Discover insights and hear how other developers have optimized engagement to successfully retain users in the long-term.

Most app developers aim to have an engaged user base who find their app valuable and return to it on a regular basis. Also, anyone who’s ever bothered to hit the ‘install’ button hopes that the app delivers on it’s promise to fulfill a need, or solve a problem!

Blindly optimizing engagement metrics for their own sake isn’t consistent with reaching long-term business goals, and the goals of people using your product. Trying to successfully retain existing users over trying to acquire new ones makes monetary sense, as poor retention leads to higher acquisition costs.

In this article I will…


Insights on what users value most in apps and how to build sustainable engagement around them

Successfully engaging and retaining users is a core challenge for many developers. We commissioned a consumer research with Sparkler, a digital insight and strategy consultancy, to understand why some apps become favorites while others are quickly forgotten, deleted, or replaced.

What we’ve learned is that just as in nature, apps exist in a ruthless and unforgiving environment. They have to struggle to endure in a crowded, constantly changing world where only the fittest survive and thrive. …


Q&A with Samuel Hulick, founder of the site ‘User Onboard’

Samuel Hulick is the author of The Elements of User Onboarding and the UX designer behind the website User Onboard, where he publishes “teardowns” analysis of the onboarding processes of some of the most popular apps.

He defines user onboarding as any time there’s an opportunity to increase the likelihood that users are successful when trying to adopt your product and his motto is start your designing where your users start their using. Sounds simple enough right?

We spoke to Samuel to understand how he thinks user onboarding can be done to retain more signups, reduce churn, and engage people…


Techniques to bridge our intention-action gap for the better

Early on in my role as an Apps partner manager at Google Play, I was drawn towards the Self-Improvement apps space because their persuasive influence transcends screen-level interactions. Their mission is to persuade people to take real-life actions that lead to long-term behavior change and ultimately shape how they live their lives. Read on to discover how these companies are harnessing behavioral insights to bridge people’s intention-action gap and work towards the ‘future self’ they seek to be.

1. Make the first session a success

For self-improvement apps, the first step to addressing people’s gap between intentions and actions is…


Tips to better convert free users into subscribers

One key challenge subscription businesses face is that many users don’t perceive the value of paying. Google Play teamed up with The Behavioural Architects to explore how behavioural economics (BE) can be used to better communicate to free users the value of upgrading to paid app subscriptions.

The team collaborated with two app developers — popular brain-training app, Peak, and high intensity training fitness app, Freeletics Bodyweight — looking at alternative variations of their current in-app upsell strategies. …


Post 3 of 3: Sustainable techniques to influence user behavior for the better

“[Smartphones] have vast potential to influence consumer welfare — both for better and for worse.” — Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity

The proliferation of smartphones in our lives presents untapped opportunities for consumers and developers alike. In the first two blog posts of this series, I explored techniques app developers can use to drive user behavior that aligns with key business objectives. In this last post of the series, I discuss the design pitfalls that undermine our actions and how persuasive app techniques can impact our lives for the better.

Most developers…


Post 2 of 3: What apps can learn from insights rooted in behavioral economics, psychology, and gamification

In the previous blog post, I introduced a three-step process to optimize for a specific desired behavior (focusing on the first two steps):

  • Step 1: Simplify the desired behavior. Encourage action from engaged, motivated users by reducing (and ideally removing) barriers that prevent it from happening.
  • Step 2: Trigger behavior from motivated users. The presence of triggers (prompts, cues, and CTAs) can drive action even when motivation levels might be low.
  • Step 3: Boost user motivation. Motivation is hard to influence but developers can inspire users to act with persuasive messaging or engaging game elements.

In this post, I’m going…


Post 1 of 3: Simplify, trigger, motivate — a three-step approach to optimize for user behavior

If you work on mobile apps, you have the potential to influence the actions of millions of people every single day. Whether it’s to engage with a new feature, visit your app daily, or subscribe to your premium product, you likely have in mind a key behavior you wish more users would do, more often. But how can you increase the chances of your users taking action?

Whatever the desired behavior, this blog post (the first in a three-part series drawing on insights rooted in behavioral economics, psychology, and gamification) will introduce you to a three-step approach to optimizing for…


Ten years ago I was a Cardiff university undergraduate student, loving (most) of the experiences that era afforded me. Like other young adults, I was keen to get out of academia and start living life! At the time I didn’t fully grasp the important role that education continues to play in your life after university (even if it comes in non-structured forms), or that the ‘self’ I viewed as concretely me constantly changes and evolves. What would I tell my younger self, if I could? …


Don’t Blame Facebook — Blame Democracy

When I first published this article, I opened with the following lines:

In 1998, Donald Trump disparaged Republicans as “the dumbest group of voters in the country”, boasting that if he ran for President he could lie “and they’d still eat it up”. Fast forward eighteen years and we’re now witnessing the inevitable outcome of his campaign that fed on people’s fears and insecurities with a blatant disregard for facts.

Summing up the entirety of my article (that all of us are in some way ignorant about political facts), I’ve since discovered this quote…

Jeni Miles

Passionate about how tech & behavioral insights can help us be happier & healthier • Book-devouring Londoner • Apps partnerships @googleplay www.jeniwren.com

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