Successful Mobile App Engagement Strategies

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It is one thing to get people to find and download your mobile app. It is another thing to get them to use it.

Up to 20% of mobile apps are downloaded and never used. Many others are used only once.

Here are some key strategies for encouraging people to use your app.

Attributes of Popular Mobile Apps

The most important of these engagement strategies is what the app itself does and how well it is designed. Here’s what people say about the features of their favourite apps. (Source: Think with

63% - It makes their lives easier
63% - Clear instructions on how to use the app
57% - Appealing design and aesthetic
57% - Consistent experience across multiple devices
45% - Always has new content
43% - A brand they interact with offline

And, if we take this further and ask why people no longer use an app, we find the following:
34% - Lost interest
29% - No longer need it
24% - Found it not as useful
18% - Found a better or more useful app

It is clear from this survey that mobile apps need to be actively managed to keep them relevant and used.

Push Notifications

These are messages which can be sent to people who have downloaded your app, and have push notifications turned on, on their smartphones. Research suggests that about 60% of smartphone users do have this service turned on.

The selective use of push notifications are one of the most effective ways of reminding people of your app, and encouraging them to use it again and again.

Type of Push Notification

There are several types of push notifications which you can use, depending on your business and the functionality of your app.

  1. Reminders
  2. Utility Alerts
  3. Promotional Alerts
  4. App Functionality
  5. Traffic Drivers
  6. Personalised Messages

General Push Notification Considerations

There are three guidelines to bear in mind with any push notification campaign.
Firstly, don’t overdo it. Too many messages will put people off receiving them at all.

Secondly, make the content relevant, useful and worth their time. If your app analytics allows you to, personalise these messages based on their behaviour in the app.

Thirdly, be aware of different time zones if you have an international audience. People don’t appreciate their smartphones beeping at 3am, because you sent them a message.

In-App Messages

A similar way of contacting your app users is while they are using the app. This is done through in-app messages.

These messages can draw their attention to new content, updated features, special discounts or coupons etc.

These messages can be general or triggered by specific behaviour within the app. By associating the message with specific behaviour, the message appears to be a natural part of the app experience. As such it is often perceived as less intrusive.

External Promotions

You can also use other channels such as social media, your website, advertising and email to encourage more app usage. For instance, you can draw attention to events such as new content, updated features, or special discounts that are only available on the app.


As we can see from the above, designing an app is just a part of the app management process. An app has to be fundamentally useful to people in order for them to want it at all and it needs to be managed throughout its’ lifecycle.

What we can also see is that getting someone to download an app is just a start of the journey. What’s needed next are strategies to develop and grow that relationship. That’s where the really successful mobile app owners focus their attention.

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© David R. Durham,
Digital Marketing Education.

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