How to start patching up your leaking pot of gold

One of the problems of working on the App Store platform is just how limited it is in terms of taking advantage of traditional Sales & Marketing tactics and strategies.

Which is why we need to think outside the box to apply these proven methods.

Today the discussion is about a bleeding obvious topic that get’s ignored by most business owners – Attrition, which is basically users that have stopped using your app.

“But why does that matter?  Once I sell my app, it doesn’t matter if they keep using it or stop.”

A slightly different topic, but I’ll give you one short answer – Referrals.

They are free and have a huge impact on a clients purchasing decision.

I mean if you’re friend tells you to check out an awesome app, what are you gonna do?… How likely are you to buy it?

‘Nuff said.

(Ed: By the way, this is why Attrition Prevention with building a licensing model into your app or having high conversion ratio in-app purchases is a major key to a solid pot of gold.)

If you have a barn full of golden geese, and a goose wanders; do you go find a new goose or do you try to recover the goose you lost?

Which is a good analogy to work with.

The vast majority of apps out there don’t actively connect with lost users to bring them back into the fold.

They are seeing these geese as being lost forever, not worth the effort and so they move in to attracting new geese.

Such a waste!

Time to have some fun as we try to apply this to the App Store. 😉

The first thing you need to do is –

1)   Find out how many of your users are no longer using your app.

Which is luckily very easy with a tool like Flurry.  Just visit their site at and follow the easy guide to set it up within your app.

Within a short time you’ll be able to see all kinds of stats on the amount of users that have stopped using your app.

But to give you a better idea of just how critical getting these users back is, check this out:

If every month, 80 percent of your users stop using your app, then you need to add 90 percent more users each month just to get a 10 percent increase in your sales the following month.

Plug the holes and your pot of gold will start filling up fast.

“I’m confused, are we talking about stopping users leaving or getting users that have left back?”

You’re always going to do everything you can to stop users leaving… right?  If not, then start using products like Appsalar to start finding out why they are leaving and plug those holes.

But no, specifically we are talking about getting lost users back.

So.  You have Flurry set up and you can now see that you are indeed losing 80 percent of your users each month.

The next question is how on Earth do you get them back?  Something that presents a few challenges when working with the App platform.

The perfect example of this in action is a game app called Pocket God.

By releasing new ways that you could interact with (terrorize) the poor islanders each week, you as a user would often re-download the app just for those new interactions.

Unfortunately, the more features that were added to the game, the less responsive it became.

So we really need to think deeper.

You need a way to connect with them, so they keep you top of mind and so that even when they stop using your app, you have the opportunity to bring them back.

Unless you are up for using the phone or making house calls, by far your best weapon is email.

Which is where our strategy of offering something of value to users in exchange for their email address is crucial.  Some examples may be:

a)    Free copy of an in-app purchase

b)   An extra feature (for a game this could be new character etc.)

c)    Extra access to the application (where you could open up a ‘lite’ version of an app a bit more)

And I could keep going.

But you get the idea ;).

In a nutshell you are just providing something of value for the privilege of getting your users contact details.

Once you have that email address, you have something valuable.

“But how do I collect and organize these email addresses?

You use the product I use :), that I also recommend – Aweber.

It’s powerful, easy to use and best of all – cheap! 🙂

And Aweber will also help make sure you follow the correct ‘laws’ when sending email to subscribers, by giving you templates to use.
“Ok, I now have email addresses, what next?”

You stay in touch with them.

It’s actually been recommended that the more contact the better, but even if it’s just an email update on a cool new feature that your app has.

That alone could start rejuvenating your old customer base.

It’s free contacts, they’ve used your app before so why not leverage this!?


Don’t be a git and please make sure that what you send is valuable to your users.

This is critical, coz it only takes one click for one of your users (existing or old) to unsubscribe from your list.

For example if you have an app that helps users budget, then send them good ‘budgeting tips’ articles.  Even if you didn’t write it yourself!  That’s cool!  Just find some good stuff, have a quick chat about it and email the link!

(Ed: Aweber has a heap of useful articles on how to best structure your content too)

Be careful!  This is powerful!

Think about it.

With email addresses you can now also add in new revenue streams, via affiliates, partners or whoever.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So, I leave you now with your new pot of gold :).

Please treat it (by which I mean your users!) kindly.


  • Great article. User engagement is key. Do you have a preference on which analytics to use? You mentioned two, do you use them both or do you just use one?

    And I really dig the email carrot trade-off. How difficult is it to give them the gift after they opt-in? I’m not totally familiar with this process, do they just get a free download link?

    Great post!

    Dane Reply
    • Thx man.

      I just use Flurry, and only because it was the first one I found back in 2009 ;).

      I mention ApSalar because they allow surveys and other type of auto feedback that Flurry doesn’t allow. Although I personally haven’t tried it yet ;).

      By the way, I also came across an interesting post somewhere about how Apsalar recently got a big wad of Venture Capital, worth keeping an eye on them.

      In terms of giving them the ‘gift’, I note you already use Aweber, just embed the Aweber web form code in a UIWebView within your app :)… Aweber will handle the rest.

      But of course, it depends on the type of ‘gift’ you are offering. In terms of access to an in-app purchase or other feature, you’re really just basing it upon trust and that they sent you the correct email.

      Pain in the arse to write the code to check if they gave you the right email address *scratch*…

      Ah :). I’m brilliant.

      You can expand on it a bit more by sending through a code (Aweber will handle this) that they enter to enable free access to that in-app purchase, that way you have two ‘check’ points.

      1. When they enter an email address
      2. They have to enter the code you give them

      Of course, a sneaky bugger could give you a fake email address and somehow retrieve the needed code from a resource online.

      But then the sneaky bugger was gonna cancel the subscription anyways :P, and you’ve given them something for free which at least some small part of them will feel indebted to you for ;)… especially if it’s valuable.

      The third and final option involves Web Services… heh… hmm… maybe a plugin worth coding ;).

      Hmm… I really need to expand on the Reciprocity principle that I brought up in a previous post.

      Anyways, good to meet someone else sharing the love, and love the chilled out smoking kid ^^.

      Cliff Reply

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