Getting people to use your app consistently can be a challenge, but extremely critical. After all, what’s the point in developing a mobile app if no one uses it? When users stick around on your mobile app for a long time, that’s called app retention.

On average, a mobile app can expect to retain only about 7.5% (approximately) of its users beyond the first month.


This is a big problem since it costs so much to acquire new users. According to Statista, the average cost to acquire a mobile app user is almost $4.00. Statista’s research also showed this cost continues to climb.

With the cost of acquisition so high, you must make room in your marketing budget for user retention to ensure a healthy ROI.  A 5% increase in customer retention can increase your profitability by 75% .

This article will show eight mobile app retention strategies you can start using today.

1. Track data from the start

The best approach for measuring your mobile app retention here is, to begin with, cohort analysis. This is when you group different users based on their behavior in a given time frame.

The key here is to identify different broad reasons why users stop using your mobile app. You can then take the appropriate action to retain each of these groups.

Your cohort analysis can take just about any data into account. For instance, you can use heatmaps to visualize the touch gestures of your users while they use your mobile app. If you do this, you can gain an understanding of the various obstructions your user faces when using your mobile app.

You can also create and audit visual recordings. These let you replay actual user sessions to identify trends in how people use your mobile app during a particular time frame after downloading.

2. Optimize your mobile app’s onboarding flow

First impressions are critical. When a user launches a mobile app for the first time, he wants an experience that is seamless and enjoyable.

A mobile app onboarding experience can be classified into three categories:

  • Benefit-oriented onboarding highlights the value that the user can get out of a mobile app. Here, it is best to showcase what the mobile app can do for the user in a few slides with clear language.
  • Function-oriented onboarding, on the other hand, is used if your mobile app has a large number of features for your users to learn.
  • Progressive onboarding shows mobile app users the features in a particular sequence. If your mobile app has a complex functionality, this type of onboarding is preferable.

The main thing to remember about user onboarding is that it’s all about psychology. If you manage to give your users that feeling of success and accomplishment with your mobile app, you can be confident they’ll keep coming back. You should also provide as much context as possible to build trust.

Additionally, keep in mind that people are lazy. Make sure the mobile app navigation does not take more than two to three steps. Also, make log-ins and account creation easy and don’t overload users with information at the start.

Check out the sign-up for Microsoft Word. You only need to type in your email address, phone number, or Skype account. The mobile app doesn’t bombard you with too much information or waste your time.


3. Personalize user experiences

Another way to increase mobile app retention is to tailor-fit the mobile app experience to the user. Personalizing the user experience can help you differentiate your mobile app from competitors and keep your users engaged.

It also helps to build your mobile app’s user loyalty.

The more you know about your users, the easier it is to personalize their experiences. You can create personalized experiences using both static or dynamic factors;

  • Static personalization uses factors that don’t change. For example, it can be as simple as placing your user’s name in a notification.
  • Dynamic personalization is more focused on behavioral factors. The most straightforward example of this is a customer’s purchase history.

Take note, however, only of that data that your user will allow you to track for customization. You don’t want to be accused of being too invasive by using data that is considered too private, after all.

Other natural ways to personalize experiences include cart abandonment emails and personalized recommendations. Similarly, Google Playstore suggests mobile apps that are similar to what the user has previously downloaded.


4. Use gamification to increase engagement

A study found that the average mobile game retains 36% of its customers after the first week. This is considerably better than any other kind of mobile app.

You don’t need to be Angry Birds to take advantage of these findings. In fact, it’s increasingly common to use game-like features in ordinary mobile apps. This is called gamification.

Game-like features are the kinds of things that make using your mobile app seem fun and rewarding. Most often, these are incentives, like accumulating points for taking certain actions.

For example, in a reading mobile app, you could assign a level to the user depending on the number of stories he or she has read for the day.

The Samsung Health app, for example, packages a personal workout as an opportunity to reach personal goals:


5. Implement push notifications

Getting users to enable notifications is a top priority. To improve your mobile app’s retention rate, follow these tips:

  • Pick the right time: Don’t send push notifications to all your users at the same time. Remember that most of your users will most probably be in different time zones.
  • Customize notifications: Personalize your approach when sending push notifications. Do this by tracking your user’s in-app behavior, as above.
  • Don’t overdo it: Don’t bombard your users with too many notifications. In the same manner, don’t send them too infrequently.

You can also use notifications to build trust. Almost all blue-chip companies notify users when there’s a new sign-in on their account. This is crucial, as today’s users are more security conscious than ever before.


6. Use in-app messages

Research has uncovered that companies using in-app messaging increased their user retention by 3.5 times compared to those who didn’t use it at all.

In short, if you wish to increase your mobile app retention, it pays to know the best practices of in-app messaging. Consider this in-app message from the Amazon shopping app.


Notice the compelling headline which offers value to the user, and therefore catches attention.

7. Offer perks to engaged users

Most consumers believe recommendations from other people over traditional advertising. In the case of mobile apps, the results of an Ofcom report are telling:


Your incentive programs will depend on the nature of your mobile app. For example, if it’s a mobile app that uses in-app purchasing as a model for monetization, then you can offer time-sensitive discounts to your loyal followers. You can also offer rewards for referrals made by your users.

Here’s a classic example of Amazon mobile app which offers exclusive deals to its ‘early access’ or ‘Prime’ users.


8. Continually develop and optimize

You have to update your mobile app with new features and personalized content to keep your users interested. That’s one of the reasons why it seems like most major mobile apps offer an updated version every few days.

But don’t just update without thinking what your users want. Always track user behavior and gather feedback so you can determine what updates will make your users want to stay.

Another way is to monitor your competitors so you can spot what they’re offering and offer the same, or better yet an improved version of it.


Track data from the start, allowing you to optimize your mobile app’s onboarding flow and personalizing user experiences.

Use gamification and employ push notifications to increase engagement as well as offer perks to engaged users and continually develop and optimize your mobile app.

8 Mobile App Retention Strategies For 2020 [With Examples]

 If your app is not useful or engaging or fun within the first 30 seconds after first opening it, there’s a chance it will never be opened the second time.