Would you rather have plenty of users or a bit smaller but more active group?
I’ll take an educated guess that the latter option sounds better. Engaged users are often the ones who buy the products or the services. So, it’s no surprise that most apps try to attract their attention.
How to increase user engagement in your mobile app? Find out what can help you with this task. Mind that you won’t find ready-to-use ideas here. Instead, you get the elements of a strategy that comes in handy when working on the final solutions. It can be applied to products for various industries.
What is user engagement?
User engagement is related to the frequency of certain interactions people have with the app. But what kind of interactions, you may ask. How frequent must they be to consider users engaged? It all depends on the business model.
For instance, take plant owners who have an app that helps them remember about watering. If they would visit this app once a month, it would be of no use to them (not to mention the poor plants). Then, think of the app for managing the library account. If you check your status once a month, it’s fine. In both cases, users open the app once in 30 days. But only those who borrow the books can be described as active.
The bottom line is that it’s up to you to decide how you want to define user engagement for your software. The metrics you choose must tell you how often people use the app and what they do. These actions should contribute to meeting users’ and business goals.
Why is user engagement important?
It directly impacts some of the key success indicators. Improved user engagement can lead, for example, to increased customer retention, because more people would be willing to return to your app.
Also, it often results in higher average cart value as people engage in discovering the new elements of the app. And let’s not forget that a growing number of active users often makes more people want to download your product because the recommendation system works better.
How to measure user engagement?
Ask yourself, why you need to have more engaged users. So more people would discover the possibilities the software can offer? Or maybe you want them to spread the word about your services? With these answers, it should be easier to find the best user engagement metrics for you.
Remember that it’s best to track them regularly and set a time frame to compare the results with the previous period.
Metrics to consider
App stickiness – the best chocolate bars and mobile apps have something in common – they’re both irresistible and it’s hard to put them away. To check how sticky your product is, divide the number of daily active users (DAU) by the number of monthly active users (MAU).
Average session duration – it tells you how much time people spend in the app during one session. Mind that they can be active for a long while because they like exploring the app or because they don’t know how to use it. It’s best to back this metric up with a heatmap or user tests.
Event count – see what types of events take place, how often, and on what views. Focus on the ones that show the efficiency of your engagement-boosting strategy (e.g., buying items from the wishlist or tapping the section with recommended products).
Screens per session – check how many screens people display during a session, on average. Does this number grow? What kind of screens are these? See if they are related directly to products and services or if they are more like FAQ sections.
User retention – retention means that people get back to your app for a specified time (e.g., 30 days, 6 months, etc.). The bigger their number is, the better.
Churn rate – this rate says how many people uninstall the app after a certain time. To know how high this rate is, divide the number of churned users by the total number of users.
Useful term: Cohorts
It’s good to know how often people use the app in different periods after the installation. For this purpose, you can divide all users into groups called cohorts. For example, there can be a cohort that consists of people who installed the app a week ago, a month ago, and two months ago. Check how engaged are the older users, what actions they perform at every stage and what elements make them want to return.
The examples above should work with apps for many industries, but they are not universal. Remember to choose the metrics that fit your business strategy and reflect the goals you try to achieve.
Now, you know what metrics can tell you something about engagement. But how can you make the target group more interested in your content?
- Keep in touch with users. Get to know their motivations, problems, and needs.
- Monitor how people use the app.
- Analyze the data and rely on it when ideating.
First, you need to know and understand user behavior. What kind of people do you want to engage? What elements make them more interested in your content? Why do they open your app and in what situations? Are there any alternatives to your product that they use? The answers to these questions will help you come up with better ideas for boosting engagement.
At this point, user research comes to the rescue. Start with asking people for customer feedback, analyzing product reviews, or interviewing some users.
Then, take a closer look at the analytics reports. Get especially interested in the segments of users. Identify what differentiates the engaged people from the rest. Are new users more interested in the app than others? What is the reason for it? It should help you see what evokes their interest in your product.
Useful method: Customer journey map
This tool can help you identify the pain points that must be eliminated. It also makes you notice the occasions for improvements. The map relates to the persona that represents your most valuable target group. You create it based on the data. Analyze the map to come up with ideas adjusted to your potential active customers, depending on the user journey stages.
Don’t forget to monitor the situation on the market. Check what the competitors offer to see the trends. Don’t limit yourself only to your direct competitors. When using all types of apps, try to analyze what features engage you. Think if they can be applied to your solution but maybe in a slightly different way.
Suggested solutions: web & mobile analytics tools (e.g., Google Analytics for Firebase, Mixpanel); heatmaps & session recordings (e.g., Smartlook, Hotjar, Mouseflow); online forms, user interviews
- Improve user engagement by showing the content adjusted to people’s preferences.
- Build a closer relationship with the app users based on the collected data.
- Support customer loyalty with increased engagement.
Personalization techniques often increase people’s engagement and interest in the app. They also improve customer loyalty. When you display the content adjusted to an individual person, your chances of attracting their attention grow. Such solutions as in-app messages generated based on somebody’s preferences or personalized notifications can significantly improve your relationship with customers.
Example: Your customer, named Mark, is on the bus. While traveling through the city, he gets a notification that the book from his list of favorites is on sale. It makes Mark want to open the app because he instantly sees the benefit of it. And when he’s already in, he finds the recommendations of new potentially interesting items.
This way, not only you encourage users to open the app and explore what it has to offer. You also show them that you know what they like. It builds a positive image of your brand.
Suggested solutions: notifications, recommended articles and products, in-app messages, unique categories of content, loyalty programs
- Make sure users know what to do in order to perform the desired action.
- Be available and streamline communication between your brand and the customer.
- Don’t shower people with info. Focus on what’s important for them at their stage of the user journey.
How does transparency affect engagement? It makes it easier for users to see the full potential of your app. Transparent navigation and communication system show people how to perform their actions.
They also give them an idea of how much time and effort it requires. As a result, people are more likely to trust you. Exploring your app would also become easier because intuitive design presents to users what they can achieve with the app.
In order to create a transparent environment, the UI should clearly indicate where users are at the moment. For example, what category they’ve entered and how to move back or forward. The design must also inform them how many steps it takes to finish the complex process, such as making a purchase or signing up. The important rule is to consistently use the same design patterns. It facilitates learning the app.
Sometimes, intuitive design is not enough. In such cases, quick access to additional information is a must. You can provide it, for instance, by adding the FAQ or How it works section. Introducing live chat can also be a great idea. Be available and easy to reach.
Suggested solutions: informative content (manuals, instructions, FAQ); intuitive navigation system; live chat
- Educate people on why they should be interested in your app.
- Carefully choose the content you want people to focus on.
- Plan the information architecture with users’ preferences and previous experiences in mind.
Make sure users won’t miss the most important and potentially interesting elements of your app. Show them how the app can solve their problems and highlight the main features. You can do that at the very beginning when they open the app for the first time. The onboarding process can present the key features people can focus on. It should facilitate discovering the functionalities and increase user engagement.
Information architecture (IA) and navigation also play an important role in setting priorities. They help people find particular features. The more they are important, the easier it is to spot them. Their job is also to facilitate discovering new options – the ones users don’t know about. Both AI and navigation can improve user engagement as they are encouraging users to delve deeper into the app.
Useful term: Tree testing
You’re not sure if the architecture you implement will increase customer engagement? Conduct the tree testing. It should help you see if users understand the labels in the app. This type of test also allows you to check if these categories are easy to find.
Suggested methods and solutions: tree testing, card sorting, the onboarding process
- Allow users to compete with others and socialize.
- Make people see the value of their engagement in the app.
- Divide big tasks into smaller ones.
It is usually associated with health & fitness or educational software, but you can implement gamification in other types of apps as well. Your app probably helps people achieve a specific goal. Make this goal a part of users’ gamification experience. This way it would be easier for them to achieve something that requires focus and takes more time.
Gamification uses psychological knowledge to support people in achieving their goals. It often introduces elements typical for games, such as points, rewards, leaderboards, and progress tracking. They boost motivation and encourage users to continue using the app.
Useful term: Hick’s Law
This is one of the Laws of UX. Hick’s Law says, among other things, that people are more likely to complete a big, complex task when it’s divided into smaller ones. Remember about it when designing the user flow. Gamification is particularly useful in case of goals that require a significant amount of effort. It’s easier to get engaged in achieving them, when this process is divided into smaller parts.
Suggested solutions: points, rewards, leaderboards, progress tracking, sharing info about the achievements on social media
Designing an engaging experience in mobile apps is always a challenge. Especially, when you operate in a highly competitive market or your niche is difficult to present in an engaging way. But the five elements described above should increase your chances of designing solutions that will bring you closer to the desired result.
It sounds simple but takes some effort to master this approach, so don’t get discouraged at the beginning. The effects are worth it – user engagement impacts sales and builds a better image brand.
Do you want to know how to get more active and engaged users in your specific case? Let us help you with that. Contact us and describe your project. Together we can work on ideas adjusted to your business.