Mobile apps have become intrinsic to our lives. They are making life easier for us in more ways than one and their popularity is undeniable. Creating mobile apps makes fantastic business sense for brands and app developers, who want to capitalize on their surging popularity, drive visibility for their businesses and earn loads for money. But here’s the rub. Most mobile apps fail. Yes, they do. Forget generating revenue; they are actually a loss-making proposition. Why does this happen? While there are plenty of reasons for the failure of a mobile app, one of the critical reasons for app failure is the lack of mobile app engagement.

Not Dropping the Ball on Mobile App Engagement

Remember the phrase Website engagement, and how we need to keep engaging visitors long after building the Website? Well, this concept applies to mobile apps as well. Quite a number of app developers subscribe to the “build-it-and-forget-it” policy, wherein they depend on the inherent “goodness” of the app to drive its popularity.

The problem here is that many users will download your app because it offers a unique value proposition and does manage to pique their interest, but very soon, there will be other apps that will catch their fancy. The Apple app store is growing by 1000 apps per day, so you can imagine the competition your app will face. Your app will be deleted to make way for other apps. After all, the disc space available on a mobile phone is limited.

Think about it for a second. You download an app that appears interesting, but very soon the interest factor wears off, and you choose to get rid of the app from your phone. That’s because the content has become repetitive, there is nothing really new (features, content, patches) being pushed through by developers and you actually feel there are better apps available out there.

Now put yourself in the shoes of the people behind the app. The lack of user interest means decrease in popularity, which means decreasing downloads and ultimately app failure. As a developer, you cannot afford to move focus away from mobile-app engagement. It is essentially THE most important element of the process of app creation and ensuring its success.

So, the question is: How do you stay focused on app engagement and ensure the user stays locked into your app?

Keep it Fresh at all Times

Your users expect regular app updates in the form of fresh content. No, I am not talking about bug fixes but a new feature (especially in the case of games) or even content in the form of visuals, etc., which ensures users stay invested in the app at all times. They actually look forward to using the app regularly to check for fresh content.

While thinking about fresh content, answer this question: What do I need to do to keep users happy and make sure they keep coming back for more? Think carefully about the kind of content that will resonate with your users. New features cannot be rolled out regularly, but content like news, interesting facts, podcasts, bulletins, posts etc., can.

What fresh content essentially does is help retention.

Localytics-Retention-Churn-by-Industry

Localytics has done a drill down analysis of app retention rates and the figures are not very flattering. In fact, they are a cause for concern; this is where app engagement with regular content updates can help save the day.

Push Notifications – But Don’t Go Overboard

This is one of the primary methods used to drive user engagement. But it’s important to use these notifications intelligently. You don’t want them to be irritating, as this would defeat their purpose entirely. According to Kahuna, 60 percent users actually opt out of push notifications.

Don’t be scared of these figures. Push notifications are still effective if they are relevant and add value in some form or other. When you are pushing notifications, make sure the reminder is very specific and incentivizes app usage. This isn’t easy because it requires clarity on the users’ in-app activities, usage timeframe and other parameters that will help you create just the right messaging that is pushed across at the right time and is relevant to what the user is doing at that point in time.

If the push is intelligently crafted, there is no doubt it will work. With push notifications, you are also trying to trigger re-engagement with the app, which is another important aspect of the app retention and monetization process.

Leverage Social Media

If your app is really good, you will be doing a great disservice to it if you don’t integrate it with various social media platforms to make it easy to share app content. But that’s not the only reason why social media integration in your mobile app is a good idea:

You can directly integrate social feeds into your app, which means your business’s Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn feeds can be accessed from the app, allowing users to get a better idea of the latest happenings, developments and the conversations centering on your business/brand products and services. This also contributes to app engagement.

Social media drives app virality, meaning you increase chances of people coming across the link to your app. As the user onboarding increases, so does the credibility of your app. For example, in the case of ecommerce apps, social media integration also allows users to see purchases made by their friends or other app users; this can create a ripple effect that can push people to buy products, which essentially is a manifestation of app engagement.

By making sharing convenient for app users, you are adding to and enhancing the app’s UX. You are also making it simpler and quicker for users to share information about your app with their friends, which promotes long-term engagement. If you are looking for examples of great use of social media to drive app engagement, look no further than the viral sensation, Candy Crush, which has made fantastic use of social media (primarily Facebook) to drive user engagement forward. I know it’s been criticized in some quarters for the same reasons, but there is no doubt it’s made cracking use of social media and continues to do so today as well.

Conclusion

Your mobile-app engagement strategy will determine how much money you make from the app and how it contributes to your brand visibility/marketing efforts. Apart from creating a great app, you need to be able to create and implement a fantastic app-engagement strategy as well. Otherwise, it really doesn’t make any sense to invest in an app.

Kunjal Panchal is a Digital Strategist, having 5+ years of experience in the field of Internet Marketing. She is a social media geek, a complete foodie and enjoys trying varied cuisines. A perfect day for her consists of reading her favorite author with a hot cuppa coffee. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.