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Mobile App Engagement: 7 Powerful Strategies for User Retention

Shivkumar M 20+ yrs shaping technology Product & GTM strategy. Fintech, healthcare & retail industry expertise. Leads product launches, adoption & GTM as Director, Product Marketing.
Mobile App Engagement: 7 Powerful Strategies for User Retention

In today’s hyper-competitive landscape, consumers demand excellence. Whether it’s websites or mobile apps, users swiftly abandon experiences that fail to meet their expectations. For companies aiming to cultivate lasting connections with their audience, delivering a stellar app is non-negotiable. However, even with meticulous development and design efforts, success hinges on effectiveness. This is where data becomes indispensable. By tracking mobile app engagement, businesses can make informed decisions, seamlessly converting users into loyal customers. With the staggering number of app downloads in 2020 exceeding 230 billion*, the potential for conversions is limitless. Dive deeper into mobile app engagement, retention, and discover tailored strategies to propel your business forward.

What Is Mobile App Engagement?

Mobile app engagement is a measure of your users’ response to your app as a whole or certain features of your app. By collecting metrics surrounding how users interact with your app, you can make smarter marketing decisions.
Engagement metrics include — but aren’t limited to — time on the app, actions taken, and daily uninstalls (also known as the dreaded churn rate).

What Is Mobile App Retention?

Mobile app retention is simply keeping your app users as customers. Mobile app retention rate refers to the number of users that download and continue to use your app over the long-term.
While every app download is a good start, seeing high rates of user retention means you’re doing something right. After all, that’s the only path toward real growth.
Defining mobile app engagement and app retention
Now that you understand the difference between mobile app engagement and retention, it’s a good idea to see where your retention rate is before you begin new engagement strategies.
Use our retention rate calculator to see how many of your app users are coming back for more.

How Mobile App Engagement Boosts Retention

To effectively engage customers, understanding their preferences is key. Mobile app engagement metrics provide valuable data for making informed decisions that resonate with your audience. This deeper insight allows marketers to forge stronger connections, refine strategies with high returns, and enhance user experience, ultimately driving long-term retention. Leveraging this data enables you to cultivate lasting relationships and foster customer loyalty.

Essential Mobile App Engagement Metrics

Let’s be honest: diving into data isn’t everyone’s strong suit. For marketers who thrive on creativity rather than analytics, collecting and deciphering data can feel daunting. To streamline this process, we’ve outlined the key mobile app metrics that your marketing team should focus on below.
App engagement metrics infographic

Daily Uninstalls

Take a moment to consider how many apps you’ve downloaded and then deleted within the past year.
What was wrong with them? How did they not live up to your expectations? From a bad platform to invasive notifications, there are many reasons why users uninstall apps.
It’s a growing problem. It’s estimated that 56% of users uninstall apps within seven days of installation.*
We surveyed 2,000 mobile app users in 2021, asking for the main reason they uninstalled mobile apps and found the top 3 reasons are:

  1. They no longer use the app
  2. Limited storage space
  3. Too much advertising

That’s why tracking the number of uninstalls you have on a regular basis is important. Knowing this metric can help you understand where you’re going wrong during the onboarding process, gaining valuable data and, therefore, more users over time.

App Launch to App Launch Retention Cohorts

If you read that header and immediately got confused—don’t panic. Retention cohorts aren’t as complicated as they seem.
App launch to app launch retention cohorts is a phrase that refers to the users that install your app, interact with it, and then keep coming back.
By separating your users into cohorts, or groups, you’ll be able to better understand why users stay with your app and how their behavior changes over time.
There are many different ways to group your users that will be valuable to your retention efforts. Some of these options include:

  • Daily acquisition
  • Behavior types
  • Returning users

App Stickiness

Understanding your app’s stickiness, in relation to your retention rate, is a good way to determine what you’re doing right and why users love your app.
You can look at daily active users (DAU) vs. monthly active users (MAU) to get a better understanding of how your app is performing over time. However, it’s worth noting that these numbers can change daily, so they shouldn’t be the only metric you look at when determining your apps health.
Whether you consider an “active user” someone who interacts with your app or provides you with information about themselves, knowing these metrics allows you to determine your app’s overall health.
By dividing your app’s MAU by its DAU, you can calculate how “sticky” your app is, or how often users return. Comparing this metric over time will help you see how effective your marketing campaigns and other efforts are.

Additional Metrics to Consider

In addition to uninstall rates, retention cohorts, and active users, there are several other mobile app engagement metrics you should be tracking.

Daily Net Change. To determine how your user base has changed each day, try this formula:

The number of new users + number of reactivated users = X
X – the number of churned users = daily net change.

Session Length. Knowing how long the average user spends on your app can help you determine how successful it is.
If you see your users are interacting with a certain portion of your app for a longer period of time than others, consider making that section more easily accessible or sending out a push notification to draw more engagement.

Session Interval. Tracking how much time passes between a user’s first and second session on your app is a great way to tell if your onboarding process is effective.

Retention Rate. By seeing how many users are still engaging with your app after day one, day seven, and day thirty, you can determine your retention rate and make changes that bump that number up over time.

7 Strategies to Increase Mobile App Engagement

Once you’ve started tracking all the most important engagement metrics for your app, you may begin to see some negative patterns. You can address and correct those patterns by trying out the seven strategies for increased engagement below.
7 strategies to boost mobile app engagement - infographic

1. Smooth Out Onboarding

First impressions are everything, especially with technology. If your app is too confusing or doesn’t offer the value promised, users will be quick to bounce.
That’s why smoothing out the onboarding process is so crucial for growth.
Your team can improve the onboarding experience for your customers by simplifying your interface, giving the user options to personalize, showing your value immediately, and incentivizing conversions.
By showing your users why your app is the best and allowing them to change their experience to fit their needs, you can create the ultimate goal for any company: converting users into life-long customers.

2. Segment Your Audience

One of the biggest mistakes marketers can make is assuming that their entire customer base is the same. In reality, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
By segmenting your audience out, you can create personalized campaigns that will lead to more opens, interactions, and purchases.
You can segment your audience by location, purchase habits, time spent on the app, or even how long they’ve had your app on their phone. Then, you can target those different groups to get the results you want.

3. Use Push Notifications at the Right Times

Generic push notifications are boring, and they can actually lead more users to uninstall if you send them too many times. DCI even found that 71% of users uninstalled apps due to annoying notifications.*
But when done correctly, personalized and intriguing push notifications can be a great conversion tool in your marketing tool belt.
The right time to send these notifications are when a user has forgotten to complete an action, if there is a big sale, or if they’ve become inactive.

4. Analyze and Personalize

Use the data you’ve collected to your advantage by analyzing it, determining what your customers want, and then personalizing your campaigns to help them convert.
By making each campaign individualized to different audiences, you can be seen as a brand that cares—boosting loyalty and conversion rates in one fell swoop.

5. When All Else Fails, Retarget

Sometimes, even the most thought-out marketing campaigns don’t succeed. When that happens, embrace retargeting to get the results you want. By retargeting customers you lost on other platforms, you can win them back with personalized ads and smart deep links for a brand-new experience they’re sure to love.

6. Offer Loyalty Incentives

With so much effort being put into acquiring new customers and bringing back those you’ve lost, long-term customers can sometimes get lost in the mix. But loyal customers often spend more than their newer counterparts*, so keeping them happy is super important to your company’s bottom line.
Membership programs, reward systems, and value-driven clubs are all loyalty incentive programs that have been proven to work for companies like Sephora, Expedia, and even Ben & Jerry’s.

7. Develop a Win-Back Strategy

While many of the above strategies can be used to lure users back to your app, there are a few other options you should keep up your sleeve.
First, you should turn to your inactive users. By asking them what they think could be improved, you can get valuable feedback that will win old customers back.
Other strategies you can try include sending incentives or creating a personalized customer service experience to help mitigate any lasting issues.


Customers want a personalized and seamless experience with their favorite apps, and by following these strategies, you can give them what they want and, therefore, get what you want in return: their engagement and their business.

Mobile Marketing is Easier with Expert Guidance

Last updated on May 7, 2024