How Do You Know When Your App Users Are Ready to Convert? 8 Telling Signs

shopping-cart-3873_640We’ve used the term “shopping cart” for years to indicate the online purchase queue found in online stores. It was only natural that when these stores transitioned to apps, the term would transition with it. While it serves its purpose, there is a major difference between that little icon in the top righthand corner of your app and a squeaky cart at Target. In the store, it’s a vehicle to transport all your items from the rack to the check-out (meaning, customers are ready to make a purchase). In your app though, it’s a mechanism to save items for possible purchase either now or in the future. Users can leave the app as often as they like without removing or buying items from their cart (imagine doing that in-store!).

So how do you know when your users are actually ready to convert? Sometimes, it’s as simple as knowing where to look in your analytics platform. Other times, the answers aren’t quite so obvious. Regardless, just because your users are ready to convert, doesn’t mean they will. It’s up to you as the app marketer to facilitate the process and guide them along the way. When they’re ready, you have to be ready too.

You may not be able to use every piece of advice from this list, and that’s why it’s important to constantly test, mix and match and find what works best with your app. Under each telling sign, you’ll also find three tangible examples of real apps that could use this information to target their own users.

1. They constantly reach their “Freemium” limit

IMG_6294Gamers have dreaded the “No More Lives” screen since the release of Super Mario Bros. on original Nintendo. All that time spent battling mushroom-shaped goombas and deadly flying turtles would eventually overcome Mario’s tenacious hope to save Princess. Back in 1987 though, you could take the plunge and start all over again. But with the widespread Freemium app model of today, the user typically has to wait a predetermined time period for their next life.

This model isn’t reserved exclusively for gaming apps though. It’s been adopted by pretty much every other type of app. The idea is to give them just enough to want more, but not so little so that they don’t think it’s worth it. If they keep reaching their Freemium limits and continue to come back, they’re ready for the real deal. Introduce them to the benefits of upgrading to your premium subscription or how in-app purchases can enhance their experience.

Real-world App Examples:

Slacker Radio - Users who reached their hourly skip limit at least three times daily.
TwoDots - Users who run out of lives at least twice daily.
Lumosity - Users who reach the three-game daily limit at least four times per week.

2. They have expiring free trials

IMG_6291If users don’t understand what they’re missing out on, it’s hard for them to justify spending money on it. Offering them free trials is an excellent way to introduce them to the features of your app that you spent so much time developing. They get a true sense of what it’s like to be a paying member of the community and are hopefully become accustomed to it.

As the trial is running out, the user has a big decision to make: whether or not to pay to continue with the premium service. This is your chance to flex your app marketing muscle and guide them along the way to conversion. Send them a friendly in-app reminder of the features they’ll soon be losing out on if they decide not to continue.

Real-world App Examples:

Evernote - Users within two days of their three free months for referring friends.
Spotify - Users who signed up for the free month and are within one day of expiring.
HuluPlus - Users whose free week is one day from expiring.

3. They frequent specific screens or categories

We’ve all had the experience of trying to buy a gift for someone but have absolutely no idea where to start. If you’re like me, you’ll mindlessly browse hoping that if you spend enough time searching some clever gift will just pop out and make itself known. Alas, it never happens. But something changes when we know exactly what we’re looking for. We dial down to specific categories and may even filter those options to match our needs. We know what we want and we’re ready.

Users who are ready to convert on your app aren’t much different. If they’re constantly checking out a specific category or screen, they’re interested. The case could be that they aren’t clear on next steps, or maybe they’re just a little hesitant to “go all in.” This is your opportunity to acknowledge the time they’ve spent using your app and link them to a page deeper in your conversion funnel.

Real-world App Examples:

Bank of America - Users who visited the “Mobile Deposit” screen twice in the past week.
BBC News - Users who viewed the “Technology” category twice today.
Kayak - Users who checked prices on flights from NYC to SFO four times over the past 30 days.

4. They engage with the app multiple times within a given timeframe

Let’s face it. Users have a lot of distractions when it comes to converting in your app. Text messages, app crashes and even push notifications from other apps can divert attention away from the task at-hand. If, even through all that, they continue to engage with your app, then they place some serious value in it. They’re ready to convert, show them how much you appreciate them using your app with an in-app offer.

Real-world App Examples:

Snapchat - Users who returned to view at least three snaps over a three-hour period.
Acorns - Users who opened the app to check Account Value three times over the past three days.
RunKeeper - Users who opened the app twice in one week to plan running routes.

5. They spend an average of X minutes in-app per session

IMG_6297Users who spend a lot of time in your app must really love it. Right? Well, often times yes, but sometimes less means more. Slacker Radio, for example, spends a lot of their efforts identifying ways to increase their users’ time in-app. But an app like The Weather Channel should expect users to get in and get out. If they’re spending too much time, it’s likely their users aren’t finding what they need and are spending their valuable time searching for it.

Because this metric is so app-specific, it’s important to segment your own users by session length and determine which group is the highest converting. You’ll find that even in those segments, there will still be users who haven’t converted. That’s your target market, and the group you want to spend a good chunk of time crafting a solid marketing strategy for.

Real-world App Examples:

SoundCloud - Users who spend thirty minutes streaming music.
Waze - Users who spend more than five minutes finding and following directions.
Sidecar - Users spend less than two minutes booking a ride. 

6. They converted in other channels

While mobile plays a major role in the marketing efforts of many companies today, it’s certainly not the only way to get in touch with customers. Even an app like Lyft where the majority of conversions happen in-app, there are still cross-channel opportunities (like creating a driver account online). While these users may be considered new from an app standpoint, they’re already well-versed in your product and understand the value. As an app marketer, use this to your advantage. These users are farther down the conversion funnel than the typical new app user, you want to tailor your in-app messaging with that in mind.

Real-world App Examples:

Starbucks - Users have bought coffee using their physical Starbucks card.
Kohl’s - Users have used their Kohl’s charge card to purchase items in-store.
Ultimate Guitar - Users who have favorited guitar songs using their online account.

7. They started down the conversion path, but never finished

IMG_6298Everyone knows of the infamous abandoned cart in the eCommerce world. But this can be expanded to just about any vertical. We know conversions don’t exist in isolation, and that’s why it’s important to set up funnels in your analytics platform. Adding an item to a cart could be the beginning of one conversion path, but viewing the subscriptions screen could well be the start of another.

When users start down these paths, they likely have at least some intention of making it all the way through. Distractions, confusing screenflows or just being unsure could contribute to users falling out of the funnel. To sit back and hope they come back would be a grave mistake. This is the perfect opportunity to push them to that final conversion through a special offer via push message.

Real-world App Examples:

Yelp - Users who reached the “Leave a Review” screen but didn’t fill it out.
Zillow - Users who started to register for an account but dropped out.
Zipcar - Users who picked a location and time but never chose a car.

8. Users have already converted in-app

You may be thinking, "Well of course Chris, that's a no-brainer!" Well, yes. Users who have made in-app purchases in the past are more likely to do so again than those who haven’t. But how about those users who have converted with less valuable events like sharing an article on social media or creating a new music station? They may not have the desired effect of direct revenue, but they influence those bigger conversions.

We have a tendency to focus on the major ones like premium upgrades or in-app purchases. But it’s likely that many of these wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for those assisting conversions that happen well before a user thinks about opening their wallet for your app. Take full marketing advantage of these opportunities when users are expressing serious interest in your app by way of secondary conversions.

Real-world App Examples:

Flipboard - Users who have connected Twitter to their board.
Amazon - Users who have created a Wish List.
Allrecipes - Users who have saved a recipe for later.

Knowing What Works for Your App

By knowing how to segment users within your own analytics platform, you can have a solid idea of which users are ready to convert. But if you sit back and hope it will just happen, then it's time to rethink your app marketing strategy. The key is to use what you know about those users to build smarter, more targeted campaigns that guide them along the conversion path to their final destination. By taking conversion matters into your own hands, you're not only helping your own bottomline, you're enhancing the overall experience of your users (and for them, that's what really matters!).

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