5 key functionalities that massively increase app retention

Studies reveal that app abandonment has been rampant lately.

Person using a smartphone

If you have an app, you need to plan a retention plan for your users. / Photo: Pexels

Audrey Throne

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Leer en español: 5 funcionalidades chave que massivamente aumentar a retenção aplicativo

Assuming that your app will be a massive success based on initial download figures can be a colossal mistake on your part. Before you clink those celebratory glasses, we suggest you devise a retention plan too. Because once the user discards an app, it gets too hard to regain their trust. Studies reveal that app abandonment has been rampant lately.

Initially, businesses started creating apps to improve the way they connect with customers and boost their productivity. Conversely, product failure is also a painful experience for ventures that invest their time, money, and hard work. Let’s consider the example of Hailo. It is a taxi service app in NYC that started with a $100 million investment, and Uber was fiercely competing to win the market.

Unfortunately, Hailo didn’t do enough before it launched the app. It turned out that most cab drivers in NYC didn’t have smartphones, and the app faced an epic failure. 

Why is app retention integral?

Once you’re sure that you have come up with a killer idea, it is about time you focus on retention methodologies. All that blood, sweat, and teardrops spilled during the design phase will go down the drain if users toss off your app within three days of installation.

According to Linda Bustos from, 44% of corporate entities focus more on customer acquisition vs. 18% that focus on retention. This is a surprisingly low percentage, given how increasing customer retention efforts by 5% can improve profitability by 75%.

Low app engagement and retention are the recipes for failure. In contrast, high user engagement is your doorway to success.

Read also: 7 Mental Health Apps you Need to Know About


5 Key Functionalities to Increase App Engagement and User Retention

The following five strategies for boosting app engagement and retention can lower an app’s churn rate:

  1. Efficient Onboarding

One of the initial steps to boost an app's retention rate is to optimize users’ onboarding experience. Based on the source they are coming from, use deep linking to take them to a relevant piece of content in the app. This will ensure that you deliver a customized experience, and it doesn’t overwhelm the first-time user. 

At the time when they onboard, make sure you ask them all the relevant questions. Keep it short and precise. Slack sets a great example in this regard. They make it a point to run the users through all features before asking them to log in. 

Here are some other ways to simplify user onboarding:

  • Cut off the unnecessary steps for account creation or sign-up and include multiple registration options

  • Offer feature education throughout the onboarding experience when introducing the functionality of the app

  • Teach through actions to reveal primary gestures in the app experience

In case the user doesn’t want to take a tour, give them an option to quit.

  1. Use Push Notifications

Push notifications are a proven way to reach your audience in real-time. Along with this, they are a great way to retain your audience over more extended periods. Research from Localytics discovered that app users who received push notifications were more likely to keep using an app. 

To put it in perspective, imagine you’re in your favorite café. How would you feel if no one acknowledges you? You’d be too disappointed with their customer service.

Now consider app interaction under the same lens.

Successful apps use push notifications to shape the customer journey. They are thoughtful and strategic about how they interact with their customers. For instance, offering relevant retail deals based on buying habits and usage patterns is an effective technique to prompt usage sessions.

The New York Times had immense success with push notifications. So much so that they now have a team to handle scheduling and development of push alerts to subscribed app users.

If you feel like your content ship is circling a meaningless objective, push notifications may be just the marketing tactic you need.

  1. Make CTAs clear and easy to find

Your CTA should be visually bold and easily identifiable. Test different verbs, colors, and styles to check which CTA drives more conversion rate. Adding a persistent CTA in the right context turned out awesome for Groupon.

The team had made CTA more prominent from pages where a customer will probably make a purchase. When doing so, the likelihood of customer reaching the end of buying funnel go up a notch. 

  1. Prioritize Responsiveness

Responsive UI plays a pivotal role in the success or failure of a mobile application. 78% of the users expect mobile apps to load at the same speed or faster than the mobile website. Typically, app users are on the go. Perhaps they are on a commute or using your app during the lunch break. 

The most integral aspect of responsive design is flexibility. Every element of your design – images, media, text blocks and layouts should be flexible. 

Also, these days’ users prefer to skim through reviews to gain an insight into the app functionality and choose the best as per their preference. So make sure the reviews associated with your app depict a positive image like those of airG Reviews and help users in making informed decisions. 

  1. Provide great support

A motivated support team is an asset to the app owners. Users who are sure they will get fast and reliable help whenever they encounter a problem are more likely to stick to an app than those who have to wait for days to receive a response. Health apps, for instance, must work on a fast support system to nurture successful outcomes. 

Therefore, create channels where you allow the users to get in touch with the team. Allow them to have some glimpses behind the scene. Show them how dedicated your team gets to address their concerns.

Final Thoughts

The measures for improving app retention are numerous. There is no urgency to apply them all together. You can take baby steps or discard those that seem irrelevant to your app design. 

Happy designing, and make sure you keep us posted!

Read also: The algorithm that makes TikTok addictive

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