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What can you do to optimize user engagement in your mobile app? We have some suggestions:

Understand User Needs

Without knowing the target users and what they are looking for, it will be a challenge to determine what would make them engaged. When you know your users, it becomes easier to determine when something needs to be updated based on their changing needs and behaviors. Updates should not just be regular; they should be based on an analysis of customer satisfaction metrics

A great user experience (UX) is also a crucial factor in in-app engagements. An enjoyable and straightforward UX will go a long way in retaining users.

This is especially the case when the digital customer experience leaves users feeling that navigating through your app is simple and straightforward.

Graphics of Businessman Pointing

Focus on the App Store Listing

If users don’t know about your app, there is no need to even talk about engagement. Thus, it is safe to say that app listing optimization is a critical step in user engagements. The app listing is the first interaction a user will have with your app.

To optimize your app listing, developers must provide information and screenshots on the benefits of the app. Instead of advertising the sophisticated features of an app, show the user how the app will solve their problems. Also include positive customer feedback on the listing to increase credibility.

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Make the Onboarding Easy

You’ve done an excellent job optimizing your app store listing, and the user has downloaded and installed your app. Now, they have launched the app for the first time to start the onboarding process.

If the account creation or sign-up process is long and stressful, users may abandon it and look for an alternative. If this happens, engagement is dead in the water.

To optimize engagement in the onboarding process, developers should provide different sign-up options with social login (Facebook, Google, and Twitter). This reduces the steps in the account creation stage.

Developers can also withhold the account creation aspect to much later after the user has explored the app’s benefits; this is called a login-free experience.

Using onboarding to educate users on the benefits and functionality of the app is also an excellent onboarding tactic. It’s vital to ensure that this does not become a tutorial on how to use the app. A tutorial may be overwhelming and time-consuming. Users could be given an option to take a tour if they want.

Otherwise, the app can be designed so that tips are introduced at regular intervals, depending on how the user is interacting with your app. However, it’s crucial to ensure that users are clear about how to use your app. 

Request for Permission

Asking users for permission before accessing data or part of their phone hardware fosters trust from users, and improves user engagement over time. Accessing users’ data, such as GPS coordinates, contact lists, the camera, and a microphone without permission, may scare them off. Scared users will most likely delete your app.

Increase Speed

Speed is key for mobile app users. No-one likes to wait long for an app to load unless they have no choice. A page speed report by the “drag-and-drop builder that lets you create and publish your own landing pages,” Unbounce, indicates that 70% of consumers say that speed influences their decision to take action, such as buying. Slow speeds will also likely discourage users from using the app again.

Some apps’ loading time cannot be reduced due to the type of tasks they perform. In such unavoidable circumstances, animations and attractive graphics can be used to keep users engaged.

Use Push Notifications Sparingly

Apps that don’t use push notifications can be easily forgotten and later deleted if their purpose is not vital to a user. However, if overused, push notifications will irritate the user. An irritated user is likely to delete your app.

According to a report by the mobile engagement platform, Localytics, users are more likely to return for 11 or more sessions if they enjoy personalized brand interaction. Using push notifications to send relevant, thoughtful, and strategic information to users based on their location, interests, and pattern of app usage can lead to more app time and engagement.

Besides sending content or personalized push notifications, targeted push notifications, such as those based on location, can be used by developers to improve response rate. Such notifications provide information based on the user’s location and send them timely reminders.

Photo of Businessman and Woman with there laptop appsee

Use In-app Messages

In-app messages are messages that deliver value to the user but don’t need them to take immediate action. These messages could be about payment methods that are about to expire, version upgrades, upcoming specials, exciting news, and warnings/notifications about app issues.

The key to effective use of the in-app message is to segment users so that only users who need specific information receive it.  When users know that an app delivers valuable information at regular intervals, they are likely to keep checking to ensure that they do not miss anything important.

Ask For Feedback

A simple way to improve app engagement is by asking for feedback. Making it easy for users to contact you via the app will reduce users’ chances of giving a negative review on the Appstore when they could have easily passed the message across to you directly. Live Chat customer service in the app is an excellent example of how you can communicate with users and get the necessary feedback.

Creating two-way communication builds a relationship between the user and the app owner. However, when you create a communication channel in the app, it will be vital to answering every customer question. Also, it is crucial to reply to all comments, positive and negative.

Responsiveness to users’ complaints and inquiries will boost engagement, retention, positive reviews, and long-term brand loyalty. This kind of relationship makes users feel valued and appreciated by the brand. They know that you don’t see them as just a source of revenue.

App publishers can be more direct in their search for feedback by carrying out surveys (in-app or third party). This can reveal user trends. It provides vital information about features that can be created or improved based on the user complaints or suggestions in the survey.

Asking for feedback is essential, but it is vital to act on the feedback. If not, users may think they are wasting their time when providing feedback.

Platforms like REVE Chat, Zendesk, HelpCrunch, and Help Scout can provide developers with in-app customer feedback channels.

Incentivize App Use

Having loyalty programs in the app could help increase engagement and make users feel appreciated by the brand. Referrals can also be used to incentivize app use. Offering users discounts or vouchers/coupons for referring your app to others is likely to increase engagement.

The gamification of the app could also keep users coming back and staying on your app for longer. Consider time-limited rewards/discounts, task completion points/badges/rewards, and creating a leaderboard or achievement board as methods of increasing user engagement.

Track Metrics

Developers need to know what is going on in their apps. What features or pages have a high bounce rate? Where do most users drop off and quit the app? How long does it take for actions to be carried out by the app once a user clicks a button?

To know these things, developers need to track several metrics: download numbers, lifetime value (LTV), app stickiness, churn rate, retention, conversion, monthly and daily active app users, average app time, and session length. The trick is to keep your finger on the pulse of your app.

By Finn Bartram

Finn is the editor of The CX Lead. He's passionate about helping businesses gain a competitive advantage by creating exemplary customer experiences.