Though benchmarks vary greatly from industry to industry, mobile apps have an average 30-day retention rate of 42%, and a 90-day retention rate of 25%. That means for every 1,000 people who download your app, just 250 will still be using it in three months’ time. Data from AppsFlyer found that retention rates of the average app decreased even further in 2020 by around 12%, so companies must work harder than ever to hold onto their users.

Below, we’ve put together our tested retention strategies to change the fortunes of your app.


Prioritise user experience

Perhaps the most obvious way to cut uninstall rates and hold onto more of your users for longer is to put user experience at the forefront of what you do. Personalising your app can differentiate it from your competitors, engage users, and encourage positive reviews and word of mouth recommendations. Collect as much data on your users as possible, and use it to personalise their experience. Whether it’s something as simple as using their first name in notifications, like “James, you’re running out of funds. Top-up?” or something more dynamic and behavioural such as “James, is it time for a re-stock on your razors and shaving cream?”

Warning: you must be sensitive when collecting data and personalising content. Consumers are increasingly wary of personalisation in retail, though they claim they find it more useful.


Make first impressions count

A good retention strategy starts at the very beginning: the moment a user downloads your app. Your onboarding process must be engaging, seamless, and as straightforward as possible. You could adopt a benefit-oriented approach, where you highlight the key benefits of your app, or a feature-oriented approach, where you show off the features of your app like accounts and messages. A third method increasingly used by developers is progressive onboarding, where users can learn about features and benefits in a sequence and over time, allowing users to dive right in, pointing them in the right direction with tooltips and prompts.

Try not to overload users from the moment they download your app and get through the sign-up and onboarding process in two or three screens. When running through legal, such as signing up for an account and processing data, use straightforward, human terminology and keep it transparent; the more open and honest you are on day one, the more you’ll build trust and loyalty. Present new users with a 200-page privacy policy and they’ll run a mile!


Play games with users

Whilst uninstall rates remain high in virtually every niche, mobile games are one category that holds onto users for longer than any other. Although you don’t need to rival Flappy Bird or Fortnite with your business productivity tool, “gamifying” your experience can encourage users to stick around for longer. Whether users can accumulate points based on how much time they spend in your app, work their way through an achievements and levelling system, or add a “Year in Review” summary similar to Messenger and Spotify, it’s another strategy that’s worth considering. Yu-kai Chou has rounded up some great gamification examples.


Offer rewards and perks

One of the best ways to artificially increase engagement and encourage users to return to your app time and time again is to offer time-gated perks or rewards to thank them for their loyalty. A coffee shop could give away a free latte once a month to users who log in to the app every day, and an ecommerce store could offer a discount coupon on a users’ birthday or even follow in the footsteps of Pretty Little Thing and dangle cash giveaways as a benefit.

Depending on the nature of your mobile app, you could offer rewards for referrals made by users, encouraging users to invite their friends to download your app. Fintech app Monzo grew to more than 3 million customers by offering a “golden ticket” referral system, allowing users to give their friends a pass to “skip the queue” and gain instant access to the app.


Don’t stop updating

The world’s most successful apps, like Facebook, Uber, and Candy Crush, are updated regularly to fix bugs and introduce new features. Your app should do the same. Adopting an ongoing development process for your app may sound expensive, but it allows you to react to consumer feedback quickly, tapping into new trends and evolving your product into a tool that users want to engage with. By tracking user behaviour, listening to feedback, and monitoring your competitors, you can ensure you’re always one step ahead of the trends, deploying features that will keep your app at the forefront, reducing abandonment rates.


Bake messaging into the app

Another way to boost engagement and reduce churn rates on your app is to build an in-app messaging system. Consumers are hard-wired to clear their notifications and engage with messages, so you could use it to create a richer, stronger app experience. You could send users updates on new product launches, offer step-by-step tutorials on services, or even send out the occasional “How are you?”, creating a dialogue with potential customers. According to WebEngage, companies that use in-app messaging enjoy retention rates up to 3.5 times higher than those without, so it’s a worthy feature that could add some real value.


With consumers now spending more time on their smartphones than watching TV, launching an app for your business is no longer a nice-to-have. Retention should be a key performance indicator and help you make the right moves as your product grows and evolves. If you need assistance building or maintaining an app, reach out to the app development experts at Zudu on 01382 690080 to discuss your project in detail. We look forward to hearing from you. 

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