How to Increase Your Mobile App User Retention

Loyal customers are the foundation of every business. However, more often than not, the most challenging thing when you embark on custom mobile app development is not building the app, but growing a substantial user base. There are multiple variables at play in user retention. The fact that an app works perfectly does not guarantee it will have a lot of loyal users. Although developers know the importance of user retention and want to attract a lot of repeat users, many are not using the right strategies to bring about this result.

There are many ways to improve user retention on your mobile app. However, these efforts must be sustained to get the best results. Unlike user acquisition, you can only measure the effectiveness of app retention strategies on a long-term basis.

A small improvement in user retention can boost profits considerably. While you need a good rate of user acquisition and retention to raise your bottom line, it will cost you five times more to sell to a new customer than to an existing one. Also, studies show that repeat users spend a lot more money than first-timers. They are also more likely to recommend your app to others. With that said, let us look at some ways you can boost your mobile app user retention.

Ensure users have easy onboarding

Easy onboarding

Making the onboarding process as smooth as possible is crucial to the success of an app, especially in today's highly competitive market. First impressions are critical, and users are quick to abandon an app that is too complicated to use or has performance issues. Therefore, it is essential to keep the signup process simple and straightforward, avoiding any unnecessary steps or questions that might deter users from completing the process.

In addition to simplifying the signup process, it's equally important to ensure that the app is easy to use and does not overwhelm users with too much information at once. Research has shown that users tend to have a short attention span, and if an app is too complicated or requires too much effort to use, they will likely abandon it and move on to another app.

Social media platforms are well aware of the importance of a smooth onboarding process and have adopted this strategy in their app design. For instance, when you sign up for platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you are not required to provide a lot of information upfront. Instead, the app is designed to provide a straightforward onboarding experience that allows users to start using the app immediately. Afterward, users are encouraged to complete their profiles by providing additional information gradually, ensuring that they are not overwhelmed with too much information at once.

In summary, the selling point of an app is the service that it provides. And if users have to pass through a gauntlet of questions, information or performance issues before they can enjoy this service, they will likely lose interest. So, test your app as many times as possible to ensure it works as it should. Keep the preliminaries brief, and allow users to get a taste of what your app has to offer without much hassle.

Provide the best user experience

Excellent user experience

Nothing can replace user experience in the quest to improve user retention. According to the American Graphics Institute, focusing on improving your UX can result in a 500% return on investment. Up to 15.8% of users tend to patronize a service if the user experience is excellent. Also, as much as 16.6% of users are likely to tell others about a product or service if they had a good experience with it.

When using an app, there is nothing more off-putting than a slow response rate or features that don't work. This is why it is important to test your app thoroughly before launching it. Also, provide timely support to users and keep the layout of the app simple, so it is easy to navigate. User experience does not only include the performance of the app but covers every aspect of a user's interaction with it.

One way to get ideas for improving user experience is to open the channels for feedback. Sometimes, the best ideas to make an app better comes from users.

Related article: Emotionally Intelligent Design: Why You Need It in Your Mobile App

Keep users through rewards

User rewards

Rewards never fail to appeal to users. You can offer rewards to keep users on your app. This will create a win-win situation because more people will use the app in a bid to get some rewards and in the process you get to attract new customers and gain the loyalty of the existing ones.

The main drawback of offering rewards is the cost. However, not all loyalty programs are expensive, and not all of them involve money. The key is not to make the reward too difficult for customers to win. Also, it is a good idea to attract users by giving them a free prize. Ridesharing apps use this strategy remarkably well. Uber gives new users a discount when others recommend them. Also, you can get ride credits on Lyft when you recommend other passengers.

User rewards and loyalty programs are one of the timeless ways to attract new users and keep existing users coming back to your app. It can also go a long way to boost your profits.

Related article: Gamification in Business and Its Application to Software Development

Never stop making your app better

Make your app better

There is always a way to make an app better. It could be something as simple as changing aspects of the interface, or it could be something significant like changing the coding to make it work faster. All the top apps on the market including Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, and Instagram look different today from when they were launched. Updating your app is one way to show users that you are committed to improving it, and gaining their loyalty.

While updates are good, it is generally not advisable to release major updates frequently. Instead, let some time pass so users can get accustomed to the design before you change it again. Also, it is essential to consider the opinions of users when updating your app.


User retention is the key to profitability. One of the good things about these strategies is that they improve not only retention but also boost user acquisition and engagement. They would also cut down your app abandonment rate.

It is highly unlikely that one strategy will work the magic for user retention. Instead, a combination of techniques gives you better chances of reaching your goal. There is no guarantee that the same user retention plans will work for every app. Therefore, your strategies must suit your app and the demographics of your users.

Related article: How to Build a Travel App That Wins Customer Loyalty

This is a guest post by Alicia Wells. Alicia is a programmer at Buildinary who specializes in mobile app development and design. With her strong coding background and easy demeanor, she thoroughly enjoys blogging about all aspects of software development in her spare time.