How to Drastically Improve Your Mobile App’s User Retention

BY Mandy Pawley


4 August 2021

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Right, you’ve created a mobile app, but how do you improve your mobile app’s user retention and engagement? How do you maintain constant growth with your app, when there are literally millions of apps available from Google Play Store and the Apple App Store? The number one focus of mobile app marketing should be on retention tactics.

What is Retention?

Mobile app user retention is basically a measurement of how many users return to the same app within a specified period of time. By increasing user retention, the growth and performance of your app is sure to follow, generating a loyal user base as well as more opportunities to increase revenue.

The higher the retention rate, the better. If users are returning to, and engaging with the app often, within a specific time frame it means that the app objective is being met. It is important to remember that not all apps will have the same retention rate time frame benchmark which normally is a period of three months, but some apps will be 30 days.

App abandonment

App abandonment is often due to the app not leading users to value quick enough after a user starts using the app. Getting a user to the “aha” moment as soon as possible is preferable and will reduce early app use abandonment. Don’t overload users with too much info when they initially start using the app, rather teach and guide them through action thereby revealing the primary objectives in the app by experience.

App abandonment

In-app conversions

Creating a community within an app helps to increase in-app conversions, especially in a gaming environment. If a user sees how other users are performing, an in-app conversion may be driven by the desire to compete better. Improved monetisation is created by hooking users into a community created by a common interest.


Keep it simple. This is a very important key in not losing users within the first few minutes of using an app. The more difficult it is for a user to begin using an app, the higher the likelihood that the user will abandon the app. Reduce the number of steps to register an account and make use of multi registration options, for example logging in via your Google or Facebook account.

A warm welcome in-app message, then followed by a welcoming email within 24 hours is a good way to optimise the onboard experience.

app on-boarding


Don’t undervalue the user experience while using your mobile app. One of the key issues to get right is the navigation. User retention is directly related to how users navigate within your app.  Interactions to complete a task require to be kept to a minimum. Keeping navigation simple is the best way to create the app.

App store optimisation

App store optimisation (ASO) is the on-going process of making changes to your app store entry. in order to make your mobile app discoverable. Make sure your app listing is banging, compares favourably against your competitors and ranks well with keyword searches that app users would be using to find your mobile app.

You will boost your retention by attracting the right users and giving them a transparent and informative representation of what they can expect when installing and using your mobile app. Some of the highest-ranking apps use bullet points in their description, making it easier for users to know what to expect when using the app.


Everyone loves ‘something for nothing’ or a ‘bargain’. If your business is suited to loyalty or reward programs, jump on the bandwagon and incentivise users to use the app by offering rewards. For apps that offer in-app purchasing, a good incentive is time appropriate discounts on purchases. For Freemium apps, a good way to incentivise is by offering usage-based rewards.

Push notifications

A personalised experience can make a huge difference to an app user. Push notifications that are personalised and welcoming are proven to be more successful. Users’ profile or data regarding app use patterns can be used for user-centric notifications.

A prime example of this practice is Netflix, as they send out notifications to users of upcoming shows related to past user patterns and selections. This is what is referred to as user dynamic information and is a powerful force when used in push notifications, especially when it is individualised including the users name in the content.

Tolerance for push notifications and their content and frequency should always be considered as not to deter users from the app. Too many push notifications can cause app abandonment to increase, so be mindful and use them appropriately.

Invite mates

Invite your mates? What better way to increase users than being able to invite friends and family to join in? To do this, the inviting of a user’s “circle” should be easy to use. Smart Invites is a tool that can be used for seamlessly inviting friends or for in-app content sharing. According to a study by Nielsen, recommendations from family and friends is the most credible form of engagement and advertising, establishing a sense of trustworthiness.

A mates referral system, whereby a user’s friend downloads and uses the app and they both get free credits for in-app purchases, is a great way to increase retention rates.

Social media

Encourage followers and increase retention rates by using social media for promoting your mobile app. The power of social media should not be underestimated, it is really powerful. By sharing different aspects of your app on social media, awareness will be raised. Encourage users to rate your mobile app on various social media platforms, like Facebook or Twitter.

Retargeting users on social media will constantly remind them to use the app. If users also post useful tips regarding your app on social media, this will keep users interested and increase retention. Sharing of certain milestones in a gaming app on social media will ensure friends comment and view the app too.


Creating two-way communication with users is vital to increasing retention and helping to solve any problems there may exist within an app. By getting users’ feedback, you will be able to gauge functionality or problems within the app. Brand awareness and trust is built through communication and reviews. Fix problems before it affects future app downloads by taking into account users’ feedback.


The name of the game is keeping your users satisfied, interested and interactive. To do this may require upgrading and updating your app on a regular basis. Offering hooks to keep users engaged will drastically improve your mobile app’s user retention rate. Successful apps are built around the daily routines and emotions of users, understanding the pain points of their users, for example Uber or Netflix. Addressing the needs of app users will determine how often they interact with an app. The longer you keep users of your mobile app, the more valuable they are to your business.

It takes years of expertise to be able to accomplish higher retention figures on an app. Digital Noir has what it takes, we will get into the guts of an app and give it a personality that people can’t resist!

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