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Bacardi offers valuable lesson on how to protect against app burnout

To prevent users of its Mixed cocktails-making app from quickly tiring of it, Bacardi adds a new drink to the app roughly every week and notifies consumers about it, giving them a reason to return. Bacardi?s app is a textbook example of how to keep users from losing interest in an app after accessing it for a short time by making it a source of necessary and personal value. 

?The struggle to maintain a consumer?s attention has only become more challenging with time,? said Shuli Lowy, marketing director, mobile, with Ping Mobile. ?There are well over a million apps on the market. 

?As more and more voices attempt to catch the consumer?s attention in the mobile app marketplace it becomes harder for one app?s voice to be heard,? she said.
?The key to any successful app always comes back to value combined with a re-engagement strategy.?

Dissipating interest
App burnout occurs when a consumer?s interest in an app dissipates, most often because of a loss in the app?s value proposition and a weak re-engagement strategy.
A 2010 study by Localytics found that 26 percent of downloaded apps are opened once and never used again.
Long-term re-engagement has to top app planning.

That study brought the mobile community to its senses?particularly marketers who were spending millions on campaigns focused entirely on app downloads. 

Mobile acquisitions were clearly meaningless if they lacked retention.  
?The key to preventing app burnout is to think about a long-term re-engagement strategy in the ideation stage of the app,? Ms. Lowy said. ?That long-term value proposition may be innate or contrived. The functionality of the app may get a consumer to come back in on its own or it may require push notifications, emails, and texts to trigger consumers to come back in.?

An app that fails to drive not just downloads but re-engagement as well can bring severe damage to a brand?s hopes of building loyalty. 

?The user might turn off notifications or close the app,? said Scollay Petry, vice president of strategic services at OtherLevels. ?If the experience is increasingly unsatisfying, it?s possible the app user will delete the app entirely. 

?Making the app interactions personal, timely and relevant keeps doors open for engagement and commerce,? he said.
Some apps are naturally immune to app burnout because they contain a sense of organic, ongoing renewal.

Some examples: news apps, daily deal apps, and TV streaming apps. 

Consumers will check back to see the current news. If a consumer likes a daily deal site he or she will check back to see the current new deal. If a consumer likes a TV show he or she will check back for new episodes. 

For these apps, a re-engagement strategy is useful. Pushing out notifications to inform consumers of breaking news, a new sale, or a new episode will drive people back in.
Another set of apps are circumstantially driven, meaning consumers will not log in often but come back whenever they need to. Examples: banking apps and airline apps. 
One other set of apps do not innately carry a sense of renewal within their value proposition but create a deeper strategy to give consumers a reason to come back.
Example: Bacardi?s Mixed app. 

Bacardi released the mixology app to show consumers how to make cocktails. Without its weekly new-drink addition, the app would lack a sense of renewal and likely lose users. 

Generally, apps that are sticky have ever-changing content like Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.

Ever-changing content.

?These types of media/social apps have mass appeal and high adoption rates across all segments of society,? said Gay Gabrilska, vice president of media for Hipcricket. ?They also not only allow, but encourage user generated content,? she said. 

?I am more interested to find out what my bestie thinks of the new Hunger Games movie than some talking head from Hollywood.? 

Other apps that are immune to burnout are banking apps like Mint or personal organization tools like doxo. 

Successful apps also cater closely to users? interests. 

?Many of our clients are in the wagering sector, and they keep users engaged by sending timely messages and marketing opportunities that are based on users? interest,? Mr. Petry said. ?Which sports they bet on the most, time of day they?re most active with the app, even engagement messages that arrive while sporting events are in progress or to customers who are attending events in person.

?If the app messages are as timely and relevant as they can be, the app is more likely to be able to stand up to disinterest or burnout.?

Travel apps are also particularly strong with frequent travelers who have the brand's loyalty card. 

Josh Martin, director of analytics research services for Strategy Analytics, says preventing app burnout is not realistic.

?Instead it?s important to create realistic usage goals for clients and for applications,? he said. ?All apps are likely to have a fixed lifecycle ? despite how many updates a developer provides. 

?Social apps buck this trend because they provide engagement with an audience and partnering with these networks could be a way to get your brand recognized and shared without the cost of an app,? he said

?Treating the mobile market similar to a marketing campaign may yield more consistent results.?

Top of mind
Steve DeAngelis, ?vice president of client development at M&C Saatchi Mobile does not agree that app burnout prevention is unrealistic.

?App burnout should be top of mind for any marketer as its impact on one?s marketing efforts is significant,? he said. ?As marketers, we invest significant time and money into acquiring new app users.?

Personal, timely and relevant.

A high burnout rate is detrimental to any campaign?s return on advertisement spending.

?Users are faced with an immense number of choices when it comes to apps,? said Mark Ghermezian, CEO and co-founder of Appboy. ?If the app doesn?t immediately prove its value with solid content and a simple to navigate layout, users will quickly abandon it for another selection. 

?If there aren?t regular updates or intriguing reasons to revisit an app, a user is less likely to organically return to it,? he said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York.