Retention First: An Essential Strategy for LATAM

Retaining app users is one of the most important challenges that mobile marketers face today. As mobile competition grows all over the world, and particularly in Latin America (LATAM), growing your app isn’t just about finding new users—which can be 25 times more expensive than retaining a customer—it’s about keeping the ones you already have.

Today we are witnessing the LATAM mobile market’s impressive growth, making it the second-fastest-growing mobile region globally. And, as GSMA explains, “by 2023, mobile’s contribution to the Latin American economy will reach just over $300 billion as countries increasingly benefit from the increased uptake of mobile services and the associated improvements in productivity and efficiency.”

These numbers forecast continuous growth for the mobile market in the near future—but that also means increased competition. So if you are an app publisher looking to open or expand operations to LATAM’s fast-paced market, take a deep breath, and make sure you have a solid retention strategy in your company’s handbook.


Why you can’t ignore retention

Most mobile publishers focus on acquiring new users for growth, and to accomplish this ultimate goal, they prepare complex strategies. But what about retention? Quite often it’s an after-thought if it’s even part of the strategy at all.

Liftoff’s 2019 Mobile App Trend Report shows that although users drop off quickly, 26.4% of mobile app marketers don’t begin re-engaging new app users until after day 30, although some (21.8%) begin re-engaging on Day 7. Only 15% of surveyed marketers say they make an effort to keep users engaged from Day 1 and what’s more surprising is that just 9.5% mobile app marketers say they don’t re-engage app users at all.

So, why is it important to start thinking about re-engagement right away? Well, by Day 7, 65.9% of users have already churned. No matter where in the world, a retention strategy is a key to app success. But that’s especially true in LATAM, where the audience is growing but competition is fierce.


User Retention: TWO KEY FACTORS  

When developing a retention strategy, one of the first steps is to get to know your audience. Any mobile retention expert will tell you fully understanding your customer from the very beginning is the key to retaining them. And this requires outstanding data analytics.

With a deep customer analysis in hand, you can build profiles that allow you to create unique marketing strategies for each user. But you cannot understand your customers just through data, you need to be able to profile them with the context they live in. Data may give you a profile of a millennial man who works in sales and orders take out every night at his bachelor pad in New York, but would this user have the same profile if he lived in Lima? A person of a similar age in Peru might prefer to grab street food on his way home from work at night. With this insight, you can tailor retention deals to fit the tastes of the customer—perhaps a deal on the best late-night ceviche stands in downtown Lima would whet his appetite and bring him back to the app?

This brings us to a second and very important point in any retention strategy: customer service. It takes five-star customer service to support a mobile retention strategy. Contacting a customer at the perfect point in time on their journey to drive them back to an unfinished purchase is an ultimate win that results in customer loyalty, but do you know what channel works best for your LATAM audience?

Let’s say you are a fintech breaking into LATAM. The underbanked rate in the region is almost 70%, so your audience might not have dealt with bank processes in the past. You need to understand this context to educate your customers about your business in the most effective way, at each step of the journey. What a short text message does in Europe, may require a call in LATAM.

Ride-hailing apps are another good example. Female sexual harassment is a continued issue on public transport systems in the region. Understandably, women have been quick to take advantage of the private-ride apps now available. With this in mind, it’s vital that customers feel safe and respected by the service and the agents in touch with them on their personal numbers.



Although LATAM is a different mobile marketplace, the fundamentals of building a solid retention strategy remain the same:

  • Design user journey maps and set up goals
  • Engage using multiple channels
  • Analyze cohort reports
  • Retain with multi-channel communication and targeted ads

However, what shouldn’t remain the same is your aprroch to and execution of each of these pillars.

Although Spanish is the official language of 20 countries in LATAM, treating them as a homogenous group with a one-size-fits-all strategy would be a serious mistake. The cultural variance across the region is vast, and your strategy needs to discover what these differences are and how they relate to your product in order to tailor your strategy.

Consider these factors:

  • The state of public transport infrastructure in your target location. For example, Medelín is the only city in Colombia with a metro system, meaning users have access to an affordable, effective mode of transport. This means they could be harder to retain than users in other cities, such as Bogota, which experiences some of the worst traffic congestion globally.
  • The variance of words from country to country. Guagua means “bus” in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. But when you move to Venezuela, Chile, or Peru, the same word translates to “baby.”
  • The preferences for communication channels. In Brazil, 93% of all mobile users actively use WhatsApp, which makes it a great choice for customer communication and engagement.

With the right market research and customer insights, you can understand the complex needs of your app users to build tailored retention strategies that keep growth figures rising.