Our phones have quickly become part of our day-to-day lives. There are billions of smartphone users globally, making it the most used device for daily activities, especially internet consumption. It’s no surprise that the mobile app industry is rapidly growing and thriving.
Mobile applications or mobile apps are internet programs that run on mobile devices such as phones, tablets, and even watches. They have a wide range of categories and functions from health and fitness, hotel bookings to social media. According to eMarketer, 88% of mobile internet usage is spent on apps. As more and more apps emerge, retaining customers has become a challenge for developers and marketers.
Retaining users means getting them to use the application for a long period of time. A high retention rate can mean a good customer experience and increased revenue for businesses. That’s why creating strong app retention strategies is crucial.
What is mobile app engagement?
Mobile app engagement is a metric for measuring how people use your mobile phone application. To track mobile app engagement, you measure metrics such as the number of daily active users, time on the app, the number of opens a day, revenue per session, churn rate, etc.
The type of engagement metrics you measure will depend on the app. For example, an application such as Facebook Messenger might measure a different set of metrics to a gaming application. Regardless of which metrics you are measuring, the goal is the same; you want to gather information to help you understand and improve app usage.
This guide will walk you through eight mobile app retention strategies you can use to turn people who come across your app into loyal users. Let’s dive in.
1. Keep track of your data from the beginning.
If you want to optimize your mobile app, you should continuously store the data gathered from the moment of the mobile app’s conception. When analyzed properly, the data can help you craft effective strategies to retain customers.
One of the best ways to analyze data is through cohort analysis.
Cohort analysis entails deriving insights from the behavior of a group experiencing a common event. From these insights, you can understand users better and identify their pain points or why they’d be drawn to your product.
In analyzing data, it’s worth noting the instances where users disengage with your app. Those will help you identify obstructions in your app so you can make relevant updates.
It’s good practice to set quarterly or monthly SMART objectives for user retention. Having clear objectives in mind can help you be more strategic when deciding what changes to make to your app.
2. Enhance the onboarding experience for your mobile app.
Onboarding is a critical element of initial user retention. First impressions count, after all.
Localystics found that retention rates increase by 50% after implementing a solid onboarding. A good onboarding experience is both simple and intuitive. Your visual design should be minimalist yet engaging at the same time. Avoid providing too much content as this can overwhelm the user.
Many apps use a sequence of messages to provide essential information about the app to new users. Your content must be easy for people who are scanning your content to understand.
Online payment platform Venmo implements a very effective onboarding sequence. Using bright colors, it presents its features and selling points to users just as they click on the app. It also uses a strong CTA that urges users to register to the app.
You can get creative with your onboarding experience, depending on your needs as a business.
3. Personalize the user experience.
Personalization is another important mobile app retention strategy as well. With personalization, you can help engage people with insights based on the way they use your app. It’s no wonder a survey by Accenture found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that offer personalized offers and recommendations.
Mobile apps can be personalized through a user’s stored data. With that data, you can create content that is tailored to them.
There are two types of mobile app personalization: static and dynamic. Static personalization uses built-in factors and can be as simple as addressing users by name. Dynamic personalization, however, is more complex and makes use of behavioral factors like a user’s purchase history.
Music streaming app Spotify takes dynamic personalization to a whole new level. It harnesses the user’s go-to songs and creates personal playlists using a mash-up of similar songs. It also has year-end playlists where it summarizes a user’s most listened to songs and podcasts.
Like Spotify, you can use personalization to recommend products that fit a user’s interests.
4. Use gamification to improve engagement.
Mobile app developers are always trying to make their products more fun and exciting for customers. In such a competitive platform, it’s good to keep it that way because that’s what people want, and that’s what gets them to stay.
So, how do you keep an app fun and exciting?
Gamification is one such strategy you can use. Gamification involves adding game-like features to your mobile application where you reward users for completing tasks.
Source: Get Social
Language learning app Duolingo, for instance, uses that strategy. When users accomplish certain tasks and activities, they can earn lingots — a currency — to buy skins, exams, or extra lessons. That’s one surefire way to get users to stay on the app.
Like the example above, you can create your own gamification strategy. Just set up goals and rewards for users. For example, you can make it interactive by allowing users to invite and collaborate with their friends from social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too.
5. Use push notifications.
Push notifications pop up on a user’s screen to deliver relevant information to encourage them to enter the mobile app. Users opt to receive these notifications.
You can use push notifications to get inactive users to use the app again. You can also use push notifications to engage with active users.
Source: App go2Market
In this example from H&M, they personalized the push notifications.
Using a customer’s recent purchase, H&M uses push notifications to recommend other products and get them to make a repeat purchase. These notifications usually end with a call-to-action (CTA) like “view now” or “tap to see.”
As effective as they are in retaining customers, too many notifications can be a bad thing. Don’t annoy users. If you do, they’ll only turn off your notifications. Instead, be strategic. Only notify users with valuable information.
6. Make use of in-app messages.
Here’s one of the best mobile app retention strategies used by many app developers: in-app messages. While push notifications appear even when the user is outside the app, in-app messages pop up on a user’s screen while they are using the app.
Unity, the app pictured below, used messages like these to reduce customer churn by 10%.
In-app messages usually appear with triggers such as a successful app onboarding. They may also appear when there are product updates or promotion announcements.
Make sure users can easily exit the in-app messages. Also, be careful not to bombard users with the same information you just gave in your push notification.
As effective as they both are in retaining customers, in-app messaging and push notifications target two different audience segments. Push notifications primarily target inactive customers, while in-app messages target your app’s most active users to keep them engaged.
7. Engaged users should be rewarded in some way.
Customers love rewards. In fact, 69% of consumers say that they are influenced by loyalty/rewards program points when choosing where to shop. These programs can also get users to return to your app as people are incentivized to get the reward.
There are many ways you can incentivize mobile app usage. After every purchase or log-in, you can give away discount coupons they can use on their next purchase. You can also allow them to earn points to earn specific rewards.
You can see how Pinkberry did this in the example above.
If your business model doesn’t allow you to give discounts and freebies, you can give them a chance to unlock premium content, videos, or avatars. Just make sure that these rewards are intriguing and valuable to users.
8. Continuously improve and develop.
Mobile app trends are constantly changing. As a developer, you need to keep up with these changes in technology and operating systems. These improvements can eventually lead to increased engagement and better retention.
Updating your app can mean a lot of things. It can mean fixing bugs, adding more features, or refreshing the entire interface altogether.
Updating your app is necessary to support the smartphone’s operating system. That, after all, is also constantly being updated. If you don’t make changes every time Android or IOS does so, your users will refrain from using the app or downloading it.
These frequent updates represent your commitment to meeting customer needs and giving them a better experience in your app. It doesn’t matter how frequently you want to update your app. Every improvement has to be driven by a better understanding of the market and feedback from existing users.
It goes without saying that these changes have to undergo Quality Assurance (QA) testing first before the actual rollout.
The Bottom Line
According to Techjury, the average smartphone owner uses ten apps per day and 30 apps each month. As a developer, you want to make sure your app is one of the ten. This article listed down some mobile app retention strategies to get customers to patronize your app.
Have a solid foundation. Keep track of your data from the start of the development process. Once you have all the relevant data you need, start the customer journey with a captivating onboarding experience and a highly personalized interface. Continually engage your users using techniques like gamification, push notifications, and in-app messages.
Of course, your app should be in it for the long haul. Make it a point to reward highly engaged users with incentives. Also, frequently update your app to make necessary improvements.
Follow these eight strategies, and you’ll surely retain your app users. Who doesn’t love an awesome mobile app, after all?