Retention Intervention – How to Keep Your Mobile App Users Coming Back for More

Two Dam Creative

In his groundbreaking book “Future Shock”, award-winning author and renowned futurist Alvin Toffler posited that excessive levels of choice, which he called “Overchoice”, can lead to extreme indecisiveness and dissatisfaction. Put simply, our minds become overwhelmed with processing large number of potential outcomes, risks and benefits and we end up more confused than when we started.

Digital Overload

This phenomenon is no more apparent than in the competitive world of mobile apps. With millions of apps available, and thousands of new ones hitting the market every month, consumers have more choice than they can possibly handle. I recently searched for a shopping list app to combat my chronic propensity to forget things when my long-suffering wife sends me to the supermarket. App store returned well over 300 results. There were plenty that looked promising, so I downloaded and deleted one after the other in search of the perfect solution. After burning through eighteen apps over two days, I bored of the entire exercise and just wrote my list down on a piece of paper. This was indeed a classic case of Overchoice.


Research shows that the average app loses a staggering 80% of its users within the first three days. After 90 days, only 5% of users are still engaging with the technology, on average. Those are sobering numbers. It might be great to get lots of downloads, but unless users are keeping you in their pockets for the long haul, that success is deceptive. Knowing how many downloaders continue to engage with the technology over time is a far more helpful indication of what is going right, or wrong, with your app.


Increasing Retention Rates

Unsurprisingly, the most successful apps have high retention rates. Careful scrutiny of these apps shows that they all share a number of common characteristics that explain their success:


  • All Aboard!

A smooth, intuitive and efficient onboarding process is a major contributor to app retention. A great introductory experience can not only help users familiarise themselves with the app’s primary features but more importantly, create an immediate emotional connection, which is critical in a crowded market.


  • Less is More

Remember the car designed by Homer Simpson? Technology that attempts to do everything for everyone is doomed to do nothing for anybody. Crowding your app with piles of features that most users will not want or need, can be counter-productive. App users are far more interested in functionality than brand information, so focus on perfecting whatever your app does best. You will not only end up with a better product, but the cleaner UX will help to keep your app from the scrap heap.


  • Push Comes to Shove

Push notifications have been shown to increase app retention rates by as much as 25%. Well thought out notifications sent at reasonable frequency help to keep your app front-of-mind, which in turn, keeps users more engaged for longer. Beware, though! There are few things that users despise more than incessant beeping and buzzing and will not hesitate to delete apps that they feel are demanding too much attention for no good reason. In fact, excessive notifications are the single biggest excuse for deleting an app. Getting the balance right is the key.


  • Fact or Friction

The app experience is littered with opportunities to annoy your users with irritations that will have them heading for the exit. Over-zealous permission requests, prompting for too much personal information, intrusive pop-ups, advertisements and rating requests that interrupt the user flow all serve to frustrate users. It is important to obtain all this information to deliver the best possible experience and monetize your app. However, overdo it and you’ll end up losing the very users you’re trying to please, so plan things our carefully and use these tools as sparingly as you feasibly can.


  • Continuous improvement

Today’s consumer is spoiled for choice and can be a fickle creature. Attention spans are low, and the pace of change is blinding. In such an environment, standing still is as good as going backwards. It is crucial, therefore, to ensure that you have your finger on the pulse and are regularly adapting your app to evolving user needs. There are numerous user engagement tools that can help you pick your users brains to determine which direction your app needs to go to remain relevant and engaging. Use them and the information gleaned wisely, and you can stay ahead of the game.


We could go on, but do you know what would be better? Drop us a line and let us know your idea for the next great app. We’d love to chat with you about how we can make it look stunning, function seamlessly, and turn more downloaders into devoted users.

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