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How to Retain and Keep Your App Users Engaged

By Brian Hall on December 16, 2020 / 1 Comment

Odds are you want a lot of users to download your app. But, you also want them to use your app regularly. In this way, you expand opportunities for monetization – such as in-app purchasing or ads – and increase your app ratings, which helps promote your other apps and development shop.

So why are users deleting your app? After only one day or one use? Or why are they burying it in some folder, say, never to be used again? There may be several reasons why your app is not “sticky”. This blog will cover them, helping you better appreciate how you can increase user engagement.

Tips on Retaining Your Mobile App Users

Consider charging a download fee

Is your app free? It makes sense that you might choose to offer it at no cost. Potential users have many options when choosing which apps to download, and they may prioritize those which don’t cost any money (at least at first).

However, there’s another way to consider how charging no fee to download your app may harm mobile app engagement and app retention in the long run. Quite simply, it cannot be overstated that when users pay for an app, even spending as little as 99 cents, they are likely more committed to extracting value from their purchase. If you make your app free the user may never care enough to spend the time to understand all its functions and how it can benefit them over days and months, maybe years.

Prioritize quality

This should go without saying. However, quality assurance plays such a critical role in increasing user engagement that it deserves to be mentioned here.

Does the app crash? Freeze? Does your app work on multiple versions of Android, for example? Did you forget to test the app following an update? Do you listen to and respond to customer inquiries – and complaints? Is the app as simple to use, from the very start, as you believe? How do you know?

It’s important to thoroughly test an app’s functionality. If you’re hiring an outside team to develop an app for you, they need to have a reputation for emphasizing testing.

Ask questions about your app’s usefulness and user base

Are you honest with yourself about the functionality of your app – and its continued appeal? Or is it really more of a novelty, something people will use once and never again? Just as importantly, did you adequately describe your app and its functions? Having the wrong customer is not good for you or them.

For example, you may have an app retention problem because you didn’t market your app properly. Although this is a step that’s best to take before you release your app, if you haven’t already, thoroughly define who your ideal target customer would be, and consider whether your current approach to marketing will legitimately help you reach such a user. Perhaps your target audience consists of young tweens and teenagers, but your marketing campaigns have primarily run on Facebook, which is losing popularity among young people.

Make the most of the freemium model

If you’re still considering making your app free to attract downloads, you can strike a balance between not charging users an initial fee and making your app appear valuable by leveraging the freemium model. This involves allowing users to try your app for a period of time before paying for it, or to only access limited features, with the option to pay for an upgrade.

However, you have to use the freemium model properly for it to increase user engagement effectively. People are happy to try an app for free, even those with limited functionality. However, that “limited functionality” must still offer real value if you expect them to then pay for an ‘upgrade’ and/or enhanced content.

Make your app more unique

Did you categorize your app appropriately? Were you specific enough regarding its functions and uses?

If the appeal of your app is already met by another app – or another hundred competing apps – how does yours stand out? Why is it better? Unique? Worth the user’s time and money? Why choose your app and then continue to use it, rather than deleting it and trying your competitor’s? Be honest with such questions, and ask your testers (and friends and family test members) to be similarly honest.  If the app is in an extremely crowded field, is it even worth it to build still another one? What makes yours so special?

That doesn’t necessarily mean an app can’t succeed if it shares qualities with another. It simply needs to be distinct enough to stand on its own. For example, Camera+ is a popular photography app because its features help novice photographers take more impressive pictures. VSCO is a photography app that appeals more to experienced users.

Don’t overlook social media

Are you using Twitter and/or Facebook or Google + to interact with users, listen to their feedback – and promote your product?

Even something as simple as creating a great app icon, one that captures the attention, is useful. The further from their ‘home’ screen your app resides, the less likely it is to be used repeatedly. Remember, you may believe your app is special, but most users are likely to have over a dozen apps on their smartphone. There needs to be a reason why yours stands out above the rest.

Take advantage of notifications

Does your app offer notifications? Are these easy for users to set-up? Perhaps your app includes a to-do list or reminders, for example – a habit that keeps the user engaged. These are useful to encourage repeat interactions.

Give users reasons not to delete your app

Consider all the ways to make your app ‘non-delete worthy’.  Have you made sign-ups simple by incorporating Twitter or Facebook IDs, for example? Is there information or achievements or scoring within your app, for example, that users can share with the world through Twitter or Facebook? Can people find others who are using your app? We crave connections and community but their needs to be a reason behind those serendipitous encounters.

Take full advantage of technology

Does your app leverage the unique modalities of smartphones and tablets? These include things such as time and place, obviously, but also social media, access to the user’s contacts, calendar, photos and more.

Can users personalize the app for their unique circumstances?

The opportunity for apps is astounding. Considering the scope of the app market, it’s not surprising that there are tens of thousands of app publishers across the major smartphone and tablet platforms. When developing and promoting your app, continue to ask yourself, “How does my app stand out? How do I make it “sticky”?

 

 

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