Regular returning users

Understanding app stickiness to drive engagement

Having regular returning users is a sign showing your app's capacity to match your audience's expectations. Let's explore the term "app stickiness" and what makes it so worth investing time and resources in.

"If it makes you happy, you become an active user. Engagement drives stickiness, which drives retention—and that, in turn, drives growth."

This equation from Sequoia defines an app’s "stickiness." It's a simple yet fundamental idea behind the mechanisms that can boost your app's performance.

Let's dive more into what makes an app sticky, what you should remember, how to measure it, and the action points you should consider.

‍What makes an app sticky?

Calling an app sticky, we usually mean it has users who engage with the platform regularly.

It takes around 30 seconds for somebody to decide to download an app and only 10 seconds to decide whether to keep it. This fact brings us to the first point.

Make it simple

Provide a seamless experience to your users.

  • Test your app to ensure there are no bugs or anything that could make the user journey unpleasant.
  • Make sure your onboarding process is simple to follow. Your app should be welcoming, have an intuitive interface, and a clear value it adds to your user's life.

You should then consult your target audience to gain insights on what functionality is worth putting effort into. Your end-users know better than anyone what experience can match their expectations!

Give your users a reason to come back

Once you already have a community of regular users, you have to give them a reason to come back and check-in now and then. One option is to establish limited-time opportunities or special events. You can also encourage push notifications to keep your users aware of anything new or anything related to your platform.

Create an emotional connection

These figures from Buildfire show the Apple App Store has 2.2 million apps available for download and 2.8 million on Google Play Store. Having that in mind, how can you stay on top of your competitors? The answer is by going beyond the formal relation business-customer and creating a real emotional bond with your users. Connect with them, share your story and background, demonstrate transparency, and get in touch with them through social media. The deeper the relation, the more chances you have to retain your customers and have them coming back to your platform.

Build your in-app community

Having your users connect through your platform is one of the most effective ways to have them check-in now and then. By encouraging interactions between members, you'll also promote user-generated content that is generally considered more authentic to users' eyes. People tend to believe their peers before they trust brands, and for that reason, creating your in-app community matters. Let the users communicate, exchange, share, and increase your chances to keep them coming back. How to do so? We shared our insights in our blog: Building your app community, why it matters.


Measure, adjust, repeat

‍There are various metrics to measure the level of stickiness and what drives it. Understanding this source of retention is significant in making your growth strategy. It'll allow you to evaluate your app's performance and what pillar you need to leverage to improve it.

The Daily Active User (DAU) and the Monthly Active User (MAU) are the two main metrics to consider:

  • The DAU measures the number of active users who visit your app in a day. This metric is based on the individuals rather than sessions (so, if one person uses your app ten times a day, DAU will be 1).
  • The Monthly Active Users (MAU) measures the number of unique users to your app over 30 days.

The goal is to grow your DAU/MAU ratio and measure its evolution. A good benchmark varies based on the type of your app: generally, apps with over 20% are considered good, and apps that reach 50%+ (for example, Facebook) are excellent, according to this study.

You now have all the keys to strengthen your app's stickiness and stay ahead of the competition. With such a considerable amount of apps on the market, the efforts you'll put into retaining your customers will pay back and make a difference. This difference will be the key to your app's growth and your company's success.

Read more about how integrating social features into your platform can increase your app’s success in our eBook, “Human Relationships: The Answer to Creating Lovable Products”

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