Picture this: you have just launched your new app project and right away your downloads skyrocket. Going off of this, you start planning for future growth, but over the course of the next few weeks your downloads go down and active user levels drop below your benchmarks. What happened? Actually, it’s more of what didn’t happen, and that was mobile user engagement.

According to a recent study, 25% of apps that are downloaded are used once and then discarded. This means that 1 out of every 4 of your downloads will use your app only one time. As someone who has any stake in the success of an app, this should be concerning. However, it should also be seen as an opportunity.

In this article, we are going to review the basics of mobile user engagement and how to make sure that your users are sticking around. Gone are the times where mobile app analytics like downloads reign supreme. Terms like active users, retention rate, and lifetime value are where the focus has shifted. Let’s take a look.

mobile user engagement

Why is engagement important?

Working in the mobile industry in 2017 presents a unique set of challenges. As users have more options from which to choose and a sea of information at their fingertips about each, customers are more likely to jump around until they find the right fit for them. This is where mobile user engagement comes in.

Although there are many customer retention strategies out there, mobile user engagement is what makes the difference between someone downloading an app and using it once vs. using it on a regular basis. Only through engaging users on a personal level can companies expect to compete in today’s market.

How does engagement work?

Think about the last time you opened an app, you probably had a purpose in mind, right? Every time a mobile user uses an app, whether they know it or not, there is something that they are hoping to get done with it. At its core, mobile user engagement is about making sure that your users are finding what they need and executing that action as efficiently and effectively as possible.

There are many different ways that you can do this, from SMS marketing to gamification. The aspect that they all share, however, is that they keep mobile users engaged and coming back to the app again and again.

Like any strategy, these only work when done well. In order to help you with your own mobile user engagement strategy, here are a few areas that you can improve on your app to help boost your retention rate and reduce churn.

Easy onboarding

As we mentioned at the beginning, mobile users are quick to jump ship unless they are immediately engaged with an app. This means that you need to make your onboarding process as simple and easy as possible, immediately showing the value of your app to the user.

If you can explain the functions of your app and walk users through exactly how to use your app to its full potential after the first use, you will have more users coming back and less jumping overboard at the first sign of discomfort.

Focus on UX/UI design

Like onboarding, the design is all about making a good first impression. However, once you make a good first impression, you need to follow it up with a functioning system that works the way users expect it to. This is where UX and UI design come in.

By creating your design around the user experience, you are able to guide the users through their journey and show them the way to get the most value out of your app. Often, unless you make it painfully clear, your users will not understand how to properly interact with your app. Design with the goal of making sure they can’t miss it.  

mobile user - customer retention

Sprinkle in some gamification

Another mobile user engagement technique that is growing in popularity is the use of gamification to keep users engaged. Gamification is simply a way to make whatever the function of your app is into something fun and trackable.

One way to increase engagement with gamification is by adding an incentive to reaching goals with an app. For instance, Starbucks has a point system for their users that can be tracked and applied for free drinks all within the app. By giving users something to work toward, they will have just another reason to continue using your app.

How do we know what users value?

As you can tell, the most important part of mobile user engagement is finding a way to show users the value offered by your app and making sure they have an easy way of tapping into it. But, how do we know what users value?

There are plenty of different ways to find out, for instance, asking them. However, it’s not so much about what they want, but why they want it. Once you are able to find out the why behind what your users are doing, you will know what is valuable to them.

This means that you should be tracking every user engagement metric that you can. Find out what users are looking for when they go off the designated course. Everything your users do has a reason, and you need to find out what it is.

engaged mobile users

Creating value

The value offered by your app to your users will be different for every venture, so it can be difficult to speak in general terms. However, creating value is the same across the board. If you are able to understand your users, what makes them want to engage with your app, and then create a space for them to find that value, you are set.

While there are other reasons to focus on mobile user engagement, this is by far the most important. Creating value where there previously was none is what turns users from someone who downloads an app once and never uses it again to someone who comes back for repeat purchases.

The tools are out there for you to create value for your customer, so our question is, what are you waiting for?