6 Tips to Increase User Engagement with Mobile Apps
What makes users come back to your app time and again? How to make your mobile app run at full blast and be indispensable to one and all?
Do you have a dozen or maybe two dozens of apps installed on your smartphone, but actually use only a few of them? You don’t want your app to be on the list called “I’ll open it someday when it might come handy”, and then be deleted from the memory, do you?
This article will tell you how to retain your audience and enhance its engagement.
1. Mobile App Design
First of all, users of a mobile app pay attention to its interface. Therefore:
- Use a minimum of elements
According to the research of the American psychologist George Miller, the immediate memory of a human being has an average span of 7 elements.
Don’t overload your mobile app: interface elements should not distract, but help the user.
We developed the app Lead.Link with the idea to build an extensive database: users post ads about providing repair services on different websites, next they tie the account in our app to these websites and wait for responses, here they can also contact the users directly - all in one place.
Due to a special character of the business, the target audience of this app needs no technical nuances. Therefore, one of the most important tasks was to provide them with a simple and intuitive interface with user-friendly functions.
Here’s what we’ve got in the end:
We used a minimum of elements, keeping the design minimalistic and the functions easy and clear.
- Stick to one style
If the app attracts the user visually, he wants to learn more about it, if it doesn’t inspire him, seems boring or even scares him off, he will go in search of a more kindred app.
All elements of a mobile app should be in harmony with each other. The choice of colors and shades also plays an important role. For example, many people associate pink with romance, so it can be used in dating apps.
That’s what we did in the app NowDating, when one of our clients decided to implement a mobile dating app in a new format. Everyone has chats, but few useful features that allow to set up immediate dates with nearby users.
The NowDating app is made in one consistent style, which allows users to quickly and easily navigate through functions and recognize elements on other screens. All this shortens the user learning curve of the app, facilitates interaction with it and increases the user engagement.
The best client feedback was the fact that the NowDating app was included in the TOP 5 best products Producthunt, having received a lot of positive reviews, which indicates a high level of audience engagement.
- Build a logical structure
A good user interface is a kind of mnemonic scheme that makes way for a simpler interaction with the app and the only possible interpretation of how its functional elements work.
The interface shall be developed in such a way, that any user irrespective of his/her previous experience with a similar product could easily find the way around.
Creating a user-friendly interface is one of those cases when you better not be original. For example, design and colors of buttons in various players may differ, but if you use familiar elements, there will be no problems. Their meaning is understood intuitively.
Standard buttons help users quickly navigate through your product.
It is best to use round buttons or buttons with rounded edges. Steve Jobs used to mention it quite often. Apple specialists have come to the conclusion that rounded corners of buttons are more natural and aesthetic for perception, and help focus on the content better.
The sequence of elements is also crucial. Most people are used to processes progressing from left to right or from top to bottom.
Our company developed the app PriceLaser that provides services of selecting eye surgeons and scheduling an operation. A logically structured interface helps users quickly find qualified specialists, choose the date and the place for the operation.
The bottom navigation bar has intuitive icons that allow navigating to the desired section quickly.
- Use easy navigation
In most cases it is best to use toggle buttons instead of a dropdown menu, otherwise, you may unknowingly create the visual illusion of a limited choice. And don’t forget about contrast, when a button is active, it should change its color.
The buttons should not be too small, otherwise, it will be very inconvenient to interact with them and will likely reduce the user engagement. According to the MIT Touch Lab research, the minimum fingertip contact area with a button is 10x10 mm.
- Create a laconic content
The target audience of the app needs its essence to be brief and clear, without any long sentences. The quality of content is more important than its abundance.
For example, in the mobile apps for medical drugstore chains, text information is usually divided into small blocks: each paragraph is not more than 3-4 lines long. This helps better focus on the information, without getting tired.
- Exclude unnecessary actions
All complicated tasks in the app should be divided into interim steps, with the possibility to save the result at each of them. For example, completing a complex registration form. If the user has not filled in some fields or made a mistake, then by refreshing the form and receiving the appropriate notification, he can fill in only the necessary fields, without starting everything anew.
Don’t give people a reason to stop using your app. Make interaction with your app as hassle-free and simple as possible. This will greatly enhance the user engagement.
If the target audience likes your mobile app interface, it is half the success!
2. Mobile App Ergonomics
Look at your app from different angles. Interacting with it, people will hold the smartphone either with one or two hands, depending on the situation and personal preferences. In any case, it should be comfortable and easy for the user to interact with all elements on the screen.
The smartphone screen has easily-accessible, hard-to-reach and interim areas:
A heat map for mobile touchscreen ergonomics is a useful reminder that key functions of the app should be located in an easily-accessible area so that the user could reach them with his finger even holding the smartphone in one hand.
3. Tips for the User
How to keep the user’s attention if he has just installed your app? Easier than you think! Let it speak for itself, giving smart prompts, tips and recommendations.
First of all, the most complex functions should have comments and tips. Since some users love to feel like explorers studying the app on their own, it's better to make the tips optional.
As an example, let’s take a look at the demo app for a library project Material Tap Target Sample. This is simple design guidelines. Near each button there is a description when a button is clicked, a prompt appears with a brief and clear explanation of elements.
4. Push Notifications
Push notifications are one of the most convenient and effective ways to communicate with the target audience; a great opportunity to remind users about your mobile app regularly.
Interesting fact: 50% of all smartphone owners check their notifications as soon as they wake up in the morning.
Think carefully about how your push notifications can be relevant to the target audience. You don’t need to notify users about each and every change you make to the app, including minor technical details, rather choose the most important things.
Using push notifications you can:
- provide information about discounts or promo offers;
- tell about your new products or the latest news;
- offer to download a new version of the app.
Information should always be given in real time, be up-to-date and relevant. If you, for example, plan to launch a promo offer, inform your users in advance using push-notifications.
Add personalization: address your users by their names in your push notifications; give users the opportunity to choose the time to receive the notifications, change their color or splash screen.
There are a number of apps, in which push notifications have a great impact on the user engagement. This is true for the project we developed called Goodshop Coupons.
The main idea of Goodshop is to provide users with a wide range of coupons from various popular websites and protect them from overpaying. For the target audience of the project it would be very tedious to monitor the coupons of their interest on their own, so push notifications are an excellent solution!
Coupons are synced with websites of sellers. This allows users to make purchases without exiting the app, thus increasing the time they spend in it.
Important: the wrong strategy of using push notifications will bring the opposite result – the users will think they are spam, will get annoyed and may decide to remove the app from their smartphones altogether.
5. New Features
It is vital to understand that introducing features, improving them, and replacing them with one another is an absolutely natural process that can help keep up the audience's interest in your project and increase its engagement. However, don’t forget about the quality of features and that they should be implemented gradually.
Last year we released the app Life Lapse, allowing users to capture their travels in a new format. At the very beginning of the project, we made all features in the app free of charge and added a screen where users could leave their names and email addresses so that we could create interesting newsletters and study the behavior of the target audience.
Having received the first feedback from our users, we started expanding the functions gradually, honing the concept, and fixing technical drawbacks. We decided to make some features fee-based - music gallery, increasing the number of projects and removing the watermark.
Then, we finalized the push notification system, making it possible to send messages from the administrator panel both to individual users and groups. We began to collect more analytical data to understand how exactly people used the app.
New features are introduced to Life Lapse every 1-2 weeks. This is driven by the marketing strategy of our client. Over time, we have added the option to buy certain tracks; now users have to pay to import images into the app, so they need to purchase a premium account.
While working on further improvement of the Life Lapse project, we faced the task to ensure accurate video shooting of a certain duration (¼ sec, ½ second ... 3 secs). As a high-level API didn't allow to use to the utmost the complete functions of the camera, we decided to switch to a lower-level API.. This allowed us to access all camera settings.
As a result, we were able to significantly increase the performance of our app, and open new opportunities for further improvement of features related to visualization.
Do you want to introduce new features into your project or improve the existing ones? Contact our team of specialists right now!
6. User Value
Last but not least: Your mobile app should be valuable to your target audience, be interesting and organically meet its expectations. Make a portrait of your potential user. What can attract his attention? What can push him away?
We participated in the development of project designed for people united with the idea of saving our planet, restore its ecosystem, and join efforts to solve serious global problems, including global warming and the risk of disappearance of rare species.
Early in the development, the client raised a question: how to attract the attention of the audience? The client decided that the app would have two kinds of users, either would need their own approach to keep them engaged with the app:
- emotions and the desire to contribute to a charity. People feel nice to be involved in creating something really good, especially if it does not require any great efforts.
In February 2017, the British Institute of Fundraising conducted a survey involving over 2,000 people. 59% of respondents believe that giving a donation helps them make the world a better place.
- posting surveys aimed at gathering information required for business development. By analyzing replies of the target audience, manufacturers can understand what they should focus on and whether it makes sense to promote their products in a specific area.
In the app, we used many various methods of user engagement we’ve mentioned above. We have also added a spirit of competition, giving the project audience the opportunity to independently choose the areas of charity, monitor their contribution to environmental support, and see which of their friends has contributed most to the environment.
The competitive spirit is triggered not only among friends but even between different countries. It also increases the engagement of the target audience.
Create a good atmosphere for your target audience - give them a reason to come back to your app.
The above tips will help you increase the engagement of your target audience by providing it with a simple and convenient app. But how can you assess the popularity of your app?
Use the x-day retention formula to find out how many users returned to the app the day after the first use.
Say, 150 users for the first time used your app on Wednesday (day 0). 100 of them returned the next day, on Thursday (day 1); 25 users came back in a week (day 7), 10 came back in 89 days (day 90).
Let’s calculate the retention rate by the formula: 1-day retention is 100/150 or 66,7%, 7-day retention is 25/150 or 16,7%, and 90-day retention is 10/150 or 6,7% respectively.
The higher the x-day retention rate, the higher the audience engagement, which means more opportunities for further monetization of the app. Generally, the low 1-day retention rates frequently point to existing interface problems, since consumers pay particular attention to the way the product looks.
Be persistent in inspiring and surprising your target audience, provide them with a high-quality, convenient and interesting app that is constantly evolving and being updated. After all, the best marketing strategy rests upon the involved users, they will actively help promote your app, advising it to friends and acquaintances.