We don’t have to tell you how important user retention is, and the statistics on app user retention can be a little discouraging if you’re an app developer; only 26% of apps are used on a daily basis, and one out of every four apps installed on a phone are never even used.[1] Nearly a fourth of users who install an app use it only once before abandoning it.[2] Overall, app user retention is just 42% here in the US and even lower worldwide.[3]

Fortunately, there are things you can do to increase your app’s user retention. Here we’ve got six ways you can build greater user retention into your app.


Easy Installation and Use

Your app’s account creation and login should be quick and simple; while it can be tempting to try and get as much information about the user during account creation as possible, you’re better off avoiding that. Overly-convoluted and time-consuming account creation processes can result in users deciding to “do it later” (and then never getting back to it, or your app) or deciding to delete your app altogether in favor of something they can get up and running faster.

Something else to avoid is information overload. If you have a robust app with a lot of features and functionality, you definitely need to teach your users how your app works. However, you’re better off doing it as part of the logical progression of the user starting to use the app instead of throwing all of the information at them at once. A series of tutorial videos are a great way to do this.



There are all kinds of incentives out there that you can use to encourage people to keep using your app. Coupons, special offers and promotions, rewards programs for regular users – all of these can help keep your users coming back. Choose the type of incentive that works best for your particular app.

Gamification techniques – like achievements and collecting badges – are another way to encourage users to keep using your app. Gamification won’t work for every app, but if it can work for yours, adding in badges or achievements is a great way to keep your users engaged.


In-App Messages

In-app messages are a fantastic way to improve user retention[4] by encouraging and rewarding your user as they use your app. For example, successfully performing a function in your app can trigger an in-app “kudos” message. Another sort of in-app message might offer the user a “did you know you can do feature y” after they do feature x in your app (this is also a way to teach users more of the features of your app in the process of using it as we talked about earlier). Pre-programmed notifications and messages to the user in direct response to something they do can definitely help keep them engaged.


Push Notifications

Like in-app messages, push notifications are another communications method to improve user retention.[5] Push notifications are messages your app sends to your users’ mobile devices outside of your app.

Push notifications are trickier to use than in-app messages; good use of them will increase engagement and retention, but bad use will actually drive users away and make them more likely to uninstall your app. Half of all app users say they find push notifications annoying.[6] That statistic can make you feel like avoiding them altogether. We don’t think you need to go that far – just be judicious in your use of them. Never do general “blasts” to all of your users; instead, use targeted notifications with tailored messages based on individual user’s preferences, behavior, and location.


Personalized Experience

Depending on your app, personalizing the experience can be difficult. But there is one thing absolutely every app can and should do – call the user by their first name. It’s simple, and effective. If your app is more robust, you can also offer content based on a user’s preferences and personal information.

Another avenue for some apps – particularly games and “tool” apps – is to create an online community on social media, such as a Facebook group. This provides a means for your users to connect and communicate with each other.


Listen to Feedback and Add Value

The number one way you can add value is by providing responsive and robust customer support. Have multiple ways users can reach out to you if they have issues or questions, and be sure you respond quickly when issues arise and provide users with updates and timely solutions.

You should always be reading and responding to reviews of your app, checking in with user feedback, and tracking the behavior of your users via tools like touch heatmaps and analytics. This information is invaluable in discovering the features of your app that get the most use, which can act as a roadmap for what your users want and use most. This will make it easier should you find it feasible to add more content and features to the app in the future.

Implementing some or all of these six strategies can help you not only keep your current users, but attract new ones. Users that have a great experience with your app are more likely to recommend your app to their friends and family, and also to leave your app a great review, all of which acts as free advertising for you!