Improving your app’s retention rate is the one thing that should be getting more attention than the acquisition rate or number of downloads. While the number of downloads definitely help, what really matters is how many users actually stayed to use the app over and over again, as opposed to those who later uninstalled or abandoned the app. because only those who stayed will bring in the revenue. So work on increasing your retention rates if you really wish to see a tangible ROI from your app.
So how do we increase retention rates? How do we keep the users we acquired, and not let them slip away? We got their attention once, now how do we keep it?
Once the user has downloaded the app, it all comes down to your user experience. It’s all about quality now. You give the users what you promised, and you give it quick.
1. Don’t Waste Their Time – Load Up Quickly
Time is arguably the one thing your users value the most. They will absolutely be turned off if your app takes too long to load. So make sure your app gets to work as fast as possible. Optimize your app server performance to make your app load instantly. Here’s a great post we did on that last year. It stresses on the fact that if your app takes any more than 2 seconds to load, you may already be losing customers. So do what it takes to keep your app loading up as soon as the user taps open.
2. Have A Quick and Smooth On-Boarding Flow
It takes a clever balance of information to create the right on boarding experience. You want to give away enough information to help the users know what to expect, and yet, you don’t want to give too much information that might annoy or put-off the user. Sometimes when I come across an app that tells me ‘pinch to zoom’ and ‘click here for more info’, I can’t help but scream ‘I know’.
So keep your on boarding short and simple. State your value proposition upfront. Show the users what your app can do for them and how it can save their time or make their lives easier or increase their productivity. State your benefit first and you are likely to keep their attention.
3. Don’t Compel Users to Sign Up Upfront
This might well be a developer’s oath – ‘Thou shall not force thy users to sign up upfront’.
Think about it this way – how likely are you to step into a store that makes you write your home address and phone number at the door? Especially when you aren’t even sure you like their collection. I’d pass.
Users hate being forced to sign up before they can use your app. Let your users take a good look around the app first, check out your features and actually use the app for a while. Once they are absorbed into the experience and realize that your app really has some value for them, they’d be happy to drop their email with you. If you ask for details prematurely, you look like a bounty hunter and nobody likes those.
When the user is finally ready to sign up, you need to make the process simple for them. Allow signing up with social channels like Facebook or Google as this provides a one-step entry, reducing friction and easing the users in. Alternatively, facilitate multiple log in options like email or phone number. Use auto-complete, offer to securely save password and do everything it takes to keep the sign up as short and easy as possible.
4. Provide a Search Box And Do It Well
According to a Nielsen Norman study, more than half of app users are search dominant. So how well they interact with your app depends on how intuitive your search function is. So be sure to make your search as useful as possible for your users.
- The search box should be clearly visible and prominent, but yet be cordial with the app’s theme.
- Always, always use autocomplete and fix spelling errors.
- Never show ‘no matches found’ and a blank page in answer to a search. Provide ‘related searches’ or at least ‘suggestions’.
- Make the search box available from all the pages on the app.
5. Get the Users Invested
I use a music app that costs me $1.25 a month. Recently, I received an offer from another app offering me their paid pro plan free for a year. But I passed. Why? Because I have over 600 songs downloaded on my current app. I have spent the time organizing those songs into playlists that are perfect for my different moods. It was a lot of hard work and now that I’ve done it, I’m simply in no mood to do it again on the new app, even if it is free. I’ll keep paying, as long as it has my music saved and my preferences memorized. I’m comfortable with it.
So get your users invested in your app. save their preferences and personalize their experiences. Pamper them, make them comfortable, and they will be happy to stick with you.
6. Reward Loyalty
In a true, non-gimmicky and honest way, acknowledge the users who have been with you for a long time. Thank them for their support and offer them a token of appreciation. It could be in terms of reward points, customized discounts or anything that fits your app, but do thank your users for being around. Send out birthday and anniversary greetings, alert them about limited edition items; send them handwritten notes with a special purchase, there are many ways to make your users feel special. These are the users who will not only remain loyal for a long time to come, but also become brand advocates of your app.
7. Optimize Forms
The idea behind keeping your users is making them love your app. a truly good quality app with intuitive UX and genuine value will succeed in retaining its users. And forms are a major resistance factor in your UX. All users despise filling forms and typing in lots of information. So keep your forms as easy and quick as possible.
Save form content so that if the user makes an error, he doesn’t have to fill the entire form all over again. Also in general, just make forms as easy as possible, as they are the most unloved part of life…err…apps. Use auto-complete, fix errors, auto-detect city and state based on zip code, minimize form fields, use placeholder text, show progress bars and use visual calendars instead of making users type dates.
To keep your app going strong and bringing positive ROI year on year, you have to retain your users. High quality retention practices will prevent your acquisition efforts from going in vain. The above pointers will serve as a base to create a strong user retention policy, maximizing the life time value of each user and ultimately making your app a success.