Creating a great mobile app or game and enticing people to download it is only the beginning for app developers. Retaining those users and persuading them to return again and again can be seriously challenging. App engagement seems to be improving on average, but according to Localytics 20% of apps are only used once and almost 60% of apps never break into double figures.
Abandonment is still a serious problem. The dominant model is freemium and engagement is required if the developer is going to generate an income from in-app purchases and/or advertising. The problem is exacerbated when you consider that retention is weighted into the ranking algorithm for Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store.
Here are five simple ways to boost your user retention.
Achievements or rewards
Perhaps the most direct way to encourage your users to come back for more is to offer some form of reward. This is particularly easy to do with games, apps may require some more thought.
For some people a simple attendance achievement or a virtual badge will be enough to encourage them back, but it’s more effective to offer something of value. As an example, you could offer something low tier from your IAP menu as a daily reward for loading up the game or app. If you want to encourage real engagement then multiply it when users log on for consecutive days. You could also offer point rewards that can be saved and redeemed for small items or discounts off bigger items.
An app or game that never changes can leave customers feeling abandoned. Regular updates with improvements and new content give users a reason to return. Seasonal tweaks are a popular way of doing this for games, for example you give everything a snowy Christmas makeover in December. It’s generally best to save up your new features and content to release relatively large updates every few months, rather than rolling them out continuously. This way you can publicize them and make it more of an event.
You have to be careful about your use of push notifications. They can be a great way to put your app back in the minds of users, but they can also be interpreted as spam and turn people off. Finding the sweet spot is tough. Set out a reasonable schedule, so that they aren’t popping up too regularly. It’s also worth considering some in-app notifications. The key thing is to make sure they have something noteworthy to say and include a call to action. Syncing notifications with your updates and using them to publicize your reward system can be a good way to entice people back and boost engagement.
Build a community
If you can foster a sense of community around your app or game and get people talking then retention will go up. You’ll also have an ideal platform for publicizing updates, competitions, future apps, and any other news you want to release. You could try to build a community around your own forums, but there are many advantages of piggybacking on social media. Your customers are already on platforms like Facebook and there’s an built-in system for them to easily recommend your app or game to others. Social media popularity also influences search result rankings.
Listen and respond
If you expect to build a successful community then you have to engage in it yourself. It’s very important to be conspicuously involved. Answer suggestions and queries quickly and politely. This doesn’t just benefit you with the customer you directly dealt with, it also creates a good public image that other prospective customer can see.
Direct communication from your customers can offer valuable insights about how to improve your app or game, or what features you should include in the next one you develop. Social media communities also offer a back channel chance to head off criticism and deal with disgruntled customers before they give you a negative rating and review in the app stores. Seize the opportunity.
You need to be persistent and consistent to get those retention rates up. We hope these tips help and wish you good luck.