If you’re able to increase the user retention rate in your app, your in-app revenues could positively explode. Whilst acquiring new users is important too, retaining your existing users is both cheaper and will help increase your rankings in app store search results.
In this article, we’ll be sharing five of the best rules to stick to in 2017 to increase your app's user retention rate.
1. Use App Push Notifications
There have been a number of changes in recent OS updates that change how smartphone owners can opt-in to notifications and this is actually somewhat beneficial to your own retention rates.
While push notifications can typically help roughly 20% of users to return to your app, those with a dislike for intrusive messaging had a high chance of uninstalling the app. However, recent OS updates allow users to turn off notifications completely or only opt-in to their favourite apps. This change means that whilst the number of users that see your push notifications may drop, the percentage of those that do see it who interact with your notification is expected to grow.
Going forward, as more apps update to Android Nougat, and now that iOS 10 is in full flow, the value of using push notifications is considered to be higher.
2. Use Incentives and Rewards
There are a number of different incentive and reward strategies you can use to entice your users to return to your app. Whilst it’s often easier to strategize a method to use incentives in a mobile game, other apps categories can use incentives and rewards just as effectively as games, it just takes a little more creativity.
Taking into consideration our point about push notifications, one such incentive method would be to push out a notification that coincides with a limited time promotion. Offering a discounted price on a bundle of items in your in-app store and giving players a limited time to claim the offer creates a sense of urgency. The great thing about selling digital products is that there’s nothing to lose when discounting in-app purchases to a user that may almost have lost interest in your app.
Another great incentive system that encourages users to interact with your app regularly is a timed event system. Take Clash Royale for example - in Clash Royale, players can earn chests for winning a match. Once earned, chests have timers up to 24 hours. Players can start the unlock process, close their game and then Clash Royale will send a push notification when the chest is opened.
Using a system like this doesn’t restrict gameplay because players can still play without the rewards that come with the chests, but the potential rewards encourage players to come back day after day.
One other incentive system we’d like to mention is the daily login reward - offering a user a reward for returning each day can encourage them to stop by, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Offering high-value rewards for a week, or month of consecutive logins gives engaged users a reason to come back every single day.
3. Create an App User Onboarding Strategy
Using push notifications and incentives to retain users can work well, but for the most part, these two strategies work best for users that have already returned to your app after the first day of installation.
Unfortunately, as much as 75% of users are lost on the first day, even in app categories with high user retention rates. For this reason, it’s incredibly important to work on your initial UI and guide users through your app to make their first impression a great experience.
Doing this is called onboarding - you’re encouraging your users to engage with your app. The best way to work sufficient onboarding into your app is to provide informative, yet simple snippets of information that showcase how your app works.
We’d highly recommend downloading popular mobile games to understand how a good onboarding strategy works.
4. Measure Against Your Competition
This is one rule that many developers may not take into consideration, but it’s perhaps the most important.
There are lots stats out there on global mobile user retention rate, but you should focus on specifics. If you’re wondering why your app has a 20% day 1 retention rate when analytics are suggesting higher rates, it’s because device type, operating system and app category offer vastly different results.
As an example, at 40%, mobile games offer far higher day 1 retention rates than any other category. iOS users also often drop off later than Android users do.
If you’re looking to measure yourself against the user retention rate of other apps and build a KPI from that, make sure you’re taking information from the same category as your app. More importantly, keep your iOS and Android statistics separately - they may offer similar experiences on the surface, but both platforms have very different user behaviour.
The more accurate information you have at hand, the easier it is to mark whether your retention strategies need more attention or not.
5. Scale App Promotions and In-App Purchases
Your users will respond differently to different types of promotions and notifications depending on how much time they have spent in your app. For example, if you offer a long term player an offer on an in-app purchase bundle, they may snap it up at $4.99. However, if you offer a new player this, they’re more likely to be turned away, even if the bundle offers savings of over $50.
You must scale any promotions you run to the level of commitment that player has already made in your app. You can measure your user’s interaction, and research where the typical user drop-off points are. From there you can work out what types of promotions are best for different users.
Using Clash Royale as an example again, once you reach the third arena, an offer will appear in the shop that offers a bundle of items at a reduced cost - this is still early on in a player’s playtime so the price is very reasonable. Once players reach higher arenas, the bundles increase in price.