User engagement

Maintaining consumer engagement with your application

Struggling to keep users engaged with your mobile app? We might be able to help…

According to Statista, It’s estimated that there was roughly 103bn apps downloaded in 2015, making over $41.1bn – with that number expected to more than double by 2017, to 268bn.

But of those 103bn, what’s interesting to note is that only 16% of downloaders will use an app more than twice… 16%! Further to that, Nielsen suggests that of those apps downloaded, some 70% comes directly from the top 200 apps on the market, which include including Facebook, Twitter, Google Chrome and Instagram.

It got me thinking about apps, more specifically why are so many apps being downloaded but not used? What’s falling down in the process? Is it the concept, the market, the competition, the customers?

You can make a successful app out of anything these days… think Flappy Bird for example which in only a matter of months became a top-10 app in the United States. Not bad for one of the most simplistic games of all time.

I think the real question we need to be asking if you currently have an app that simply is not performing, or are thinking of putting one to marketing is ‘once the app has been downloaded, then what?’

In my humble opinion, the success of an app is two-fold, with the second component actually being more important than the first.

Coming up with a new and innovative idea that people trust and need is your first step. Where I feel many individuals fail is in the process of keeping those users engaged with their application. Keeping them interested. Speaking to them and listening to what they have to say. Ultimately, tweaking and improving the app to ensure users continue to engage and benefit from it.

So here lies the big question… how do you keep users engaged with your mobile app?

1. Do Your Research, Post Release

It goes without saying (I sincerely hope) that you should put considerable time, effort, and money into researching what sort of app your customers might respond to most favourably. That’s a given…

What I think truly isn’t fully understood and appreciated is that the research and planning phase doesn’t cease once your app has been developed and hits the cyber shelves.

It’s important that once the app is in use and statistics have gathered around the features of the app that seem most popular, you then look at your analytics to assess which specific elements of the app users seem most responsive to.

Like you’d track a website or landing page with GA, you can also track the performance of an app through GA, and you should be doing this regularly.

It’s important to focus on and better those elements which are seeing the greatest success, and perhaps discard or modify others. This sort of information can even help determine whether you made the right sort of app, or whether the app needs to be completely rethought.

The app’s statistics that monitor performance and usage are there to guide you, to assist you in pruning the app as you might a tree, watering it when so required and similarly trimming down the wayward branches where necessary. Failing to do this is no different than failing to do the initial research that went into developing the app, to begin with.

2. Put Your Users In Control

Personally, there’s one thing that I can’t stand in an app and that is a lack of customisation, especially notification customisation. This small issue has actually lead me to uninstall multiple applications on my smartphone.

By giving users the ability to, for instance, manage exactly which push-notifications they want to allow or disallow, you’re removing the possibility of frustrating users into hitting that fateful ‘uninstall’ button.

Customisation in this consumer driven world is vitally important. The more control a user feels they have over your app, the better. But what’s even better is feeding it back to our original point – post-release research.

Knowing how people customise your app in regards to things like push notifications provides valuable insight into the apps strong and not-so-strong points.

3. Keep Customers Informed About Updates

Once you’ve set your notifications customisation, then it’s time to vary your sending options. There’s actually a double benefit to this point.

On the one hand, you have to – as the app’s developer – ensure that you are updating your app and plucking out its bugs on a regular basis. On the other hand, you want to make sure that when you’ve gone to the effort of updating the app – after adding in some new features or making other ones better – that your users are actually updating it.

To do this, use your other marketing avenues. Give users the option of SMS and emails notifications on top of push. Lean on your social media accounts; treat an update (or at least a major update) as if it were the app’s first release. That way, not only do you make sure your customers are getting the most out of your app, you’re also encouraging and promoting new downloads.

Keep people in the loop, and make sure that loop is worth being part of, because if you get it wrong, it can be exceptionally difficult to keep users engaged with your mobile app.