Retaining Users on your Mobile App: The Art of Addiction

Maybe it’s the shine bouncing off of the orange lozenge. Or, it could be the pop of a lemon drop or the satisfying crinkle of a candy wrapper. Certainly, no one can argue that matching two color bombs and the resulting destruction of all the candy on the board is not deeply addicting…er, rewarding.

But, what’s really at the heart of a Candy Crush addiction…or any app addiction for that matter? And, how can your app get 74,069,818 (and growing) Facebook likes in 2 years?

A plethora of mobile applications compete for attention, and such loyalty to an app is rare unless you find the sweet spot that triggers your audience to engage with your app in a deeply satisfying way.

Understanding your Target Audience

The first step to creating a killer app is to understand your target audience. Building trust in users is imperative before establishing loyalty in them. And, to do so, your app must deliver content, information or entertainment in the ways your target audience wants them.

So, before you embark on your app creation, research the users you want to target.

  • Who: Who do you want to target? Age? Gender? Device OS?
  • What: What kind of content or information does your target audience want?
  • Where: Where can you find them? Know the various channels/platforms which you can best market your application.
  • When: When are they most active? In the morning, afternoon or at night?
  • How: How are you going to build your app in order to fully meet the needs of your users?

Creating a Holistic User Experience

Your app must engage the user in an instant. Is it easy to download? Because it’s certainly easy to delete! Is it free? Then, your potential new fan has nothing to lose by giving your app a try. But, these are only the first steps to creating an addictive app. Nir Eyal, author of “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products,” describes how habits are formed here.

Additional key points to consider when developing your app:

  • Make an early decision on the platform for your app and customize your offering accordingly, bearing in mind the strengths of each environment.
  • Entice users with an easy UI. Your app should be functional, interactive and captivating, but ease of navigation reigns supreme. A poorly developed app lacks intuitive design.
  • Engage in A/B split testing. Embarking on an A/B split test allows you to monitor specific component, function or design of your app to assist you in improving those areas. The results from the test provide you with valuable insights on creating that addictive app which keeps users coming back for more.

Tracking User Activities

Tracking user behavior of your mobile app is of utmost importance. Mobile app analytics allows you to measure what matters most, and the results enable you to create a concrete action plan on growing and retaining your user base.

  • DAU/MAU (Daily Active Users/Monthly Active Users) Ratio

Monitoring the DAU/MAU ratio or “Stickiness” is vital in ensuring the survivability and success of your app. The DAU/MAU metrics provide you with insights on user activity, which determines your app retention and churn rate. A robust growth ratio denotes healthy app development and in turn translates to how “sticky” your users are towards the app. An active user base is something all developers strive to achieve, but note that the DAU/MAU ratio is dependent on the app category. Certain apps do not require users to log in regularly.

  • Virality

Creating virality is a double-edged sword and should be handled with caution. Naturally, you want positive virality, and word of mouth is one of the best advertising platforms you have (and it’s free!).

With more than 70 Million likes on Facebook, Candy Crush users not only boast their “performance” on the social media platform but also invite their friends to take part in the game as well. Incorporating social media platforms into your app is a great way to create brand exposure and virality. But, just as users can sing your praises, they can also criticize and easily discard your app. Rely on feedback – both positive and negative – to improve your app.

Offering Value to your Users

A preoccupation with other aspects of app development can cause developers to overlook the app’s value to the user. Users want to know what’s in it for them. Why should they return if your app does not add value to them in any way?

New incentives, new options and new activities should be made available with every update. Teaser messages are a useful way to remind your users that something new and exciting is on the way and to be sure to state your app offerings in a clear and concise manner.

Don’t forget to check out your competition. What are your competitors doing right in terms of value? What are their apps lacking?

Building and retaining a loyal user base requires patience and effort, but making calculated decisions – along with a stroke of luck – could gain you a huge fan base for your mobile app!