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User Engagement

App Engagement Guide: Definition, Metrics, Strategies, and More

Deniz Tasyürek
Aug 22, 2021
min read

Are you a developer or business owner looking to launch a successful app for your brand or improve a poorly performing mobile app? Learning how to grow your app user base and improve app engagement are essential skills to learn.

Ever since Nokia launched “the first mobile app” on the Nokia 6110 phone in 1997 (the popular game “Snake”), there has been a rapid change in the functionality and complexity of mobile apps.

The astronomical increase in the demand for mobile apps for Android and iOS devices is causing mobile app developers and businesses to churn out numerous apps for various purposes. Unfortunately, not all these apps go on to become the huge success their developers had dreamed of. And this happens due to a variety of reasons.

Currently, mobile app downloads and usage are estimated to generate over $233 billion in consumer app spend (App Store and Play Store combined) by 2026. So, improving your app’s user experience and mobile app engagement statistics should be your number one priority if you aim to partake in this projected success. If this describes your goal, the good news is that you’ve come to the right place for help.

In this app engagement marketing 101 article, we’ll be sharing innovative ways for you to improve app engagement and retention with mobile marketing. Also, we’ll show you some important mobile app engagement statistics to ensure your app is a success. Finally, we’ll have a look at some great engaging app examples.

That’s a lot, so stick around till the very end.


What Is App Engagement?

App engagement is a term defined by several metrics measuring and describing the level of user interaction with an app. There are millions of apps available for mobile devices, with a wide range of functions to solve people’s daily problems.

Studies show that an average app user uses nine apps daily and up to 30 applications every month. Also, a smartphone user launches apps 2.36 times daily.

All this data is made available thanks to special mobile analytics algorithms that monitor app engagement statistics. These statistics include the total number of users, number of active app users, their session interval, session length, time spent in the app, screen flow, retention, and conversion.

Studying app engagement analytics is crucial for the success of any mobile app today. Hence, understanding how engagement works are compulsory for any developer or entrepreneur looking to tap into success in the mobile app industry.


Why Is App Engagement Important?

What is the nightmare for an app owner? You spent months developing a potential killer app for your business or brand, invested thousands of dollars for user acquisition, tried so hard to make it accessible to as many people as possible, and you come to realize that nobody uses it.

Without the right approach and tools, it is quite possible.This is where app user engagement metrics come in. Mobile app engagement campaigns can be used to study your app’s performance.

From the first moment, you can keep a close eye on your app engagement analytics to know what’s working and what isn’t.This way, you can swiftly take action to tweak your approach to drive better engagement.

Mobile App Engagement Metrics

User engagement metrics for mobile apps play an essential role in the success of any mobile app. The primary purpose of a marketing metric is to provide a quantifiable way to track performance and gauge an app’s marketing campaign’s effectiveness.

While there are many ways to measure your app user engagement, you can set up your mobile engagement analytics software to screen for key performance indicators (KPIs).

Without further ado, below are the most important user engagement KPIs to look out for in your mobile marketing metrics.


1. Engagement Rate

Your app’s engagement rate is a metric for the average number of interactions your app receives per user.

To calculate the engagement rate, you divide the number of unique users who engage with in-app ads by the total number of active users. Engagement rate = engaged users / total active users and multiply the result by 100.

So what is a good app engagement rate? As a general internet standard, an engagement rate between 1% and 5% is considered to be good enough.

2. The Number of Active Users

An active user of an app is someone who continues to use your app after downloading it. These people regularly opened your mobile app and carry out some actions within a given period (a day, a week, or a month).

One of the most exciting ways to measure app user engagement is to track the number of active users. Active users are the ones who take the core action while using the app (purchase, streaming a video, or else).

Different analytics software can be used to track the number of daily active users (DAU), weekly active users (WAU), and monthly active users (MAU).

As a developer or business owner, knowing how to take advantage of the DAU in marketing will help you increase the number of active users in the long run.

3. App Abandonment Rate

I guess even apps can have abandonment issues. The abandonment rate refers to the percentage of users that abandoned a mobile app after one use.

Here comes another developer’s nightmare: And this one can make weeks of development feel like a complete waste of time and effort! App abandonment is one metric to keep an eye on. A high abandonment rate is an indication that your app is not providing consistent value to your users. It means that there’s much work to be done on your part.

4. Retention Rate

Quite the opposite of abandonment rate, your app’s retention rate reflects the consistent value your app provides to your users. It shows how effective your app is in engaging users and making them want to use the mobile app for a long time.

Your app’s retention rate shows the percentage of users that have used your app more than once in a given period.

Here’s how to calculate the retention rate of any app:

Retention rate (%) = (Number of retained users over the set period / Total number of new users from the previous period) * 100%


5. In-App Purchases

While many apps on the app store are available for free, many developers have been able to earn money from their apps through in-app purchases.

In-app purchases are a great way to provide extra content, subscriptions, or added features and functionality that your app users will be able to pay for inside your app.

The more engaging your app is to people, the higher the chances of getting people to make in-app purchases.

6. Session Time

Measuring a user’s session time is another great way to determine user engagement in mobile apps. But what actually defines a user’s session time?

Session time refers to the interval between a user launching your app and the user’s last action before closing it.

You can measure the average session length, average daily sessions per daily active user, average daily sessions per user, and the interval between sessions.

7. Screen Flow

Mobile apps are a combination of different screens loaded with different features and information your users need. Studying how your users interact with your app navigating from one screen to the other, identifying what screens they visit most, what actions they most frequently take, and what screens make them leave your app are very important metrics.

Screen flow helps you identify the screens with the most interactions and the shortest and longest viewing times. Armed with this information, you can make improvements that will help improve your app performance.


Mobile App Engagement Strategies

So, here comes the real reason you’re here: You want to know how to keep users engaged and what user engagement strategy can help you scale your app marketing.

Below are some of the most effective app user engagement tips to implement to improve your app engagement drastically.

1. Flawless User Experience

One effective way to increase mobile app engagement is by providing a flawless user experience for your users. But what makes a mobile app design flawless?

While every UX designer has their views and best practices when designing mobile application interfaces, it always helps make your designs work for new users of your application.

This is where the knowledge of mental models comes into play. Mental models are important in user engagement UX design because they serve as a guide to help you build an app that meets your user’s expectations.

Instead of new users going through a learning curve just to get familiar with your app interface, you can make your app intuitive to them.

2. Simple Onboarding

Onboarding is simply the process of helping new users of your mobile application understand its interface and features. So, you need to remove any awkward uncertainties that come with trying out your app for the first time.

A simple onboarding experience aims to simplify how your product will help your users achieve their goals.

So how do you engage users with onboarding? A simple app onboarding process combines education, inspiration, actionable and timely insights. In other words, it helps to prove to new users that your product is the solution to whatever problem that motivated them to install your app in the first place.

3. Gamification

Another way to improve your in-app engagement is by gamifying your app. Gamification is a fascinating concept used in mobile app development involving game design elements in non-gaming apps.

How gamification increases user engagement is simple: the same way a mobile game builds curiosity, cultivates competition, and improves user engagement. Gamifying your mobile app introduces innovative ways to improve your overall app user engagement. Accordingly, developers can introduce levels, in-app currencies, badges and stickers, points, challenges, and other forms of incentives to increase user engagement and retention.

4. Smart Personalization

The tech world is advancing, and smart personalization is fundamental to any app engagement marketing strategy.

Providing a personalized experience for your users is now a possibility, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI). Relevant data about your users is now made readily available. Taking full advantage of this information will help increase your app engagement.

Your app will attempt to understand and meet your customers’ intent when they’re researching or asking questions about your brand or products. This algorithm automatically understands your user’s individual preferences and serves up the most relevant information.

5. In-App Marketing

What is in-app marketing? In-app marketing is a very effective strategy that developers and brands use to engage, upsell and introduce existing users of their apps to new products and services.

This strategy allows you to take advantage of your already existing user base. You develop a marketing campaign and deploy it within your mobile application to be displayed to your customers while they’re actively using your app.

Developers and business owners can use in-app marketing to use real-time and personalized messages to help engage their customers.

6. Efficient User Segmentation

Segmentation in mobile app marketing simply refers to the crucial process of dividing your user base into specific groups based on their shared characteristics. Like every other business, segmentation of your app users allows you to target your in-app marketing campaigns. Eventually, it increases your chances of being more profitable and successful in the long run.

Instead of pushing irrelevant app notifications or emails to your users, you can significantly increase your mobile app engagement by utilizing more efficient user segmentation.

7. Two-Way Communication

Two-way communication is an interesting user engagement feature in which communication is negotiated. It’s a very effective form of interactive mobile marketing where both sender and receiver (you and your users) listen to each other and are willing to make changes to keep both parties happy and living in harmony.

This form of interactive mobile marketing increases engagement in mobile apps and helps to build trust.

8. Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are another great way to encourage people to use your app for a longer time. These incentive programs aim to increase app engagement and user retention.

When people are rewarded for being loyal to your brand for a certain period, it encourages new users who are new to your app to stick around longer and be more active users.


4 Ways to Increase App Engagement on Your App

Now, you have a pretty clear idea of effective strategies to increase mobile app engagement. Here are some app engagement ideas and mobile app engagement tools you can adopt today when developing your mobile app.

1. Push Notifications

Push notifications are an effective way for app publishers to send messages directly to their users. Every time you swipe down your notification bar on your smartphone to read that message from Tinder, Instagram, or your mobile banking app, you’re enjoying the benefits of having push notifications enabled for these apps.

As a publisher, you can take advantage of push notifications to send important messages to your users about promotions and new products, or just a kind message for the day. These messages can appear on a lock screen or in the top section of a mobile device. The overall goal is to increase user engagement on app.

2. In-App Messages

What is in-app messaging? Unlike push notifications, these messages are sent to a user’s mobile phone and displayed in their notification bar. In-app messages are targeted messages sent directly to a user while they’re using a mobile app.

In-app messages are an ingenious way to facilitate onboarding. They allow for seamless app marketing user engagement. Marketers can easily share product and service updates or promote relevant offers using app engagement ads.

Some of the best in-app messaging examples include: ‘Dropbox’ using this feature to focus on the most impactful product improvements; ‘GoToWebinar’ walks users through a new feature step by step, and ‘Mailchimp’ uses this feature to encourage users to take a specific action.

3. In-App Stories

The explosion of in-app stories into the social media scene has taken the internet by storm. Now, it is not surprising how many different apps are adopting this amazing feature which seems to be the idea of the century.

Since in-app stories are immersive and easy to consume, they are useful to increase user engagement on your app. The good news is that you can easily integrate in-app stories into your app without worrying about any complex coding.

4. Offers, Promotions, and Incentives

Offers, promotions, and mouth-watering incentives are the oldest tricks in the book to improve user app engagement. Most publishers don’t shy away from taking full advantage.

Rewarding active app users or giving new users cool discounts on certain in-app paid features will keep people using your app for a longer time.


App Engagement Examples By Top Engaging Mobile Apps

Over the years, we’ve seen successful brands utilize some app engagement best practices to increase the way people interact with their apps. Below are some of the most popular examples of top mobile apps that you can learn from.

1. “Only You” Campaign by Spotify

The Spotify “Only You” Campaign is an ingenious marketing strategy that takes full advantage of the smart personalization mobile app engagement strategy mentioned earlier.

The “Only You” global campaign provides users with a complete in-app experience that allows you to create personalized playlists in fun and engaging ways. This allows users to share their stats with the in-app experience. Find out more about the “Only You” Campaign by Spotify.


2. Live Shopping Events by NTWRK

In some places around the world, live stream shopping is already a growing business trend, but after the COVID restrictions, the trend is becoming increasingly popular in the United States.

Launched in 2018, NTWRK is a live shopping platform that focuses specifically on curated product drops. These products are so unique and can’t be found anywhere else.

NTWRK has taken full advantage of this trend by introducing live shopping events. In this way, it provides a platform for brands and influencers to pitch their products to users so that they can engage directly and instantly click through to make a purchase.


3. The Nike Run Club App by Nike

Nike Run Club is a special application by a popular footwear company, Nike. To provide a better way to engage their customers, the app provides runners with a personalized experience to help them run better and track their running goals.

So how does the Nike Run Club App drive user retention to become the number one running app in the world? This is because Nike has been able to gamify the app’s user experience in several remarkable ways.

Users can unlock challenging milestones, benefit from a reward system, and compete on leaderboards. This helps to increase user engagement and retention.

Through smart personalization features, Nike collects valuable data about their users’ chosen sports, preferred styles, and activity levels. They then create a personalized experience that effectively keeps app users on the app 3 times longer. Find out more about the Nike Run Club App.

4. Tinder

Being one of the most popular dating apps in the world today, Tinder has evolved over the years to provide one of the most exciting user engagement experiences in the mobile app industry by combining the best of first impressions, gamification, and flattery.

With simple swiping gestures, a personalized match suggestion system tailored to their users’ taste, and a way to connect to popular social networking sites, Tinder is making it 100 times easier for people to find and build genuine relationships.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re an app developer or a brand looking to publish a new app on the app store, or you already have an app that’s performing poorly. You must learn how to improve retention with mobile marketing, how to increase mobile app engagement with these awesome strategies, and how to keep users on your app for as long as possible.

Do these and it doesn’t matter how small you start out, it’ll keep your user base growing daily at an astronomical rate.

If you have any questions or need any help understanding any of the concepts in this app engagement marketing 101 article, do not hesitate to send us an email and we’ll be happy to help.

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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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