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Increase app engagement with these 12 strategies

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Jun 1, 2023
Isabelle hahn
Isabelle Hahn
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There are over 3.5 million Android apps in the Google Play Store, almost 2.2 million iOS apps in the Apple App Store, and around 480,000 apps in the Amazon Appstore. And the average 30-day retention rate for each of those apps is 5.7%.

That’s a 94.3% churn rate.

It is challenging to stand out from your competition and drive app downloads. But user acquisition is just the beginning. How do you turn a first-time user into a raving fan?

An effective app marketing strategy involves user retention – the key to getting stellar reviews, growing your user base, and generating revenue from in-app purchases, e-commerce, or subscriptions. Let’s look at how to create and implement a mobile app engagement strategy to keep engaged users coming back to your brand and grow customer lifetime value.

Why is increasing app engagement important?

App engagement refers to any interaction between a user and a mobile app. Typically, the more time users spend in your app, the more content they consume, and the more screens they interact with, the more engaged they are.

Engaged mobile app users tend to spend more time and money on your products and services. You can generate more data and gain user feedback from them to inform product development and mobile marketing strategy that delivers a converting personalized experience via different touchpoints.

For example, engaged customers in the retail banking industry generate 37% more annual revenue than those who don’t actively engage with their banks. Meanwhile, brands that perform well in customer engagement are 2.2X more likely to experience an increase in market share.

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User engagement can take many shapes and forms—such as completing an onboarding tutorial, making an in-app purchase, or simply exploring an app’s content. You can use app engagement metrics like the total number of users, daily active users (DAU) to monthly active users (MAU) ratio, user session length and the length of session intervals, conversion rates, and the frequency of opening your app to measure its stickiness.

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12 app engagement strategies for modern brands

Keeping users engaged is no easy task. New competitors enter the market every day while user expectations are fast-evolving. Additionally, it would be best if you stayed current with the latest technologies and regularly update your user interface (UI) to deliver a modern app experience.

Here are the latest app engagement strategies for creating a sticky user experience:

1. Design an efficient app onboarding flow

If new users can’t figure out how to use your app to achieve their goals, they won’t return. Design an intuitive onboarding process to deliver a positive first impression while lowering users’ barriers to interacting with your app and benefiting from its features.

Simplify the user onboarding experience by reducing the steps to create an account, gradually introducing various features within the context of the user flow, and teaching through action to help users learn the primary gestures for interacting with the app.

2. Use push notifications strategically

Push notifications allow you to provide helpful information, share updates, and stay top of mind even when users don’t have your app opened. Personalized push notifications can help lower the abandonment rate from 25% to 19%.

Besides sharing updates and new content, you can also use push notifications to deliver a personalized experience, such as promoting deals on products that customers recently looked at, offering discounts on users’ birthdays, re-engaging inactive users, encouraging users to sign up for a customer loyalty program, or driving traffic to a nearby store.

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3. Encourage users to try your features

Users may not have the chance to explore all of your app’s functionalities immediately. Highlighting some of them in your app store description, the welcome screens, and the onboarding sequence can help you entice users to stay on and try out key features.

Use in-app messaging to provide bite-size, contextual tips to guide users through the various functions, encourage them to take specific actions, or check out features they haven’t used before without crowding the UI with instructional text.

4. Send personalized in-app messages

In-app messages and marketing campaigns personalized for individual users based on the profile or behavioral data see an app retention rate of 61% to 74% within 28 days compared with the 49% user retention rate achieved by generic messaging.

Personalized in-app messages help you engage with users when they interact with your app’s content and features, allowing you to deliver relevant and timely experiences (e.g., product recommendations) to increase retention and conversions.

5. Gamify the app experience

You can increase app users’ engagement by letting them compete against themselves, their connections, and other app users. App gamification helps users stay consistent with exercising, saving money, interactive learning, etc. When they achieve results with your app, they’re more likely to come back and tell others about it.

Create an appealing scoreboard with graphs and charts to help users visualize their progress, highlight recent achievements, and encourage them to explore the app’s features. When the user has completed a challenge or achieved an objective, encourage them to share the accomplishment with their social network.

6. Build relationships with two-way communication

In-app messaging allows you to provide real-time assistance when and where customers need it to troubleshoot issues, answer questions, address concerns, and complete transactions. The timely interactions can minimize frustrating experiences that may prevent users from returning to your app.

You can also reach out proactively through in-app chat to build relationships through one-on-one conversations, point users to relevant features or content, and gather feedback to inform new feature development.

7. Use emails and social media to drive engagement

Email and social media retargeting are effective channels for engaging with users outside your app. For instance, you can send a series of onboarding emails to encourage them to try your most popular features and stay top of mind by engaging them on their social media feed.

Use data analytics to identify users most likely to churn and send targeted content and offers to re-engage with them. You can also use emails to highlight specific features based on profile information or user behaviors.

Include a call-to-action (CTA) in your emails and use deep linking to direct users to the most relevant section of the app (instead of the home screen) to remove as much friction along the user journey as possible.

8. Add a social component

Social interactions with other users are essential for keeping users engaged with an app. An in-app community can help you increase user retention by 2.7x. No wonder social+ is gaining massive momentum through social+ gaming, finance, payment, and more.

Create a section in your app where users can have intimate conversations with their friends or interact with the larger community. Include chat, voice, and video functions to enrich the experience and implement content moderation capabilities to create a safe space while delivering an on-brand experience.

9. Deploy an omnichannel marketing experience

Omnichannel marketing is about delivering a consistent customer experience across all channels and customer touchpoints. The goal is to build complete user engagement by providing support, products, and services through websites, mobile apps, SMS, social media, email, live chat, and physical locations like kiosks and stores.

Consistency and timeliness across channels are key to building trust. All channels must collaborate seamlessly to deliver a consistent brand voice and personalized support. To achieve this, you must understand your customers' journey and identify their preferred channels at each stage.

Set KPIs to measure user engagement both within a channel and across channels. Ensure your team knows the KPIs and allocates resources accordingly based on which channels are most effective in reaching your target audience.

10. Focus on your value prop from the beginning

You only get one chance to make a first impression.

Your value proposition is the first thing users will see when they encounter your brand. Grabbing their attention is vital by showing them how your app will help them solve a problem, save time, or improve their lives.

Your mobile engagement strategy starts with your value proposition. Make your value prop clear and straightforward, and ensure your installation and onboarding experience reinforces the message at every journey step.

Offer tangible value by meeting your customers’ greatest needs with the right solution. For example, KAVECON, one of Korea’s most popular (and fastest-growing) streaming platforms, needed a way to engage with their customers and enable them to engage with each other during virtual concerts. They partnered with Sendbird to provide seamless real-time interactions that delighted their users and supported their rapid business growth. 

11. Figure out your retention plan before you have customers to retain

You’d never launch a business without a plan. App engagement is no different. Without a plan, you’ll never know how to increase users in your app. Determine how to attract, convert, engage, and retain customers well before you start and build a product engagement strategy.

An excellent place to start is figuring out your customer personas and mapping out user journeys. The user journeys will help you identify the right marketing channels, customer touchpoints, and potential obstacles. You can use this information to design and refine your marketing and engagement tactics to maximize long-term customer retention.

12. Ask for feedback

One of the best ways to increase app engagement (and re-engagement) is to ask customers what they like and dislike about your app and what improvements or bug fixes they want to see. One great way to gather feedback is to invest in building a socially engaged community where users can interact with you and each other.

You can also gather feedback by incorporating surveys into your customer support process to measure customer satisfaction. In-app messaging and chat are also good channels for users to ask questions or raise concerns.

Gathering feedback is half the battle. It’s also essential to act on the feedback you receive by replying to users, regularly updating your app with new features or bug fixes, and playing a proactive role in social communities.

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App engagement: It’s all about the user

Market conditions change by the minute, and your app engagement strategies must adapt to the latest consumer expectations by putting your customers front and center.

Asking for user feedback and analyzing behavioral data and KPIs can give you timely insights to guide app development, optimize the app experience, deliver relevant content, and create meaningful interactions.

Adding a social layer has proven to be a winning strategy for many apps because the community component offers a sustainable way to retain users and increase engagement. Native, in-app chat and messaging functions with an intuitive UI and a community component are among the most effective and scalable tactics to drive engagement.

With Sendbird, you can add a chat and community component to your app through our robust integration, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Sign up for our free trial and see how we can help you to increase app user engagement.

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