A Blueprint for Reactivating Lapsed App Users


There are dozens of studies that tell us something that most of us already knew intuitively – that lapsed app users are an incredibly common challenge for mobile app businesses. 70% or more of those who try an app at least once drift out of regular usage over the first couple of months. Most long before that might make an in-app purchase.

In most app marketing plans, there are assumptions made about how much user acquisition will be necessary in order to build a critical mass of regular users. And most app marketers fail to meet their own assumptions.


People stop using iOS, Windows and Android apps for a variety of reasons. Those most often cited in industry studies include:

  • App performance issues. Android and iPhone App developers should take note that the most common reason for lapsed app usage is app performance problems, ranging from slow loads and clunky functionality to challenging buying processes.
  • Crummy value propositions. Many apps are one-launch wonders, meaning that what they do and the value they provide is fleeting.
  • Upfront registration. Many people are reluctant to register the first time they use an app. We want to kick the tires before we commit. We get only so much information from Android, Windows and iOS app descriptions in the app store, we want to try before we do all that data entry. In addition, people are becoming far LESS tolerant of performance issues over time. Think back to that Amazon study that said that they lose 1% of sales for every 100 milliseconds of delay there is in loading a page. Now, think about how people have even higher performance expectations for apps. That’s the challenge app developers face!
  • Complicated UI/UX. On mobile, it’s absolutely critical to make utility simple and intuitive. It can be instructive to imagine a time lapse film of someone using their phone throughout the day. In many or most instances, the user will be on the go or dividing their attention between two things. In those cases, operation of an app needs to be simpler than a PC website. Much simpler. App development absolutely needs to focus on simplified use and control.
  • Forgetting. There are 1.5 million apps in both Google Play and the Apple App Store. One use of an app is usually insufficient to automatically get that mobile application into someone’s routinized behavior. I, for example, have 27 news apps on my phone. The ones that get used regularly clearly had an engagement plan built before launch, or at least before I downloaded them. The right quantity and content of push notifications, emails and other sorts of in-app messaging reminders have gotten about half a dozen of them into my morning routine.

Strategies to Combat Lapsed App Usage


Any app developer or publisher wants to maximize the number of people who use their smartphone app regularly. For the purpose of this post, let’s assume that your app has a good value prop and overall performance. If that’s the case, our challenge is really in ensuring that we engage the user often enough and well enough to get them to adopt the app as a regular part of their life.

First, identify your lapsed app users. Knowing who you need to communicate with is a critical consideration. At Apsalar, we’ve developed tools that enable our clients to create triggers for when users (or large groups of users) have not used an app in N days. N, in this case, is obviously something that needs to vary based upon what your app does and how often someone might realistically need it. Our tools then enable you to share that audience of lapsed users with the platforms and partners of your choice. You can use the data to power your push notification and/or marketing automation solutions. Our system is pre-integrated with all of the leading app marketing platforms so you can quickly and easily implement using the tools of your choice.

Second, figure out what sorts of messages will compel lapsed users to come back. Tell them WHY they need to relaunch. How will relaunching impact their lives. OK, maybe that sounds a little over the top. How will relaunching your iOS, Android or Windows app enrich the next few moments of their lives.
Third, architect a communications stream. Think about it in four contexts:

  • Prevention versus treatment. It’s easier to keep someone engaged than to encourage them to reengage. Create a comms plan that encourages routinized behavior. Without it, large numbers of lapsed users are probably inevitable. That doesn’t mean you can’t do things to bring them back. But why wait until you have a problem, if an ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure.
  • Reminder stream. You can’t keep delivering the same push notification expecting relaunches again and again. You need to find a way to vary your messages and give them urgency.
  • Personalization/customization. Does it make sense/can you reflect the unique interests and usage of individuals in your messaging plan? If you have a travel app, for example, and the user often goes to Las Vegas, how can you use that information to deliver messages with genuine importance and urgency?
  • Learning and optimization. Some of the messages you craft will deliver gangbusters. Some won’t move the needle at all. How will you test and learn which sorts of messages work?

With a tracking and audience segmentation solution like Apsalar, you can deliver parameters with your lapsed user notifications. Things like the actions they take, the items they shop for, the last thing they looked at. All of that information can be delivered to your marketing platforms and media partners in order to create and deliver more timely, urgent and effective messages.

If you are looking for a more powerful way to prevent and eliminate lapsed users, please get in touch and see what we have to offer.

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