App Retention Tips: 3 Ways to Keep People Engaged

You’ve worked hard to build, market, and launch your amazing app. It gets a fair amount of organic/paid downloads and you have gotten good feedback from users, but you’re having difficulty keeping people engaged with your app over time. Let’s face it, maintaining a high level of excitement and momentum can be very challenging, especially when peoples attention span has fallen down to 8 seconds on average. So how can you continue to grab your audience’s attention and get them back into your app? Here’s a few strategies that have worked for us:

1. Re-think Your Notification Strategy

Notifications are a crucial component to any app with a sustained user base. You want your notifications to be helpful, informative, and functional, not intrusive or “spammy”. This balance can be difficult to achieve! After all, the last thing you want is for a user to become so frustrated with your notifications that they delete your app entirely. Some companies have found success pushing notifications directly to all users (regardless of notification settings).

While push notifications from developers can be effective for some, we have found more retention success by socializing our notifications. Socializing in this sense goes beyond the generic friend request or post like notifications. Instead, imagine taking existing structures that already exist in your app and making those features more significant with a notification. For example, users have always been able to check-in to a venue on Yule Nightlife, but no one except that one user knew they were checking in. There was no socialization of this feature. Our solution?

Yule Nightlife Check-in Notification
Screenshot of Yule Nightlife Check-in Notification

Now when a user checks-in, all of their Yule friends receive a notification announcing who checked in and where. That friend can then open the notification and be led directly to the venue profile, where they may just feel inspired enough to come join you for a drink! We saw huge increases in retention and engagement after adding this simple feature- it ended up being something our users really appreciated! If you manage an app that is social in nature, think carefully about the popular features you have already built. Are they getting the level of engagement they deserve?

2. Index Your App and Create Dynamic Links on Google

Of course you want your app to be the go-to source for what you’re offering. However, people are forgetful and might not remember how awesome your app is, or what all your app provides. So how can you get them back in your app if they’ve totally forgotten you exist? One thing you can do is index your app on Google. This gets you a fancy Install button when people search for your product on Google with their mobile device.

Google Search Results Install Button
Index your App to get an INSTALL button to appear on Google search results

Another advanced option is to include dynamic links from your website to your app pages. If people have already downloaded your app and search for something you offer on Google, your app will be prioritized in the search results! This means that if I search for “nightlife near me” on Google and it detects that I have already installed Yule Nightlife, Google will encourage me to open that relevant page in the app as opposed to the web page. Setting up dynamic links is no trivial task, but it can be very beneficial to get users back into your app from organic web searches.

A final solution is to include an inline install/open app banner button on your website. If people have gone to the trouble of searching for information you have and are visiting your site, you want to encourage them to view the content in your app because it is generally faster, smoother, and improves your app analytics!

Yule Nightlife Website Install Banner
Inline Install/Open Banner Button

You can find more information on App Indexing and Dynamic Links on Google here.

3. Update Your App Regularly

Another way to encourage people to open your app again is to push an update to the App Store. People will be curious when they see the little blue dot by your app name signifying that the app has been updated since the last time it was opened (iOS), or can even be notified of an update via the App Store if automatic updates is disabled. We have always seen a surge of returning users immediately after pushing an app update, even if the update includes very few changes. On the other hand, pushing an update with a lot of new exciting features can be a way to get users coming back even more often as they explore what all your app has to offer since the last update (which may in fact be the last time they opened your app).

Many smaller app development companies may be nervous to push an update to the iOS App Store because the number of current reviews for app goes back to 0 and it can be frustrating to get friends or loyal users to rate your app again and again. Fortunately, the iOS App Store is getting a makeover with iOS 11 coming out in Autumn 2017, and will prominently display the total rating for All Versions of your app on your profile unless you choose otherwise.

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You can download Yule Nightlife for free on iOS or Android, or on the web at yulenight.com.

You can also follow Yule Nightlife on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!


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