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26 App Developers & Marketers Reveal the Top Ways to Increase App Retention Rates

Angela Stringfellow

Last updated on

Your retention rate is the key driver of your app’s success or failure. Sure, you can always go out and attract new users, but it’s easier (and often less costly) to retain the ones you’ve already earned. Plus, the more happy users you retain, the more word-of-mouth marketing you’ll get as they talk about your app with their friends and family – which can result in an increase in user acquisition.

There are many ways to go about increasing customer retention, from providing engaging user experiences to offering exceptional post-purchase customer support. Push notifications are one of the most effective strategies for boosting app retention rates, but when it comes to apps, there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.” In other words, an effective push notification strategy sends just the right amount of relevant notifications to users to keep them engaged, but not too many. Otherwise, your users might suffer from alert fatigue or notification fatigue and tune out your notifications – or worse, uninstall your app altogether.

To help you master the art and science of app retention, we reached out to a panel of app developers and marketers and asked them to answer this question:

“What's the #1 way to increase app retention rates?”

Read on to learn what our panel had to say about the best strategies you can implement to increase your app’s retention rate.

Joshua Wood

Joshua Wood

Joshua Wood is the CEO and founder of Bloc, a social events app that allows people to check-in to venues, connect with other people and get rewarded for attending.

“We saw our app retention improve by over 30% when we introduced a loyalty scheme within our app, Bloc…”

We created an in-app currency that our users could 'earn' if they performed certain actions within the app. Once they collect enough of this currency they can exchange the digital currency for real money. This helped us with our retention because they had to hit certain milestones to be able to cash out. That’s why they kept us on their phones, and it helped with the number of sessions we had too. One of the things they can earn the most from is inviting their friends. An invite from a friend is always the best form of marketing, and it has the best retention rates too, so this also helps us a lot.

Nick Chernets

Nick Chernets

Nick Chernets is the Founder and CEO of DataForSEO, the leading provider of marketing data. Just as much as they are passionate about data analysis and SEO, Nick also enjoys sharing their experience from the business side of the industry.

“Make sure your app is working properly on all devices…”

One of the most common reasons why people leave an app is some kind of technical bug. If they lose time waiting for an app to load or if it keeps crashing, there’s no reason for people to keep using it. Keep in mind that people’s tolerance for bugs has decreased a lot because they can always find at least two similar alternatives. In order to keep users, you have to ensure that the app functions perfectly, regardless of the device. To do so, your testing phase has to be very long and detailed, which is what a lot of app developers overlook.

Brandon Schroth

Brandon Schroth
Brandon Schroth

Brandon Schroth is the Co-Founder of Nomad SEO, a dedicated agency focused on performance, growth, and transparency for their clients.

“Retention rate is the number of users who launch an app at least once within a period of time, relative to the number of users who downloaded it during that same time period…”

If your app's retention rates are high, it means that users are enjoying your app. Maybe they've found the value in it or have learned how to use it. These types of apps will likely be more successful overall.

Retention rates can be measured in two different time frames: daily and monthly. However, monthly is considered more stable because it has a larger sample size. I recommend measuring your retention rate monthly. You can then compare this number to past months or use it as a benchmark for future months.

When you're measuring your retention rate, you should also be looking at where users are exiting your app (e.g., the last page they visited). This will help you determine how to improve your app. Common reasons why users exit an app include: notifications, responsiveness, speed, appearance, and functionality. If your app crashes on a user's device, there is also a high chance that they will stop using it. This is why you should have a crash rate metric to measure how often this happens within your app. You can then look at what causes these crashes and work to fix them.

Malte Scholz

Malte Scholz

Malte Scholz is a passionate product manager and technology enthusiast with deep knowledge in launching cross-platform SaaS and e-commerce products who co-founded Airfocus, a software solution that enables smarter roadmap prioritization for teams and solopreneurs.

“Increasing retention rate can be done through personalization of the app…”

You have to provide a unique, customized experience for people if you want them to keep using your app. Multiple research shows that when it comes to apps, people are much more likely to use apps that provide personalized offers. In order to achieve this, you have to find a way to collect some of the user data and adjust the app functionalities accordingly.

Yana Trihub

Yana Trihub
Yana Trihub

Yana Trihub is the Chief Executive Officer at KeyUA.

“Good service is the golden rule when it comes to customer retention…”

Good after-sales service makes a customer feel obligated to return, and a bad experience convinces them to leave. However, good service is not enough. Improving your product from customer feedback is also important. A good product automatically retains a customer.

Market the product to old customers: Marketing is almost always focused on bringing in new customers, but marketing to old customers is highly effective. Offer them perks and rewards. Actual rewards are not traps; rewards benefit them and also inspire new customers to be loyal to your brand.

Adam Hempenstall

Adam Hempenstall

Adam Hempenstall is the founder and CEO at Better Proposals.

“Monitor your in-app data and find the ‘aha’ moment, the point where they find the most value in your product…”

In our case, it’s when the customer gets back their first signed proposal. If a customer is taking too long to get to this moment, you need to nudge them as much as you can to use your app in a way that rewards them. You can do this with proper onboarding, educational emails, in-app notifications, webinars and other content. Sometimes, you can have a great product but it just takes too long for the customer to find value, so you need to work a bit harder to guide them to a point where they benefit from your app the most.

Taylor Ryan

Taylor Ryan

Taylor Ryan is an entrepreneur and the CEO of the marketing agency Klint Marketing.

“One of the most effective ways to ensure app retention is to personalize the app based on the users’ preferences…”

This is a trend that's gaining traction across all forms of marketing content and is adopted by most of the big app developers these days. Think about it: there's a reason apps like TikTok have gone so viral over the last few years – it's their personalization algorithm. Personalized content is the foundation of providing superior user experience and hooking your end users into sticking around. In my experience, users much prefer to browse apps that are personalized specifically to their individual needs. A lot of the time this personalization can come from interactions you've had with your users throughout the marketing/sales funnel. Have they filled out a submission form? Do you have demographic data on them? Do they indicate their interests by the content they interact with on the app? All these questions open up a lot of possibilities if you're looking to explore the personalization it takes to retain your customers.

David Galownia

David Galownia

David is the CEO of Slingshot. They excel at propelling Slingshot towards their goals and oversee the strategic direction of the company. At work, they enjoy watching their team explore, imagine, and reinvent to do the best by their clients. At play, David drives Karts at insanely high speeds and scares their wife half to death. It’s all or nothing. Which means they give it all.

“The best way to keep users longer is to keep them in mind from the beginning; build your app for them…”

It sounds simple enough, but it's a lot more in-depth.

Find out your users’ current problems and how they envision a solution via user interviews upfront. This is more than just ‘what do you think of our idea?’; it's asking specifics about their current situation.

Before development, you can ensure your app is simple and easy to understand via user testing. Have potential users walk through a clickable prototype: a series of images that show what the product will look like post-development. This way, you can double-check that your product addresses the problem before you write any code.

Michael Hamelburger

Michael Hamelburger
Michael Hamelburger

Michael Hammelburger is the CEO at Sales Therapy. Michael has been the top-rated sales rep 7 years in a row in multiple firms. Michael founded Sales Therapy to help business owners stop fearing sales calls and see them as the opportunity they really are.

“Obtain client insights in order to know what improvements can be made for your app…”

This will help in increasing app retention rates. One of the best ways to build a lasting relationship with your target audience and improve customer retention is by getting to know them. Dealing with both positive and negative customer insights is a great way to serve them better and build trust.

Don't be afraid of damaging or constructive criticism as it can help you understand how your business could improve its services, products, etc., which will ultimately lead to higher customer satisfaction. While some business owners are not comfortable delving into customer complaints, it's crucial for the success of your business and should be a top priority.

Once you get familiar and comfortable with your audience, you can better understand their needs, likes, and dislikes, which will help you stand out from the competition. This is when your business becomes more than just another supplier in their eyes – you become a solution to their problems.

Andrew Helling

Andrew Helling

Andrew Helling is the Editor-In-Chief and Owner of Rethority.

“The #1 way to increase app retention rates is app store optimization (ASO)...”

ASO refers to the process of altering your app store entry in order to improve your rating. This can help you increase user retention by attracting high-value users and providing them with a clear picture of what to expect when they download your mobile app.

Focus on your app's name and description, iOS keywords, icons, images, and videos when performing ASO. To make it easier for consumers to understand what to expect, most of the top-rated apps feature bullet points in their descriptions. By mastering ASO, you can attract organic traffic to your app. These are frequently the most valued customers who stay longer because they expressed interest in your app without being exposed to advertisements.

Darshan Somashekar

Darshan Somashekar

Darshan Somashekar is the Founder & CEO at Solitaired. Darshan co-founded, a media-sharing, VC-backed startup.

“Personalization is a strong technique that mobile marketers may use to improve retention rates…”

In reality, most people prefer to shop with companies that provide individualized offers and recommendations. Personalization appeals to customers when they are exploring the web. Personalization is accomplished by using user data to address users by name, provide appropriate suggestions, and adapt your app's offering based on a user's preferences. Users will be more likely to return to your app if these individualized improvements improve over time.

It's critical to find the correct balance while using personalization methods. To begin, determine whether it improves the user experience. Because some personalizations can make consumers uncomfortable, it's crucial to choose when and how to go personal.

Jason Feldman

Jason Feldman

Jason Feldman is the Founder at Immigrate Me.

“Customize the user experience…”

The most significant strategy to improve mobile app retention is to personalize the user's experience. Personalizing the user experience can help you stand out from the competition and keep users engaged with your app. It also helps in the development of user loyalty for your mobile app. The more information you have about your users, the easier it will be to tailor their experiences.

Only take note of the data that your users will allow you to track for customizing purposes. After all, you don't want to be accused of being overly intrusive by using data that is considered too personal. Cart abandonment emails and personalized recommendations are two other simple ways to personalize experiences. Similarly, the Google Play Store recommends mobile apps that are comparable to those that have already been downloaded by the user.

Steve Scott

Steve Scott

Steve Scott is the CTO at Spreadsheet Planet.

“Email marketing is being used by mobile marketers to promote brand loyalty, engagement, and retention rates over time…”

You can entice customers back to your app by developing a mailing list of valuable subscribers and offering unique discounts, sales, and other promotions with them. Regardless of the size or funding of the organization, this is an effective strategy: To keep key customers, 80 percent of small and midsized firms employ email marketing. Offering consumers something of value, such as a discount on your products or in-app purchases, through email marketing is also a smart strategy to retain them. This results in a win-win situation for both you and your target audience. Furthermore, 49% of consumers want to get promotional emails from firms they like on a frequent basis.

Sumit Bansal

Sumit Bansal

Sumit Bansal is the Founder and CEO of TrumpExcel.

“In-app communications, like push notifications, can be a wonderful way to keep consumers engaged…”

After day 28, mobile apps that employ in-app messaging to engage with consumers saw a 61% to 74% improvement in retention rates.

However, if you're using multiple retention tactics, be sure you're not bombarding consumers with the same content. When a user receives a push notice and an in-app message for the same deal every time you make an update, they may become frustrated and opt-out of push notifications. Users should also be segmented depending on their choices so that in-app messages are as useful to the user as feasible. By providing more value to the users, you will boost your retention rate.

Robert Johansson

Robert Johansson

Robert Johansson is the CEO & Tech Expert at Imgkits.

“Value your users’ time, resources and privacy…”

An app must be worth the user's time and memory space to be retained. Complicated user interfaces, too many memory-intensive software upgrades, useless app notifications, and difficult-to-redeem reward points or coupons are all issues that can turn off your well-intentioned customers. Make things as simple as possible for your users, and then keep improving their experience. Building your users’ trust during the onboarding process is another crucial thing to consider.

Don't bombard your users with permission requests; too many will cause them to uninstall your app. If you're looking for information, make sure your user understands why you're looking for it. The onboarding process for your app should be as straightforward as feasible.

Darsh Ray

Darsh Ray
Darsh Ray

Darsh Ray is the CEO & Founder of Job Alert.

“Have solid customer support and feedback processes in place…”

Users enjoy knowing that they are valued. If they realize you're listening, they'll also provide feedback. Your best bets for improving your app are both negative and positive feedback. Engage with your consumers proactively by using tools to establish surveys and various feedback channels. Give each user contact the attention it deserves. One method to show your users you care is to send personal notes to them thanking them for their help in expanding your app's features.

Your most significant assets are your users. After you've created the proper product, focus your efforts on developing a solid client relationship. User retention is more than a marketing buzzword; it's one of the most important aspects affecting your company's revenue and growth.

Tyson Stevens

Tyson Stevens

Tyson Stevens is the Founder of Education Resource, Eduref.

“Use push notifications properly…”

Users who have had some level of individualized brand contact are more likely to return to an app for 11 or more sessions, according to Localytics. To put it in context, if you walk into a real store and aren't greeted, you're likely to be dissatisfied with the service. In the same vein, consider app interaction.

Sending a welcome push notice or delivering relevant information as users travel through the app are examples of interactions. By being smart and strategic in how they reach out to users, successful apps employ this form of engagement to define the customer journey. Providing relevant merchant promotions based on geography and usage patterns, for example, is a good way to get people to use your app. Interacting with consumers is also an excellent technique to re-engage users who have abandoned the conversion funnel. The same data backs this up by claiming that when this form of interaction is used, app abandonment decreases from 25% to 19% after just one use.

Tanner Arnold

Tanner Arnold

Tanner Arnold is the President & CEO of Revelation Machinery.

“The #1 way to increase app retention rates is to use messages in the app…”

The more closely your app experience matches a user's needs and preferences, the more likely they are to use it again. For brands employing in-app communications to communicate with users, user retention ranges from 61 percent to 74 percent within 28 days after receiving a message.

In-app messages are notifications that don't need to be responded to right away but are still crucial to receive. Warnings about app difficulties, payment failures, and version updates are examples of these. Keep in mind that not every message you send will be appropriate for every user. By segmenting your audience, you can ensure that the information they receive is relevant to them.

To do this, some apps employ device features like location to send customized messages to specific users, including real-time updates and links to personalized content.

Caroline Hoy

Caroline Hoy

Caroline Hoy is in charge of marketing for Concord. Caroline has been working on the marketing side of SaaS projects for years now and is passionate about helping new developers hone their launches and marketing.

“One of the most important steps you can take to ensure your early users stay with you long-term is to soft launch your app…”

Soft launches can be used to A/B test and optimize the performance of your software if it hasn't been released yet. A soft launch is a release in a smaller area that allows you to discover ways to improve your app before publishing it in a similar, larger area.

Marketers can, for example, soft-launch an app in one region or country to see how it performs in other similar places. This method is similar to beta testing, and it is not only important for securing an early user base but also in making an excellent first impression in new markets.

Carol Tompkins

Carol Tompkins

Carol Tompkins is the Business Development Consultant at AccountsPortal.

“The retention rate of any app speaks volumes to its user lifetime value (ULV)...”

Retention rates differ, but basically in comparing day one to day 30, if you have a retention rate of at least a third of the initial users then your retention rate is good.

When it comes to customer retention, the human touch is ideal. Since we are talking about an app, personalization is your best bet.

Personalization is a strategy used to increase app retention, and it is achieved by using data to personalize the user experience. This can be done by addressing them by name and making relevant user suggestions targeted to the individuals’ preferences. Over time and with more data, the detail of the suggestions will increase and thus create a better user experience. The fundamental idea behind personalization is improving or making the user have a more fulfilling experience. If this isn’t achieved, then the retention will fall.

Nathalie Walton

Nathalie Walton

Nathalie is the CEO and Co-Founder of Expectful, a holistic wellness app for hopeful, expecting, and new moms.

“In-app messages help retain app users and can also have added benefits like cross-selling or up-selling…”

You can use in-app messages to alert users about things like new product or feature launches, sales, and exclusive deals based on their personal app usage, and more. In-app messages are also useful for giving reminders about items left in their shopping cart. Personalizing these kinds of messages can make them even more effective by reaching out to users with highly-targeted messages at just the right time to keep them engaged with your app.

Summer Romasco

Summer Romasco
Summer Romasco

Summer Romasco is a brand strategist and marketing director who helps startups grow and retain their customer base. Summer has led marketing programs at Travana and Haus and is currently the head of marketing at Ad Hoc Labs, the makers of Burner, Firewall, and Dialed.

“It's not one-size-fits-all with app retention…”

But after the initial churn, users are typically drawn back to the app when advertisers start retargeting campaigns a week after a user installs the app. This boost in engagement is a prime time for marketers to prioritize and personalize app notifications relevant to inactive app users. For example, sending a push notification to let a chess player know that ‘Tyler is waiting for you to make your move!’ is an excellent way to draw a user back to a multi-game app.

Mykola Tymkiv

Mykola Tymkiv

Mykola Tymkiv is the COO at MacKeeper.

“Our top strategy for increasing our app's retention rates is to roll out regular patches as well as content updates…”

We noticed that our retention rates are way higher when we are actively focusing on rolling out fresh content and updates. As soon as there is a slowdown with development, our retention rates go down.

There's also the element of customer service. We have made so many updates to our customer support program over the past few months, and it's done wonders for our retention rates. Get rid of old, outdated FAQ pages and chatbots, and opt for 24/7 live support. This change alone saved us more customers than everything else. Customers love 24/7 support for their favorite apps, and it works!

Isla Sibanda

Isla Sibanda

Isla Sibanda is the Marketing expert at Privacy Australia.

“The #1 way to increase app retention rates is by releasing regular updates…”

An app that never changes can leave customers feeling abandoned. Regular improved updates and new content give users a reason to return. For this, you should release updates of your app from time to time. Make sure customers download the latest version of your app by creating a reminder campaign. Use push notifications to tell your users about the new version and even highlight the new features to convince customers to make the update. You can also notify your lost customers through email and tell them about the updates. This may give them a reason to re-download the application.

Amber Theurer

Amber Theurer

Amber is the Chief Marketing Officer at ivee. Using their background in early-stage companies, Amber spearheads partnership relations, branding, communications, and public relations strategy.

“Make sure your app is as user-friendly as possible…”

If a user becomes confused about how to navigate within the app, they may become frustrated and look elsewhere for a similar kind of app. The point of an app is to make ordering services or products much easier than if one were to do so on a laptop or desktop.

Cayla Thurman

Cayla Thurman

Cayla Thurman is the Business Reputation Consultant at Rize Reviews.

“A person has multiple apps available on their mobile or laptops, and their main concern is their privacy and the confidentiality of their personal information…”

To increase app retention rates, regular and high-quality software updates must be done. This ensures that your apps are running smoothly and at full capacity.

It makes your app more user-friendly, improves user satisfaction, and helps your user feel more secure, as most updates include not only better features but higher security.

Software updates can be done based on the demand, such as new features, bug updates, or improved security features.

Keeping your users engaged through regular communication is a proven strategy for increasing your app retention rate. By notifying them about new features, security updates, promotions and discounts – as well as sending them valuable, highly targeted information – you’ll give your users a reason to keep coming back. With MagicBell, you can launch a complete multi-channel notification system in under an hour to improve your user experience with smart notifications at the precise moment they’re needed, while syncing notifications across devices and tabs to ensure that your users don’t get the same notifications more than once.

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