Blog Understanding the user journey for mobile apps: Everything marketers need to know

Understanding the user journey for mobile apps: Everything marketers need to know

Mapping user journeys provides app marketers with critical insights into how to optimize the customer experience and eliminate pain points throughout their app’s UX. This makes it easier for users to complete a purchase and helps improve other critical aspects of your app’s performance. In this guide we cover everything you need to know about mapping, monitoring and optimizing the user journey.

What is the user journey?

Also known as a customer journey or the path to purchase, the user journey maps the ways in which users complete a desired action, most often completing a purchase. This typically includes a visual timeline of user actions that show how a user will go from download to conversion, including every interaction they have with your app. User journeys can also be presented as an infographic to help you and your team gain a visual impression of the steps users take to complete a desired action.

Why is the user journey important?

It’s a marketer’s job to show consumers why a product is valuable and worth purchasing. For mobile apps, that means highlighting an app’s functionality and why users will benefit from installing the app onto their device.

As a marketer, you also need to know why a user has installed your app in order to better facilitate their needs. From there, you can learn more about the user experience and how it can be optimized – for example, shortening the usual timeframe between install and purchase, or fixing elements of the user experience that causes users to churn.

Tracking the user journey is a complicated process to master, but with the right data, marketers can observe the path users take with granularity.

Depending on the nature of your app, a user might also access your services via mobile web and in-app, as well as across different devices. And as the number of channels increases, mapping a customer’s journey will become ever more relevant to marketers.

User journey vs. user funnel: what’s the difference?

It’s important to note that the user journey and the user funnel are not interchangeable terms. When developing the marketing funnel, marketers are focusing on a broad audience from the company’s viewpoint. The basic concept is that your potential customers start at the top and move further down the funnel as they get closer to purchase. The user journey is from the perspective of the user, while the user funnel is from the point of view of your company. Because of this, user journeys will account for users’ more complicated path to purchase than the marketing funnel. For example, you can create several user journeys based on different user personas, acknowledging that not all customers will share the same experience or even share the same use for your app.

How to map the mobile app user journey

To start, decide whether you want to focus on the entire journey or one aspect of your app’s experience. For example, in addition to a user’s path to purchase, you can also map the user journey for your app’s onboarding. Once you know the journey you want to map, you can divide your audience into groups that can be identified by different personas.

Creating user personas

This is a user profile that represents a segment of your entire audience. By learning common user behavior, you can create several user personas to understand how different types of users interact with your app. In turn, this enables you to learn what users want from your app, how to build features and which changes will optimize the user experience. User personas should be created with a combination of market research and data analytics. You can also learn about your users by conducting surveys and inviting them to submit feedback.

Gathering data

When trying to identify the ways in which users interact with your app, your research should cover pain points, a user’s primary reason for installing your app and your unique selling point. Answering these questions by gathering data will help you successfully create user personas and begin mapping their different journeys.

Testing results

Your research should reveal how different users interact with your app, which steps they take, and their satisfaction or pain points at every step. Once you have this information and use it to create a map of the user journey, you can begin the optimization process. This includes A/B testing results to learn which changes have positive results and can be implemented to your entire audience. Read our complete guide for more information about A/B testing.

Mapping the user journey: seven best practices for mobile app marketers

1. Identify every touchpoint in the user journey

A touchpoint is any point at which a user interacts with your app, including ad impressions and interactions taking place after a purchase event. Without identifying every touchpoint, you’re missing out on ways to optimize the mobile app user journey and identify areas for improvement.

2. Use user journeys to increase your app’s retention rate

It’s important to find critical problems – for example where customers might churn – in your user journey so you can retain users for longer. For example, if there are fundamental issues with your app’s onboarding, you have an important step in your user journey that is preventing you from generating revenue and causing churn.

3. Create several user journeys for best results

Users will use your app in many different ways and not everyone will share the same goal. To avoid generalizing your audience and misinterpreting data, create several user journeys for your persona groups. Understanding the complexities of how users interact with your app is the best way to offer a better service and impact the performance metrics most important to your company goals.

4. Develop KPIs and measure success

Without measuring the success of the user journey, you won’t be able to move forward with your targets. To understand the performance of each user journey and where to improve, you should develop KPIs. In addition to revenue, here are some of the most important KPIs to consider:

  • Active Users (DAU, WAU, MAU) tracks the total active users returning to your app in a given period.
  • Cost per Acquisition (CPA) measures how much it costs to acquire a user.
  • Cost per Install (CPI) tracks the price of generating an install for your app.
  • Click-through Rate (CTR) measures if audiences clicked on your ad.
  • Conversion Rate is the percentage of users who complete a desired action.
  • Retention Rate shows the percentage of users who still use an app after a certain number of days after install.
  • Churn Rate tells you the rate at which your users stop returning to your app.
  • Uninstall Tracking shows how many users uninstall your app and when it happens.
  • Lifetime Value (LTV) provides a running estimate on how much a particular consumer is likely to spend on that app.
  • Return on Investment (ROI) measures the effectiveness of your spend
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) tracks the return made on your campaign spend
  • Average Revenue per User (ARPU) shows the average revenue generated for each user.
  • Average Revenue per Daily Active User (ARPDAU) measures the performance of your monetization models
  • Re-engagement Rate tracks the rate of re-engagement your app generates from retargeting campaigns.

These KPIs help marketers understand the performance of their marketing campaigns and the value of their users. You can use them in conjunction with your user personas to learn which types of users need to be retained and which users are generating the most revenue. They can also be used to understand different points in the user journey and where your attention is needed.

With so many metrics at your disposal, it’s also important to be selective. Only measure what matters to your goals to avoid wasting time and money on less impactful optimizations. To learn more about KPIs and how they work, read our Back to Basics guide.

5. Test the customer journey first-hand

When mapping the touchpoints in your user journey, you can also test this yourself for a clear view of the process. By enacting your users’ journey, you gain first-hand experience of your app and have an opportunity to note down the positives and negatives. You can also test out your app as different user personas and see what works best.

6. Continually optimize your mobile app using fresh data

There is no end point to your app’s optimization. You should always be looking for new ways to improve the user experience and satisfy every user persona. Whether you are eliminating unnecessary steps in the user journey or looking for ways to retain users for longer, your app’s performance can always be improved by gathering more data and acting according to your findings. This is why it is important to A/B test as much as possible..

7. Consider the customer lifecycle

When conducting surveys that will inform your user journeys, be sure to consider the customer lifecycle when analyzing the results. Where in the user lifecycle the user is when submitting feedback is an important factor in their results. Without this information you won’t be able to identify trends that could be used to optimize your app’s performance. To learn more about the user lifecycle, watch our webinar with Kara Dake, VP of Growth and Partnerships at CleverTap.

For more mobile marketing insights, read everything you need to know about in-app messaging. You may also be interested in why you need fraud protection.

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