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Urban Outfitters drives mobile engagement with news feed strategy

Urban Outfitters has added a news feed to its mobile application to encourage repeat visits and help consumers stay up to date with the retailer?s happenings.

Appboy is powering the news feed, which pulls together the app?s push notifications and then directs users to specific pages within the app. The news feed feature has been driving 30 percent engagement rates for Urban Outfitters and other brands such as Bloomberg, Text+ and Shape magazine.

?The interesting piece is when we talk about engagement being a really important element of any mobile strategy because there?s so much fall-off between install and using an app,? said Cezary Pietrzak, director of marketing at Appboy, New York. ?The news feed is really the glue that brings together all these messaging features. You can customize it. A push notification is just a bunch of text. But in the news feed you can customize it with images and different styles, like a banner.

?[One of the news feed?s goals] is enforcing messaging," he said "Another one is also driving social interactions. Urban Outfitters for example has a call-to-action for people to connect to their Instagram account. The cool thing about the news feed is you can enact protocol URLs, it?s almost like a hyperlink within an app."

Sticky app
It is no surprise that marketers are struggling to make their apps stickier and to keep users coming back. With the app store getting more crowded every day, marketers not only have to attract initial downloads, but they need to maintain engagement in the long-run.

Urban Outfitters has decided to try to stand out with a news feed. The news feed can be found under the main menu button at the top left-hand corner of the app.

Appboy?s in-app news feed can be customized by each brand, and Urban Outfitters has been using it to promote its social media channels and other promotions.

For instance, one item in their news feed urges consumers to connect to their Instagram account and complete one of the Urban Outfitters challenges, such as taking a photo of a do-it-yourself project. Clicking on the item in the news feed will take a user directly to the page to link their account.

Urban Outfitters still sends push notifications if consumers enable the function, but the notifications will then show up in the news feed if a consumer enters the app. This way if a consumer forgets about a push notification or did not see because he was distracted, he can view the message later in the news feed.

Yesterday, Urban Outfitters sent a push notification letting consumers know that Cyber Monday was extended. A similar, but more detailed, message was also in the app?s news feed.

News feed
Appboy?s news feed works off of the popular social media news feed on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, but caters it to specific brands with customized content.

Brands can include social media content, deals or contests to engage consumers.

Another way that some of the brands are leveraging the in-app news feed is to introduce newcomers to the app.

Oftentimes consumers miss out on exciting features within an app because they did not know it existed or how to get to it. The news feed can help direct new users through the app, giving them a tour of all the app has to offer.

?One of the big things we?ve seen from some of our clients is the onboarding process itself,? Mr. Pietrzak said. 

?We know there?s a huge falloff, people aren?t discovering the right features, they don?t know what to do and there isn?t a good place to showcase that," he said. "During the first few days, clients are going to build out these onboarding strategy where they introduce them to the app and ease them into the process.?

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York