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User Engagement

10 Strategies That Increase App Use Duration

Deniz Tasyürek
Feb 22, 2022
min read

Keeping app users engaged is critical for an app’s long-term success. Regardless of how many downloads and installs you generate, you need to ensure your app’s experience maximizes users’ overall lifetime value. If you want to determine how engaging your app is for new and existing users, it’s important to look at app use duration.

If people are using your app for long periods of time, this indicates that your app has a high level of stickiness among its audience. On the other hand, if app use duration isn’t as high as you want it to be, you can take several steps to optimize the user experience and keep people engaged.

The following are some of the best ways to go about increasing app use duration and creating the ideal user experience.

1. Analyze Mobile Analytics

When launching your app, it likely won’t be perfect. It might offer users a generally great experience, but you should always take steps to continually improve it over time. After launch, you need to identify certain bottlenecks and potential issues with the user interface (UI) that could prevent people from regularly engaging with the app. If these issues are present, people will be more likely to drop off early on after initially using the app.

You can accurately pinpoint bottlenecks and UI issues by analyzing mobile analytics, much like you would with a website. Specifically, you can find out where people within the app drop off based on screen flow data. In addition, compare metrics pertaining to app use duration both prior to and after implementing certain modifications or updates in your app.

Running Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys is another way to find out how people feel about using your app and to determine if there are certain frustrations. This entails asking users whether they would recommend your app or brand to others based on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being not at all likely and 10 being extremely likely. If people respond to these surveys with a 9 or 10, they’re normally loyal and satisfied, at which point they’re likely to become promoters. Meanwhile, a rating of 7 or 8 indicates that the user is happy, but not satisfied enough to actively promote the app. Detractors, on the other hand, give scores of 0 to 6, which indicates that users are unhappy and less likely to use the app again or recommend it to others.

2. Create a Personalized Experience for Every User

Today’s app users are like any other consumer in that they want to see personalization in their interactions with brands. In fact, 90% of American consumers find personalized marketing to be appealing. 72% also stated that they only engage with personalized messaging, and 56% of online consumers are more likely to return to a website that makes personalized recommendations.

These and many other stats show that personalization is increasingly crucial not just for brands and websites, but also for in-app experiences. If your users benefit from personalized product recommendations, customizable settings, and features, and other personalized elements like progress tracking, they’ll feel more involved in the app. As a result, they’ll be more likely to return to your app more frequently, thus increasing app use duration.

3. Implement App Stories

In providing your users with a personalized experience that’s truly unique to each individual, you can use personalized app stories. These are full-screen content and visuals designed to establish a stronger connection with users.

There are many ways you can use app stories to provide users with ample personalization through your app. For example, you can set up birthday messages that people will see when they open the app. You may send certain users reminders to complete their purchases if they abandon their carts in eCommerce apps. Based on users’ interests, you could also send special offers and personalized product recommendations. All of these will help keep more users engaged by catering to their specific wants and needs.

The right solution like Storyly enables you to make the most of your app stories. Customize templates and layouts to connect with different segments of your audience and test different stories to gauge their performance. You can use app analytics to then determine whether you need to make any adjustments to your stories based on app use duration and other metrics.


4. Boost Ad Campaigns

Although ads are primarily intended for simply acquiring users and boosting both downloads and installs, they can play a role in determining which efforts yield long-term results. Once users see an ad and install your app, you can begin tracking their use over time. You might find that certain ads do a better job of representing your app and that they, therefore, lead to increased engagement on a long-term basis. Conversely, you may find that other ads simply don’t attract long-term users, in which case you can either drop or adjust the ad to generate more traction with users.

When measuring the success of your ad campaigns, look at the lifetime value (LTV) of your users across a variety of platforms. This will help you figure out which campaigns are driving results and which are a waste of ad spending. In addition to individual underperforming ads, you may also discover that certain platforms such as social media channels simply aren’t worth the investment. As a result, you’ll have the ability to streamline your ad campaigns and improve their overall performance and ROI.

5. Optimize the Onboarding Experience

When people first get into an app, the onboarding process should be not only painless but also engaging. Keep the process as streamlined and intuitive as you can, which will help ease people into the app more quickly. Otherwise, users might find the onboarding process to be too much of a hassle, causing them to drop off before actually getting into the core app experience.

There are a couple of key ways you can make onboarding easier for users and lead them into the app. These include:

  • Minimize the number of steps involved in signing up and setting up accounts. Many apps today simplify this process by enabling users to sign up with existing accounts on Facebook, Google, and other channels.
  • Include engaging educational experiences that help users learn how to use your app effectively, with basic introductions to features and interactivity. You can use Storyly’s in-app stories to achieve this gradually as users learn about core functionalities and other features.

6. Maximize Interactivity

Interactivity is another critical element to include in your app. Although all apps have some degree of interactivity, you can keep users coming back by offering as many interactive features as possible to engage users and boost app use duration.

Interactive in-app stories offer a great way to connect with users and keep them more consistently engaged. For example, you can create stories that carry users through a narrative about their experience with the app in a year-end summary, much like what many popular apps have done. Additionally, stories may craft a narrative around types of products that people have purchased through an app and lead them to personalized recommendations based on their interests, with CTAs instantly taking them to the product page.


7. Use Push Notifications

Push notifications are still a remarkable way to keep users coming back to an app. By sending personalized push notifications to the right users at the right time, you can make sure they return after initially using your app.

Push notifications can serve a variety of purposes. They could welcome users to a new app after first using it, encouraging them to jump back in soon afterward. They may also provide helpful information or push discounts or other offers. In addition, they can remind users to complete purchases after abandoning shopping carts, detail users’ progress and entice them to continue it, and send other messages that speak directly to them. App owners can use usage patterns to determine how often to connect with users and which approach to take. Retailers with an app even have the ability to send push notifications based on users’ proximity to physical stores.

There’s plenty of use for push notifications today. The key is striking a balance between attracting more engagement and annoying users with messages that appear too frequently.

8. Offer Mobile-Exclusive Rewards

It’s important for app owners to ensure their existing users feel valued, which you can achieve by offering rewards that are exclusive to this audience. If your business has multiple platforms, including an app, try to offer everything from coupons to rewards programs that only app users can access. These offers will show that you care about your audience and that you’re willing to reward people for their loyalty to your app and brand.

To promote these offers, you can use a combination of push messaging and in-app messaging, along with email campaigns, social media posts, and more. You can even find out which of these channels drives the best results based on how many people engage with your app through these channels.

There are a few specific ways to approach mobile-exclusive offer campaigns:

  • Develop loyalty programs that award users points or certain rewards with regular use.
  • Allow users to access sales early on when they make in-app purchases.
  • Reward regular users of apps with certain in-app rewards once they reach certain levels, whether for a gaming app or another type of app with progress tiers.

9. Get People to Talk About Your App

If people are generally satisfied with your app, they’ll be more likely to share their experience on social media and with their family and friends. This is crucial for word-of-mouth marketing as users become brand ambassadors. However, you shouldn’t simply rely on a great user experience alone to encourage people to spread the word about it. Instead, find ways to get people to share their experience and the app itself with an incentive.

When encouraging people to share on social media, make it easy for them with conveniently located in-app sharing buttons, which would enable users to share specific products, content, pages, and more. Consider offering in-app rewards to users who share their experience, such as in-app currency. Referral programs are another great way to get more people to share and keep using your app, offering users monetary or other rewards every time another user signs up through a referral link. In turn, you’ll have the chance to increase user acquisitions while further increasing app use duration and overall engagement.

One tool that can help you generate buzz on social media is Storyly, which has a social share feature. App owners can add share buttons to in-app stories to enable users to share them on their social media accounts. Users can also choose to send these stories as direct messages to their social circles.

10. Allow for Continued Communication

Using customer support services, social media, and other platforms, you can encourage users to speak their minds about your app, which will further make them feel appreciated. If people want to see certain features added or changes made, you can incorporate these into the app experience. Users who make certain requests may be inclined to use your app more frequently if they see that you’re taking their suggestions seriously. This means longer sessions as people spend more time interacting with new and updated features based on their input. Subsequently, you’ll further boost loyalty among your user base.

One major advantage of allowing for direct two-way communication is the ability to identify bugs or other issues that might deter new and existing users. If people can communicate these to you ahead of identifying them through tests, you can immediately address and fix the issue before it has the chance to hurt your app’s performance more dramatically.

Develop the Right Strategy to Increase App Use Duration and Other Metrics

Implementing these and other strategies can enable you to effectively speak to your audience and meet their needs through your app. If you can take the time to optimize the user experience and keep users more regularly engaged, you’ll be able to boost everything from acquisition and engagement to app use duration. Consistent updates to your app and compelling offers for existing users will encourage them to take full advantage of the features available to them. In the process, you’ll have the chance to maximize user retention while drawing more attention away from competing apps in the same category.

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Deniz Tasyürek

Content & Brand Marketing Strategist at Storyly. Writes about mobile user behavior, user engagement, and retention. A genuine Potterhead. She also loves succulents, cats, and aerial yoga.


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