Six Strategies to Retain and Grow a Mobile App's User Base Over Time

Posted by Matt Milloway on Jun 13, 2016

A significant number of mobile apps are removed within days or weeks of installation on a user’s device. Remaining relevant and competing for attention is thus essential to prolong high levels of engagement with users and remain popular for years to come. Learn how six strategies serve to ensure a mobile app is setup for long-term success.

Sustain Marketing Efforts for App Features and Content

A successful mobile app needs often-updated content and interactive features. Yet failing to constantly talk about these benefits misses the biggest chance to retain users and even increase download numbers through word of mouth. Promoting features and content when the app is launched or during significant updates simply isn’t enough to sustain momentum.

Develop a marketing strategy with constant reminders to users about updated content (e.g. blog posts or PDF documents) and new features. Ensure the messages are relevant and helpful, but use every excuse possible to reiterate the value of retaining and using the mobile app. Social media, email marketing, and in-app features such as push alerts should all be leveraged for weekly marketing efforts. 

Send Surveys with Incentives

Audiences appreciate having a voice in the conversation outside of social media. Give mobile app users the ability to raise concerns, answer questions, and submit suggestions via interactive surveys. Post a new survey to the mobile app once a month or on a similar timeline, market the survey with push alerts, and get users accustomed to answering a handful of questions. 

Surveys work much better with incentives and feedback. Offer coupon codes, access to exclusive content, or other perks to a handful of survey entrants drawn at random. Also make sure to actively address survey results by making some of the suggested changes and noting these decisions on social media. Consider even giving direct thanks to those who provided the best advice. 

Connect Outside of the Mobile App Experience

Too much focus on the mobile app experience loses sight of other useful platforms ripe for engagement—some of which might not even be digital. Perhaps a significant number of event attendees spend time at a local networking function or gaming enthusiasts engage with one another on a specific message board. 

Leverage a mobile app’s features ranging from surveys and live polling to user authentication and back-end analytics to better understand a user base’s preferences and activities. Collect whatever information is relevant (e.g. usernames or email addresses) and consider one of two options: Integrate these other sources of popular engagement into the mobile app or simply provide complimentary content for a better and more well-rounded experience. 

Understanding users and pro-actively adding value to the mobile app is a win-win and ensures less people uninstall the technology. 

Ask For Referrals and Social Shares

Retarget conversations with users to ask for referrals and make promoting app content a priority. Referrals are easily gleaned from survey submissions by including one final request at the bottom of the form. Other options include urging users to invite others to be a part of the mobile app’s contact directory or to join social media accounts. 

The first step to ensure users share content is to make sharing via popular social media platforms readily accessible in the mobile app. The next step entails urging users to share; leverage some of the incentives used for surveys or create contests asking for the most creative or popular social media shares. 

Reward User Loyalty

Are a subset of users constantly engaging with app content over time and sharing with friends or colleagues? Reward loyalty with access to exclusive content or give these users discounts on the events, services, or products the mobile app is marketing. 

Cultivating existing users is much easier than acquiring new users; the latter must be taken through the same stages, see value, and feel compelled to keep the mobile app on his or her device. Start by rewarding existing users and word of mouth quickly helps spur growth as others want to be rewarded in kind. 

Schedule Brand Overhauls

Everyone knows the experience of opening their phone to find an app favorite refreshed with new branding. From an updated app icon and splash screen to color scheme and homepage tweaks, mobile apps can greatly benefit from subtle aesthetic overhauls. A new visual look (however small) gives users a sense the app is improving and evolving along with their device’s operating system updates and so forth.  

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