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On average, people have roughly 80 apps downloaded on their phones, but only open 9 daily. This stat led me down a rabbit hole to see how many unused apps were taking up space on my phone, and let’s just say I have always been above average ;)
As I deleted app after app, I couldn’t help but wonder what it was that set the apps I use apart from the ones I’ve opened once or twice. The answer is their focus on user engagement.
App engagement seems like a given. People have downloaded your app because they want to use it, but that seldom keeps it from landing in the virtual graveyard.
You need to be just as intentional about your app engagement as you are about every other aspect of its development and launch. Let’s take a look at what makes an app engaging, and how you can keep yours in the daily rotation.
What is App Engagement
Creating a successful app doesn’t stop when people install it. The way people interact with and stay connected to your mobile app makes up your app engagement and will be a far better indicator of your app’s long-term success.
When you created your app, you aimed to make something that people would find valuable. The clearest way to see that value play out is when you can see those engagement numbers rise.
Depending on your app, your ideal engagement might include exploring all the features, making a purchase, or returning to the app every day.
Elements of App Engagement
So many things come together to determine how engaging your app is, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are some key elements that the most successful apps have in common when it comes to boosting engagement.
- User Interface (UI) Design - An intuitive, user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate encourages users to explore the app further and spend more time using it
- User Experience (UX) - A smooth, seamless experience. The app should load quickly, be responsive, and offer valuable functionality without any glitches or crashes
- Features and Functionality - Interesting and useful features that keep users interested and coming back for more. Push notifications, personalized recommendations, and interactive elements
- Personalization - Personalizing the app experience based on user preferences and behavior through recommendations based on past interactions, customizing the interface, and allowing users to customize their profiles
- Gamification - Incorporating game-like elements, such as rewards, achievements, or points systems
- Social Integration - Allowing users to connect and share their experiences with others through social media integration or in-app communities
- Regular Updates and Improvements - Listening to user suggestions and adding new features or fixing issues can show users that their input is valued and that the app is evolving
With some combination of these elements, you can ensure that users come back again and again.
Benefits of Increasing App Engagement
With the complexity of elements making up app engagement, it’s important to remember how beneficial it can be for your app.
- User Retention - Regular updates, interactive features, and personalized experiences add continuous value to keep people coming back over time
- Data Collection - The more time people spend in the app, the more opportunities you will have to collect user behavior and preference data
- Customer Lifetime Value - Engaged customers can spend roughly 300% more than other customers, and you won’t have to go looking for more people to download your app
- Ad Revenue - Higher app engagement often translates into more ad impressions, ad clicks, or view duration
- Brand Loyalty - If people are super engaged with one of your apps, they are far more likely to try out anything else you’ve made
While these benefits are great, they only scratch the surface of what high app engagement can accomplish.
How App Engagement Skyrockets Referrals
When people are engaged with your app, they are enjoying their experience and will be far more likely to leave good reviews and spread the word. If you’re trying to launch a referral campaign, this is stellar news.
Word-of-mouth marketing is trusted by 92% of consumers and is simultaneously one of the most economical and effective strategies around.
Creating an engaging app gives people loads of hands-on experiences to share with their friends, and makes them that much more likely to talk about it.
How To Measure App Engagement
How people engage successfully with your app will depend largely on what you’re hoping to accomplish. A gaming app will have different goals than a fintech app or a productivity app.
These KPIs will help you get a picture of how engaging your app is at the moment.
- Daily and Monthly Active Users - Tracking the number of unique users on your app over time helps you see retention numbers and measure your app's regular user base
- Session Duration - Average length of time users spend on your app before putting it down
- Retention Rate - How many users continue to engage with your app after some time
- Churn Rate - Number of users who delete or forget about your app over a given period
- Frequency of Use - How often your app is opened, or a specific action is performed
- Screens Visited - How many scenes or pages within the app a user visits during their time on the app
- Conversion Rate - How many users, once on your app, are taking a desired action like making a purchase
- Average Revenue per User - How much are you making through monetization per user over a given period
- Ratings and Reviews - Have you inspired a reaction out of your audience, and how positive is said reaction
Ultimately, which KPIs you track and put weight into will be determined by your app’s goals.
Strategies for Increasing App Engagement
Let’s take a look at some of the most effective ways to ensure your app sticks around!
Show Off How Much You Care
Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room. If you want a swath of engaged users on your app, there’s one generation in particular you’ll need to win over.
Gen Z users spend more time than any other group on non-gaming apps. They are going to be the most engaged out of anyone, and there’s something in particular that sways them.
Trust is the number one deciding factor for 85% of Gen Z consumers when they decide where to spend their time. They want to know that the apps they use have strong values that align with their own.
Find a way to bake your care for the environment, social justice, or fair workers' compensation into your branding, and you’ll have loyal users for life.
Focus on Social Interactions
It’s no secret that social apps attract the most weekly users. But this can bleed into apps that aren’t exclusively social as well.
By adding in ways for users to engage with each other and invite friends on the journey, you can tap into the power of social media on any app.
The more options for customization people have, the more invested they will be in your app. When there’s a feeling of ownership over the experience, it makes it harder to forget.
This can be done with a personal avatar, but if you can create opportunities for even more customization, you’ll see the benefits far faster.
There’s a reason why gamification is so popular in apps. It creates a sense of competition, achievement, and progress.
Incorporating elements of gamification into your app can keep users engaged by offering challenges, rewards, and a sense of community among players. This also taps into our innate desire to win and be recognized for our achievements.
If you can bring in some friendly competition, this will boost engagement even more. I might not log onto a learning app every day, but if I’m trying to rack up more points than my friends, I’m far less likely to forget it.
Don’t let your app become stale. Keep it fresh and exciting by regularly releasing updates and new features. This shows your commitment to continuously improving the user experience and keeps users coming back for more.
It also shows that you listen to and care about your users. Pay attention to what they say in reviews, and don’t be afraid to ask them what they would change about your app.
When they see that you are taking their concerns seriously, they are far more likely to stay invested long-term.
The Bottom Line
Remember, app engagement is about creating an app that users enjoy using and find value in. By focusing on a seamless user experience, valuable features, personalization, and regularly updating the app, you can increase engagement and build a loyal fan base.
If you can find and embrace the perfect engagement strategy for you, you’ll never have to fear your app getting buried under a pile of unused icons on your users’ phones.
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