Mobile apps have a great potential in bringing conversions and sales uplift. But in this overcrowded universe, the only condition to success is to engage mobile users.

On the 2 hours and 24 mins that the average UK adult spends on his phone, he spends 81% of them using apps. That is huge. It means that those mobile moments and how users engage with the app, should be in the center of any company mobile commerce strategy. Unfortunately, using an app to build loyalty engage users and make customers come back, is no longer a secret. If you are lucky enough to get people to download your app, the battle is far from being won. Indeed, most of mobile minutes are owned by GAFA and their Chinese equivalent (Baidu, Tencent, Xiaomi and Alibaba). Retailers, banks and travel apps are left with only 10 to 15% of the time spent on mobile.

How to stand out and leverage your app’s full potential? There is no magical recipe. However, here are some useful tips to push back the threat of app removal and oblivion.

Build a strong first experience

During the app user’s life, there are several key moments that will determine the strength of the path to engagement and conversion. The first one is decisive.

On average, if e-commerce apps manage to reach a rate of 77% from install to registration, only 2% of new user make a first purchase. Other studies shows that the average retention rate on Android apps is only by 30% after day 1. Meaning, 70% of Android app users never re-use the app they download. Those numbers are frightening, but, as shown on the graph above, some apps manage to get higher retention rates. Also, the loss of active users becomes more stable after D14. Which means focusing on D0 can be highly rewarding and quickly increase your active user base on both the short and the long term. When users download an app, they are looking for added value and he wants it fast. Mobile consumption is like snacking, users are looking for services with high added value that will immediately improve their life.

A quick win is to reduce registration to its minimum. For example, when you register into Uber, you can scan your credit card so you don’t have to painstakingly enter your credit card number. With a quick registration, the user can start discovering the app right away.

To keep their focus on your app, users need to use your features. An easy way to make your users engage with an app is gamification. Tinder-like features quickly put the user’s mind into your app. It’s simple, it’s funny and in the same time the user can start understanding the benefits of your app. That’s what Deezer, the French music streaming service, did with their onboarding process. Two of Deezer added values are first giving you the ability to listen to music and offer personalized recommendation. The problem is that, when new users download the Deezer app, they don’t know what to listen and since they are new, Deezer don’t know what these users like. Therefore, the app will ask you to select some music genre and them swipe right or left songs or album to discover your musical taste.


Deezer’s onboarding to get to know users and engage them

This new feature was a success: six month after the new feature was launched, engagement rate on the first day doubled.

Interact & engage with users

Once the retention rate at D0 is optimized, app developers have to make sure their users come back and stay active. The best way to do so is to use CRM tools and develop a strategy adapted to each step of the user life time. Some companies offer CRM services tailored for mobile apps and other companies build their own in-house CRM system. But the most important thing is to identify when and how to communicate with your user. To have a successful CRM strategy data is key.

Successful CRM strategies identify when users need to be solicited and with what message. Whether it’s email, inapp message or push notifications, make sure your messages don’t interrupt or pollute your users’ experience. For example, asking to rate the app just when it opens will prevent the user from using the app. Data is also the key to personalization and tailored messages. Nowadays people are overwhelmed with newsletters, push notifications and unwanted advertising. It is essential to show the users the how a service can help them specifically.

It is also essential to create fresh content. If users don’t see what’s new in your app they will not come back. The content can come from an editorial team but it is expensive and relatively hard to produce. The cheap and efficient way to get fresh content is to encourage user-generated content. User-generated content will engage user by involving and in the same time attract other users.

Here is what the Washington Post did to keep its users’ attention. They launch a series of boxes to make sure the users get the content they are looking for. See for yourselves:


Look for the “ahah moment”

Exchanging with users is good but as I said earlier, knowing them is even better. Without data collection, companies cannot study the customer journey to identify pain points.

In order to work on user engagement it’s mandatory to track the user journey. This data will allow you to verify your actions are working (through A/B test) but also know which features are essential to users. The best way to optimize the customer journey is to find the “ahah” moments. They are the tipping point in the customer experience. They differentiate long term active users, your super users, from the rest. Once these moments are identify, they will help you build your CRM strategy, identify when users became either super users or future inactive user. For example, if superusers do one more specific action than regular users, your CRM strategy should push regular users to do the specific action.

Here is an interesting talk that occured during on EBG meeting on how to develop user engagement.


Overall, engaging mobile users is not an easy journey and growth hackers bend over backward to find the winning recipe. Mobile users are not easy to engage with and the growing app market will not make this task easier.