12 tactics for engaging and retaining your mobile app users

As more and more businesses create stand-alone branded mobile apps, competition for user attention is fiercer than ever. You can’t simply create an app for the sake of it and expect your customers to download and engage with it. You need to design something that truly adds value to a user’s life — something that gives them a reason to keep using it every day.

The experts of Young Entrepreneur Council know it’s not easy to keep mobile app users for the long haul, but there are some key tactics that can help you. We asked a panel of YEC members the following question:

What’s one best practice for better engaging and retaining mobile app users?

Their best answers are below:

1. Know your users

One of the most overlooked aspects of marketing is building personas. The idea is to build a profile of your perfect users based on market research. This can be the foundation of all your marketing, and you‘ll be able to tailor your communications accordingly. – Ismael Wrixen, FE International

2. Ask your users how to improve it

Find out from users what else the app could be doing for them. They might appreciate directing future versions and features of the app, and you have a way to keep them coming back for more. – Serenity Gibbons, NAACP

3. Give incentives

Offering coupons, specialized content or other rewards can give a user a reason to use your app. Special promotions and mobile-specific rewards can drive engagement and retention. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

4. Take advantage of influencer marketing

With such a crowded marketplace, it can be difficult for new apps to acquire customers without spending a lot of money. An effective shortcut for cost-effective customer acquisition for an app is partnering with a social media influencer. If you pick individuals who are popular on mobile-heavy social networks such as Instagram or Snapchat, you can get much higher returns. – Bryce Welker, Accounting Institute for Success

5. Give users control over their experience

Give them choices that let them feel like they are in control of their experience. Often apps will spam users with annoying notifications and create closed feedback loop systems where the user could easily feel like another pawn on the chess board. To nail retention and engagement, your app needs to be authentic and leave the user feeling involved. – Samuel Hofer, Silky Games

6. Provide new content regularly

Create new content for your app to encourage users to check back in to see what’s new. The content can be a combination of videos, podcasts and blog posts that are useful to your target audience. You can start creating content based on your users’ frequently asked questions. Then, pay attention to the comment section for ideas for future posts. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

7. Create a community

Creating a community is a great way to have users become more invested in your app and check back in. You don’t need to be Facebook to have a community. You can create one in your app. The way you win is by differentiating from social media giants that are trying to be everything for everyone. Specialize in creating the best community for your target market, listen to your customers and deliver. – Jared Atchison, WPForms

8. Test, test, test

Many apps have intrusive ads, insistent purchase requests or requests to access illogical parts of the mobile, such as a music player asking for access to your contacts. These will turn your users off of your app. Apps should do plenty of prelaunch testing and surveys among regular users and have a solid game plan for vetting suggestions. – Codie Sanchez, Codie Ventures LLC

9. Have a quality control process

No matter how great your idea is, compromising on quality or functionality will do your users, and therefore your efforts, no good. Minor glitches upon launch are not uncommon, but it’s important that you put your app through a rigorous testing phase ahead of time. Keep a stringent quality check process in place. Track front-end and back-end functionality. Collaborate with experienced developers. – Derek Robinson, Top Notch Dezigns

10. Address problems proactively

A mobile app with tons of poor reviews, notable flaws addressed in the comments and dead silence from the developer spells trouble. People will be very vocal when something isn’t right. It’s your responsibility to keep them happy and foster loyalty by addressing problems and glitches as proactively as possible. Updates and bug fixes to every app are necessary and should be factored into costs. – Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

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