Few things kill an app faster than when people stop using it.
Research shows that 50% of apps are uninstalled within the first month of installation – and the main reason is that they simply stop using the app. In fact, 90% of people who use an app (engage with it) regularly, tend to keep it on their device.
So, to make sure your app’s the one they keep and use, we ask: What causes low app engagement?
Simply put, it’s how people engage and use your app. From how many active app users you have at any given time, to app opens, session length (how long they use the app for, per session), the intervals between sessions, behaviour flow (what they do during a session), your conversions, in-app communication and your user retention rates (how well you keep users coming back).
Owners will always have an app analytics tool – from Google Analytics to Amplitude, Mixpanel, AppDynamics, UXCam, AppFollow etc.
And most of them give you a wealth of useful information about your app engagement. It’s usually just a case of knowing which analytics to look at.
For app engagement, you want to take note of:
But (arguably) the most important metric is the Engagement Rate. You calculate this by dividing your number of Engaged Users (the ones who completed the main goal/reason for your app’s existence) by your total active users, multiplied by 100, to give you a percentage.
Find a more in-depth explanation on this in our post on how to calculate your app engagement rate.
Generally, any Engagement Rate between 1% and 5% is considered good.
If yours is lower than that, or any of the other NB metrics above are lower than expected – or you can just clearly see no one’s using your app – then that’s a red flag.
You want to understand what’s causing your low app engagement as quickly as possible…
There are many factors that can contribute to low engagement. Here are some of the most important ones to note:
Onboarding is your user’s introduction to your app. It’s where you show them how to navigate the app and how to engage with the features, plus show them the value of the features.
If this part doesn’t satisfy and entice them, they’ll close the app and probably not come back.
Does the app actually do something that the user wants/needs? And is it clear how the user gets that value?
The value issue is especially important with “freemium” type apps, where you have a scaled-down free version with an optional upgrade. If your free version packs too much or too little in the way of features, it can discourage users from engaging.
Apps that simply don’t work or even appear to function poorly are easy to uninstall. If it struggles to launch, glitches freezes or doesn’t save inputs or locks a user out of their account or features, it’s a problem.
Now, this might seem like a purely technical issue but note that there’s a lot of evidence that suggests that technical problems usually arise from bad app architecture design, which is an app development and app design process concern.
Even before your onboarding, it’s important to not ask too much of your users before they actually get to use/test the app a bit. For example: if you require people to create an account before they’ve even test-driven the app a bit, you could see a drop-off.
Ads are one of the most common ways to monetise an app. But because the margins on ads per view are so low, creators often insert as many ad spaces as possible on the app.
The problem is, about 16% of users who’ve uninstalled an app say it was due to too much in-app advertising.
Related to your onboarding and user journeys, it’s often unclear what the next step should be for a user. This is where your in-app communications need to be spot-on. Push notifications, in-app messaging and even external comms, such as email and SMS all go a long way to guide your user on their journey.
Nothing puts a user off faster than a long sign-up process – or any app process for that matter. It’s ideal to keep your initial signup as short as possible – grab just the most necessary details in early onboarding.
It’s important to drive people to use your features often, but also to keep the main goal/objective of the user in mind and optimise your features accordingly.
For example, if your app helps people find like-minded others, with messaging as a key performance metric, you might be tempted to add in a simplified messaging feature – like old school Facebook’s “poke” from way back in the day.
If, however, your user is here not to just message but to have more meaningful conversations, then a simple “like”, “heart” or “poke” is not going to satisfy their real need, and you’ll start seeing a drop-off in the long run.
So simple. And yet so hard. One of the most important usage motivators is to reward the behaviour. Everyone loves to “level up” when they’ve done something – depriving them of it can make your app less attractive to use.
Start with a three-pronged approach:
Here's a framework for your user engagement strategy.
Increasing engagement is the name of the game. And there are literally hundreds of different strategies and playbooks on how to do it.
The most important part of increasing engagement, however, is in knowing what’s causing the disengagement and focusing on fixing that. See how to increase app engagement.
You already know that we at Specno build some of the coolest, high-engagement apps. But did you know that we also have a specialist team that helps you boost your existing app?
Yes! We use our best-practice expertise ad insider know-how to run extensive app audits, user research, app optimisation and even app redesign – contact Specno now
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