User retention is incredibly important for ensuring an app delivers high ROI. But this is easier said than done. All mobile app development companies will tell you that retaining users is a difficult task, and at times, an impossible one.

This makes it extremely important for businesses to track retention figures of their app.

So, what does user-retention rate actually mean?

“Retention rate is measured as the percentage of users who return to your app based on their first visit.”

As per reports, the number of mobile apps downloaded worldwide is 102,602m. This is a huge figure, not all of them are successful. A large number of apps remain undownloaded and unused; others are just used once and then uninstalled.

According to a Localytics study published in June 2014, 20% of apps are downloaded but used just once.

So, what’s the reason behind people downloading an app, using it once and then uninstalling it?

Take a good hard look at your mobile app. Is your app abandonment rate increasing and retention rate decreasing day by day?

If yes, then it’s a warning sign for you. You need to immediately take steps to retain users and decrease this abandonment rate.

A drop in user retention metrics not only has an adverse impact on your revenues but also your app store rankings. Since app quality is a good indicator of app retention, app stores are considering this as a ranking factor.

Here are a few questions you must ask yourself to work out an app user retention strategy:

  1. Is your app giving a great first impression?

This is a very important and basic point, which at times, is missed by app developers and/or providers.

People make snap judgments. It takes only 1/10th of a second to form a first impression about a person and less than 5 seconds to form an opinion about a website.

The same holds true for apps as well.

If users find your app unattractive or difficult to navigate while they are checking it for the first time, they will immediately uninstall it.

This makes it extremely critical for you to ensure your app creates a great first impression on your target audience. Creating a good impression includes having a great design, a good user interface and a highly satisfying UX.

Remember, nothing beats a well-designed and functional app that is either extremely useful or incredibly entertaining. In fact, it can be said that retention metrics are directly proportional to app’s quality.

  1. Are you giving users a reason to keep using your app?

There are chances that even if you have crafted an app that is well-designed and provides good user-experience, the retention metrics for the app are at the lower end of the scale.

What could be the reason for this?

Today people are strapped for time. There has to be a good reason for users to keep using your app.

An app has to be either one of these: informative (CNN), entertaining (Crackle), addictive (Candy Crush) or something that provides users with some incentives on a timely basis (Wal-Mart).

Your app should have a high level of stickiness.

One of the tactics to ensure users keep using your app is to sneak in secret rewards and surprise your regular users from time to time. This will not only encourage people to download your app, but also use it on a regular basis.

  1. Are you marketing your app?

Marketing or promoting your app is not a one-time job that is done just before launching the app. You continuously need to market your app in the online world to keep generating a substantial amount of buzz surrounding your app.

Today, a person’s smartphone is filled with various apps. There are high chances that they may simply forget about your app and one fine day, uninstall it to free their smartphone’s memory.

You cannot take this risk. So, you need to be on your user’s radar and keep reminding them about the value your app provides. One of the ways is to send push notifications. But at times users disable notifications, so you need to find other ways to remind them to access your app. You must leverage channels like social media, emails, etc. to remind them about your app.

Create a solid app inbound marketing plan to help keep your app afloat in the sea of mobile apps on a user’s smartphone or tablet.

  1. Are you asking for your users’ feedback?

One of the best ways to improve user retention is to ask for feedback from users and responding to these feedbacks in a meaningful way. This will improve your relationship with users and target audience.

There are many different ways to collect user feedback and ensure they rate your app – by conducting a poll on social channels, sending a feedback form to a registered member’s email account or running in-app surveys.

However, don’t focus on these activities a lot as it will look like you are nagging your app users.

Pay close attention to the feedback you receive via all these channels. Apart from helping nurture your relationship with your users, these feedbacks will help you make improvements in app functionality.

When users give you feedback for the app, reward them with an acknowledgement.

  1. Are you analyzing actionable metrics?

At times, app providers just track the download stats to measure their success. But this figure does not really matter. It is just one of the vanity metrics. What a business actually needs to do is keep track of actionable metrics like retention rate, lifetime value, active users, etc. that will help create an informed strategy for their app.

Analyzing metrics through Google Analytics or other analytics platforms will help you track detailed app experience.

Analysis of user behavior will answer key questions like:

When did the user last use the app?
How often does the customer use the app?
Which pages did the customer visit?
What was the point/page of exit?

The above questions will give you deep insights into what’s working and what’s not in your app. This will also let you know the pain points or features/functionalities that irritate or frustrate your users.

Building long-term retention is the key to a successful app. The user retention strategies we have mentioned should give you a truckload of information to help you improve customer retention rates.


Pete Peranzo

Book A Consultation

Book a meeting with one of our team members and we will help you plan out your next steps. You can also use our calculator tool to receive a rough estimate on your project.

Related Articles