Did you know that there are more than 70,000 Android apps and 32,000 iOS apps released in app stores every month? With so many apps out there, the competition is fierce! So what can you do to stand out and monetize your app?
Remember that although initial installs play a huge role in getting your app off the ground, consistent app engagement is the real key to app monetization. After all, users who stick with your app in the long run are the most likely to make purchases. This is where user engagement comes into play. There’s a set of metrics that determine how often users interact with your app and how pleasant those interactions are. When user engagement and interaction levels are high, app monetization can be a natural result.
App engagement defines how much time users spend on your app and how well it entices them. It’s determined by several factors like user experience, relevance, app performance, and more. It’s also affected by the presence of microinteractions (responses/animations that happen on the app interface when a user takes an action such as clicking, swiping, or scrolling) and the industry within which your app operates.
Apart from short-term monetization, user engagement is also essential to the lifetime value of your app. User engagement impacts every step of the user journey and the overall success of your business model. In this article, we’ll be looking at the best ways that mobile app developers or product managers can measure and grow app engagement rates.
What is user engagement?
User engagement is a measure of the frequency, timespan, and quality of a user’s interaction with your application. You might even say that it’s a measure of the value that your users derive from your application through various interactions.
There are many ways to measure app engagement. Developers use an assortment of loosely-defined metrics to measure the way an app is perceived by its users. These metrics, from app downloads to session length to clickthrough rate, reveal how strongly an app is able to engage its users.
But why measure app engagement anyway? The reason is that without a clear understanding of how your app is perceived by users, you cannot say if the app is fulfilling the goals it set out to accomplish. You have no way of troubleshooting problems with your user experience or app performance because you have no idea those problems exist in the first place! User engagement also has a direct impact on other important metrics like conversion rate and user retention, which in turn affect the overall viability of your mobile application. After all, there’s no point in building an app that doesn’t align with the long-term business goals of your brand.
Clearly, there’s a lot riding on app engagement. Up next, let’s discuss the most crucial user engagement metrics out there and see how you can go about improving each of them.
App engagement metrics you must know
The term ‘engagement’ often changes its meaning based on context, making it very challenging to quantify.
Since there’s no one way of quantifying it, app developers use certain key metrics to analyze user behavior and estimate app engagement. From the number of daily active users to the average length of each app session, different metrics illuminate different aspects of user engagement and help developers better understand the app’s perception.
While the metrics themselves may be widely different in nature, their core purpose remains the same: to empower developers to make better decisions about their app’s usability and experience, as well as boosting user perception and overall profitability.
Let’s take a look at some core app engagement metrics that you should track for a better understanding of your app’s user engagement:
Retention rate, also called stickiness, is a measure of the app’s ability to keep users returning for the long haul. It’s usually calculated as a percentage showing the number of users who still have your app installed on their devices after a set period of time.
According to research, a 5% increase in app retention can boost your profitability by up to 95%. The market is strongly divided on what’s considered a good retention rate, and the ideal percentage can vary depending on your industry.
Your daily or monthly active user count is a great indicator of just how engaging your app is. Beyond looking at the number of users who have your app downloaded and installed on their device, the active user count measures the number of users who regularly open and interact with your app.
There are plenty of integrations in the market that can help you measure your active user count, with the most popular among them being Google Analytics. Certain in-app communication platforms, like Sendbird, even come with their own analytics tools.
Churn refers to the number of users who leave your app or downgrade from a paid subscription over time. The churn rate is the opposite of your retention rate and is measured as a ratio between the number of churned users versus the total user count for your app.
While it’s normal for users to churn over time, an abnormally high churn rate can be indicative of a problem with your app, such as bad user experience, lack of onboarding tools, incomplete functionality, or bad app performance. It’s critical to keep an eye on your churn rate, especially if you make changes to your app’s features and functionality.
The amount of time for which the average user is continuously using your app at a single time constitutes your average session. It can be calculated as the length of time between the opening and closing of the app by a user or the time between the first and last action taken by a user inside the app.
The session length can be an indicator of both user engagement and user retention because it indicates the length of time for which the app is able to entice users during a single instance. If you find that the session length is falling and users are churning, this can be an indication that user retention might decrease as well. There are many tools that can be used to measure session length, such as Google Analytics and AWS Mobile Analytics.
Apart from measuring the amount of time spent per session, you should also track the frequency with which active users access your app. Session frequency is the average number of sessions per user within a given time period, such as a week or a month. This is a useful metric for understanding how frequently users return to your app after one use, which is a great way to measure retention and engagement.
Again, you can easily track the frequency of user sessions within your app using an analytics integration such as Google Analytics. Another useful metric worth tracking might be session intervals, which is the time between two consecutive app sessions for any given user.
Conversion is generally the percentage of users who turn into paid customers, but this term can have different connotations depending on the nature of your app and the type of business you run. For example, an ecommerce app logs a new conversion every time someone buys a product. For a subscription-based service, however, a new conversion happens when someone upgrades to a paid subscription via an in-app purchase.
Conversion rate is one of the most concrete ways of measuring app engagement and has the most direct impact on your business goals. Unless your app users translate into meaningful conversions, you’ll struggle to justify the cost of investment in your mobile application.
User acquisition comes with a cost. You have to spend money on developing specific features and running campaigns to attract new users. These acquisition costs are in turn justified by your returns every time a user makes a new purchase or logs a fresh conversion.
The lifetime value of an app user is the cost of acquiring that user subtracted from the returns from that specific user. It helps you quantify the sustainability of your business model and understand if you’re actually running a profitable app. A positive lifetime value is good, but the exact number you should be aspiring for will depend on your app industry and business model.
Tips to improve mobile app engagement
If you want to improve mobile app engagement, start by optimizing your user experience. Here are a few must-know tips for improving user engagement across the board, starting with your signup process all the way to sending push notifications.
Simplify the signup process
The signup page is your first point of interaction with a new user and the place where the user journey really begins. Make it simple for users to sign up for a new account and make sure to put your value prop front and center.
Require users to sign up or log in only when absolutely necessary. Include the ability to log in via existing social media accounts. Ditch the unnecessary “confirm password” or “confirm email” fields in the signup form. Use proper labels for every field and make password requirements clear from the beginning. These are just some steps you can take to ensure that your signup experience is optimized for the best possible effect.
Create an onboarding tutorial
According to a 2018 study by Localytics, 21% of users uninstall an app after just one use. The main reason for this is a lack of understanding of your app’s features and processes, which is why having an onboarding tutorial is so helpful.
Ideally, your onboarding process should do three things. It should: (a) educate users about prominent app features. (b) ask for important data to personalize the user experience. (c) provide instructions on how to navigate and use the app.
The best onboarding systems also use lots of visuals and provide power users the option to skip the tutorial process.
Use in-app communication
The need for community building and social validation is a primal one — something you should absolutely leverage as an app developer. To boost engagement, you can create an in-app chat messaging system that enables users to communicate with each other or with your company’s support team. Integrating voice and video calling features into your app is another option that can take engagement to a whole new level. Sending push notifications for relevant news and updates is also a great way to boost engagement with your app.
Thankfully, developing in-app communication features for your app doesn’t have to be a cumbersome process. Instead, you can use APIs to integrate pre-built platforms like Sendbird into your mobile app. Sendbird is an all-in-one communications platform that helps app developers boost user engagement without having to develop social features in-house.
Track and analyze data
App users are a highly relevant focus group that you can easily mine for actionable data on your customer base. You can then use that data to further improve your in-app experience and give your users what they’re really looking for.
You can use third-party mobile app analytics tools like Google Analytics and AWS Mobile Analytics to track your users for important data. Some in-app communication tools, such as Sendbird, even come with their own analytics software. With Sendbird, you have complete control over your user data and lots of tools at your disposal to ensure proper regulatory compliance.
Personalize every interaction
As you continue to build your treasure trove of user data, you can put that data to good use by personalizing the in-app experience to your users’ individual traits. You can start by greeting each user by their first name and go all the way to showing custom product recommendations through artificial intelligence.
Epsilon recently found that over 80% of users are more likely to buy from brands that offer a personalized experience. This is an avenue worth investing in!
Using community to engage app users
Creating an in-app community is one of the best ways of boosting engagement across the fold. By promoting a feeling of social validation and healthy competition among peers, you’ll be motivating engaged users to return to your app time and time again.
A good in-app communication system is the foundation of a great community. As a communications platform with built-in chat messaging, as well as voice and video conferencing features, Sendbird offers everything you need to create a vibrant and dynamic user community.
But it doesn’t stop there! Take advantage of a series of social gamification features like push notifications and live reactions to take customer engagement to a whole new level. Whether your app is an online marketplace or a gaming platform, you can take advantage of our advanced in-app communication features to build your community just the way you want it.
And the best part is that you don’t have to worry about building any of these features from scratch in-house. Sendbird’s API enables you to efficiently integrate a full-fledged communications system into your business app.
Want to give Sendbird a try? Talk to our sales team today for a free demo!