So you’ve made a long way from a project idea to mobile app development to a product launch. You’ve worked hard, and now you might think that you’ve reached the goal and success is at your hands. While the start of your mobile app journey depends on user acquisition, its quality and duration rely heavily on mobile app engagement and user retention.

Last year statistics show that only a third of users steadily return to an application after downloading it. It’s even less than the retention rate of 2018. We see users becoming more demanding and picky, as well as the steadily growing number of mobile solutions available on the app market. That makes competition for user attention a tough one.

Mobile application user retention rate worldwide from 2012 to 2019

Source: Statista

Before exploring the best practices to enhance user engagement and retention, let’s look at the differences between them and why they’re important.

What Is an App Engagement?

App engagement is a process that describes a number of active users during a measured period. It also shows how much time they spend in the app and what actions they take. You can consider visits, purchases, or some other form of interaction with your product.

The key metrics to analyze app engagement are:

A long-term relationship with users is the driving force of the app’s success and profitability. That’s why you need to focus on app engagement, not only on the number of downloads.

What Is a User Retention?

The definition of user retention may vary since many companies have their own standards and benchmarks to measure it. Generally, it can be described as the percentage of users who return to the app within three months after the first session. The more retention is, the more audience interacting with the app turns into loyal users.

Together, mobile app engagement and user retention can tell how well the app matches the users’ expectations and how sticky it is. Ultimately, that means having more opportunities to monetize your mobile app.

How to Enhance Mobile App Engagement and User Retention

There’s no multipurpose recipe for winning user attention, time, and loyalty as it differs depending on the mobile app’s nature and business niche. Yet, we’ve found five common ways to help you improve mobile app engagement and user retention.

1. Provide Seamless Onboarding

Seamless Onboarding for Better App Engagement

Onboarding is an effective process to welcome and retain not only new employees but also new app users. The first impression matters. In order to make them stay, you should guide them through their first interaction with your app in a valuable, intuitive, and transparent manner.

“Users try out a lot of apps but decide which ones they want to ‘stop using’ within the first 3-7 days.”

— Ankit Jain, the Head of Search & Discovery at Google Play

Be informative but keep it simple. Don’t stress users with too many steps when logging in or creating an account. Instead, provide them with multiple options to sign up, for example with Google or Facebook accounts.

If you’d like to help a user and introduce the key features of your app, it might be a better choice to offer contextual instructions rather than long up-front tutorials. We all know the value of time.

2. Send Relevant Push Notifications

Relevant Push Notifications

According to Airship, the retention rate increases by 190% if app users receive one or more push notifications within the first 90 days. It doesn’t mean, of course, that you need to bombard them with tons of notifications on unrelated topics as it can lead to the opposite — uninstall rates boost. The goal should be to remind users about the value that’s relevant to them.

Think of it this way. It’s nice to enter a local coffee shop when a barista welcomes you by name and knows your favorite drink. Similarly, personalization makes mobile app users feel appreciated and improves conversion rates. Use push notifications to shape the customer journey, provide them with meaningful information and benefits based on profile data and user behavior.

3. Support Continuous Communication

Continuous Communication for Better App Engagement

Building relationships with users means having a continuous conversation with them, knowing their needs and expectations, and endeavoring to help them. This can be achieved by supporting various communication options within an app.

For example, you can use in-app messages to ask users for feedback, inform them about the latest updates, or delight them with special offers and discounts. Segmenting your audience can help you deliver more tailored messages and keep users engaged.

Another way to increase user retention is to enable in-app chats. They allow users to ask for support or send info requests and quickly receive help. Chatbots empowered with AI technologies can facilitate addressing user needs and provide 24/7 assistance in real-time.

4. Offer Reward Programs

Mobile Reward Programs

Depending on your business model and the app’s nature, you can turn to incentive programs that work efficiently for user engagement and retention growth. For instance, a reward system that allows users to accumulate points or access special offers encourages them to open a mobile app more often and increases their loyalty.

Incentives warm up the users’ interest in your app and don’t let them forget about it. There are many good examples in the app market, where brands drive mobile app engagement with such reward programs. Among them are the apps many of us use — Starbucks, Uber, Amazon, or Airbnb.

5. Update and Maintain Your App Regularly

Update and Maintain Your App Regularly

By regularly improving and polishing your app, you make it more attractive for users. Updates always result in better app engagement. Whether it’s an MVP product with a key set of features or a full-fledged mobile app, there’s always a way for perfection.

Learn Why and How to Update Your Mobile App

It’s important to collect users’ feedback, keep up with their requirements, update the app, and fix the bugs. Additionally, consider tracking user behavior and taking advantage of analytics to add maximum value to your mobile app. Tools like Google Analytics for mobile apps or Adobe Analytics can help you with that.

Learn more how to increase engagement and retention rates from this video:

Extra Tips to Consider

Functionality

Mobile app engagement is a significant part of the entire app strategy that you should certainly focus on. However, it’s hardly possible to attract users without building a robust mobile solution first. Thus, think about the benefits your app will deliver to users from the beginning, develop appropriate functionality, and include relevant features.

Read more on How to Prioritize Mobile App Features

App Store Listing

Another important moment to consider is the way you introduce your app to the audience. Without any downloads, there would be no one to engage and retain. With that being said, remember to optimize your app store listing. Showcase the advantages of your app and emphasize the value for users to stand out from competitors.

App Store Optimization

On top of that, there are many ways to help your app appear higher in the search results in Google Play or App Store. Mobile App Store Optimization tools aim to improve the visibility of your app in app stores and, therefore, draw the attention of more users.

Once users are aboard, you can concentrate your efforts on their engagement and retention by applying the practices we’ve mentioned above. Keep in mind personalization, put user needs first, and focus on the feedback and analytics to regularly update the app.

Our team has a knack for developing high-performing mobile apps. They are always ready to help you find the right balance between the app’s functionality and usability to provide value for both your business and end-users. Contact us for a consultation.

Get the conversation started!