How to Increase App User Retention

Launching your app with a big bang or a viral launch is exciting and a great little ego boost if you can pull it off for your app in particular. And although this definitely creates the hype you're looking for and can leave a big and great first impression, you need to be able to back it up (so to speak). And you do that by increasing your app user retention.


User retention means the methods or processes you may use to retain users on your app. So, yes the hype is great, as mentioned above, but if you don't have any user retention strategies, what will keep customers using your app?


Sometimes we get stuck on the idea that new business or app launches need to be massive and blow everyone away. But that's not quite true. For many different kinds of reasons, not all apps need a huge build up and launch to get off the ground. It also depends what industry you are working in. But the point is, don't underestimate the power of steady growth and don't be disheartened if you didn't have an overhyped launch.


The average app user retention rate varies between 15% - 30%. It also depends on what industry you're working in as well, with Lifestyle apps for example possessing the highest average user retention rate with 29%. So, aim for your average user retention rate to be on the higher end of that scale.


Now, how to increase it...



1. Map Out a Habit Loop


A habit loop is a cycle that keeps bringing users back to using your app, over and over again. A habit loop will direct users to follow a loop, that will lead them to whatever desired actions you want them to fulfil inside your app.


A habit loop essentially has three general stages to it:

  1. Trigger. The start of the loop must be a trigger that will invoke an emotion, idea or something of the like in your user and trigger them to use the app. Targeted push notifications could be a type of trigger for example.

  2. Reward. What reward will the user get after following the trigger? Rewards increase the brains level of pleasure and this stage of the loop becomes associated with higher levels of happiness or pleasure.

  3. Routine. This stage is the key to user retention. It's what keeps users moving around the habit loop. Once your users are consistently triggered and rewarded as you desire, a routine has been formed.


2. Identify Core Desired Emotions


To identify and target your users' core desired emotions there are two factors that come into play: clear expectations and simple on boarding.