How Life is Good built a content-first app with an 89% retention rate
Columnist Blaise Lucey takes a look at how lifestyle brand Life is Good developed an app that focuses on content, not just sales -- and why it keeps users coming back for more.
For more than 20 years, lifestyle brand Life is Good has been guided by one central mission: spreading the power of optimism. With “Jake” as the iconic mascot and a name that doubles as a slogan for the company’s values, the brand has worked hard on building a community that celebrates overcoming obstacles and coming together.
When Lauren Sorenson, head of community and content at Life is Good, started building out a digital strategy, she focused on content that created engagement and excitement around that mission. With inspirational messages and images, the brand engaged audiences across different social channels. Today, Life is Good has 2.7 million Facebook fans and 300,000 followers on Twitter.
So it only made sense that when Life is Good began developing an app last year, the company would take the same approach. But this time, the brand wanted to give their customers more power than ever.
Building a content-first brand
“The idea of our app is to spread optimism,” Sorenson told me in an interview. “And we wanted to push our graphics into the hands of consumers, so they could use them for their own photos and messages.”
Life is Good worked with Bare Tree Media, a business that specializes in creating sticker packs and emojis for apps. Bare Tree Media has helped brands like The Patriots, 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks and others. As the mobile experience has become defined by visual messaging apps, like Snapchat and WhatsApp, companies have been looking to seamlessly connect with consumers in new ways.
Life is Good decided to build messaging and photo editing into their app. You can upload existing photos and modify them with stickers and slogans — which are often seasonal or communicate the power of optimism — and then use them in other apps or send them to friends.
“A lot of people use it to add things to their photos,” Sorenson said. “They enhance the images and messages with it, then send it out.” More than half (52 percent) of the stickers are shared in messaging conversations, according to Sorenson.
Focusing on functionality
Life is Good may seem like a great candidate for an e-commerce app, but instead, the team focused on empowering app users with functionality. The app attracts users who want to use the stickers and emojis unique to the brand, which means there’s a broader pool of people who download the app and, in the end, keep visiting it.
A whopping 89 percent of users return to the app and keep using it after downloading, according to Sorenson. In an industry where 80 percent of app users churn after a month, this is a world of difference. And it all comes down to offering an app that allows consumers to personalize and create great content.
The stickers and images give Life is Good an endless supply of user-generated content, too. The brand features pictures that have been edited with the app across social channels, building community engagement and broadening the potential audience with each share.
“We don’t do any traditional marketing, no print or billboards,” Sorenson said. “But the more people use our app, the more other people are going to ask how they did it. So when those photos get shared, we have an easy way to organically market the brand and the app at the same time.”
Consolidation, content and consumers
When Sorenson looks to the future of the mobile space, she says that more than anything, users are going to want everything in one place. An easy app that integrates with the other activities on a phone will succeed where an isolated app may fail. The Life is Good app is a great example of building an app that offers mobile content that can be used far beyond one closed ecosystem.
Aside from creating a functional mobile experience instead of a sales-driven one, the team offers tips, seasonal content and new sticker packs to keep users coming back. With a regular content program, the app experience stays fresh and exciting.
What it comes down to, Sorenson says, is that authenticity and simplicity win the day.
“When we first looked at all the things we could do for mobile, we wanted to do everything,” she said. “But by really focusing on one thing, we created an experience that aligns with our brand and keeps pushing the power of optimism.”
And in the long run, that’s been the mission of Life is Good since the start.
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