Finding new customers will always be what grows business. But loyal customers who return to your product over and over again are likely to spend 31% more.
An existing customer is also 50% more likely to try new products and costs less to nurture to purchase.
Many companies are laser-focused on customer acquisition when user retention provides more lifetime value for both the business and its customers. That’s why app retention rates are so important; losing your customer at any part of the buyer’s journey is bad for business.
Returning users have higher customer lifetime value (LTV), which translates into higher profitability. When looking at your app retention rate, focus on engagement metrics like daily active users (DAU), weekly active users (WAU), and monthly active users (MAU). But it would be impossible to tell the full story on those details alone.
Ultimately, app retention is about driving consistent usage through value. But how do you get users to develop the habit of returning to your app?
The science behind app retention
Marketing strategies and technologies change, but human psychology doesn’t. Before delving into the nuts and bolts of app retention best practices, we must understand the science behind forming habits—and getting users to return to your app.
Nir Eyal, the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, used the Hooked model to explain how people develop a habit of using a product.
Two factors drive habit-building: Frequency and attitude change. First, you need to get a user to perform an action frequently (i.e., opening your app). Along the way, you must also create a positive experience (e.g., meaningful interactions).
The psychological cycle of building habits has four components:
- The trigger can be internal (like emotions or memory) or external (a social media post or a notification). For example, people tend to check email and Facebook more often when they feel lonely.
- The action is the simplest thing one can do to get a reward. So what motivates us to act? According to the Fogg Behavior Model, we’re driven to seek pleasure, avoid pain, seek hope, avoid fear, seek acceptance, and avoid rejection.
- The reward soothes our cravings when we complete an action and get what we anticipated. So what do we want?
- Tribe: A feeling of belonging through recognition and cooperation.
- Hunt: A sense of accomplishment through obtaining resources (e.g., information).
- Self: A feeling of achievement through mastery, competency, consistency, and completion.
- The investment sets the stage for the next trigger by getting users to invest for future benefits. It can be social capital, time, money, effort, personal data, etc.
How does your app retention rate stack up?
Here’s how to calculate app user retention rates:
Aggregate Retention Rate:
(MAU / number of Installs) x100% = Aggregate Retention Rate
(Number of users retained at the end of the period/number of installs at the start of the period) x100% = Retention Rate for Cohort
So what constitutes a good retention rate? Average retention rates vary by industry. But the app retention metric is just a number until you put it in context. Here are some benchmarks for reference:
App retention best practices
How do you increase your app’s stickiness and create a positive impression of your brand to optimize retention rates?
1. Increase app retention through outstanding UX and CX
Product design and user flow
People want to take the simplest action to achieve a reward. Your app’s user interface (UI) should be intuitive, and the user journey should be as frictionless as possible to shorten time to value.
Personalize the interactions
91% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that provide personalized offers and content. Use profile, behavioral, and demographic data to inform your segmentation strategy and deliver a highly relevant experience.
You can deepen your UX through one-on-one interactions to deliver a personalized experience in real-time. In-app messaging and live chat is the ideal channel for answering questions, troubleshooting, and assisting users in completing transactions.
2. Increase app retention by building emotional connections
Building emotional bonds is the surefire way to tap into the psychology of habit-forming because it’s human nature to crave connections with others. Here’s how to create meaningful interactions to foster user relationships:
Build a tribe of loyal users
A sense of belonging through recognition and acceptance creates the reward that’ll entice users to return to your app. You can increase your app’s stickiness by building an in-app community where users can connect with each other for a rewarding experience.
Your community should add value to the CX while enabling you to leverage user-generated content (UGC) to enrich your brand image. Implement content moderation capabilities in your in-app chat to create a safe environment for on-brand interactions.
Customer interactions via your app should be on-brand and focus on helping customers achieve a rewarding experience. They should be part of an omnichannel customer experience that will encourage users to develop a positive impression of your brand.
3. Keep people around by providing value at every step
Providing value is more than just delivering on what your app promises. Yes, your app store listing and marketing content should accurately describe who you are and what you do. But providing real value takes much, much more. If you fail to deliver on your promise, app users will likely leave your app and never return. Plus, you’d be spending your marketing budget on attracting the wrong audience.
Sendbird connects you to your customer at every step
Sendbird allows you to unify fragmented conversations and experiences into one consistent, branded experience. We integrate into your existing software and act as an extension of your development team, so that your customer is still getting to know your brand.
From DMs to sales, operations, and support–you can build conversations to streamline a host of use cases that will help you improve the customer experience and see real ROI.
Use push notifications
Push notifications can deliver the correct information at the right time—the trigger you need to get users to open your app more frequently. Personalize these notifications and experiment with the timing to stay top of mind without being a nuisance.
Sendbird helps the fastest-growing rideshare and delivery companies connect drivers, consumers, and support agents within the mobile app to ensure order completion.
Ask for feedback
Any relationship is a two-way street, and so is the one with your users. Seek opportunities for two-way interactions, such as gathering feedback and acting on them. Acknowledge users’ contributions (e.g., a gift card or social media shoutout) and share how you incorporate the input.
In-app messaging checks the boxes
In-app messaging helps you actively engage users and deliver a seamless customer journey. You can help them build proficiency, achieve their rewards, and build the habit of using your app faster. Meanwhile, the one-on-one interactions deliver a relevant, personalized experience that enables mobile app users to access the resources they need to accomplish their goals.
A Comscore research found that in-app messages are eight times more effective in engaging users than push notifications. Brands that use in-app messaging are 3.5 times more effective in increasing app user retention than those that don’t.
These types of in-app messages can help improve customer retention:
- Tips to achieve tasks with the app, which you can show in context based on user behaviors and interactions with specific screens.
- Task lists to take users through a specific workflow to streamline the onboarding experience and shorten the time to value.
- Customer support via live chat to provide real-time assistance so users can accomplish a task or get the information they need when they need it.
In-app messaging and in-app communities enable you to tap into the need for achievement, belonging, recognition, and social interactions to keep users coming back without fad tactics or “tricks and hacks.”
Sendbird’s in-app solutions can help you increase mobile app engagement and retention by building a socially engaged community with robust chat, voice, and video call functionalities.
Learn more about our social and community solution and see how you can implement an in-app community with robust group messaging capabilities to check all the boxes without reinventing the wheel.