On March 24th, App Growth Summit held a virtual version for its Los Angeles 2021 annual mobile event. Angela Humphrey, our Director of BD & Strategy joined Michael Reese, Mobile Marketing Manager at The North Face, Josh Houghton, Head of Growth at Fernish, and Imelda Skinder, Listener Lifecycle Manager at Stitcher, to discuss Full-Funnel Strategies for Maximum User Engagement. Take a look below for our top takeaways from the discussion and feel free to check out the full video here.


Key Takeaway: Personalization within messaging and loyalty programs are both key ways to make sure your app stands out amongst competitors.

Angela: My name is Angela, I’m from YouAppi where I work in Business Development and Strategy. I will be moderating this panel today, where we will be touching on the overall strategy of full-funnel marketing from initial growth stages to user acquisition and retargeting. So just to get things started, everyone’s goal here is to grow your user base and retain quality users. How do you promote your app to stand out amongst the competitors?

Josh: Something that I try to use across mobile marketing to DTC is personalization to make sure that the messages that you’re getting to your consumers are really personalized for them. These stand out in the feed, given that people see thousands of different ads a day, so I focus on getting ads to them that will make them stop scrolling. 

Angela: Great points, Josh. Mike, do you have anything to add to that for standing out amongst your competitors?

Mike: We are focused on our loyalty program, so we use loyalty as an entry-way into our mobile app to drive engagement with our loyal base of customers in order to grow our app base. 


Key Takeaway: Email pitches, push notifications, and in-app messaging are useful methods for internal cost-effective ways of driving retention. 

Angela: And within that, do you have internal methods for the more cost-effective ways of growing that user base?

Mike: We definitely leverage our own channels a lot. We do a lot of email pitches and we launched an SMS program recently that will be driving customers back to the app space. I think it’s really great to connect all of our mobile messaging channels together and make sure that we’re really driving a message across, whether it’s SMS, email, or in-app messaging, as well.

Angela: Imelda, can you speak to the push notifications at Stitcher?

Imelda: When it comes to retaining users, we prioritize a personalized marketing and messaging around what users would be listening to. For example, if a user listens to Conan, then we can put them in a comedy bucket and know that they love comedy. Then we will serve them comedy podcasts. If they change what they listen to, then we are adaptable as well. Any personalized communication drives retention numbers higher.

Angela: Josh, do you have any personalized messaging you can speak to? And how often are you refreshing that messaging?

Josh: I think in-app messaging is one of the most successful ones that we’ve seen. I tried things like web push and haven’t seen as much success in that as I have in an app. It gives you more ability to personalize and that way the messages don’t need to be forced, rather they need to be helpful because when retaining users, you really want to create value for them. It’s super easy for users to just delete an app, so you don’t want to annoy your users. Rather you want to interact with them in a super natural and intuitive way that isn’t intrusive, but creates value for them.

Angela: Have any of you found that for internal cost effective ways, email is a main driver?

Josh: I found that email does work very well. But it depends on what you’re trying to get your users to do. You want to choose the platform your users are most engaged with, and when is the best time to reach them, and the platform itself will actually do that for you. 

Imelda: Like Josh said, it depends on where the users are on their lifecycle. For example, if they are reciprocating or returning messaging, then push is the way to go with a new app.

Mike: It’s important to leverage Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. to do a lot of branded campaigns in social media, as well as paid search and programmatic display ads, as well. These do a full funnel approach for driving traffic back to the front page and then we really like to capitalize on email because that is our strongest customer base right now. And we see our most loyal customers in the loyalty program within VIP, and these are the ones that are most active and purchase more frequently. 


Key Takeaway: Utilize social channels to target varying user groups at different places in the funnel and identify key user behaviors within these groups.

Angela: How did you go about defining your quality user when you first started in your roles? 

Imelda: I had created a lot of the framework for lifecycle. I did a lot of work with our analysts, and our data science team to figure out who our current users were and what we defined as quality users. When we look at growth, we look at people who have listened to podcasts in the past because these are easier to convert. We used social media as a channel to explore these users, including Instagram, Twitter, and now TikTok. We are always testing, and never settle on one particular channel. 

Josh: I think each social channel has its own value proposition, and I find that works for different places in the funnel. Facebook is really great for top of the funnel, while Snapchat is great for re-engagement because you can really get in front of your users. Certain platforms like Pinterest are a challenge to scale up on, and sometimes we actually see lower LTV. So it’s important to look at each channel specifically. I would be willing to pay more for a user on Facebook, for example, if their LTV is going to be higher than someone that I might pay elsewhere because their LTV will be lower.

Angela: It’s interesting to break it out by user behavior. Mike, how do you balance retargeting?

Mike: For us, it’s about trying to retarget the customers that are lapsing or in the process of lapsing, so we spend a lot of time focusing on the customer lifecycle and evaluating how often customers purchase our products. We look at that timeline and make sure we can re-engage those customers before they would phase out.


Key Takeaway: Having a good relationship with your data team is vital to creating and optimizing campaigns to re-engage users based on data analytics. 

Angela: So you’re probably working very close with your data team?

Mike: Yes, very close to the data team. It’s great having a measurement partner to help you track data from an app standpoint, as well. 

Angela: Josh, are you pretty close with your data team, as well?

Josh: I would say that I do all my own data and analytics, since all of my teams have been really small, so I’ve worn a lot of hats. 

Imelda: My data team are like my besties. It’s super important to have a good relationship with your data and product teams, as I rely on them for a lot of my lifecycle campaigns and my data deep dives. 

Angela: When formatting at what point to re-engage, is that based on that data analysis or certain user behaviors? What works best in that process?

Imelda: I’m at the hand-off point, so once users are acquired I make sure they are properly onboarded and I optimize our campaigns to maximize retention rates. When it comes to identifying when they’re at risk of churn, we are a bit aggressive about it because we don’t want them to churn, so we make sure to message them at the right time with the right content. All those are important buckets for retention. We want to make sure we are using our internal resources that are available to us. And lastly, we will spend money on retargeting. 

Angela: This has been great! Thank you all for joining today. 



Incorporate the following techniques into your strategy to maximize user engagement:

  • Personalize your messaging to stand out from competitors. 
  • Social channels can help you target users at different places in the funnel and identify key user behaviors. 
  • Have a good relationship with your data team so you can utilize data analytics to create and optimize successful campaigns. 

Stay tuned for the next App Growth Summit event in your region!