Multi-Channel Messaging Can Increase Customer Retention by 130%

Todd Grennan By Todd Grennan Sep 30, 2015

Most of the time, when someone downloads an app, they don’t stick around: the majority of apps lose 80-90% of new customers within 90 days. For most brands, these customer retention numbers are unsustainable in the long-term, threatening the success of their mobile efforts.


However, new research* carried out by Appboy has found that mobile messaging can have a significant impact on customer engagement and retention:

  • Brands that send a push notification to encourage customer onboarding see a 71% rise in their app’s two-month retention, while multi-channel campaigns boost retention by 130%
  • Push notifications with fewer than 25 characters have a higher conversion rate than longer messages for both iOS and Android devices
  • Personalizing messages boosts purchases, app opens and other conversions by 27.5%
  • The use of send-time optimization to ensure messages reach customers during peak engagement periods lifts email conversions by 34% and push conversions by 38%
  • Campaigns that use the winning message variant determined by multivariate testing see a 40+% increase in the number of conversions, compared to the control group

Onboarding Campaigns

Brands that successfully onboard new customers – demonstrating both the value their app can provide and how customers can access that value – are well-positioned to retain them. But not everyone completes even the best-designed onboarding process the first time.


Our data shows that messaging campaigns raise the odds that new customers complete onboarding and become engaged with the app. Brands that send just one push notification to encourage new customers to finish onboarding see a 71% increase in retention over a two-month period. And apps that complement that initial push with a second message in another channel (such as email, in-app messages) increase their two-month retention by 130%, compared to apps that sent no messages.

Push Notification Character Lengths

While push notifications are often brief, some marketers send messages in this channel that are up to 200 characters long. Appboy’s research found that these longer messages performed notably worse than short ones on both iOS and Android.


For iOS, push notifications with character lengths of fewer than 25 characters had the highest number of conversions (which can include purchases, app opens and other events designated by the app), with messages over 100 characters seeing particularly weak results.


On Android devices, push notifications under 25 characters also saw the highest number of conversions, with messages of 25–49 characters performing almost as strongly.

Personalized Messages

Message personalization lets brands programmatically insert customer names, product preferences and other personal data into messages, allowing for more intimate, targeted outreach.


According to our research, apps that include personalization in their outreach see more than a 27% increase on average in the number of conversions associated with each push or email.

Send-Time Optimization

With smartphones carrying an average of 119 apps, it can be difficult for brands to capture their customers’ attention on mobile. Messaging can help fill that gap, but as more apps send push notifications and other outreach, many communications are lost in the shuffle.

In our research, we looked at how engagement is affected by send-time optimization, which uses historical engagement data to identify when each customer is most likely to engage with messages and ensure that they receive outreach then.


We found that apps that used send-time optimization had significantly stronger results, increasing their conversions from email by 34% and from push notifications by 38% over fixed time-based scheduling.

Multivariate Testing

When a brand sends a message, every element of its content – wording, color choice, format and more – has an impact on how customers react. But the best-possible message can be difficult to identify without testing.


Our research examined the impact on message conversion rates associated with multivariate testing, which allows marketers to assess the effectiveness of multiple message elements against each other. We found that when a message underwent multivariate testing and the best-performing variant was used in a campaign, it received more than 40% more conversions than the control group.


Multi-channel messaging plays a vital role in helping apps retain customers. By sending multi-channel onboarding campaigns, crafting push notifications with optimal character count lengths, personalizing messaging and running multivariate tests, brands can significantly increase their customer retention, conversions and lifetime value.


Over the course of the study, Appboy examined campaign results associated with 4.7 billion messages sent during 30,000 distinct marketing campaigns. Our research looked at Appboy customer data gathered between November 2013 and June 2015.

Todd Grennan

Todd Grennan

Todd Grennan is a New York-based writer and editor. When he's not writing about mobile marketing, customer retention and emerging technologies for Braze, you can find him trying to read his way through every Wikipedia article related to World War II.

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