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Top 8 Mistakes That Reduce App Stickiness

Berkem Peker
November 28, 2022

App stickiness is necessary to fuel long-term success with an app. Building app stickiness involves making people use your app on a regular basis and over a long period of time. In an attempt to make sure users keep engaging with your app and help it succeed, you need to incorporate the right mobile app strategies.
However, there are some strategies that you may learn about that actually hinder your ability to engage and retain users. They may appear helpful on the surface, but it’s best to avoid certain features and strategies that may inadvertently drive users away. To give you a better idea of what to avoid, the following are some strategies that many apps still try that will likely hurt the user experience.

1. Overabundance of Notifications

Notifications—including push notifications, in-app notifications, and SMS text messages—are still vital to a successful mobile app strategy. The problem is that many apps try to use too many notifications to constantly grab and hold users’ attention. You might be tempted to send a notification every couple of days or even every day to users, but sending too many will simply serve to annoy existing users. Because of this, users may turn off notifications from you, which will prevent them from seeing the notifications that truly matter, such as those pertaining to deals, updates, and other critical information.
In some cases, having too many notifications may simply lead people to stop using your app or uninstall it altogether, particularly if most notifications are irrelevant and unhelpful. Instead of bombarding users with attention-seeking notifications, carefully select what notifications to send to users. You can send notifications about certain discounts, important app updates, and personalized product recommendations based on previous orders, among others. The key is to balance frequency with relevance.

2. Constant Update Releases

No app is perfect upon its initial release. App owners and developers will want to make certain updates to fix various bugs or further optimize the user experience, which makes sense. The problem is that some apps may immediately work on and release an entire update to fix even the most minor issues or design flaws. Even if you’re a perfectionist, you should carefully roll out updates as needed. Identify certain issues and plan for a release that might fix multiple issues at once.
Make sure you take the time to figure out whether something is worth updating. If it’s purely for aesthetics, you may want to hold off on the update—you might find other items to update with these elements at a later point. On the other hand, if you become aware of an app-breaking bug, an update will be necessary.

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3. Long Animations and Obnoxious Graphics

In an attempt to make their apps as engaging as possible, some app owners may opt to include lengthy or over-produced animations and other graphical elements. For instance, apps may use transitional animations as different features load or users access different pages within the app. However, this is more likely to irritate users who simply want to access various features. An interface that’s overloaded with graphics will also deter users.
Remember, aesthetics only go so far in an app when users turn to apps primarily for their functionality. Try to strike a balance between visual appeal and usability. Sometimes the most minimalist design is the one that works the best to engage and retain users. If anything, the key to standing apart is giving your users a level of functionality that competitors don’t offer. Short animations and a degree of graphical flair can connect with users and supplement features, but don’t overdo it.

4. Requesting Too Much User Data

People shouldn’t have to give too many permissions for an app to function. While many apps now need to ask users to allow for cross-platform tracking, some may want to ask for even more permissions to gather more useful user data. The purpose for this could be as innocuous as simply wanting to figure out how users engage with an app to optimize the user experience, but there are other ways to do so. Generally, it’s in your app and your audience’s best interest to limit permissions requests. Otherwise, if you ask too much of your users, including data that doesn’t even seem relevant to the app’s functions, this will push users away.
This is in line with the drive for increased privacy for consumers both on websites and in apps. One of the biggest transitions recently came when Google announced that webmasters would no longer be able to collect third-party cookies. While this has seen a delay that’s expected to last until 2023, businesses are now beginning to seek alternatives to third-party cookies, including the use of first-party cookies that involve opt-ins and other direct user input.
There are many ways to collect vital user data on your app that aren’t as suspicious or intrusive. You can ask for feedback from existing users in the form of in-app rating systems or surveys, for example. In addition, you could see user flow after initial installs and see if there are certain bottlenecks preventing people from moving forward. You’ll also be able to see which ads, social media platforms, and other channels are attracting the highest number of long-term users and optimize those campaigns accordingly. All of these can help you gauge user behavior to better determine how to improve the user experience along with user acquisition.


5. Introducing a UX That’s Too Vague

Another potential mobile app strategy that may reduce app stickiness is an unclear user experience. Apps like Snapchat and others often use intuitive swiping and other elements to help streamline their UX. While people are largely familiar with how these apps function, they may not be sure how yours works, particularly if they haven’t even heard of your app beyond the initial ad or another touchpoint. People want to be certain about what to do to interact with your app, or they’re likely to leave due to a lack of clarity.
This is why you need to use a clear UX that people can easily understand. If you want to try something new with your app’s UX, you must at least educate users about the specific element. To achieve this, you can implement an effective onboarding process. Using features such as interactive app stories that allow users to try various features in a tutorial, you can make sure your users aren’t lost when first interacting with your app. At the same time, make sure the onboarding process isn’t too long and that it doesn’t introduce too many features at once, as this can also cause people to leave your app before they actually begin using it.

young-woman-in-the-library-holding-a-smartphone-receiving-notifications-app-stickiness-concept

6. Adding a Large Number of Features

When you begin developing your app, you probably have a specific vision as to what you want to achieve with it. This vision will help you determine which specific features you’ll want to develop and implement to solve a particular problem for your audience. This will ultimately make sure your app is valuable to users and helps them in some way. Eventually, either while developing the first version of the app or at a later time after its release, you may have the desire to add even more features to further optimize it. You might think of particular features that will form the perfect UX or surpass competing apps’ capabilities.
While some features you’ll want to add may be relevant, not all of them will be. Without expecting it, you may eventually find that your app goes beyond the original vision, to the point where the original app is almost entirely unrecognizable. This could wind up causing people to leave who initially found your app to be useful and engaging as the experience becomes overloaded with irrelevant features.
The key to preventing this particular problem is to be selective when considering new features or functionalities. Consider whether these items will actually contribute to your original vision or if they might lead the app astray. Additionally, consider your audience and what they want. Different users will have different needs, in which case adding features that support different user segments may be worth implementing.

7. Surprising Users With Popups

When promoting certain sales or other items in an app, app owners may wish to do so using in-app popup windows. While they may grab users’ attention, they have the potential to be irritating and obstructive rather than enticing. For instance, some apps may bring up popup windows advertising a new product discount that appears right when someone is about to view another product in an eCommerce app. Some may encounter these pop ups on the home screen, which only annoys users who go in with the goal of completing a specific action upon opening the app. These pop ups can be especially annoying to users if they repeat and show the same information every time the user opens the app.
Popups may seem like a good idea if they appear exciting and capable of grabbing people’s attention, but it’s often the best policy to avoid them entirely. In lieu of popup windows, consider push notifications or other less obstructive means of promotion that won’t negatively impact the in-app experience.

8. Not Conducting Enough Market Research

You may have a perceivably great idea for an app based on something that you would specifically like to see, but you need to research your audience before developing your app. Don’t simply assume you know what people will want. Without a specific audience in mind, you may not be able to go beyond attracting curious users with your ads and marketing. To keep people invested in your app, you must know how to meet your audience’s needs from the start.
Keep in mind that market research doesn’t stop with initial development—it applies far beyond that. Keep an eye on current market trends, including what types of wants and pain points users express, along with what your competitors are doing. Neglecting to keep up with the market could quickly put your app behind as other innovators in the same category continue to adapt to the ever-changing market.
You may believe that your app will continue to be relevant for many years and maintain the belief that “if it works, don’t fix it,” but there are always different strategies that you can try and features worth implementing to stay relevant. By staying ahead in your app category and continuing to understand what users want, you’ll keep your audiences consistently involved in your app.

hands-holding-smartphone-in-the-dark-app-stickiness-concept

Use the Right Features and Strategies to Increase App Stickiness

By avoiding these app stickiness-reducing strategies and features with your app while incorporating the right ones, you’ll be able to maximize user retention and engagement. To develop a successful app that gets favorable results in the long term, you need to take the right steps to keep users engaged and satisfied. With a balance of aesthetics and functionality, relevant features, helpful upgrades, an optimized UX, and valuable notifications, you can keep people coming back to your app long after the first install.
Over time, as your app develops, you may uncover new strategies that are worth using. Practicing diligence and identifying the right opportunities for your app will help you maximize its success. In the process, you’ll generate more app stickiness that helps keep your app in the spotlight above less savvy competitors.
One helpful solution you can use is Storyly. Using Storyly, you can engage users with a combination of useful content and aesthetically pleasing visuals with in-app stories. These can include personalized and interactive stories that include messaging and visuals that lead people to complete the desired action. Storyly can help communicate with your users in creative ways, eliminating the need for intrusive pop ups and other potentially obstructive strategies. You can use Storyly to request feedback from users in the most engaging way through interactive stickers, educate users about new features without overwhelming them, and make personalized product recommendations based on users’ interests and order history. Combined with solid mobile marketing strategies and content, this tool can be the key to establishing a strong connection with users and gaining a much-needed competitive edge.

Berkem Peker

Berkem is master of none, jack of all trades. Happens to be a Growth Strategist at Storyly. Knows/writes about growth frameworks and user behavior.

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