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Five Time-tested Ways for Fitness Apps to Retain Newly Acquired Users

Five Time-tested Ways for Fitness Apps to Retain Newly Acquired Users

The new year is a time when many of us look to make changes in our lives, including making new year’s resolutions. One of the most popular resolutions is to take better care of our health, lose weight, and generally get into better shape.
For fitness apps, this means net-new signups and an opportunity to engage these new users so they’ll eventually become loyal customers. Fitness and health apps can easily expect twice the growth in new users during the first 3 to 4 weeks of January.

Graph showing A comparison of weekly subscriptions for a health/fitness app comparing January 2022 with November 2021

A comparison of weekly subscriptions for a health/fitness app comparing January 2022 with November 2021.

However, 7 out of 10 new users for health apps, who installed the app during the new year, do not even complete the sign-up process! A few common reasons for this dropoff are:

  • Lack of engagement: If users don’t feel engaged with your app, they are more likely to ignore it.
  • Poor user experience: If your app is not easy to use or provides a sub-optimal user experience, users are more likely to drop off.
  • Lack of incentives: If users don’t feel like they are getting value from using your app, they are more likely to stop using it.
  • Lack of content: If users don’t feel like they are getting enough content and information to keep them going, they are more likely to click on other apps.

And yet, here at CleverTap, we’ve seen hundreds of health and fitness-focused brands create marketing campaigns that increase retention and turn new users into super fans. How do they do it? Read on for our list of best practices and actionable insights.

How to Make the Most of the January Fitness Bandwagon

Effective Onboarding

A well-designed onboarding process is essential for retaining new users in health and fitness apps. This should include a clear and concise explanation of how to use the app and the benefits of doing so. Providing a guided tour, video tutorial, or app screenshots can be helpful for users unfamiliar with the app, as these allow them to get a sense of how everything works before they start using it. It is also important to encourage and provide ways for users to set achievable goals, as this can help them get motivated and engaged.


A key aspect of engaging and retaining new users in health and fitness apps is hyper-personalizing their journeys and experiences. This can be achieved by offering individual recommendations based on their goals, preferences, and past behavior. Personalizing makes your interactions with users far more relevant and encourages them to see you as a partner rather than just a tool.
For example, you could offer custom workout plans or nutrition recommendations based on the user’s fitness level and goals. To effectively personalize the user experience, it’s important to gather as much information as possible about the user. This could include their age, gender, weight, height, fitness level, and health goals.
By using this information to tailor the app content and recommendations, you can create an experience more likely to engage and retain your users.


Adding elements of gamification — such as points, rewards, and competitions — can make your user’s journey with you more fun and engaging, reducing the chances of churn. As your users get a sense of belongingness and progress, it’s sure to increase your engagement and retention rates.
Gamification can take many forms, depending on the specific goals and features of the app. For example, you might create a sense of competition using a points system that rewards users for completing workouts or eating healthy. These points can be exchanged for virtual rewards or showcased in front of other users for building achievement.

Screenshot from Fitocracy app showing how they use gamification to encourage exercise.

A screenshot from the Fitocracy app showing how they use gamification to encourage exercise.

Social Gratification

Incorporating social features, such as the ability to connect with friends and share progress, can help create a sense of community and accountability between users. This can be especially helpful for those who are trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle, as it can provide them with support and encouragement from others who are also working towards similar goals.
Including social features, such as the ability to compete with friends or join group challenges, can also increase time spent in your app and build motivation. Social features can take many different forms, depending on the goals and features of the app. For example, you might allow users to connect with friends and share their workouts or progress, or you could offer group challenges or competitions that allow users to work towards common goals with others.
By providing users with a sense of social connection and support, you can help increase engagement and retention.

Engaging Content

What differentiates a professional app from a next-door neighbor that you can get tips from is the sheer variety and quality of engaging content, such as workouts, recipes, educational articles, expert sessions, research, and access to coaches. These are all things that can encourage your users to come back on a regular basis.
What needs to be stressed here is not just the variety of content, but also its relevance to each user. If you’re able to customize and recommend content relevant to your user’s goals and interests and new content is frequently added, there’s always something new and interesting for them to discover.

How CleverTap Can Help Your Health & Fitness App

CleverTap enables fitness and health apps to provide delightful and hyper-personal experiences to your users using these methods:

Deep and Granular Audience Analytics

As a health and fitness app, you need to understand your users’ needs in order to create an effective app strategy. Leverage historical and granular audience analytics to identify user segments and target each segment with the message that matches those needs. Our analytics provides real-time insights so you can track how each segment or individual user is interacting in your app, and tailor your engagement messaging accordingly. Learn more.

Automating and Optimizing Campaigns

Our platform helps you engage users at the right time and use the engagement channel that works best for them — all by running continuous experiments designed to let users take action. Your goal is to keep them moving — from app install to onboarding to registration to engagement and finally to becoming champion advocates. Learn more.


With multiple avenues to hyper-personalize experiences, CleverTap provides users content that is tailored to their individual needs and preferences. This not only builds deep contextual engagements but also helps build a sense of loyalty and trust, as users feel you understand them and that their needs are being met. Learn more.

Journey Orchestration

One of the best ways to increase sign-ups and registrations is to define user goals and keep them moving toward the next goal. CleverTap Journeys help you visually build and deliver omnichannel campaigns based on your users’ behavior, location, and lifecycle stage, starting from the critical onboarding to activating dormant customers. Learn more.

Cash in on That January Fitness Bandwagon

Use these five best practices to increase sign-ups and improve retention for your health and fitness app in 2023.
And don’t forget we’re here to help. Reach out to a CleverTap retention expert if you want assistance in defining and orchestrating your marketing campaigns.

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Last updated on March 26, 2024