14 app retention strategies that work

Aditya Kulkarni
4 min readSep 8, 2022

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Featured Image by Freepik

I constantly teach beginners the fact that retention trumps everything else. When you have retention, you can figure out monetization. If you have monetization, you can get returns on your acquisition cost. Retention paves the path towards profitability. I am listing down 14 strategies that have helped me over the years which you can use to improve your own retention rate.

Track Behavioural Data

Integrate customer insights tools like Clevertap, Mixpanel, Firebase etc to get directly actionable user behavioural data (actions performed per day, goals achieved etc). You can then incentivize users towards performing the actions that you want.

Find out when users lose interest

Analyze user funnels to find out the exact points where your users churn. Understand the user funnel and make required changes to the UI/UX of the app to reduce the friction areas. Keep doing this to every user funnel and watch your retention numbers increase.

Create Retention Goals

For every user funnel, create benchmarks that will lead to the conversion ideal conversion goals that you as a product team aspire for. You need actionable north star metrics for your team to be motivated enough to work towards them. Slowly, steadily, one step at a time, improve your app retention by achieving your goals for each user funnel.

Motivate first time users

Design a seamless onboarding experience and A/B test to ensure new users have a smooth experience. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so create a memorable one.

Nurture your most valuable users

Treat your most valuable users as the VIPs that they are. Give them privileges, special offers, exclusive content, exclusive 24×7 support and more. Make them feel valued enough to stay with you.

Nudge users to become valuable users

Analyse behavioural data to understand what valuable users are doing that others are not. Study segments and demographics to see if a certain segment behaves in a certain way. Incentivize users to follow the user journey of your valuable users.

Collect user feedback

Talk to users and study the friction points. They will appreciate the efforts that you are putting to understand their problems and assure them that you will solve the friction areas. If you can, give approximate timelines and get in touch with them again when the solutions are pushed to production.

Offer rewards to engaged users

Give your most engaged users rewards for their loyalty. Incentivize them better than other users to refer their friends and family. Give them meet and greets with their favourite celebs / holiday coupons / meal coupons and popularity within your user community. Reward them for their good behaviour.

Personalize

Create a user experience which makes your user feel special. Show personalized in-app content, messaging templates which address them using their names, describe their actions and motivate them to perform further actions. Localize with the user’s language of choice. Show user recommendations based on their historical data. Make them feel that your app is made especially for them and your team works to cater to them. Put in the efforts to make them feel understood and relate to your app.

Plot correlations

Analyze behavioural data and correlate with your goals. If users looks at page A but not B, how does it affect session duration? If they click on push notifications, do they retain better? If the user registers using referrals, do they deposit more? Plot these trends regularly to help guide your retention decisions.

Create a good customer support team

Support people are the first point of human interaction for your app. They are the face of your product and organization. Create a team culture that is sensitive to the user. Treat them as you want your customers to be treated. They will be able to bring in a lot of insights since they talk to the customers on a daily basis and understand the ground realities. If logistically and financially possible, let them interact with the customers on multiple channels like chats, email and calls.

Offer social proof to your customers

Testimonials are a sure shot way to speed up customer trust in a brand / product. Humans are social beings and social proof is a subconscious process in most people that helps them decide if they should do something or not. It is a primal instinct and works well for product marketing.

Create educational content

Put in efforts to educate your users, help them learn and create solutions for the broader problem you are trying to solve. E.g. If you are an investing platform, educate your users on short term vs long term trading, technical vs fundamental analysis, portfolio management, savings, taxation rules etc. This genuine effort to enable users to not just use your own product but revisit your educational content even if they are using competitor products ensures good growth in organic users while building a community that trusts you.

Create a community with social content

People love interacting with other people. Humans are social beings. Community is again a primal instinct for people and a great way to increase app engagement across your user base. A great community gives back, supports each other and helps users in achieving as individuals. Likes, shares, tips, reviews, recommendations, social groups will help build a strong community and in turn help increase engagement on your app.

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