How to boost user engagement in your app?

App Store

How to boost user engagement in your app?

This is our favorite recipe so far, but it’s also the hardest to implement. Studies show that both Apple’s and Google’s algorithms learn users’ interactions with your app and prioritize the ones with better engagement levels. Engagement means the frequency of interaction with your app, the number of uninstalls, and the percentage of users who keep using the app. The best way to improve engagement is by focusing on different stages of the app funnel and optimizing it one by one with small tests.


Level: Challenging
Read time: 112 seconds
Number of steps: 7

1. App Store

Your user’s journey with your app starts at the app store. Your app page on the app store must attract just the right users who can benefit from your app. So be clear about what the app can and can’t do – don’t make promises your app can’t fulfill. Sometimes lower conversion rates on the app store means better users. Try to test that.

2. Onboarding

The first 60 seconds on the app are the most critical. Your onboarding should be clear and easy and make users start interacting right away. Sometimes it is better to delay the signup stage to make sure your users understand your app and actually started using it.

3. Signup

Test a few formulas for sign up options. Sometimes it is better to have a few different options (e.g. email, Facebook, Twitter, G+), but sometimes too much choice gets lower engagement. 80% of the top grossing U.S. apps use a Facebook login which yields a 26% increase in engagement.

4. Habit

20% of your users will open your app only once. You must make your app a habit.  Send them good reasons to come back via personalized emails and push notifications. Learn the time they read your notifications and send it again the same time. Try to customize it based on their preference with your app – personalized push notifications get a 25% higher open rate. Add deep links to the app to make it easy for users to find stuff easily and come back to the same spot they were at.

5. Engagement

5. Add a sense of urgency to your app – stuff you can only do now or it will be gone forever. A good example is Timehop, an app that shows you what you did last year on the same date. Instead of showing all of your old Facebook posts, they changed their model to only show you your old posts for 24 hours, the posts disappeared at midnight, so users needed to login every day to see old posts. This increases engagement dramatically.

6. Retention

65% of people stop using apps three months after they install it. Try setting milestones for users, award them with badges, and let them know about new features they can enjoy. Sometimes just changing the icon of the app allows users to see something new on their screen and gets the app noticed again. 

runkeeper icon evolution

7. Virality

Add viral hooks to your app, and make it easy to share with friends. Choose your default share buttons carefully. For certain apps, public sharing like on Facebook and Twitter is suitable, while for others, personal sharing via Whatsapp, text message or email is much more relevant. SMS invitations to friends containing the download link have proved to get conversion rates of 20-50%.


Optimizing your onboarding process, app retention, and virality are the keys for a successful app, and these will make your app rank better in both stores. Focus on each stage at a time, learn your competitors’ methods, brainstorm ideas, and start testing them with baby steps.


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