How to crush your competition like Strava 

How to crush your competition like Strava

Churn is becoming a larger problem for apps as we speak. In 2019 we witnessed record numbers in the churn rates with over 70% of all users abandoning an app after just three months. Why? Well, as insights firm Nielsen describes it: we’re in the “attention economy”. App engagement is a challenge all product managers need to tackle if they want to succeed.

With the average human attention span being only 8 seconds, it’s getting harder to capture and retain your audience. Additionally, we see around 5000 brand messages every day which makes us even more selective.

The decline in app engagement shows in average churn rates after 3 months

Some apps however manage to break through the noise because they have a sustainable app engagement strategy. Previously we discussed how gamification for apps can increase user engagement. We’ve analyzed how navigation app Waze engages over 130 million monthly active users with gamification elements.

In this blog, we will break down what makes the fitness app Strava one of the most popular apps of its kind!

Here’s what you’ll learn about Strava today:

  • How Strava hooks 1 million new users every month

  • The features that led to 2 billion app activities on Strava

  • Eliminate churn ASAP with a smart gamification plug-in tool

  • For speed readers – Here’s what you missed

How Strava hooks 1 million new users every month

Strava is a fitness app with over 55 million users. It started out as a tracking app for runners and cyclists, but it quickly evolved into a community of health enthusiasts. During the pandemic, Strava’s growth has exploded and is now adding around 1 million users per month.

You’ve probably seen some of the creative endeavors on Strava, which the founders never even imagined their app would be used for.

Strava's gamified app leads to creative outlets

What is the most popular type of apps where users spend most of their time? You guessed it: Games! Followed by social networks and entertainment apps. If this teaches us anything it’s that we as humans like to be entertained, before doing anything else.

So what if I told you adding game-like elements to your app can make it more engaging? Gamification for apps can help you shape user behavior so you can have an app just as engaging as Strava!

The most popular apps in the appstore are games, media, and entertainment

What Strava does is more than just implementing some features from a game, it uses people’s inherent motivation to become healthier or to practice sports. Strava designed an experience to change behavior through the science of motivation. It makes sports even more fun!

The features that led to 2 billion app activities on Strava

So what does app gamification actually look like? Well, next to a greatly designed user experience there are some features that push the user journey forward. These features are linked to fundamental human desires, such as curiosity, independence, or social status, so users are activated to keep coming back. In 2019 Strava reported over 2 billion app activities, securing its place as one of the largest fitness communities in the world.

Without any further ado, here are the features Strava uses to increase user engagement:


Strava uses the power of competition to motivate user participation. Those who like to compare themselves against their peers can filter leaderboards to see which of their friends are the fastest. The social component is what motivates users to take action, be it to achieve status by winning or to avoid coming in last.


To maximize user engagement, Strava hosts regular challenges. Here they organize individual and group quests like running a total of 100 kilometers. Challenges trigger users to take action through a desire for achievement. Group challenges however are even more powerful because they play on connectedness and social influence.

If you accept a challenge, the app will track your progress and reward you with an achievement badge once you complete it. Of course, this badge of honor is featured on your Strava profile for all your friends to see.

Badge reward system

People like to collect badges because it‘s a virtual representation of their achievements. Rewarding users through badges allow for positive reinforcement to the user.

Strava rewards you for a range of things. Besides competing, you can also automatically track your personal records. If you break your own record you will receive 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place medals to reward your own performances. There are also benchmark badge reward systems for running one mile, 5,000 miles, 10,000 miles, half a marathon, and a marathon.

All these achievements are again posted on your profile for the world to see! Strava makes intelligent use of social status here to promote user engagement.

Progress bars

Progress bars visualize the progress of a users’ journey towards completing a goal. It triggers the need for accomplishment and encourages the user to continue on their journey with visual feedback.

Strava allows you to track your weekly and annual goals on your profile. You can even record live sessions on the progress of your run, hike, or bicycle tour.

Strava's progress bars is a gamification tool that drives user app engagement

Social feed

One of the gamification mechanisms, Strava uses to build community is their social feed. This is the epicenter of their community. It allows for communication between users and adds a sense of social connectedness.

The fact that users can comment on each other’s achievements and give kudos, triggers the need for social validation.

Team function

A final feature that also contributes to building the community is Strava’s team function. Users can follow each other, compete, and join virtual clubs for a greater sense of connectedness or even accountability.

Research shows that “feeling like you’re part of a team or group makes people more motivated as they take on challenges.” When using gamification to engage groups, the best results come when there is mutual collaboration or competition.

Strava has a great sense of community

Eliminate churn ASAP with a smart gamification plug-in tool

Lots of apps are struggling to capture attention, and even more so to keep it. Let’s face it. You probably didn’t design your app for people to create a profile, only to abandon it for good after just using it a few times, right?

Unfortunately, that’s what happens a lot of the time. However, it doesn’t have to be that way! StriveCloud created a gamification plug-in tool to solve exactly that problem. It takes your already existing user data and turns it into a better user experience by adding gamification elements to it.

Based on your user behavior you can leverage features like leaderboards to inspire competition, and achievement-based rewards to incentivize participation just like Strava does.

Strivecloud's app gamification software reduces customer churn & increases retention

Additionally, you can create milestones and personalized challenges to keep your user moving forward. Elements like progress bars and level systems can again trigger your users’ desire for accomplishment. And if your users fall off track, behavior-based notifications will bring them back in.

Blended together it creates a fun and engaging experience that keeps your users hooked. Even more important, it helps drive your business goals and cuts churn by up to 23% while boosting daily active usage by over 58%!

StriveCloud’s team of gamification experts will help you understand what gamified approach will help you achieve your goals. Once your strategy is set up, you can simply plug-in the tool and go.

How to get started? Book a call with our specialists and find out how gamification can work for you!

For speed readers – Here’s what you missed

Churn has become a major challenge for apps. In 2019 we saw 71% of all users churn after only three months of using an app. Not for everyone though! Fitness app Strava for example logged in over 2 billion user activities by its community in the same year.

Today, they are still growing hard and adding an average of 1 million new users per month. But what is it that makes Strava one of the largest fitness communities around?

Here are some of the things Strava does to keep up app engagement:

  • They use leaderboards to fuel competition in the community
  • Personalized and group challenges drive user motivation and app engagement
  • They use Badge reward systems to boost app engagement and user participation
  • Visualizing progress through progress bars
  • Strava uses a social feed to build community and keep users invested

With these gamification features, they make fitness fun! How? By modeling their app after a game with elements like leaderboards, challenges, badge reward systems, and progress bars. It’s a proven way to increase user engagement by apps like Waze and now Strava as well.

Fortunately, gamification for apps doesn’t have to be hard. StriveCloud has developed a smart gamification plug-in tool that helps you:

  • Create a cohesive user journey that hooks your audience
  • Make the user experience competitive to increase user engagement
  • Reward engagement and active participation to keep users coming back
  • Make progress visible to trigger the desired user behavior
  • Create in-app personalized quests and drive app engagement

This way you can make your app just as engaging as Strava, without wasting your time on building and maintaining these features yourself. Let us know how you liked this article!

Tired of losing users? Get a free consultation tailored to your goals and needs!

Don’t forget to share the knowledge!

Become an expert in gamification!

When you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll be one step closer to helping your team reach the next monthly active user milestone. How? We’ll send you curated content that will help you level up your expertise and deliver the best experience for your customers.