3 Ways the Top Health & Fitness Apps Have Great User Retention


Product leaders are increasingly realizing that simply acquiring users isn’t enough for their mobile apps. In order to form lasting connections, you need to focus on user retention: demonstrating the value of your product as a means to earn loyal users who will engage on a regular basis. As retention gains importance as a KPI for growth, it’s crucial to consider ways in which you can positively impact this metric.

Health and fitness apps are an interesting case study for mobile user retention. Whether they want to track their blood pressure or improve their 5K time, people are often highly motivated to use these apps as part of a larger strategy to improve their health.

Since 2014, the use of health and fitness apps has more than tripled, and three-fourths of active users open their apps at least twice a week. According to mobile analytics company Flurry, health and fitness is the mobile app category with the highest retention rates.

With such favorable conditions for user retention, competition among app providers is intense. In a single year between 2015 and 2016, mobile app stores published 100,000 new health and fitness apps, almost double the number already available.

In order for your app to stand out, you’ll need to provide a consistently compelling and high-quality user experience. The best health and fitness apps have ways to separate themselves from the pack. Let’s take a look at a few important retention tactics that you can apply to your own mobile app strategy.

Finding the “Aha Moment”

A key differentiator for apps is their ability to present users with their “aha moment“: the point when people truly see the value proposition of your app for the first time. To improve your retention metric, it’s important that users experience this moment as early as possible in their onboarding journey.

For example, the diet and exercise journaling app MyFitnessPal encourages new users to log what they’ve eaten so far that day. By displaying the calorie count and nutritional information of different foods, MyFitnessPal immediately shows how it solves the challenges that users have when keeping track of their diet. This early demonstration of value encourages users to return and engage with the app on a regular (perhaps daily) basis.

fitness app retention

Segmentation and Personalization

No two users are alike, especially when it comes to their health and fitness plans. Separating your users into different segments will help you understand individual preferences, so that you can personalize the content and experience they receive and work to improve their retention rates.

With the help of Apptimize, fitness app Runtastic has used A/B testing to better understand their user base and improve their conversion rates. Experimentation gives them data-driven insights into how location, operating system, and other demographic data impacts user trends. This enables them to segment their audience based on individual preferences and serve personalized, tailored experiences to their users.

Social and Gamification

Getting social support is often a critical part of health and exercise plans. One study found that two-thirds of people who enrolled in a weight loss program with friends were able to maintain their lower weight, compared with only a quarter of those who enrolled by themselves. By testing various social and gamification tactics on your own product, you can find ways to keep users coming back.

The exercise app Strava, for example, has a strong culture of testing and experimentation. Strava calls itself the “social network for athletes.” Users can make data about their running and cycling workouts private or public; if public, they can view leaderboards showing how they stack up against their peers. Strava also announces regular challenges, such as achieving a certain distance or elevation, that give users “trophies” to show off in their virtual trophy case. These types of initiatives can result in significant increases in engagement and retention KPIs. By consistently testing your hypotheses, you can develop a wealth of insights into unique user preferences and develop a product that exceeds their expectations.

Final Thoughts

The strategies above are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of user retention tactics for health and fitness mobile apps. In order to stand out and offer an ideal user experience, apps have tested numerous special features, such as workout music and personalized history tracking. Continually experimenting with and optimizing user retention is crucial in order to achieve scalable growth for your mobile app.

If you want to adopt some of these strategies for your own app, solutions like Apptimize’s experimentation platform can help you better understand your user base so that you can optimize your retention rates.

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.

Thanks for