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User Experience

How to Re-engage Your Churned Users

Berkem Peker
November 28, 2022

What is Churn?

Churned users are users who interacted with your app in the past but haven’t interacted with it within a particular time period. These users could be the users who uninstalled your app or who stopped using without deleting it. On average, only 25-40% of new users open an app after the first week, and this figure gradually shrinks over time and falls up to 4% over a year out.


Understanding Churn

Identifying churned users and figuring out why they left is vital to building a strategy to re-engage them and lessen the churn rate.

Companies refer to different types of users when they talk about churn. So, the first thing to do is to identify the churned user and churn ratio correctly. Many businesses miss the importance of labeling churned users and directly mark some inactive users as churned. However, one of the most significant points when labeling a user as churned is looking at the user’s data and previous behavior.

Timing is essential when you are labeling a user as churned. If you react too late to re-engage with your churned user by calculating the timing wrong, the efficiency and effectiveness of your re-engagement strategies decrease. If you misidentify a user as churned, you will waste time and other resources to engage this user in the wrong way. Additionally, if you have a problem with labeling churned users, you are likely also misclassifying some of the users’ lifecycles, resulting in wrong further strategies.

When it comes to calculating churn and identifying those users, some companies look at the cancellation, which is an action that occurs as the latest steps of churned users. Some prefer to look at revenue churn, which means whether churned users are free or premium ones. Every business may require a different approach. Yet, since the activity is the main determinant of churns, it is one of the best ways to track the activity and activity churn.

Image: Inside Intercom, Users usually don’t stop using an app suddenly.

When calculating the activity churn, one way is to consider each customer segment separately by their expected activity frequency. So you can reach a churn timeline by dividing the time passed since last activity by expected activity frequency.

churn timeline formula
Image: Churn timeline formula

Before starting re-engagement, you should understand why users are leaving. Are they leaving because they don’t like the experience, can’t find value in your app or for other reasons? Get Social explains the reasons as follows:

  • Exaggerated value of the app in ad or description
  • Complex functionality
  • Confusing interface
  • Lack of updates
  • Lack of onboarding process or bad onboarding experience
  • Lack of trust
  • Too much in-app advertising
  • Too many push notifications

To understand which reasons apply to your churned users, you should carefully examine the data and analytics. It is essential to track which actions your users take before they churn. That gives insight into the app flow from the user’s perspective, which screens they like, and on which screens they’re having problems. These results guide you through creating the best strategy to re-engage your churned users.

Re-engaging Your Churned Users

Target Right User

There are different types of churned users from various segments. For example, quick-churn users are those who churn after a registration, first use, launch, etc. These users didn’t have a chance to develop a bond with your app, so it may be harder to re-engage them, and you may need to create more aggressive campaigns. On the contrary, long-churn users are those who churn after a long period of activity. These users are more likely to re-engage since they are familiar with your app and have a relationship with it. When they re-engage, they can be more easily segmented into more valuable, deeper segments.

With your re-engagement campaigns, target the right users and try to develop the best method for each user type.


Personalization is crucial in many business campaigns, and re-engagement is not an exception. It is critical for your users to know that you are approaching them personally.  

You can personalize your app for all users since churning is a process and doesn’t necessarily imply a user who deletes an app. If you want to personalize your app, you can use personalized content such as ads, articles, videos, etc. based on user data. For example, if the user has just bought a laptop on your app, you can stop showing them laptop offers but start showing them laptop case offers.

You can also personalize the interaction by sending them an in-app message after they complete a task. You can customize how and when to interact with the user.

If your users are totally inactive, you should personalize the messages you send them outside your app too. Whether the messaging platform is email or push notifications, you should show the user that your communication is personal. An email starting with “Dear User, please use our app” could cause even harm.

Send Notifications

For most of the app categories, more than 60% of users opt-in for push notifications. But this doesn’t mean that you can send your users irrelevant notifications. You should send personalized notifications to re-engage churned users.

You can send notifications as push notifications or in-app notifications. In-app notifications alert users of new activities or updates when they are using the app. Push notifications alert users when they are not using the application.


Push notifications are powerful for re-engaging your user if we consider push notifications result in 88% more app launches and 2-3x more retention rate.

Although push notifications and in-app messages are effective in re-engagement, if not used wisely, they do more harm than good. 71% of users who uninstall an app do so because of annoying notifications.

Provide Incentives

To encourage users to use your app, you can use incentives such as discounts, gifts, and other rewards. These incentives improve the re-engagement process.

Although rewarding users with real-world materials is powerful, Gabe Zichermann’s hierarchy of rewards based on their relative power to drive engagement and retention suggests that offering stuff is costly and less powerful.

Image: Medium, the hierarchy of rewards

Use Social Media

By being active on social networks, you can not only promote your app but also inform your users about app updates, deliver quality and relevant content, and reward your users for their interaction with your app.

With engaging and creative content, you can create an emotional bond with your user. So, you can work on your social media marketing and come up with the best strategy to re-engage with your churned users.

Enable Social Sharing

By enabling your users to social sharing, you not only promote your app via word-of-mouth but also get a chance to reach your users’ networks in which you have churned users.

Image: Get Social, social sharing


Simply put, gamification is applying various game approaches to real life, or in this case, into your app to engage people. Many non-game apps are actively using gamification for retention and engagement.

You can use gamification to re-engage churned users by rewarding them with badges, points, or currencies by notifying them via in-app messages or push notifications.

Ask for Feedback

Your app is all about your user’s interest and what they value. By asking for feedback from your active users and churned ones, you both show your users that you mind their opinions and also discover the improvement points.

You can use e-mails, in-app messages, or social media channels to ask for feedback. For example, many brands use Instagram polls to learn what the users think.

Image: Hootsuite, Instagram polls


The mobile app world keeps expanding. As of the first quarter of 2020, the App Store and Google Play have over 4 million apps combined. This abundance of apps, of which many are free, pushes mobile app owners to put extra effort not to lose existing user base and bring back the churned ones. You cannot keep all your users. However, we shared some of the best tips you can apply to re-engage the churned ones, and we hope that you will find value in it.

You can re-engage your churned users by creating in-app stories! Discover how.

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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