4 Techniques for keeping your mobile app users engaged

Mike Smales
DAYONE — A new perspective.


Keeping users engaged with your app is key to its success. One of the greatest problems for app developers is the rate of mobile app abandonment. Many apps are downloaded and then ignored or even uninstalled. If you want to keep your audience engaged with your app then you have to give them the user experience they want.

Use push notifications intelligently

Push notifications are a great way to bring former users back to your app, but you have to use them carefully. If you send out communications that are not relevant to the user then you are going to come across as annoying, and encourage them to uninstall the app rather than to reactivate it.

Dave Sandler, Global Account Director at Fetch says that:

“A good push strategy takes into account data about who you are, where you are and what you’re doing — and what relevance the app has to you at that point in time.”

To develop an effective push notification strategy it is important to track in-app activity and to target segments of users appropriately. By breaking down your app users into groups according to how they use the app, and then sending them messages that are relevant to them you will be able to provide messages that directly relate to how they use the app. You can make the segments as broad or as narrow as you wish. The strategy is to develop intelligent pushes that users will engage with, and not ignore.

Create a Smooth UX

Creating a enduring app that retains the attention of users over a prolonged period means ensuring a smooth user experience. Your app needs to be simple to use, with clear straightforward navigation. Ideally you should aim to incorporate pre-populated fields, and drop-down menus to simplify use as much as possible. Letting existing users store their details with you rather than making them enter them every time they want to buy something will make their buying process quick and simple.

The checkout process is one area where this is especially critical. Making your checkout process easy to understand is key to increasing conversions. Make sure users can find and tap on your add to cart and checkout buttons without difficulty. Use as few steps as possible in the checkout process and reduce the number of images on the page, images can increase the time it takes for the cart to load, and therefore increase the rate of cart abandonment your app experiences. The same is true of any in-app transaction, be it ordering an Uber or catching a Pokemon.

Have the app open from emails

Most of the time your users will open your app by clicking on it. However, there will be times when you want them to be able to open the app from a link in an email. This may happen when you send out an email in response to a password reset request. By registering a custom URL scheme for the app, users will be able to open an installed application on their phone or tablet with just a single click from their email. It is helpful to ensure that when a user clicks on the link from a device which does not have your app installed then they are taken to somewhere they can download the app. This is a better option than the alternative of leaving them facing a blank screen or a line of error text.

You could set the link so that it opens the app to your default start page, but suppose you send a newsletter and talk about some feature of the app, which you invite users to try by clicking on the link in the newsletter. In that situation it would be much better to have the app open directly to the feature you have been explaining. By employing deep linking techniques you can have the app open at whichever part of the app you wish.

Build in gamification

Gamification can be a highly effective way of keeping your app users engaged. If done properly it can give them a reason to keep returning to your app. To make gamification work properly it must be fully integrated and add real value to the user experience. There is no point in adding a leaderboard, or a badge system to your app unless they hold meaningful value to your users. Avoid creating an overly-complicated experience for the app user, think through the type of gamification that works best with your app, and how it can improve the app for your users. Integrate it at the heart of your app rather than making it an afterthought.

Follow these techniques and create an app that will have users returning regularly, and engaging more frequently, and for longer with your app.

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Mike Smales
DAYONE — A new perspective.

Software engineer and business builder. Entrepreneurship, Start-ups, Deep-Tech, Mobile, IoT, & AI. CTO @ PF Nexus. Former COO @ chirp.io. See mikesmales.com