4 Strategies to Keep Mobile App Users Engaged

Apple’s catchphrase “there’s an app for that” has never been more true than it is today. Marketers spend a large percentage of their time getting people to download apps, but the fact that the average person uses just 5 apps on their phones or tablets regularly tells us that their efforts in marketing may be misguided.

Consumer behavior on mobile apps is fairly predictable: there’s a surge of downloads (usually thanks to marketing efforts) the first few days of its launch, then use of the app peters out over weeks or months. And 23% of mobile app users abandon an app altogether after using it just once.

The challenge, you see, is in engaging app downloaders to get them back on the app, to need and want to use it. If you can successfully get them to continually open and use your app, you’ll hit the jackpot.

What Does Engagement Look Like to You?

Every company with an app considers different types of consumer behavior as engaging. Maybe engagement to you means users open and use the app at least once a week. Maybe it means they’re sharing it on social media. Or spending at least an hour on the app weekly. Whatever your key performance indicators of engagement are, they’re important to define so that you can work toward meeting those objectives.

Veer Away from Novel

When you look at some of the apps available, you wonder what their purposes are. An app of a talking cat, one that teaches you how to wear a scarf, or an app that lets you look at (but not buy) products might capture users’ attention briefly, but these are just flashes in the pan.

The real success in the world of apps is when a brand comes up with one that’s truly useful.

Look at Chik-fil-A’s app. It allows users to order food for pickup, save favorite items, and track their reward points to redeem free food. For customers, there’s plenty of value. Then there’s the Calm app. Users can tune the world out for a few minutes of meditation. These both have functions in people’s lives. They’re more than just a trend, and provide real value.

Leverage Push Notifications

Given how tapped into technology most of us are these days, we have little brain power left over for remembering. That’s why push notifications are so wonderful. They’re tiny digital reminders to open an app and see what’s new. In fact, more than half of mobile device users opt into push notifications because they want those reminders.

Still, there’s a strategy to effective push notifications. They should make mobile users feel like they’re missing out if they don’t open the app. Maybe there’s a new feature your developers released today. Loyal users will want to check it out.

Push notifications can also be gamified. Timehop, which takes users down Memory Lane with social updates and images they shared in the past, will post little nudges to get people to open the app multiple days in a row. Who wants to ruin their record of opening it for two weeks running?

You can also use push notifications to create a sort of Pavlovian consumer behavior response. Whenever users hear the ping that signifies their game lives are filled up and ready to be used again, or that their saved search has netted results, they’ll jump to open your app.

Notifications can go a long way to better engaging users, but don’t “cry wolf,” so to speak. Keep the notifications meaningful and spaced out so that your users don’t start to ignore them.

Re-Engage Users Who Haven’t Opened Your App

Don’t assume that your app itself or push notifications are your only options to communicate with customers. Email can also be highly effective, especially to re-engage those whose use has declined over time.

Sending a personalized note to find out why use is down can not only serve as a reminder to get back using the app, but it can also provide you with insight as to why users stop opening your app. A quick survey link could give you data on the fact that the app is slow to load or that there’s a coding issue you weren’t aware of. This helps you stay on top of delivering the best customer service experience possible, and gets those users that dropped off back on board.

Continually Innovate the App

The outlay for developing an app can be significant, but unfortunately, your time and money investment isn’t done once the app is complete. Not only do you need to continually ensure there are no bugs and that the app is running smoothly on various operating systems, but you also have to innovate to keep people’s attention on the app.

The game Two Dots is an excellent example of continuing to deliver value. The game has no end; every week new levels and challenges are added so that users never finish the game.

Don’t measure your mobile app’s success rate based on overall downloads. Instead, pay more attention to engagement and how essential your app is to users. Spend time and effort to make it an integral part of their lives.