Mobile GrowthMobile MarketingRetention

5 Tips to Increase App User Engagement and Retention

By February 11, 2020 No Comments

You can have a highly effective app install campaign that brings you new users and increases installs, but that doesn’t mean you should stop there. 71% of app users churn in the first 90 days after downloading an app, so the pressure is on you to give users a reason to stay. To help you minimize churn, we’ve compiled some tips to retain and engage users after install. 

1. Make the Onboarding Process Efficient and Easy

Make login and account creation as simple as possible by reducing the number of steps a user has to take to create an account or get started. 

Highlight and explain key features to users when they sign up, especially if your app is complex. Walk users through a guide with visuals that explains how to use in-app functions, but don’t throw too much information at once. Introduce only the most important features at the start, then once the user moves on to different functions of the app, walk them through those additional features.


Pinterest’s onboarding shows users how to use the platform’s main features in a simple, elegant way.

Also, ensure users know the value of your product during onboarding. Include your value proposition during sign up so the user is reminded why they installed the app and the benefit it brings to them. 


PicsArt includes their value proposition on the signup page (“Start making awesome pictures!”) to remind users why they downloaded. 

2. Respond to Customer Feedback

Make sure you promptly reply to customer reviews on the app store. Assure users that your team is working on bugs and empathize with their frustration. And make your response is personal — address customers by their names, and directly reference the issues they mention. Response to customer complaints shows you care and gives users a reason to keep using your app rather than uninstall. But don’t stop there! You should also respond to satisfied customers to thank them for their business. 

Ask for feedback as well. As customers use your app, ask them to leave a rating or review on the app store. You could include banners or interstitials that pop up during app use that prompt users to give feedback, just make sure they pop up during appropriate times and not while a user is completing a task. For more about how to encourage users to leave reviews and improve your app ratings, read our blog post. 

3. Use Referrals as a Re-Engagement Strategy

Referral programs are a great way to motivate users to keep using your app. In fact, Branch data shows that 30-40% of referring user traffic is sent to a previously downloaded app, making referrals a key re-engagement channel in addition to a growth channel. To incentivize users to share your app or links to in-app content, you can offer a referral reward, such as a discount or credit. Make sure you leverage deep links in your referral program so that the user is brought seamlessly from the referral source to your app. Even better: using Branch, your referrals will be accurately attributed so you can identify top referrers by installs, clicks, and opens — giving you a full picture of your referral program’s performance.

4. Drive Users to Your App From All Channels

Make it easy for users who already have your app to navigate back to it. A way to do this is to make your mobile website a source to encourage users to go back to the app with Branch’s Journeys. Journeys allow you to deliver fully customized smart banners that are personalized to a user’s unique experience. For example: you can display a minimalist banner or a full-page interstitial on your mobile site to users who already have your app installed to offer a seamless pathway to that same content within the app. 

Another platform from which you can offer users a smooth transition into your app is email. 70% of emails are opened on mobile devices, which means your email campaigns need to be mobile-friendly — but this also means email is a great channel for app engagement. With Branch’s Universal Email solution, you can take users from email promos directly to the correct in-app content. The result: improved user experience, more app usage, and more conversions. In addition, Universal Email provides you with email-to-app data, which allows you to compare all of your email campaigns across devices and platforms.

5. Don’t Forget to A/B Test

If you’re creating engagement and retention campaigns without testing and measuring, you’re doing it wrong. Testing is essential for you to figure out what works to keep users engaged. Although you can test many different variables, test them one at a time so you know what actually improved performance. Example: don’t test a different banner color and a different CTA text at the same time, test them separately. 

How to A/B Test:

  • Identify a primary goal to focus on depending on your campaign, such as an increase in 7-day user retention. 
  • Come up with a few A/B test ideas for that metric, then create a hypothesis for how that version might reach your goal. 
  • Use an A/B test software to create variations in the feature you want to change. TIP: Branch’s Journeys has out-of-the-box A/B testing functionality — no dev resources necessary!
  • Run your experiment. Be sure to run it long enough to get a significant test audience size.
  • After your experiment is complete, analyze the results. 

Some features you should test to measure the effectiveness of your user engagement and retention strategy: 

  • Different versions of messaging, whether it be in your referral campaigns or onboarding process, to see what works best to retain users and drive conversions.
  • Different versions of your Journeys smart banners. Compare the effectiveness of smaller banners versus full-page interstitials in driving web-to-app engagement.
  • The copy in your Journeys banners to see what messaging is most effective at driving users from your mobile website back to your app. 
  • Your onboarding process — test different versions of the onboarding instructions, length of the process, and the number of screens it takes to complete onboarding to see which version retains the most users. 

It’s critical to keep users engaged so they don’t churn after install. To learn how Branch can help you re-engage users and measure engagement campaigns against all your marketing activities, contact our sales team

Branch is a mobile linking platform providing unified mobile experiences and measurement for more than 50,000 mobile apps, including Airbnb, Pinterest, BuzzFeed, Tinder, Foursquare, Yelp, and Sephora. Branch’s linking platform can help you grow your mobile app through features like deep linking, sharing, referrals, mobile banners and interstitials, custom app onboarding, and unified attribution across platforms and channels. Learn more about Branch or contact sales today.
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