3 Reasons No One Opens Your Mobile App (and How to Fix Them) - BuildFire
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3 Reasons No One Opens Your Mobile App (and How to Fix Them)

So, a lot of people downloaded your mobile app. Your regular customers mention how cool the app is each time they stop by your store.

For a couple of months, you ride this new app high. The installs picked up quickly, and you’re posting a spike in sales.

Eureka! This app is awesome, you think.

And then, the decline.

Fewer people are placing orders through your app. Your stats are just dismal. People bounce right out of the app—if they even open it anymore.

Build it and they’ll come? Yes! They came. But then, they never came back.

It’s unquestionable that creating an app for your business has its benefits—you saw them the first few months. People are engaging with your business through your app. You’re winning over competitors’ regulars. Your branding is constantly in contact with your customers. More sales.
Now, your problem is how to continuously reap these benefits by keeping people interested in your app.

Here’s what you need: You must re-engage your customers.

Alongside promoting your app to get more downloads, it is important to constantly apply app re-engagement techniques to get users to return to your app or use it more frequently.

This post is for you—whether your app is experiencing stagnation right now or you’re bulletproofing plans before launching your mobile app.

We identified three reasons business apps are left unopened— along with a solution for each issue.


Reason #1: You’re not leveraging social media and other marketing channels

While it’s true that having an app is a marketing tactic in itself, just like any other marketing effort, you have to consistently promote it to be effective.

See, users downloaded your app because they like your brand—and hey, you executed a killer promotional campaign when you launched.

Whether you have dedicated marketing people or it’s an extended family affair, you probably pulled in the best ideas from your team to create a promotional campaign that connects with your customers when you launched the app.

The new app high might’ve already died, but you still need to have the same level of enthusiasm in getting people to continuously use your app as you had when you were asking them to download.

What you can do: Run an app re-engagement ad campaign on Facebook

For mobile apps, the most logical marketing channel is social media. Your users are on mobile, and most people who take interest in downloading apps are those who are already mobile-savvy.

So where do you start? Facebook is arguably the largest and most popular social media platform, with 156.5 million users in the US alone. It’s safe to assume that most of your app’s users is one Facebook.

Fortunately, Facebook has tools in place that make it easy for businesses and other app publishers to launch marketing campaigns. Yes, including exact settings for app re-engagement.

Bring people back by using Facebook’s audience targeting that allows you to reach people who already downloaded your app.

Here’s a quick rundown of how to set-up Facebook ads for re-engagement:

From your Facebook account, access the rightmost drop-down menu and choose Create Adverts.

You will see this on your screen:

Click on Increase engagement in your app. Facebook will then ask you for your Facebook app ID if you have registered with them through their developer site, or for your app’s Google Play Store or App Store direct link.

Create an ad using their Power Editor

Here are two good examples of app re-engagement ads:

Characteristics of a good app re-engagement ad


  • Visual: Use a photo that looks real and has a connection to your ad’s message.
  • Action-packed: Use action words to compel users to lick on their ad.
  • To the point: Tell them what you want them to do by customizing the ad’s call-to-action button.

Create target audiences for your ad

Facebook gives you a lot of options for ad targeting. Take time to figure out who to target. This way, you maximize your ad budget and get better results.

The full guide to creating and running Facebook ads for re-engagement can be found here.


Reason #2: Your push notifications don’t serve their function

Push notifications are those text-based messages or alert that pop up or are “pushed” on to the screen of a mobile device. They notify the user of an update or any other activity without having to open the app.

Push notifications could get spammy and annoying when not done right. When this happens, users might disable push notifications for your app. Worse, this can leave a bad impression of your business.

Like Google found out in a recent study, only 52 percent of app users opt-in to get push notifications.

So, if you got the chance to push messages to your users, better use them right! If your app isn’t performing well, you might not be optimizing your push notifications well.

What you can do: Review and revise tactics for push notifications

Three things matter most when it comes to push notifications for apps.

1. Copy: The exact words that appear on your push notifications

Android devices allow 40 to 60 characters while iOS lets you type up to 120. Because of the small size of these notifications, you need to write up a few words that will trigger your users to tap onto the notification leading to the app.

Are you not giving a lot of thought to the words on your push notifications? Here are some tips:

  • Reflect the tone of your brand and its messaging
    • Example: For law firms, cheeky messages might not work.
  • Use emotion-triggering words
    • Example: Remember when {something nostalgia-triggering}?
    • Use new, guaranteed, free, promo, sale, half and other words that excite. Use these only when you can deliver, of course.
  • Begin with an action word
    • Climb a mountain in the middle of the Himalayas with our {relevant product/app feature}

2. Content: Where your notifications lead your users

So, your users click on the push notifications, but they’re brought to bad content. What’s bad content? One of two things: either you notified them for something that’s really nothing—nothing valuable, nothing new, nothing they’re interested in, or the push notification copy did not match the content it led to!

Pushing low-quality and irrelevant content decreases your app’s authority If your push notification is about a promo, bring them to the app screen where the promo can be accessed!

3. Timing & Frequency: When and how often you push notifications to your users

First off, frequency. Apps are often extensions of a portion of your site. Should you notify the user each time you update?

Say, you’re an eCommerce store, and you added new products. Should you send the user notifications for every upload? While push notifications are a great way to put your product in front of your customers, it’s so easy to overdo it. No wonder pushing too many notifications is top two on the list of uninstall reasons.

There are tools that help analyze users, create user groups, and implement customer segmentation in order to send notifications when it makes sense—when the user is likely to read and click them. These tools take push notifications to another level with their personalization features.

More detailed tips on creating irresistible push notifications can be found in this link.


Reason #3: App-nesia or people forgetting your app

Some apps make a great impression but still can’t get that second visit!

Google reported that one out of five apps are installed, opened once, and then forgotten. Google calls it App-nesia.

There’s no reason to shy away from pushing your app to its maximum performance, though. According to Nielsen’s 2015 study, US mobile users access around 26 apps per month!

Now, always remember that users downloaded your app for a reason, and if you can just remind them how they once wanted and needed your app, you’ll be in good hands.

What you can do: Direct search traffic to your app through deep-linking or App Store redirect

An underutilized approach in app re-engagement campaigns—and in mobile app marketing, in general—is positioning apps to appear in organic search results. If you can put your app in front of your users while they’re thinking of your brand, it’s likely that they’ll open the app.

Now, you’re thinking, “Why would I want users to access the app from a browser? They’d probably just go our mobile site?”

You have to understand that your app and your mobile site serve two entirely different functions. While mobile sites are visited to get in-depth information about your business, apps are accessed either for shorter, more transactional reasons.

This is why Google found out that people prefer to have the option to go straight to the app from the search results—especially among those who have already downloaded your app and just might’ve forgotten them.

Deep-linking is when a direct link from search results takes a user to a specific screen within the app. Deep-linking is carefully planned before an app is created, making it a cumbersome process for some. Ask a developer to probe deep-linking opportunities for your app.

This photo from Branch.io shows deep-linking in action:

As a fallback, users are directed to your app’s App Store or Play Store page when deep-linking is not supported. They are invited to open your app from there instead.

Not your issues? Ask.

There are many other reasons why your app is feeling unloved. If you’re left clueless, it’s always best to ask your users directly.

Sure, you get numbers from your analytics dashboard, but getting human, qualitative feedback will help you best crafting a re-engagement plan that fits your situation.
Reach out to them through social media. Lurk and search online forums. Ask through your email list. Get feedback on the app while customers are in your physical store.

Once you nail your issue, it’s easier to craft a solution that works.

We’d love to hear your app re-engagement tips below!

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Ian Blair

BuildFire Co-Founder. I'm a digital marketer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. I'm here to help businesses go mobile and build apps more efficiently than before.

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