Lesson 3

Know Your App User: Segmentation and Behavior

You already did some demographic research in the Strategize and Acquire phases. Now that your app is live, be sure to routinely monitor and analyze your user data — your real world app users may be very different from your expectations.

With that in mind, let’s move through some ways you can get closer to your users, and by extension closer to your goals.

Primary Engagement Sources

If you’re unsure how to identify your ideal user and analyze their behavior, a good place to start is to simply dive into your in-app analytics. By pairing the data you find there with qualitative feedback from your reviews and social media channels (which we cover in more detail later in this topic) you’ll quickly be able to paint a solid picture of your app’s users.

In addition, competitive insights can be especially important for those who have yet to launch their app. Examining your competitors’ demographics, along with the other apps your competitors’ users engage with, can help you predict your app’s demographics and uncover under-served user segments that you could target.

However, looking at all these channels are only the beginning. To extract the most valuable insights from the data you collect and understand the people engaging with your app, you need to understand the process of user segmentation.

Let's start by dividing your app’s users into different groups in order to answer important questions about their behavior.

User Segmentation

Every user is unique, but they can still be segmented into a few broad groups, also known as cohorts. The most common ways of segmenting users are based on two factors: their behavior in your app and the channel that brought them into your app (app user acquisition). Let’s begin with their behavior.

Behavioral Targeting: Different Users, Same App

Once you have active users, you’ll start to notice very different behaviors. Some users will immediately adjust all their settings before clicking through every introductory page available; others will scan one screen before exiting the app. Some will return in a few days, others in a few weeks. Still others will check in once every three months (if ever).

Understanding the behaviors of different groups, what they’re getting out of your app and what their needs are can significantly improve your app’s performance.

To start, the length and frequency of user behavior can be divided into three general groups:

Segment Users to Target Your Engagement


Power Users: They’re using your app as much as it can possibly be used — they have favorite features, buy every in-app purchase available, will recommend it to friends and offer feedback and advice for the development and customer support team. You will likely only have a small group of power users, but their potential impact can far outweigh their numbers.

Core Users: This is (hopefully) the largest group of your app users; they come back frequently and make use of the most popular features. They’re not as obsessive as the power users, but they’re the fundamental fuel that makes your app run. Appealing to this group is essential when rolling out new features or updates.

Passive Users: They use your app the least amount of time, and they may not even open it again after the initial installation and exploration. Passive users rarely set up key features or profiles.

What can you do to move users from Passive to Core? How can you ensure that power users remain loyal and don’t abandon the app? Answer these questions and you’ll be well on your way to a thriving, engaged user base.

Acquisition: Find Your Ideal User

As we cover more in-depth in the Acquire topic, attracting users is only half the battle. You also need to make sure you’re attracting the kind of high quality users you need to meet your goals.

This is where engagement and app user acquisition join together. Knowing how you acquired these high-quality users, and how that links to their behavior once they arrive, will affect your user engagement strategy.

To better understand whether your app user acquisition efforts are bringing in high-quality users, you’ll want to conduct a cohort analysis. (A cohort is a group of users who share a particular characteristic over a set period of time.)

There are two groups to consider:

Acquisition cohorts are typically segmented based on the channel and campaign that brought them to your app. For example, did they find out about your app through Facebook or Search

Behavioral cohorts are based on a certain desired behavior (such as making an in-app purchase within a certain number of days).

By examining users based on these criteria, you can better understand which acquisition channels drive the most desired outcomes. For example, you may see that users who come to your app based on Facebook ads are more likely to become core users compared to those who arrive via search ads.

This kind of insight will helps you validate and adjust your media spend accordingly. As always, make sure you're backing up all your decisions with data.

Keep Learning

In the next topic, we'll move onto the world of app monetization including best practices for increasing app revenue, brand loyalty and awareness and more.

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