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Incredible Mobile Customer Growth In Difficult Times


During the pandemic last year, mobile app downloads increased 33% and app purchases increased 20% over the previous year. By 2025, it’s estimated that $270 billion will be spent on apps, far exceeding the $143 billion generated last year.

Among the millions of apps available on mobile, it can be difficult to stand out, and even more challenging to convince users to pay a monthly subscription fee. 

But that didn’t stop Babbel, the world’s largest subscription-based language learning service with over 10 million subscribers, as they dramatically grew their subscriber base during the pandemic. 

Nina Pollex, Director of CRM at Babbel discussed in this masterclass on mobile app growth how their team increased their YoY revenue, improved user engagement, and much more.

Remain Nimble and Adjust Quickly

The pandemic threw many companies into turmoil, with some like the TJX Companies (TJ Maxx, TK Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, Homesense, and others) having to close their stores during the pandemic and shut down their websites.

Those who grew during this period were brands that quickly adjusted their strategy based on the current environment.

“We started offering a one-week free trial to make our product more available to everyone. We launched an initiative to offer Babbel, for free, to students that couldn’t go to university classes anymore. And all of these things happened within weeks [at] a speed that, given the size of the company by now, was something we were not used to.”

Nina Pollex

— Nina Pollex

Director of CRM, Babbel

Better Than Email 

Last year’s Black Friday showed that email is still a major part of most brand’s marketing strategy, with 21% more emails distributed v.s. the prior year. On mobile, there are engagement alternatives that can surpass the conversion rate of email, especially as more users interact within your app.

“We started using mobile messaging more and more, and push notifications, especially for learning nudges, like learning reminders … we found that for those types of messaging, push notifications converted up to 50% better than email.”

Nina Pollex

— Nina Pollex

Director of CRM, Babbel

Real-Time Interactions

Every second, your customer engagement platform receives vast amounts of data that can help you better understand each user. This data can be used to create custom user interactions within your app so that users can be rewarded or even motivated to continue using your app.

“A lot of our messages … are also triggered by user interaction. So, when either someone completes a course, or someone reviews a vocabulary item, or someone hasn’t done so in a while … we do have a cap on that because … if someone does 10 lessons in a row, we don’t want to have 10 push notifications [congratulating them] for completing [the] lessons.”

Nina Pollex

— Nina Pollex

Director of CRM, Babbel

Personalized Recommendations

“To maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level.” — Harvard Business Review

For the 18-34 demographic, personalization is crucial and often leads to more impulsive purchases, greater loyalty, and increased revenue. The goal of personalization is to create unique, 1:1 experiences for each user, on the channel they prefer. This inspires users to stay loyal to your app and keeps them coming back to use it.

“With [the] different learning experiences that we’re building, like podcasts, like the live tutoring — we have games now, we have short stories — we really, really expanded our portfolio a lot last year. And with that comes, of course, more diversity, and it’s even more difficult for the user to … find their way and to know, ok, today I should maybe do a podcast because I haven’t practiced my hearing skills in a while. So this is what we’re working on to have personalized recommendations at all times”

Nina Pollex

— Nina Pollex

Director of CRM, Babbel

Final Thoughts

It’s vital for your brand to use the data currently flowing into your database to use and connect with customers on a 1:1 basis, to encourage users to continue using your app… especially in times of uncertainty.

But one of the best strategies your brand can pursue is to remain nimble and adapt as your customers adjust to the market around them. Sometimes your lengthy, year-long strategy will have to be put aside for better days, while you and your team discuss how you continue providing the best service and grow your customer base, even when things look hopeless. 

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Brandon Stewart

Content Marketing Manager

About the author

Brandon is a Marketing Content Manager at Emarsys. He is a results-driven copywriter and marketer with experience in B2B and B2C where he has generated profitable growth by acquiring leads and converting them to clients.

Connect with Brandon: LinkedIn

Special thanks to our friends at Emarsys for their insights on this topic.
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