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How to increase App Engagement and User Retention?

People often assume that getting a high number of installs is the key to mobile app success. It’s part of the story, of course, but actually, it’s far more important to get active users. That is, get the installers retain and become loyal users of your app or game. Brands might spend an enormous amount of money to user acquisition but that’s only the beginning. The true value comes from engaging and retaining them.

App engagement and user retention are two important KPI’s that provide genuine insight into the success of an app or game. Low app engagement and retention are signs that tell you something is not right, while high engagement and retention tell just the opposite.

Engagement rate measures how active users are on the application. It’s often measured in terms of sessions per day, week, or month, depending on the type of game or app. A highly engaged mobile game player can have several sessions per day.

User retention rate measures how often a user returns to the app or game. There are industry benchmarks for the percentage of an app’s users who return to the app within first day, 14 days, one month and three months after their first session. Many game companies say that getting the first day (D1) retention to the level of 40+ per cent is a positive sign, and having 10% of the users retaining after one month is a good target level.

It’s however important to keep in mind that every app and game will have an individual definition of engagement as well as retention, depending on the nature of it.

App user retention average 2018 Localytics

Challenges with Engagement & User Retention

Achieving sufficient mobile app engagement and user retention rates is challenging. According the studies, 24% of users abandon an app or a game just after one use. Furthermore, if an app is opened only once in 7 days, there is a 60% chance it will never be opened again. The reality is, mobile app developers are up against a competitive market in which users have a lot of choices.

Needless to say, improving the engagement and the retention rates will lead to more active and loyal app users. The following proven methods will help you get results that many brands are failing to achieve.

Better Engagement & Retention Rates

There are a few critical steps you can take that will help you establish your app for higher engagement and retention rates before you even launch your app. You should be thinking about your app engagement and retention strategy already in the development phase.

1. Develop a high-quality app with proper functionality

Easier said than done, but the first and the most important step is to build a quality mobile app or game. It’s common that an app will have minor bugs upon launch but it’s important to test your product correctly before launching to ensure there are no significant errors. If your app lacks proper functionality, your users will abandon the app without hesitation. And keep a track on your app’s quality after launching it, tool. Track both front-end and back-end functionality to get a thorough understanding of how well your app is performing.

2. Take advantage from your app’s store presence

The app store page and listing can play significant roles in engaging your users before they download. This is where App Store Optimization steps into picture. The more excellent job you do at selling your app to users in the app stores, the more likely they are to remain engaged and return to use your app frequently. Simply showcasing the app features is not enough. You need to demonstrate the long-term value of your app and if you can do this effectively, your users will be a lot more likely to remain engaged over time.

Bonus: Google Play Store and App Store algorithms take into account the app engagement, not just the number of downloads. So, by improving the engagement rate you can also get higher ranking for your app or game in the store listings.

3. Make the onboarding easy

Providing a seamless onboarding experience can help significantly reduce abandonment rates. The logic is simple, the more difficult it is to begin using an app or game, the more likely users are to abandon it. Effective onboarding has been shown to increase user lifetime value by up to 500%. The following steps can help you create an intuitive, frictionless app onboarding process.

  • Make logins and account creation easy (reduce steps, offer multiple options etc.)

  • Don’t overload with information, offer education as the user gets to new features

  • Teach through action to expose gestures/actions needed in the app experience

4. Introduce incentivization programs

To drive engagement and retention you need to give users incentive to use your app or game. Rewards, promotions, and access to special content (a few to mention) will help drive conversions and encourage engagement.

Obviously, the ways you can incentivize users will depend on the nature of the app. For example, app and games that use in-app purchasing as a monetization model will benefit from time-sensitive discounts, whereas freemium apps and games can incentivize users by providing usage-based rewards.

5. Use push notifications the right way

Push notifications can increase user retention from 50% to 180%, according to user studies. Users who have opted into receiving push notifications, are 88% more engaged than those who haven’t.

Push notifications remind users that they’ve downloaded your app, and they can also help encourage usage through targeting messages based on behavioral data and preferences.

6. Add personalization

Personalization helps provide a more unique, relevant experience to the user. The better the experience matches with a user’s needs and preferences, the more likely they are to continue to use the application.

7. Ask for user feedback

Asking your users for feedback will show that their input is being considered to drive the app in the direction they want it to go. The added benefit of opening these lines of communication with your users is that they won’t be as likely to post a negative review on the app stores if they can tell you first. Showing responsiveness and addressing any questions or concerns will boost your engagement and retention rates, encourage positive reviews, and build long-term brand loyalty.

And, finally... update, update and update

Regularly updating the app experience with new features and personalized content will help keep users interested and engaged. It’s important to monitor analytics, track user behavior and listen to feedback to establish what features of the app drive usage. This information is essential to product roadmapping and helps determine what updates are the most compelling and valuable to users. Frequently updating and improving your app will help you retain users. Unless you continuously provide new value, you will end up losing them to your competitors.

It's important, however, to stay focused and keep track on your efforts when implementing the changes. When many different changes are being implemented at once, it’s easy to lose track of what’s working and what’s not. Take it step by step so you can be able to identify what’s working and what’s causing drop-off.

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