How Can I Increase The Retention Rate Of My Mobile App?

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Updated on: August 23rd, 2022Ken Braun7 min read
How can i increase the retention rate of my mobile app

As important as marketing and branding are to an app, the biggest key to long term success is your retention rate, which then begs the question of how can I increase the retention rate of my mobile app? It is a very important question, one which developers and people with great app ideas need to ask themselves before they even sit down at the drawing board.

The fact of the matter is that the average app loses 95% of its daily average user (DAU) within 90 days. That is an incredibly telling statistic and one that great branding or phenomenal marketing can’t overcome. Sure, you can make the argument that there is no point to creating an app if nobody downloads it, but at the same time there is no point in creating an app if people immediately stop using it.

The apps that are truly successful have high retention rates and a strong foundation which then works hand-in-hand with branding, marketing and re-targeting to create the next big thing.

Why are users leaving your app?

Here are some of the most common reasons people drop an app:

  • Weak Onboarding Process – Onboarding screen help introduce an app and demonstrate what it does to help new users get the hang of things. It also sets the tone for what a user will expect of your app. Weak onboarding might make users think your app isn’t beneficial, isn’t well thought-out or made, or just isn’t worth their time.
  • Not Great at One Task – People download an app because they want help doing one thing. That thing that it does needs to be performed easily on a mobile device so that it saves time doing it on a desktop, or in any other manner. While sometimes an app provides additional value, it has to do one or two things very well to earn a permanent spot on our phone.
  • App is S L O W – It doesn’t matter why, but people are not going to sit and wait to complete a task on your app – they will just stop using it.
  • Too Many Features – Too many features means too many choices. You want to give people clear calls to action and help them do what they came to do, not create decision issues. Mobile users are easily distracted to hook them in, and just let them do what they came to do.
  • App Crashes – If your app crashes on a user more than twice then it is dead to over 75% of users. Do your best to avoid being in that club.
  • Bad UX – A good user experience should be a requirement. This means easy navigation, limited steps to complete actions, and being intuitive or common in style or methodology.
  • Lack of Updates – If you aren’t improving your app and making customer desired changes or improvements your app will eventually be outdated.
  • Bad Push Notifications – Push notification, when designed badly, can be very intrusive and annoying. It is one of the top statistical reasons for uninstalls.
  • Annoying Rating or Review Requests – Yes you want feedback but you sure better not interrupt the task they are performing to ask for it. Ask for feedback when a user is done, not in the middle of anything.
  • Annoying Ads – See above.

Top Ways to Increase Retention

  • Make the Onboard Process Amazing – You should have a phenomenal onboarding experience that engages without overwhelming. Keeping the process as streamlined as possible to get a user to the ‘aha’ moment as quickly as possible to show them the value your app provides. This is a mix of educating, selling and using the app.
  • Create an App that is Habit-Forming – The best apps are the ones we can’t do without. Map apps, weather apps, music apps, Yelp, Flipboard and Uber all are types of apps that can become a part of a person’s daily or weekly routine so much that they use them without thinking. How can you make your app something that is needed regularly and so easy to use a person can’t imagine not using it?
  • Provide Amazing Customer Service – People who have a problem with an app are much more likely to keep it if they receive great customer service, or at least will give it another chance. Even just responding quickly shows you care which helps engagement. By being personal and friendly you can foster a connection which is vital. Also great customer service helps you as a business discover problems and trends which allow more focused solutions and updates. Always make sure to set up FAQs on your webpage and update them as that can provide an easy solution. Also look to reach back to people who reach out and thank them.
  • Utilize an Engagement Strategy – There are many ways to keep people engaged after download such as coupon strategies, games, or adding new features. Target’s Cartwheel app is a good example as they quickly rolled out a points game after their first few months to try and keep people engaged with using the app.

The Bottom Line

Crafting a great idea into a sticky, popular app is not easy; statistics show us that. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying. Consider the points we have covered today, things to avoid and things to focus on, and utilize them with your next idea and you can increase the retention rate of your mobile app.



Published on: January 11th, 2016
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