantage of this huge opportunity for revenue, brands need to increase their engagement with their customers. Because as we know engagement – not acquisition – is the key to growth. And since 80% of customers admit that messages from brands are irrelevant, and 20% of those are more likely to churn because of this irrelevance, it is imperative the engagement from brands is both personalized and relevant to the individual customers needs.

Not only will this put you in good standing with your customers, but you’ll see your ROI go up too, making it a win-win situation.

Here are six post-download engagement strategies proven to decrease churn and increase ROI for retail and e-commerce apps during their busiest time of the year:

1. Get Permission (The Right Way)

Permissions are essential for any app. They are the way in which you reel in potential paying customers, by sending messages and notifications to that customer when they are outside of your app.

But going about asking for permissions is a delicate process, much like asking someone out on a date. Try too hard and you drive them away, but don’t put in enough effort and you won’t impress enough to get another chance.

Make permissions your priority from the first moment your user downloads your app. This can be done seamlessly, and tactfully through a stellar onboarding experience.

2. Eliminate Cart Abandonment with Personalization

One vital message retailers need to get right is reminding users about abandoned carts. Since cart abandonment rates can be up to 80% on mobile, we don’t need to tell you how much of an impact this percentage has on your ROI.

Personalize the message using more than just your customer’s first name. Local language and local time also have a major impact on whether or not items in your app will be checked out or remain in the abandoned cart ether forever. Messages that are accurately personalized will carry the quality of a human voice entering into conversation, rather than a bot screaming irrelevant and irreverent discount offers.

Most app users drop off never to return after just one purchase. Don’t let that happen. Encourage your customers to make repeat purchases using strategic messaging.

Use data and customer behavior available to you, to send a message that is guaranteed to get your customer re-engaged with your app. For example, if your customer searched for a specific brand in a previous session, remind them of what offers are available with that brand in the moment, or if an item they searched for wasn’t in stock, send them a message when it is back I stock and optimize for purchase.

3. Meet Customers in the Wild with Location-Based Messaging

Don’t disregard footfall in your app’s marketing strategy either. Use geolocation to trigger a preset geofence for when a customer comes in proximity to a brick and mortar store, encouraging them to stop in and peruse items on their wish list.

4. Keep New Users Coming Back for More

Once you have acquired your new users (and spent a pretty penny on that acquisition in the first place) it’s natural to want to get them active and engaged with your app straight away. This means making a purchase right off the bat. And what better way to do that than to optimize your onboarding experience to the ad or offer your user just clicked on?

By optimizing your Facebook ads, you can increase conversion rates by up to 11x. That’s because you’re keeping the thread alive—the drop-off between the initial app open and an eventual conversion-to-purchase is greatly reduced, and as a result, the true ROI on acquisition spend is increased.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Interactions on Day 2 and Day 3 can and should be informed by knowledge of where the customer came from in the first place.

This optimization will also work to bring lapsed users back into the app, as your messaging will be more relevant to their personal needs and interests.. For example, a retailer might advertise other items of a brand in stock to users who have shown interest in that specific brand before.

5. Tailor Your UX to Your Engagement Strategy

However, engagement is not all about messaging. Your user interface can have a lot to do with engagement levels on your app too. Something as simple as your navigation bar can have a huge impact on your app’s engagement rate. And the only way to figure this out for sure is to A/B test it.

Don’t forget about your checkout screen (probably the most important screen in your e-commerce app) should be tested down to the fine details including copy, color, layout, etc.

6. Make it Easy to Discover New Features

And just because your users have made one, or even two purchases in your app doesn’t mean they are getting complete value from it. Show them the value of your service by enabling feature discovery in an in-app message that reminds your user of features they may not have discovered yet.

For retailers, this could be using a ‘Wish List’ to keep track of items they want to keep an eye on, or creating an account to get access to better deals, features or information.

In Conclusion

Since mobile sales outperformed sales on any other platform combined in 2017, it makes complete sense for retailers to focus on areas that will encourage customers to go beyond an app download and continue to spark conversions down the line. With real retention and engagement strategies (like the ones listed above), your app will flourish, and you’ll enjoy more purchases and greater loyalty—one that will extend well beyond the holiday season.