If you’ve ever been to a karaoke bar where someone hands you the microphone and says, “You’re up next,” then you’ll understand the context for the following discussion about mobile engagement and mobile churn:

IF YOU ENGAGE: you’ll grab the mike and belt out your best rendition of the tune that’s next in the queue.
IF YOU CHURN: you’ll either pretend the mike doesn’t exist, turn down the offer with a quick “maybe some other time,” or just scurry away.

Two of mobile marketing’s key challenges involve boosting engagement and activity in apps once they’re downloaded, and preventing churn – the tendency of consumers to download an app and then quit using it. According to one statistic, about 40% of consumers who download an app still use it within a week, and only 4% remain active users a year later.

What can marketers do to encourage greater engagement with their apps and stem high levels of churn?

Sometimes, it’s all about the combined power of timing and messages. And it goes beyond the tenet of “right message to the right person at the right time” by embracing optimal timing to create the best and most robust, data-driven messages for consumers who need relevant nudges or incentives to engage or re-engage.

Encourage Users to Come Back, Try Again

A recent messaging strategy we developed for a karaoke app, in fact, proves the value of delivering well-timed mobile messages to new users, not only to welcome them to the app experience, but also to give them information, tips and reasons to keep coming back. The app itself enables users to sing along with their favorite artists, record videos, share performances with friends, and attract fans. While it has both a free and VIP subscription level, the brand was most interested in converting more of its free users to paid subscribers.

The solution? Well-timed messages.

Behavioral data was mined to create and test in-app messages and push notifications over three months. For example, the app launched karaoke contests to increase consumer engagement, and if consumers hadn’t signed up within three days of a contest’s opening, they received reminder messages and a deep link that enabled seamless sign-up with a single tap.

Did it work? Indeed. The karaoke app experienced twice the amount of contest participation on days when users received a push notification, and 20% of users who clicked on a notification followed through, resulting in hundreds of new contest participants.

“Don’t Miss Out” Messages Inspire Higher Participation, Greater Retention

To encourage more VIP sign-ups, free users received optimally timed messages – crafted along the “you’re missing out if you don’t have access” theme – that invited them to the VIP level, where they could record more songs, enter contests and check out new recently available songs by their favorite artists.

The result: within the first 30 days of download, the app reduced churn across the board, including 36% higher retention rate of users at Day 3 vs. a control group that didn’t receive VIP invitations.

Overall, app users who received targeted and well-timed messages were more likely to continue using the app, and they doubled their app activity as a result of messages that kept it top-of-mind.

In the karaoke world, that’s a show-stopping impressive performance, thanks to messages that arrive – no pun intended – as music to users’ ears.