7 App Retention Strategies To Increase Engagement

Investing time in a solid retention strategy is at least as important as your acquisition strategy. We’ve summed up the most successful strategies below.

Published October 17, 2022

About the author
Bart Stemkens is a growth advisor for tech startups. He loves building online businesses and bringing them to live through bold ideas.

The app retention rate is a crucial indicator of user lifetime value and an essential measure for mobile marketers. If you want users to stick around in your app, you need to use an effective app retention strategy to keep them returning for more.

Research by Bain & Company, an American consulting firm, shows  that a 5 percent increase in user retention increases profits by 25% to 95%.

The level of user retention varies by app category, but if done correctly, it can increase revenue and foster consumer loyalty to your company. This article will outline practical app retention strategies you can start using today.

What Is App Retention?

A retention rate refers to the number of users who continue to use your app after the first day (D1), the seventh day (D7), and the thirty-day mark (D30). 

The more time users spend on an app, the more likely they generate revenue. Also, a high retention rate indicates that users are having a pleasant experience with the app.

You can measure an app’s retention rate by dividing the number of monthly active users by the number of installations.

App retention = number of monthly active users/number of monthly installs

7 App Retention Strategies To Increase User Engagement

What can you do to keep your customers coming back? Here are a few strategies that the most popular apps follow:


1. Test Your App in Beta

If a mobile app is beta tested with an invitation-only audience, it will probably have a high retention rate after it launches. This method will help you avoid having troubles with your app that could hurt your user retention.

You should encourage people to submit feedback when beta testing your app so that you can improve the user experience. This procedure will ensure that your app is ready to go on launch day in the best possible condition.

Beta testing allows you to give early access to eager consumers and establish brand loyalty even before the release of your app in the app store.


2. Customize the onboarding process

To improve your user retention, one of the first things you should do is adapt and personalize the onboarding process for each new user. The user will invest more time in your app from the start if they understand what it offers better.

Using deep linking, you can direct users to a specific section of your app based on where they came from. It ensures that your message is consistent and does not overwhelm the first-time user.

Consider the following while optimizing user onboarding: simplicity is key

To ensure a smooth onboarding process, focus on the most crucial aspects. However, you should not overwhelm your user with too much information. To make your app more user-friendly, it is better to provide the user with a glimpse of the experience.

Use images or animation
If you’re trying to catch a user’s attention or explain how to use your app, a visual or animation may be the best method. Consider using visually appealing elements to make onboarding as simple as possible for your consumers.

CTA at the end of onboarding
A call-to-action at the end of onboarding can help boost customer retention. Asking them to subscribe to a mailing list or enable push notifications, for example, could be an option.

Don’t be afraid to ask for information that will help you craft a unique experience for each user. Slack is a shining example of a seamless onboarding process. It takes users through the app’s features one by one before prompting them to log in or register.

As a part of the overall app retention strategy, activating new users is critical to the process. Some of the most effective ways to streamline the onboarding process include:

Be welcoming

Welcome your first-time users with a personalized in-app message and a welcome email within 24 hours.

Get to the “Aha!” moment as quickly as possible

What essential features, information, or products should new users know to get the most out of your app?

Send polite reminders

To begin with, what drew a new user to your app? Utility? Investments? Entertainment? Ensure that they return to the app regularly to prove its usefulness.

Employ the multi-channel approach

Digital contact points allow customers to interact with your brand in various ways. Using a variety of channels, such as In-app chat, emails, or push notifications, you may create an impression and give a consistent user experience.


3. Always Monitor Your App’s Retention Statistics

The first step in maximizing app retention for mobile devices is setting up accurate statistics tracking. You won’t know what to fix if you don’t understand the numbers. Using statistics as an analytical tool, you may better understand your user base.

The usefulness of statistics can take some time to develop. However, with time they help in measuring daily active user (DAU) metrics.

You can study retention and how to increase it using a few simple yet powerful data points. As there is no way to force the user to continue using your app, understanding engagement is best.

To gain a thorough knowledge of the engagement track, consider checking:

Active mobile app users

Understanding your app’s active users can disclose retention rates and give you a glimpse of its flaws. Observing a typical user’s path from sign-up to churn can reveal interesting patterns.

Duration of the user’s session

There is a direct correlation between length and level of involvement. You aim to maximize session length while minimizing user irritation.

4. Improve App Retention by Adding Gamification

Of all smartphone apps, games have the lowest churn rate. Unsurprisingly, these apps have a greater retention rate because they’re designed solely for fun. Game apps can teach you a few things.

To be effective, gamification doesn’t require a lot of glitz. The end-users themselves don’t even realize good gamification. 

Nearly every gadget on a fitness or health app offers a wonderful example. Most apps track steps, stairs, workout hours, and award top scores. That is gamification.

Even the most basic apps can benefit from gamification. Adding levels is one of the easiest examples to execute this for any program. The more time someone spends using an app, the more points they earn.

5. User customization

To increase customer retention, mobile marketers can harness the power of customization. In fact, 91 percent of buyers are more willing to shop with firms that offer customized deals and recommendations. 

Also, 90 percent of U.S. consumers find customization appealing when browsing. As a result of user data, you can personalize your app’s offerings in various ways. 

For example, addressing individuals by name, providing relevant suggestions, and so on. Over time, users will appreciate these customized additions and be more likely to return to your app in the future.

Making the correct choices while using customized methods is critical to success. You must first determine if it enhances the user’s experience. To avoid making your consumers feel uneasy, consider how and when you add customization features.

6. Use push notifications (in the right way)

You can send push notifications to a user phone directly to engage them. Users must, however, opt in to get push alerts from an app of their choosing.

When used correctly, push notifications can be a powerful tool for retaining and attracting users to your app. There will be a wide range of opt-in rates for different apps. 

Over 57 percent of users want social media platforms to send push notifications. Ecommerce, news, mobile games, blogs, and travel apps are favorites among users.

7. In-app messaging 

In-app messaging, like push notifications, can help keep users engaged. After 28 days, mobile apps that employ in-app messaging to engage with customers show a 61%-74% rise in retention rates.

It’s important to avoid overwhelming users with the same content if you’re using multiple retention tactics. 

For example, suppose a customer receives an in-app chat message and push alert for the same bargain each time you release a new update. In that case, they may become annoyed and opt-out of receiving push notifications altogether. 

To make in-app messages as helpful as possible, you should additionally categorize users depending on their preferences. Your user retention rate will increase because of this.


What Is a Decent App Retention Rate?

Research found day one retention on Android and iOS to be 26 percent in comparing retention rates across all verticals. On the seventh day, this dropped to 11 percent on Android and 13 percent on iOS. The average retention rate for both Android and iOS was 6 percent by day 30.

What can you learn from this?

You’ve got fantastic retention rates if your app keeps more than a third of its users after the first day. However, the average retention rate will vary depending on the app type, and you should evaluate it by testing.


Bottom Line: App Retention Strategy

After learning about the importance of client retention, you may ask, how can I put it into practice? Whether it’s to enhance revenue, build customer loyalty, or get more referrals. 

There is no singular optimal strategy to increase client retention because it depends entirely on your business model and target market. Although, based on the many well-executed retention campaigns discussed above, quality products and customer service are two underlying factors of strong client retention.

Do you need help with crafting your app retention strategy? Get in touch with us.