How to Retain Users on Your App


There are millions of apps out there. In the first quarter of this year, there were 3.8 million apps on Google Play alone. In 2017, there were up to 178.1 billion mobile app downloads worldwide; that is more than 23 times the current global population.

With so many apps – some of which perform the same function – vying for the attention of the public, what are the chances of your app standing out?

We will highlight some practical strategies to improve mobile app retention in this post.

However, before we turn to that, it is essential to cover the basics. For your app to survive the competitive virtual environment, it must solve a problem or perform a function to justify its continued usage. Nicole Hendrick, CEO at Buildinary says that “our lives are becoming ever more automated by the day and apps are driving this huge technology push.” The problem is that many apps do the same thing. However, if your app gives users the best experience, they are likely to prefer it over the others.  

In the past, marketers focused on download numbers to rate the success of an app. However, it has become apparent that retaining users is far more critical than user acquisition. Statistics show that about 21% of users abandon apps after using it only once. Also, most apps lose as much as 90% of their active users 30 days after they are downloaded. It is now clear that for an app to be a success, it is necessary to promote user engagement and increase the retention rate.

In recent years, app retention has improved slightly. Since 2016, about 37-38% of the users who downloaded mobile apps were found to have launched them at least 11 times. A minor increase in the retention rate of an app can have a significant impact on profits.

App retention is often compared with amorous relationships.

First, there is the introductory phase where the users get to know the app, get smitten and fall in love with it. But the relationship doesn’t end there. There must be a sustained effort to keep the ties strong and strengthen the loyalty of users. This is the key to app retention. There is no single key to improve the retention rate of your app. Instead, several factors can affect your app retention rate.



Deliver the Right Dosage of Push Notifications  

Push notifications are one of the time-tested ways to connect with users. It can improve app retention up to 10 times. For example, some social media apps today have a feature that allows you to get notifications about posts from friends. You do not have to be using the app for the notification to pop up. This serves as a friendly reminder for users who tend to forget about apps they have installed.

The key is not to bombard users with notifications. Keep it simple, personalized, and well-timed.

If you can incorporate push notifications into your app retention strategy correctly, it will work magic for you. However, if it is not done right, it can have the opposite effect. For example, too many notifications can quickly become annoying and drive users away.


Offer Rewards 

Rewards always entice users. So, this is an excellent way to promote app retention and loyalty. Many apps such as Uber and Airbnb have successfully used this strategy. There are different types of incentives that can be offered to users. One of the most common examples is coupons.

By rewarding customers who use an app frequently with coupon codes, the developer ensures that the user remains loyal. In turn, the user will feel rewarded and will most likely continue to be a patron of the app. Studies indicate that a majority of millennials are likely to shun a brand that doesn’t offer rewards for their loyalty.


Provide Exceptional User Experience

Nothing can substitute user experience in the quest to improve app retention. Users must have a great time on your app. They must have a reason to want to use it again and again. If it crashes frequently or is slow, there are chances its user retention rate will be low. Therefore, it is crucial to test your app thoroughly before it is released to the public. Also, there must be a sustained effort to improve the app, track its performance, and provides support to users. Do not forget to update your app regularly.

Another way to enhance user experience is through personalization. This includes giving users more control over the features of the app and delivering content that is tailored to their needs. Effectiveness is at the core of every successful app.  


Make the App Easy to Use

It pays to make apps easy to use. Remember, the onboarding process is where the magic starts with users. If the first impression falls short of expectations, the chances are that interest in the app will fall. Statistics show that 23% of mobile apps are used only once. Why would users want to spend time figuring out how an app works when they can download an alternative that is more intuitive?

One way to ensure your app is easy to use is to try not to cram too much information on the interface. Keep it simple. Make the design of the app simple and provide tips to enable users to learn about its features.

These are just a few of many strategies that will allow you to retain users on your app. Ultimately you must give your users a reason to keep using your app. The quest to improve the experience of users must never end. You must look at things from the perspective of the user. Try to understand when consumers use an app and why they use it.

Open the channels for communication and encourage feedback from users. If an app is expensive, the users must know why they are paying that price. This is especially important if there are free alternatives out there. Also, if you have a site and an app (like Facebook), the app must offer something different from the site to justify its existence.


More than ever, it is clear today that user retention must be part of the core indicators for the success of an app, not just acquisition and engagement.

Alicia Wells

Alicia Wells is a programmer at Buildinary who specializes in mobile app development and design. With her strong coding background and easy demeanor, she thoroughly enjoys blogging about all aspects of software development in her spare time.

By Alicia Wells

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