A New Way to Win Mobile App Engagement and Monetization Through Published Content

A New Way to Win Mobile App Engagement and Monetization Through Published Content
Shirit Flider


TL;DR: While many (not to say most) app developers make critical mistakes in an attempt to boost user-engagement and increase revenues, with results that only worsen their situation, a simple solution is out there. This piece explains what’s wrong with the industry’s old-school engagement and monetization methods, and offers a concrete win-win solution via leveraging premium published content and examining a real use case.

  1. A mobile engagement crisis is upon us all in the app industry. To optimize revenues, mobile app developers have learned to compromise on user experience and prioritize short-term monetization strategies over user-centric, win-win practices.

  1. We’ve taken to flooding out apps with interstitial ads and annoying (not to mention bad resolution) banners that disrupt the user experience and seem to make do with low-quality sponsored results.
  2. But first, let’s define the problem. To optimize revenues, mobile app developers have learned to prioritize short-term monetization strategies, such as flooding apps with interstitial ads and annoying banners, over user-centric practices. Poor monetization boost strategies are arguably a significant factor in the 90% app bounce rate within 30 days of acquisition. Compromising on performance, engagement or retention to make a quick buck ultimately hurts mobile app companies’ bottom lines.
  3. But there are mobile first companies that have managed to escape this loop by caring for both engagement and monetization. The “fifth element” that can boost both is content, what Jell-O and John Deere figured out more than 100 years ago. Celltick’s app Start launcher transforms user retention and engagement while simultaneously adding a whole new monetization stream. But let’s not jump ahead.

Unengaging Hurts (Your Bottom Line)

  1. Numerous app developers try to boost engagement and increase monetization the old and wrong way:

  • Redundant and spammy notices. Push notifications and in-app messages can drive mobile app user engagement, if they offer users content that’s interesting to them, which ultimately enhances the overall experience users have on your app. But when notices are abused – flooding the user upon app entry, recur too often or are spammy in nature, these messages are annoying and damaging, and might lead users to shut them off or even uninstall.
  • Misunderstanding user motivation. Monetization requires providing something your users value, which will make them return to the app, view more ad units or upgrade to premium. You need to understand what motivates your users’ engagement. Ffor example, users run Travel apps when they need to book a flight or plan their upcoming vacation. The app dev wants the users to login more often, explore opportunities, feed their curiosity, see deals and so forth. While users might not want to do that, they may certainly be interested in consuming interesting articles about exotic spots, great places to visit with the kids, specific tips and the likes.
  • Too many features. Trying to add value and increase engagement rates, developers sometimes stuff the app with endless features and capabilities, way beyond what the average user wants or needs (think of the overpopulated Microsoft Word toolbar. Ugh.) That makes users overwhelmed and deterred from engaging with the app. Facing low retention rates, devs try to fix the problem… with more features. What a cluttered, vicious circle.
  • Stale content. You can’t monetize based on ads with stale content. Hugely successful mobile apps, like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Pinterest, created a “content monster”, where ads are served on top of fresh and interesting textual or visual content, that the users themselves create or share. Most of us aren’t Facebook, nor can we become a content publisher like BBC, but there is a way around that.

  1. Meet Start Magazine by Celltick. When we released Start, an Android lockscreen app, we decided to skirt the ineffective and even harmful “old school”  engagement and monetization tactics and do things a bit differently. We opted to present our users fresh and personally tailored content.
  2. You see, 85% of the time users spend on their smartphones is devoted to using apps, with top performing apps Facebook (81 percent penetration), YouTube (71%) and Facebook Messenger (68%). Focusing their engagement strategy on news and content enables them to demonstrate amazing engagement rates, long session duration and the use of multiple screens per session.
  3. We had an A-HA! moment, which was when we decided to find a way to include new and engaging content in our Start app. We researched the interests of our lockscreen users, discovering that they are particularly fascinated by productivity, finance, national news, lifestyle and health content.

  1. We desperately looked for an “off the shelf” SDK or API. or any other technology, really, that we could use to add an ever-fresh content magazine to our app, without spending too much time or money on developing it ourselves.
  2. We hoped that the acquired SDK would efficiently enable us to tailor premium, top quality content from the world’s best publishers to our users’ needs, filtering according to geographic location, language, interests, and more.
  3. We were extremely surprised that not a single solution tailored to our needs existed. So we made one ourselves. Once we implemented our newly developed in-app magazine, we were astounded by how quickly our theory was proven to be correct. Content does significantly drive engagement and monetization. Just see where Celltick is today,  with 100M installs and 1B page views, growing by 5M users a month, thanks in no small part to the Start lock-screen app. 
  4. Then we thought, is there any good reason not to share our in-app magazine, Start Magazine, with other app developers, as an SDK, API or a simple URL? There wasn’t, so we did. Free of charge.
  5. Actually, better: You get paid. Aside from improving your retention and engagement stats, the built-in ads served on the magazine’s content create a new, highly significant revenue stream, which we share with you, 50-50.
  6. “But I don’t think there’s content relevant to my app,“ you might be thinking. Let us try to change your mind – almost any app can add relevant content to win mobile app engagement and monetization.

Alarm Clock apps

Alarm clock apps are extremely useful, but they are also the bane of every sleep-deprived person’s existence. Implementing great content related to starting the day off right, creating efficient morning routines and optimizing lifestyle for improved productivity, health and wellbeing are great to engage drowsy users and encourage them to keep using the app. Just think about adding a “magazine” section in clock alarm apps, offering endless articles focused on lifestyle, health, productivity and more. You will finally have good reasons to send interesting push notifications and truly provoke curiosity.

Travel apps

Keeping users engaged between travel bookings can be challenging for travel apps. Using storytelling to present mobile app users with articles about destinations they have yet to visit, booking and packing tips and tricks and how to make the most out of airport stays and flight delays will keep reminding your users to book their next trip through your app, or even start it up just to consume content and dream of their next vacation.

Finance apps

Managing money, sticking to a budget and handling investment decisions are easier today than ever before thanks to personal finance apps. But users need content in these financial areas so that they’re up to date with the market, learn new investment strategies, and get helpful tips..

Sports apps

Fans are very much attached to their teams. They consume every piece of news on their favorite players, game stats, etc. Adding a sport  magazine is a great way to keep your app users happy and in the know. Present them with content on actual and relevant sporting events, exercise tips, health news and much more.

To conclude, all above mentioned app categories could very well have trouble generating interesting content and encouraging users to visit more frequently, at the same time being highly dependant on high engagement rates to boost their monetization and turn their apps into a solid and profitable business.

  1. These app companies may stuff their apps with more and more features, send tedious push notifications or any other mentioned mistake, in an attempt to save the situation.
  2. Instead, we are offering a new approach that brings a truly WIN-WIN solution to the table.
  3. Through our technology and premium agreements with the world’s top content publishers and ad networks, we offer app developers an all-in-one, fully customized content magazine they can add to their apps, by implementing our SDK, API or URL based plugin.
  4. We manage everything, from hosting the content and updating it, to uploading ad-units to split the driven revenues.
  5. You just have to sit back and enjoy the engagement. Join us?