5 Steps for Increasing Mobile App Engagement

By David Oragui / 7 May 2018

Discover how to increase mobile app engagement rates by improving onboarding workflows, opening and closing feedback loops quickly and having a robust app testing framework.

According to a Localytics study conducted in 2016, 23% of users abandoned an app after one use.

A 2017 study revealed that the number has grown to 24%. Overall, app abandonment rates seem to be growing since 2012. It’s critical to retain app users by keeping them engaged. 

App makers do not only have to worry about user acquisition, but also about user engagement and user retention. 

Unfortunately, it is becoming harder to entice app users to keep coming back. 

How do you keep your app users engaged? Well, there are a few things you can do to make them more engaged. We walk you through five steps:

  1. Make the app onboarding process simple
  2. Send push notifications to keep app users interested
  3. Ask your app users for feedback
  4. Regularly update the app’s UI
  5. Test, track, and improve your app

Step 1: Make the App Onboarding Process Simple

If your app requires an account before the user can interact with it, make sure to provide a fun and easy user onboarding experience. Otherwise, they might get disheartened and not provide their personal information. This will result in lower conversion, engagement and retention rates.

There are a few ways in which you can optimize user onboarding:

Make the Registration Process Clutter-Free

Avoid long forms with numerous data fields. Do you really need the users’ surname? Why not only ask for the basics, like a username, password, and email address? 

Also, consider experimenting with social registration. Many apps allow users to sign up through Gmail or Facebook. Others allow registration with a phone number. 

Example of app login screen

Ask your developers to experiment with the best time to ask your users to create an account. It might be a good idea to let the user explore the product first. 

Make sure to emphasize the app’s core features during the onboarding since the onboarding flow cannot be too long. 

Usually, 3-6 screens are enough to say what you have to say, even if you have a complex app. It’s a good idea to focus on only the most strategically important features during app onboarding. 

Make sure your message is clear, short, and fun. Don’t overload the users with technical information. Use short and descriptive content instead. 

For example, Buffer explains what it does in a casual and fun way, focusing on only one feature at a time.

Buffer onboarding example

Be sure to use each screen for a specific feature’s description. You might also want to add contextual illustrations or images to each screen. 

Be consistent with the design – your onboarding should feel like an extension of your website, not a separate brand entirely.

Step 2: Send Push Notifications to Keep App Users Interested

Push notifications can either make or break your engagement rates. If done right, they can considerably boost app engagement. 

But if you send pushes too often or you send them to a non-targeted group, you might end up losing app users. 

Here are few factors to consider before launching a push notification campaign:

Consider the Timing

Don’t send a push notification while the users are sleeping. 

There is a chance that the sound of a push notification will wake people up and annoy them. 

Users are also unlikely to act upon a push notification at night, even if they aren’t asleep. So, factor in your customer’s time zone before sending out push notifications.

Adjust the Frequency 

The frequency with which to send out notifications really depends on a number of factors, including the industry and prior app usage data. 

However, it’s better to be safe by minimizing the number of push notifications per user and ensuring each push provides exceptional value.

Alert the user about something that gives them value, not about something that you think is important for increasing your conversion rates.

Limit the Number of Ads 

Spammy push notifications are a real nightmare for mobile app users. A push notification should not feel like an advertisement.

Make Targeted Pushes

Don’t just send push notifications in bulk. Segment your users based on their interaction with your app. 

Try to personalize your message. For example, if you are an e-commerce app and you are aware that a certain number of users have 2 items in their shopping cart, you might want to remind them about the items in a highly targeted push notification. 

 

Targeted push notification example
Source

As you can see, using push notifications in this way helps to reduce shopping cart abandonment, resulting in increased app engagement and conversions.

Step 3: Ask Your App Users for Feedback.

There are a lot of ways you can get feedback from your users about your app.

The number one source is definitely the app store. 

Mobile App Stores

Whether it’s Google Play or Apple’s App Store, make sure you check user reviews and have your team respond to them one by one. 

Focus on reviews that include problems your users are experiencing while using the app. Be sure to try and mitigate the negative outcome, if there was one. Try to identify trends in user reviews and come up with quick solutions for your users. 

Carry Out User Surveys

Another way you can gather feedback is through carrying out user surveys.

For this, you can use either special in-app survey tools or you can offer or link to a survey on your social media channels. 

Make sure to monitor what people say about your app or your brand in general. 

Track the mentions and see whether they are positive or negative. Any specific details regarding their opinion can be valuable to you. 

Most importantly, make sure you act upon feedback. 

Be sure to compile all the feedback in one place and try to figure out which features and updates are the most compelling and valuable to users.

This is crucial for prioritizing and updating your product backlog. 

Step 4: Regularly Upgrade the UI

You are most probably doing UX and UI upgrades regularly. Whether the product is still an MVP (minimum viable product) or it’s already mature and polished, it needs to evolve. 

View your product like a living, breathing creature that needs to be changed regularly. 

Upgrade the UX/UI based on your users’ needs, using gathered feedback. This will increase user engagement and will help establish a more loyal user base. 

One upgrade you should potentially consider is deep linking. It’s an emerging app marketing tactic that allows users to access a certain sections of your app upon clicking on a browser link that would otherwise take them to an HTTP webpage.

Example of deep linking
Source

Embedding mobile app deep linking wouldn’t be difficult for app developers since it requires minimal efforts. Deep linking does provide a smoother and less complicated user experience that your app users will appreciate.  

Constantly be looking out for new and innovative ways to improve your app’s UX.

Step 5: Test, Track, and Improve

Lastly, you must track app user behavior to improve mobile app engagement rates. 

First off, use A/B testing to see what works for your app and what doesn’t.

Certain colors, patterns and texts might engage most of your users, while others will pass unnoticed. 

So, you might want to adopt those elements that actually work for you and appeal to your app users. A/B testing allows you to see what works and what doesn’t work for your users.

There are a bunch of tools that can help conduct A/B testing. Optimizely is one of them. 

In-app analytics tools are another useful thing to track. Inapptics is one such tool which helps track user behavior to improve your app. 

Other tools are Google Analytics for mobile, Mixpanel, and more. Many of these tools offer to measure a few really important metrics such as monthly and daily active users, crash rates, heat maps, sessions durations and so on. 

With this information in hand, you will be able to make proactive decisions regarding your product’s UX. The better the UX, the more engaged users will be.

Focus on App Engagement

App engagement and user retention are equally, if not more, important than acquisition. 

If people don’t come back to use your mobile app one week, one month and one year after activation, your app will be on life support with nothing to show for it. 

So, take the time now to improve your onboarding workflows and close feedback loops quickly in order to build a mobile app that will survive for years.

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