4 methods to boost mobile app user retention in 2023

4 methods to boost mobile app user retention in 2023
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Key Takeaways
  • There are many reasons why mobile app retention rates would be low, particularly as more apps enter the marketplace.
  • Overcoming retention challenges requires app publishers to have a deep understanding of their users and their needs.
  • While keeping mobile app retention rates up is a tall order, we've highlighted 4 key steps to consider.

When it comes to mobile app user retention, it’s a challenge to set benchmarks as retention rates vary based on a number of factors. These include app category, the quality of the user experience, the app’s general purpose, geographic region, and platform (iOS apps tend to have higher retention rates than Android apps).

First, how exactly is mobile app user retention defined? AppsFlyer defines retention as the “number of unique users that launched the app at least once during a specific day/week since installation.” Retention rates are often measured after Day 1, Day 7, and Day 30. 

According to a Business of Apps study, the average 30-day retention rate for apps across all categories worldwide is around 25% on Day 1, falling to about 6% by Day 30. The average app also loses about 77% of its daily active users (DAUs) in the first 3 days after installing the app. The churn rate, which identifies how many users are lost in a predefined period, jumps to 68% on average after 3 months.

Common problems with mobile app user retention

With worldwide retention rates falling from 25% to about 6% in 30 days, it’s important to identify key problems with user retention in today’s heavily saturated mobile app market. Here are a few common problems with mobile app user retention:

  1. User churn: As mentioned, even over short periods of time, app users drop. Despite being initially engaged, they may stop using the app, which could be due to factors like changes in the user’s lifestyle or interests, or newfound interest in competing apps. 
  1. App abandonment: Users might download an app, use it a few times, and then abandon it. This largely has to do with the app not offering enough value to keep users around, or with apps that have a poor user experience. User churn and app abandonment could be measured via the mobile app activation rate or percentage of users who download an app and actually open it or take some sort of action (complete a certain milestone in the onboarding process) within the app.
  1. Poor user experience: A common problem of its own, poor user experience including slow load times, confusing navigation, or frequent crashes are more likely to see high churn and low retention rates.
  1. Difficult onboarding: An app that’s difficult to use or requires too much effort to get started may see its users give up on it before they can even see its value.
  1. Lack of value: Simply put, users are less likely to use an app if it doesn’t offer enough value. Users might specifically drop if there’s a cost associated, such as a high price or time commitment required. Apps that struggle to provide enough value may spend massive amounts to acquire new users, but not enough to create this value – or, the value they provide has a short shelf life. The value of a feature might be measured by your feature adoption rate or the number of users that are using a specific feature vs. your total number of app users. 
  1. Lack of engagement: If apps don’t consistently offer reasons for users to come back often (i.e. new features or content), users are less likely to remain engaged and will eventually churn. 

4 important steps to improve mobile app user retention in 2023

Solving the above list of complicated problems and any others that may cause retention rates to drop requires app publishers to have a deep understanding of their users and their needs. There also needs to be a strong commitment to improving the user experience and providing ongoing value. 

Keeping users in the app, and ultimately navigating their changing expectations and interests, is a tall order for publishers, especially in today’s crowded market. Nevertheless, below are four key steps to consider in addressing common mobile app user retention issues.

1. Less is more.

In other words, don’t offer too many programs, offerings, features, and content so as to overwhelm your users – providing more value with less is key. Set realistic expectations with your users (under-promise and over-deliver). At the same time, keep your product top-of-mind by, for example, sending weekly email newsletters or posting high-value podcasts or videos. In-app messages, on average, can boost retention by 30% when properly implemented.

2. Capture more mindshare.

Think strategically about how you can capture more mindshare without breaking the bank on customer acquisition. This might mean partnering with innovative tech providers to offer new programs or applying an ecosystem approach by joining forces with a new, high-potential industry. But as users can quickly drop off in a matter of days, delivering the right type of value consistently is key.

“We need to make sure that once consumers are on the platform, they’re getting free, better services than they were before so they actually stay on the platform.” - Ali Masoudi, Senior Product Manager at Venmo

3. Deliver value through your app.

Keep your users engaged in the app by creating memorable, smooth embedded experiences without asking users to navigate elsewhere or over-complicating the experience with multiple steps. In addition, consider connecting value to larger, more altruistic causes, letting users contribute (even in some small way) to making the world a better place. 

“I think the world has not caught up with the fact that shopping power is shifting away from people who’ve always had lots of money, to people who, even if they have money, want to help create value in the world.” - Rachel Petzold, VP of Product Management at Switchfly

4. Listen to (and reward) customers.

Create a feedback loop so that you can continue to build exactly what your customers are looking for. After all, how users feel about your product determines whether they’ll become loyal customers. To gather accurate user feedback, consider sending a satisfaction survey or adding a feedback bar to your platform. 

“Businesses should meet their customers where they are. There’s so much opportunity for growth if brands are authentic with their customers and make sure their customers are receiving the interactions that they want.“ – Rachel Petzold

Moving forward with more value and less noise

Mobile app user retention varies widely, particularly as new apps and technologies continue to enter the market every day. To succeed, app publishers should never stop heavily focusing on understanding their users’ unique, frequently changing interests. Overly complicating the user experience or failing to consistently deliver value and engage with users will inevitably lead to lower retention and increased churn rates. 

In 2023, consumer apps need to increasingly think outside of the box and beyond the noise, not only listening to and rewarding users but also exploring new strategic partnerships and linking value to something greater than savings, games, and interesting content.

“With Zendrive, what I love is this next dimension of a win-win-win for everyone. It’s not just financial savings, but how can we help families be safer by helping them drive safer? And if you can align all of these incentives, I think that’s a very powerful message and something that I personally get really excited about.” - Dom Wong, CEO & Co-Founder, Pogo

To learn more about how Zendrive helps consumer apps unlock new revenue streams and increase user engagement, check out this article or contact us directly below.

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