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How to encourage users to return to youR app

Posted by Ben Dickson on Jun 21, 2016 12:00:00 PM
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The mobile app journey starts with user acquisition. Part of the challenge is getting users to actually install your app on their device. It takes a lot of effort to keep a competitive edge over hundreds of potential competitors and to convince users to install your app instead of the other contenders.

But as I said, acquisition is only part of the challenge. The rest of it is to actually nudge users into returning to your app after they install it. With so many different apps and games installed on their smartphones, users are bound to forget about your app if it doesn’t offer any convincing incentives. And an abandoned app is just as bad as a non-existent one.

User retention is a vital element in the success of an app. It helps generate revenue (depending on your app’s monetization model), but it also helps generate crucial feedback on the usability and performance of your app, and give you insights on what’s working in your app and what needs to be improved in order to make it a better product.

Therefore, in tandem with running campaigns to generate installs for your app, you need to improve retention and inspire those who download your apps to return and become frequent users. Here are a few tips that can help you do so in a non-invasive manner.

create unique experiences 

The first time a user opens your app can have a big impact on whether they’ll return to it or not. If you can somehow convey the message that every visit to your app can be a totally (or even partially) different experience, you’ll create a sense of curiosity in your users and raise the chances that they’ll return to your app.

This can be done by offering tours to first-time users, leveraging user data and preferences to tailor the experience for the user and presenting fresh content, something unique that they’ve never seen before. Integrating camera and location features into your app are other means to give varying experiences to your users.

Personalizing the app experience establishes a much closer relationship with the user. On the other hand, if your app presents a dull and repetitive experience, it’ll have a harder time motivating users to reopen it.

App markting basics: Acquisition and Analystics 

don't overwhelm your users

Presenting too many options and too much information will only confuse the user and make it harder for them to pick their choice. The key to bringing new users onboard is to present them with just the right amount of information.

A perfect way to ruin the mobile experience is to replicate desktop web pages in your mobile app views. Inputting information on mobile devices is more tedious than desktop, therefore you have to cull down your forms to include the least amount of fields. Also, in presenting information, try to minimize the amount of output and do away with the less important information.

Keeping things simple is a great way to have the user leave the app with a good memory and a likely chance to return later. A good example is Lyft, which displays nearby rides on a map and offers a hard-to-miss call-to-action button. The app is ridiculously simple to use and you really have to be dumb to make a mistake.


use in-app incentives

Rewarding users can go a long way toward keeping them engaged. This can be done in many ways, such as offering coupons, discount, limited-time offers and upgrades. For instance, by offering a free access to the premium version of the app for a limited, you’re increasing the likelihood of users returning to the app to make the best of the exclusive opportunity.

A small percentage of those users will opt-in to buy the full premium package when the time runs out. But don’t worry about the rest who won’t directly pay a dime for the app. At least you can rest assured that a considerable portion of them will continue to use the free version of the app if it provides enough value, which will provide of opportunities to gather user experience data and set up retargeting and re-engagement campaigns.

Another incentive is to reward continued engagement. For instance, in an mCommerce app, this would translate into offering discounts and coupons to users that regularly purchase from your app. In a game, it would be the addition of in-game currency accumulation and purchases, or unlocking cool new features as the player progresses through the game.

use Push notifications - with care!

"Use push notifications to re-engage users while they’re not in your app." A lot of people will tell you that.

Easier said than done. There are so many ways you can bungle push notifications and disenchant your users that many forgo even including such a feature in their app for fear of ruining the user experience.

That said, push notifications can be very helpful if done right. There are just a few caveats. A lot of other apps are installed on your users’ smartphones and will be sending push notifications, so only send messages that are extremely important and are more likely to trigger a user response. This can be done through tailoring messages based on the user’s preferences. How can this be done? With the use of analytics tools, you can gather enough information from your users to be able to discern their behavioral patterns and what they like about your app. And then you can customize push messages based on user data.

Also allow users to opt out of your app’s push notifications feature. Not including such a feature will leave users with no other option than to uninstall the app in order to get rid of noisome messages.

over to you

These are some of the ways you can make sure users will come back to your app. To wrap things up, one of the key disciplines to master is to personalize the experience and to make it unique for each user, each visit.

How do you keep users coming back to your app? Share your experience with us in the comments section.

Topics: App promotion

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