Best Practices For Driving Increased Travel App Conversions

08/11/15

Apsalar works with a variety of iPhone, iPad and Android travel apps, and one common issue we find on many of these businesses is that large numbers of travel planners engage on their mobile device in-app at first, but then convert elsewhere – whether on the mobile web or using a PC.

Environmental and Addressable Issues for Travel Apps

Naturally, some of the “lower-than-deserved” rate of conversion for travel apps relates to more difficult data entry on a mobile phone versus the PC web, or lingering fears about transactions and data security on mobile devices. But there are other, more addressable issues to consider.

Driving increased conversions is of interest and importance to any app marketer – after all, you got your users to download the app from the app store, now you need to get maximum ROI from all of your efforts. 

The Problem with Out-of-Travel-App Conversions

If all your iPhone and Android app users left your app and dutifully visited your website to transact immediately, this phenomenon wouldn’t really be a problem. But that’s not what always happens. Instead, many in-app engagers will simply forget or forgo making a purchase after they leave your mobile app, or will be intercepted by competitor travel companies and OTAs online. Either way, you are probably losing significant sales.

So how can you identify and prevent these travel app conversion losses? Here are five ideas:

1. First, you need to understand if this is a major problem for your travel app business. The only way you’ll know is if you have the rich and comprehensive app measurement data you need to diagnose the bottlenecks that reduce conversions in your app. Do the data show that you are losing people at the intent/conversion stage? If so, you have an opportunity to address the issue with the four ideas below. 

2. Do both an arm’s-length- and a data-driven-assessment of your travel app buy path. Are there aspects of your in-app transaction process that make it difficult to buy? You can do your own assessment, and should also examine buyer flow to see if there is a particular spot in the process where you are losing people. Addressing issues in your buy flow is something you need to do first.

3. Leverage app user audiences to close sales. Given the high price points of most travel products, remarketing to app users likely makes a lot of economic sense. Leveraging in-app advertising to drive engagers back to the app will likely drive strong positive ROI. Tools are now available to enable you to package up audiences of your app users to a variety of publishers and social networks. Some focus on using real-time data to drive these conversions while others are built on batch processes. Some do both.

For example, our new service, Apsalar Audiences for Facebook, enables you to segment a group of app users that have taken (and not taken) certain actions, like placing something in a shopping cart but not transacting, and deliver the device advertising IDs for those users to Facebook Ads Manager as a Custom Audience. This Custom Audience can then be messaged with information and offers designed to get them back to your app to close sales. 

4.  Discount the first purchase to break down psychological barriers. Getting people to buy from their phones can be challenging initially. But with every transaction they make, the psychological barriers drop. According to this article in India’s The Financial Express, companies like Amazon are offering strong app-only discounts to routinize in-app shopping. Your travel business can do the same to increase current and future conversion rates.  

5. Capitalize on how users have access to apps during their travels. Just because a traveler has booked one elements of a trip, like an airline ticket, doesn’t mean that they have booked every element of their trip. By messaging to travelers during their travel time, you can drive purchases like hotel rooms and rental cars – while travelers are far less likely to want to take the time to switch devices to convert.

Frequently, these on-the go purchases will be for high margin items, further improving your app ROI. Location-based networks can be valuable here, as can advertising in websites that track flight arrival and departure times and other real-time travel information. 

In addition, lots of work is being done to develop “device graphs” that connect third-party cookies to Android and iPhone device IDs, so that advertisers can target the same user across PC, mobile web and mobile app. As these device graphs grow and become more accurate, a new way of delivering targeted media to app user segments is emerging. Many advertisers are beginning to plan, test and implement programs linked to these developments.

Given the high average order value and margins for travel products, it makes sense to spend time reviewing diagnostic information about your app and exploring more innovative and targeted marketing approaches to boost your in-app conversions. 

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