Mastering Mobile App Growth Through Engagement and Retention Strategies


Encapsulating a new wave of innovative strategies, Growth Hacking was undoubtedly one of the leading buzzwords of 2017. By merging creative and analytical methods, product leaders and marketers have used Growth Hacking to reference methods that aid the virality of a product/brand and the mobile app growth of its user base.

With a strong case to ensure the success of mobile products, Growth Hacking has also evolved within the mobile space. Mobile and App Growth has become particularly relevant in light of the underwhelming state of average app retention rates, dropping to 22% after just 3 months. By taking the measures needed to find the audience that your app deserves (think App Store Optimization and other fundamental discoverability strategies) and placing equal weighting on engagement and retention strategies, you can truly push for App Growth. Here are a few essential strategies that we think will get you on your way to achieving long-term app success.

  1.  Focus on key engagement points

–     Educate users through Onboarding

For any app, you want your user to have a clear view of its benefits and functionality from the get-go. By understanding the benefits of your app as fast and efficiently as possible, you can maximize the number of users who come back to your app and in turn, increase your retention rates. With an abundance of methods available to onboard your users, ranging from a video introduction to onboarding screens and tooltips, you need to ensure you have picked a method that gets the user itching to get started. To ensure you’re using the best onboarding method for your app users, test different approaches and variants to see which format is the most effective in driving engagement and conversions.

–          Interact with your user intelligently

There are many perks to rolling out a personalized push messaging strategy, including significantly increasing engagement rates, fighting churn and more. To start, you need to tackle two integral objectives: ensure users opt-in to receive push notifications and understand your users so that you can execute an optimized mCRM strategy. Successful interactions rest on good timing, and you can ensure the sophistication of your interactions through testing. For example, test to see when the most effective time is to bring up a Push Pre-Permissions request in the user journey, to ensure your opt-in rates are high. By diving into your analytics, you can consider patterns to build a deeper understanding of your users’ in-app behavior and create audience segments. Use this insight to send push messages at moments that will further enhance the app experience for your users to increase your Daily Active Users. If your user shows signs of churning, it’s time to remind them why they downloaded your app, try sending a push message to update them on the latest release of their favorite show, or message them with 20% discount code on that coat they’ve had in their basket for the past week, and ensure your push returns the user to an A/B tested, optimized app experience.

2. Implement a sharing strategy

–          Make it easy to share

Take a look at your app and ask yourself if you have made it easy for users to share the app and its content. Encouraging users to share with friends is an essential functionality for apps across verticals and needs to be readily available to aid its virality. Users are likely to trust recommendations from their friends, and so acquisitions of this type have the potential to drive high-intent users. Focus on your app’s UX and UI to maximize the ease of sharing vital information when most necessary. For example, if you have a cooking app, adding a simple sharing button at the bottom of each recipe could be a useful feature. Or if you have a travel app, being able to share flight details or hotel options is equally integral. Test the placement of buttons or prompts to figure out what is intuitive to your user base and align your product to these preferences.

–          Implement a referral strategy

Incentives such as a referral strategy can also propel the growth and virality of your app. There are lots of ways to do incentivize referrals: codes, coupons, invitations. Again, each app is different and you need to think about incentives that will increase engagement with your product. For example, many ride-sharing apps offer referral codes to bring in new users and to increase the retention of existing users, who normally receive a discount per recommendation to encourage them to continue taking trips. Such referral strategies are commonplace, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box. A great example comes from dating app Bumble, which allows users to refer profiles they come across to friends who they think would make a great match. With a clear emotive incentive and the gratification of matchmaking, Bumble has taken app referral strategies away from its typical gamified nature. A great referral strategy takes into account ways to enrich the user experience bespoke to the app, keeping in mind the goal of encouraging a chain of referrals.

3. Iterate!

–          Hypothesize

It is impossible to be 100% sure whether an engagement or retention strategy will work in the way that you predict it will. By basing your iterations on data-driven insights from continuous testing within your app, you can ensure that your optimizations are based on an informed hypothesis. By running A/B tests, you can gather granular data and gradually build a more accurate picture of your users’ attitudes and behavior, and by measuring the impact of your implementations, you can identify further opportunities for your app. Utilising this data will also help you identify where in the conversion funnel you need to make improvements. Don’t be afraid to test some big changes; you may find that they really pay off!

–          A/B testing

There’s always room for improvement and running A/B tests is essential in helping you make the most effective decisions for your app to enhance your user experience. Just because your test doesn’t yield the expected results, does not mean that your general hypothesis was wrong. Instead, ensure you run tests with significant differences to measure what users are most perceptive and reactive to. These iterations will really elevate your app and ensure your app experience is seamless.

Simply, Mobile Growth will come to fruition if product leaders and marketers incorporate retention and engagement strategies. The growth of a product considers its user base in light of its product, the nuances in their users’ behaviour and focuses on the holistic user journey. By accepting the complexities in achieving mobile marketing success, you can begin your journey and turn your app into a huge success.

Want to find out more about optimizing your app and our unique app retention program, Fit to Market?

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This is a guest post by Arazoo Kadir of Yodel Mobile.

About Apptimize

Apptimize is an innovation engine that provides A/B testing and feature release management for native mobile, web, mobile web, hybrid mobile, OTT, and server. Industry leaders like HotelTonight, The Wall Street Journal, and Glassdoor have created amazing user experiences with Apptimize.

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