17 proven strategies to increase app engagement and retention

17 proven strategies to increase app engagement and retention

There’s one question today that should be on the minds of all app makers & marketeers: How can I increase my mobile app engagement? Numerous studies and research papers show that, without a doubt, user engagement is crucial for your app’s survival and growth. So what are some proven strategies for increasing app engagement and retention? Can an app gamification platform help you? How does a gamified app prevent user churn?

In short, engagement leads to user retention, and retention leads to financial success. Case in point – 90% of new users who engage weekly are retained on Day 30. The alternative, those who don’t engage weekly, see a retention rate of just 23%. And those retained users are more likely to spend – and more likely to spend big!

Slash user churn with app gamification! Check out our definitive guide to app engagement & retention and get ahead of the competition.

But to get your numbers as high as that 90%, you need to take action. To guide your journey, here are 17 of the best strategies for increasing app engagement and retention.

Why you need an omnichannel customer experience to diminish user churn

An omnichannel customer experience (CX) means having a seamless transition between different channels. In effect, this empowers the customer to interact with you how they prefer – perhaps by researching online, then purchasing in-store or over the phone – without facing obstacles or frustrations like starting over.

But why is it so important? Because brands with the best omnichannel strategies see an average 89% user retention rate – compared to just 33% for those who don’t. This stems from sticking to consumer preferences. Take the banking industry, for example. According to a study by Efma & Backbase, 100% of bankers perceive
omni-channel a
n important aspect, but a mere 1 in 5 banks is implementing this strategy.

The importance of omni channel in finance and other industries is only expected to grow, considering that 50% of today’s customers regularly use more than 4 digital touchpoints.

App gamification drives user engagement (and leads to a healthier business)

One of the most transformative things you can do for your app is introduce gamification. By implementing game-like elements such as challenges, points, and rewards, you can incentivize user engagement and keep your users hooked.

Gamification makes your app intrinsically motivating – meaning users aren’t just motivated by simple factors like prizes and results, but also by fun and the need for personal growth. Some tools like a gamification platform help you build your own gamified app without needing excessive code. Simple features can make a big difference!

Take leaderboards, for example. They fulfill the personal needs of growth and competence when the user feels confident in their own ability. That’s extremely empowering – and users love it! One of the great gamification examples is Fitbit! They found their leaderboard alone led to a 15% increase in daily user engagement!

app gamification boost user engagement and user activation

How to get started with app gamification? Book a gamification workshop & kick-start your app engagement strategy.

An optimized onboarding flow boosts conversions & user activation

Some fintech businesses are losing approximately 50% of their potential clients due to an inefficient onboarding experience. But if you’re a gamified app like French fintech Shine, that user activation rate could be 80%!

This drastic increase is down to the strategies for increasing app engagement & retention that Shine implemented. Let’s look at some gamification examples from their app:

  • Progress bars give users instant feedback, increasing customer perception of app responsiveness.
  • Fun digital confetti to celebrate free, unlimited accounts!
  • Colorful and interactive motion design keeps the UX fresh.

Not to mention, their onboarding follows the concept of one screen, one action. Don’t frustrate your users – keep it simple!

Align product and marketing to cut user churn

There is no faster road to user churn than making your user feel like they’ve been duped. When marketing doesn’t reflect the product, it is highly damaging. For one, you waste the money you spent on acquisition. But moreover, you create negative word-of-mouth!

To prevent this, show previews of your user interface in the app store and make sure you’re using the right keywords to describe your app.

gamification examples HumanForest mobility

HumanForest is a great example – not only do they show the interface, but they quickly tell you how to do the most important feature on their platform: rent an e-bike with a simple slide across the screen.

Send a welcome message to boost user activation!

You might ask yourself: How can I increase my mobile app engagement without spending much time in product development? Well, a quick welcome email can jump-start the relationship with your customer! In fact, mobile apps are best placed to benefit from this tool. Research by Litmus finds that 56% of emails are opened on mobile, whilst just 19% of emails go through a desktop.

What’s more, a gamification platform can increase the positive effect. Adding a discount or offer increases the value for the customer, as shown by the travel app Ixigo. When they offered a voucher in their first email, Ixigo achieved an impressive 54% open rate!

Integrate your user permission requests to limit user churn

In a world where privacy protection is the biggest security concern, you must be sensitive when asking for user permissions. For example, if your app requires things like geolocation or camera access, integrating requests smoothly into your UI reduces friction and user churn.

In short, nobody wants to feel forced to give away those permissions! The requests need to be asked at the right time with a clear explanation as to why it’s necessary. Contextual messaging is one of the most effective strategies for increasing app engagement and retention.

Skip the tutorial and utilize frictionless tooltips to lift app engagement & user activation

Optimize your onboarding by passing up lengthy tutorials. Instead, sporadic tooltips can introduce quick hints at the very time that the user needs them – and that’s really giving the customer value! Not only do you cut down on any unnecessary text, but well-placed tooltips also help drive user engagement!

Incentivize this desired behavior further with app gamification, such as a badge reward, and you will find app engagement comes more naturally to your users! For example, the wellness app Mindbody has smart tooltips – quick, useful, and clearly highlighted.

Strategies to increase user activation

Drive positive reviews with smartly placed notifications & app gamification

77% of users check reviews before downloading an app. As such, positive reviews are crucial to acquiring customers and driving user activation! But you don’t need to sit idly by and hope for the best. Event-triggered interstitial ads can encourage positive reviews and massively impact your star rating.

By personalizing the timing in conjunction with your gamification platform & strategy, such as on the high after the user receives a reward, you can make positive reviews more likely.

Test, test, test your CX (and boost user retention)

According to research organization Forrester, just a 10% improvement in a company’s CX score can boost willingness to repurchase by 15%! That means less user churn and more bang for your buck. But testing your CX is an iterative process – you should be constantly testing and optimizing.

Indeed, your customer base is always changing, and you should be too to match them.

Personalized push notifications drive conversions and reduce user churn

Consumers crave personalization. Indeed, 52% of B2C customers say they would switch brands if they aren’t getting a personalized experience! So how can it increase your mobile app engagement?

Helpfully, push notifications are highly personalizable. Because it is an interruptive medium, choosing the right time to send one is critical. Case studies support this – the average push notification has an 18% open rate, conversely personalized messages see a 54% conversion rate! Sending the right message at the right time can instantly slash user churn.

Chatbots can recover frustrated customers & restore user engagement

What does your user do if they have a problem? Ideally, speak to your chatbot! Chatbots reduce user churn by providing instant help, and with recent improvements in AI, nearly 70% of consumers actually prefer chatbots as the best channel for fast support.

Moreover, chatbots will keep frustrated users from leaving your platform, as well as bring down your operating costs! Another one of the strategies for increasing app engagement and retention!

Boost app engagement by creating urgency

Urgency is an age-old tactic in marketing, and app marketers in 2022 will find that it still works today. Case studies show how injecting urgency in your CX can boost sales by an unbelievable 332%! In practice, this means optimizing your marketing copy and even gamification strategy with urgency in mind.

Look at some gamification examples from fitness apps, for instance. They can use timed challenges to promote user activation and engagement. In 2019 Adidas Runtastic organized an 11 day ‘Run for the Oceans’. Through app gamification, they managed to get over 2.2 million people to take part!

strategies for increasing app engagement and retetention - gamification examples

Deep linking removes friction, leading to more user engagement

Deep linking means sending targeted users to a specific page, rather than just your home screen. Why is this important? In short, deep linking enables a seamless, frictionless customer journey free of obstacles.

Moreover, it personalizes a user’s interactions which improve the brand relationship and makes it less likely that you’ll experience user churn.

How can you increase mobile app engagement? Get started with your app gamification journey: Book a custom workshop & go home with an actionable roadmap!

Catch your flagging users before they churn and re-engage them!

Today, 92% of all new users churn within just 7 days. But this can be prevented with a bold re-engagement strategy, using gamification for apps, contextual emails, and push notifications made to achieve three key goals:

#1 A second chance at user activation. The top 20% of customers will make up 80% of your revenue – don’t let them go so easily!

#2 Upselling. Target cart abandoners and previous purchasers with deals and offers to entice them back. Your efforts will pay double in return – re-targeted users result in 37% more revenue events than organic acquisitions! A great reason to focus on user engagement!

#3 Retention. Struggling with user churn? Well, re-engaged users have a higher retention rate. Even a small 5% boost in retention can boost profits by as much as 95%!

Measure how app engagement drives growth

To boost app engagement, your app must be ‘sticky’. In short, meaning users are hooked by your app! But you have to analyze the right data to know if you’re on the right track. Tracking your daily/monthly users is indispensable for any app engagement strategy.

With those figures, you can find out how sticky your app is! You can then use this to guide your strategy, with higher scores validating your choices and leading to growth. No better way to measure the effectiveness of the strategies you use to increase app engagement and retention!

How can I increase mobile app engagement and cut user churn through stickiness rate

These gamified app dynamics will supercharge user engagement

An important mechanic behind app gamification is ‘constraint’. This means that certain areas of your app are locked off, and this is powerful in creating customer loyalty and limiting user churn. Push notifications can remind users how close they are to a reward.

Some interesting gamification examples from a Canadian study into the mHealth rewards app ‘Carrot’ found that push notifications linked with loyalty points boosted user engagement and increased the likelihood of users getting the flu vaccine!

Rewards for loyal customers: the advantages of a gamified app loyalty program!

Again, the importance of rewarding your loyal customers cannot go understated. Consumer research finds that 75% of people like to associate themselves with a brand that offers loyalty program rewards. So it’s crucial for getting users in the door.

But app gamification can do even better – consultancy firm Deloitte found that gamification can boost user engagement by as much as 47%.

In turn, a gamified app can expect that engagement to result in a 22% increase in customer loyalty!

Everything you need to gamify your app in 1 solution – check out how our app gamification software can help you!

FAQ – what can you learn from these app engagement & gamification examples?

Increasing your mobile app engagement is a surefire way to boost your business. The more a user engages with your app, the more touchpoints you have to build a relationship. With every interaction, you will create a loyal brand advocate who will advertise for you!


There are many strategies for increasing app engagement and retention. One of the best things you can do is invest in a seamless ‘omnichannel’ customer experience (CX) across all platforms. This makes user churn less likely! Research shows that omnichannel brands see an average 89% retention rate, up from a much lower 33%.


With the use of tools like a gamification platform you can improve the full user experience and eventually drive more user engagement. You can send personalized notifications, create timed challenges and reward the desired user behavior!


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