Increasing your mobile app engagement – Importance and Strategy


The mobile app ecosystem will be turning 10 this summer. Needless to say, the industry has been among the fastest growing industries and has witnessed great progress over the years. Today there are over 5 million apps on both the app stores (Google Play and Apple AppStore) combined and have opened several doors of convenience for its smartphone users.

Did you know that an average smartphone owner uses over 35 apps per month? The top 20 percent of app users use over 45 apps monthly, as stated by App Annie. When this is the case, app abandonment can be taken as a granted if no app engagement strategy is put in place by developers.

Take a look at this:


The percentage of users who abandon an app after one use is now 23%, a slight improvement from the 25% we saw in 2015. But clearly, with about one in four users still only using an app once, not enough has been done to match what consumers want.



The importance of mobile app engagement

At the end of 30 days, a tiny 3.3% of Android apps and 3.2% of iOS apps still had active usersSo yes! You’ve built an amazing mobile app that offers great value to the masses and you’ve done everything to market the app and make it easily available in the app markets. But! That does not guarantee you fruition. You need to ensure that your user is not only downloading your app but also using it. For only a great mobile app engagement makes it possible for you to have returning users.

Also, retention is just one way of looking at the importance of mobile app engagement. Here’s another interesting statistic as seen in Forbes, 95% of the U.S. adult population who own smartphones prefers free apps. Even affluent consumers share this preference – 96% of people that have an HHI of $75K plus prefer free apps.

This implies that ad-supported model forms a huge revenue stream for the mobile app developers. And, for one to want to advertise on your platform, the mobile app engagement metrics must be flashy enough to tempt the advertisers.

The mobile app engagement can be measured in a variety of ways

  • by the number of minutes per session
  • how often users update their app
  • how many times an app has been referred to a friend.

Each of these can directly affect monetization which ultimately determines whether or not a developer can keep a free version of their app on the market.

All this said you must now know the importance of incorporating an impeccable mobile app engagement strategy and here’s how you can encourage your users to keep coming back so that you can keep your growth curve ascending while delivering to match your customers’ preferences.

Make Onboarding so apt that they can figure out your app in a jiffy

This is the first and foremost thing you need to have crafted to perfection, because it is during the onboarding phase that a user actually first interacts with your app and you don’t need us to remind you that whatever said and done, it is the first impression that lasts longest and either makes it or breaks it for somebody.

To validate this a wee bit further let’s look at the Appcues statistic that says, 86% of new mobile users never return after initial download. If not for a bad first experience, what else could be the reason for the same?

So, all said, your onboarding experience does matter A LOT to get in those desired mobile app engagement metrics. To ensure you have a smooth onboarding, here are a few things you can do –

  1. Have the simplest and self-explanatoryUX as possible. Test the experience on a number of different people who form your target audience.
  2. Try and reduce the efforts a user will have to put in to use your app. Make sign-in easy, make check out process simple in case of e-commerce apps. Basically, make everything as SIMPLE as possible.
  3. Wear the hat of your user and understand from their standpoint, the expectations they are likely to have.
  4. Talk to people and ask them how easy or difficult they are finding to realise the full value of your app.
  5. Understand the common pain points and work on solving them.
  6. Make use of onboarding tools to walk your users through the initial phases of their experience.

Run mobile app engagement campaigns to bring returning users


These are campaigns you run on channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Adwords to keep attracting your users to interact with your app. This mobile app engagement strategy is used to bring back those users who have installed your app to engage with your app and take a specific action. Similar to a retargeting campaign for your website, you can use mobile app engagement ads that will deep-link which is nothing but driving traffic back to a specific page or section of your app. You can use these ads to encourage users to try your app again, drive a specific action they’ve already started, or recommend certain features.

All the channels, Google Facebook and Twitter have rolled out documentation to guide app developers through their respective mobile app engagement campaigns. Depending on your target audience, you can pick the most suitable platform and find out all about mastering the art of rolling out mobile app engagement campaigns by following the guidelines mentioned in the links below –

Mobile app engagement campaign – Google best practices

Facebook mobile app engagement ads

App installs or re-engagement campaigns – Twitter

In general, here are a few best practices to follow while implementing mobile app engagement campaigns –

1. Track the results thoroughly and roll out tailored campaigns – The biggest reason for the success of retargeting ads is the level to which it is relevant to the users. Likewise, catering to users depending on their exact needs can be the euphoric key to unlock those returning users’ numbers. To do so, you can make use of app user analytics to then perform cluster analysis to figure out and segment specific people based on their interests. With this data in hand and you can roll out specific campaigns to only those people who have shown a likeability towards that feature of the app. This not only allows you to get in relevancy but also, avoid huge ad spends by carefully targeting the right users of your app.

2. Work on flawless, to-the-point ad copies – Yes you only have those limited few characters to grab the attention of your users. Make sure you have the best talent working for you while coming up with the copy because it is this tiny little line that is going to make or break it for you. Copy best practices are again published by each of the mediums. Spend some time on the guidelines to achieve best practices and also don’t forget to hit the point directly in as few words as possible.

3. Run A/B tests – This needs not much explanation. You need to understand what your users are responding to and only A/B tests will provide you insights into your efforts. So, make sure you’re playing with one component at a time and roll out different versions of ad campaigns to figure out what works best for your app, be it ad format or channel and be sure to invest more efforts into those ads that are giving you satisfactory results.

Make use of push notifications to subtly remind them to come back

Studies have shown an increase in user retention, opted into receiving push notifications exhibit 88% higher app engagement than those who haven’t. Push notifications may be your best friend or worst enemy in driving app engagement or app uninstalls respectively. In all likelihood, it is supposed to improve the user engagement and retention, but when misused and overused, would definitely lead to app uninstalls, so use it wisely.

Push notifications are increasingly interesting because they help in retaining the attention of the app users, which is very essential considering the fact that there are just so many other apps, things and thoughts that are fighting for the same mind space. MyFitnessPal is a company, according to us, that makes use of push notifications very wisely. It sends in periodic alerts which is motivating enough to get the users back to logging their food consumption on a day to day basis, by calculating the number of days they’ve made an entry and how active they’ve been on the app. The notifications are personal, not too frequent and also limited in the sense that, after a certain number of attempts, they send in a goodbye notification specifying that they tried enough and received no response, so are going to leave you at it. This creates an instinct for anybody to give it a second thought and consider going back.


Also, another strategy that has been found to work is to include that permission during onboarding. People tend to think of this as a part of the onboarding process and click on it.



Incentivise your users to keep them coming back

Depending on the nature of your app, look for ways you can make your users feel privileged, for privilege always has a sense of demand following. If you’re an e-commerce app, you can include personalised offers, if you’re a content app, you can look at access to gated content that is made available only on upgrading the app and many more things like that.

A trick to converting incentives is to make it last for a short period and notify them of the same so that there is an urge created to get the user back to the app in the specific time frame.

Additionally, if your nature of business is such that you can periodically offer incentives, have a section for incentives, wherein you stack up to the incentives you’ve given away from the time of installation and status of each of it so that the users can keep a tab of what your app has to offer. Top that with timely notification to let them know of the latest incentive and remind them of the soon to expire incentives. A separate section for incentives would come in especially handy when your app is being used on an app aggregator platform like AppBrowzer and you do not have the facility to directly push notifications to them.


Having stated all of the above strategies to help you have your users returning to your app, we need you to keep in mind the most important thing and that is the fact that none of this is going to work if your app fails to deliver the value it promises to your users. So work on having the best app in place for the value proposition your company promises to deliver and alongside work on these strategies to make the most of your app and help your users with what they need.

Think there is a strategy that is extremely effective, but we’ve missed? We’d love to hear it in the comments section below. Let’s collaborate to learn and grow together 🙂

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