How To Keep Your App on Top After Launch: Mastering User Engagement & Retention

4 months ago
How To Keep Your App on Top After Launch: Mastering User Engagement & Retention Image

Launching your app is an exhilarating milestone, but it’s only the first step in the marathon of maintaining its relevance and utility. Most apps compete with hundreds of others for app store dominance. Your app needs more than just a spot in the app stores; it requires a strategy that ensures persistent user engagement and retention. Below, we share some actionable tips for keeping your app’s spark alive post-launch.

Stay Ahead: Ensuring Your App Remains a Must-Have

Your users downloaded your app for a reason; your job is to ensure that the reason remains valid and evolves. Adaptability is key. This means constantly refining your content, introducing innovative features, and engaging users with compelling promotions. Listen closely to the feedback from your power users; their favorite features might offer a roadmap for future development.

Communication Is Key: Strategies for Ongoing User Support

In the digital age, staying in touch with your users is non-negotiable, but how you do this can vary. Tailor your communication methods to be as efficient and impactful as possible. Some popular options include:

  • FAQs
  • Support forms
  • In-app feedback channels
  • App Store responses to feedback
  • Push notifications with important updates

Use these to ensure your users feel heard and valued. And remember, the goal isn’t just to resolve issues but to foster a community around your app. According to a guide by SplitMetrics, leveraging push notifications, texts, and re-marketing strategies can significantly boost user retention and encourage app sharing.

Use Analytics To Gain User Engagement Information

Analytics are your window into your app users’ behaviors and preferences. You can gain invaluable insights by carefully analyzing user interaction data — think session length, device types, frequent users vs. once-offs, and geographical insights.

Before you drown in data, pinpoint exactly what you need to know. Are repeat visits more critical, or are in-app purchases your focus? Clarify your objectives to turn data into actionable insights.


Tools such as Google Analytics and App Store metrics offer robust solutions for data analysis. Google even offers free courses to sharpen your analytics skills, which are worth checking out to ensure you capture and utilize data effectively.

Keeping Pace With OS Upgrades

Your users expect your app to run seamlessly with every OS update. Whether it’s Apple’s annual update or Google’s less frequent ones, each new OS version might necessitate adjustments in your app. This could range from redesigning the user interface to integrating new, sought-after enhancements. Regardless of the changes required, testing your app across various devices post-update is critical to ensure a smooth user experience.

Personalize User Experience

To deeply engage users, delivering a personalized digital experience is key. With the data gathered from analytics, customize the app experience to suit individual preferences and behaviors, including:

  • Content recommendations based on previous activities.
  • Offering customized alerts.
  • Adjusting the app’s navigation based on the user’s habits.
  • Prioritizing micro-interactions and storytelling in UX and copy.
  • Coding dynamic messages to greet users at certain times of the day.

Personalization makes users feel valued and increases the likelihood of long-term app engagement. Machine learning algorithms can help automate these personalized experiences, ensuring the app evolves with the user’s changing needs.

Make It Fun & Appealing

Apps that are a joy to use and appealing will also enjoy higher user engagement and loyalty levels. There aren’t many shortcuts here, but here are some ideas to consider to ensure you’re designing a truly enjoyable app.

User Engagement Through Fun

Gamification refers to the notion that adding game-play elements will make an app more engaging and that the options to compete with a community or earn achievements will encourage regular use. 

There is a lot of science to support employing techniques you see in games to encourage adoption and engagement in non-gaming apps. However, that doesn’t mean you should expect similar adoption and engagement in your app simply because you use these techniques. 

You want your app to be fun to use. That is a terrific goal. Apps that are fun to use are likely to be used more often. 

  • Fitness Challenges in Health Apps: Users can compete in challenges, track their progress, and earn badges for milestones reached, promoting a healthy lifestyle through friendly competition.
  • Learning Milestones in Educational Apps: Educational apps can make learning more engaging and reward persistence by setting up levels that users unlock as they progress through lessons or quizzes.
  • Accomplishments in Productivity Apps: Acknowledging achievements for tasks completed can encourage users to feel good and have fun being productive.

Offer Experiences & Exclusivity

Experiences and exclusivity can significantly boost user retention by making users feel valued and part of an elite community.

  • VIP Access Events in Entertainment Apps: Grant long-term users or top spenders exclusive invites to virtual concerts, webinars, or Q&A sessions with celebrities, making them feel valued and special.
  • Early Access To New Features in Tech Apps: Offer loyal users the opportunity to test new features before they’re released to the general public, providing a sense of exclusivity and involvement in the app’s development.
  • Customizable Avatars in Gaming Apps: Allow users to personalize their avatars with unique items or styles by achieving certain levels or completing specific challenges, enhancing their gaming experience, and showcasing their accomplishments.

Creating a positive feedback loop through exclusive in-app experiences will encourage regular app interaction.

Empower Your App for Long-Term User Engagement & Retention

Keeping your app fresh and functional beyond the initial launch requires a strategic approach to User Engagement and Retention. By staying relevant, maintaining open lines of communication, leveraging analytics, and adapting to OS changes, you empower your app to thrive in a competitive market. Remember, the ultimate goal is to transform initial downloads into long-term engagements. Here’s to your app surviving and thriving in the dynamic app ecosystem!

App Development Planning Guide

Learn about more ongoing considerations for your app in our book, InspiringApps: A Business Perspective on Building Mobile Apps. The book includes more information on the topics above and tips for how and when to enhance your app.

Inspiring Apps: A Business Perspective on Building Mobile Apps

It’s available for free on our website and for a small charge in the Apple Book store or on Kindle.

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App Marketing

Unlock the Possibilities of Apple’s Custom Product Pages

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What are Apple custom product pages (CPPs)? Every app on the App Store has a product page, also known as an app store listing. Beyond this main page, Apple‘s custom product pages enable you to customize the look and feel of your Apple product for specific audience segments, keywords, or promotions. With Apple’s custom product pages, you can design up to 35 different versions of your app’s store listing. You can use these variations to optimize search ad campaigns and promote unique listings through shareable URLs. Key Features Customization: You can change ‌three assets on the variations of your product page: screenshots, app previews, and promotional text. Discoverability: You can optimize each page using specific keywords for search and messaging that expands your reach. Localizability: You can use different languages, so custom pages reach audiences in multiple countries. Control: You can use the App Store Connect API to make changes across multiple custom pages simultaneously. Android vs. iOS Apple has always been known for its strict control over the user experience of iOS apps. Apple custom product pages enable greater control and creativity to market your app. While Google’s Play Store provides more flexibility through its custom store listings, Apple is catching up with custom product pages. Here, we’re focusing on Apple‘s feature set, but the benefits and best practices apply across platforms. Benefits of Custom Product Pages Improved App Marketing Metrics Custom product pages are crucial in conversion rate optimization (CRO) and app store optimization (ASO). Custom pages can help you to: Increase CRO: By tailoring your messaging and visual design to your target audience, you’ll increase the likelihood that users will download your app. Improve ASO: Multiple versions of your store listing can capture more promotional traffic and improve keyword and engagement metrics. With the right strategy, customer product pages can significantly boost user acquisition and marketing ROI. Targeted Search Ads Custom product pages in Apple’s App Store and Search Ads allow for different ad variations and strategic campaigns targeting different types of users. These features help potential customers better understand the app before downloading it. For instance, the app Mountain Climber can run separate ads targeting cyclists, hikers, and rock climbing enthusiasts. Based on the URL clicked, those ads drive potential users to three tailored custom product pages for the same app. You’re increasing the chances of app conversions by corresponding the custom App Store page with the ad creative that attracted the customer in the first place. Tailored Testing It’s important to note that custom product pages won’t appear in organic search results on the App Store. Of course, the organic experience is still important, and you can improve it using Apple features for testing tailored to your marketing goals. Split Testing Through Product Optimization Using Apple’s product page optimization feature, you can perform split tests on up to three distinct “treatments” of your default page. However, the elements you can adjust are limited to visuals—app icon, preview video, and screenshots. After determining the most successful treatment, you can apply it to your app’s default page, ensuring all users receive the most impactful organic search result. Variable Testing With Custom Pages While Apple‘s split testing tool for product page optimization has benefits, custom product pages may offer a more reliable approach to testing theories about your app page. By designing multiple custom pages with unique designs or copy, you can evaluate which version performs better in engagement metrics, conversion rates, and return on investment. You can then apply those learnings to improve your organic default page. Creating a Custom Apple Product Page Apple provides a detailed technical guide when you are ready to configure your product pages. Before taking that leap, consider the following insights to guide your efforts to success. Identify Your Target Audiences Designing effective pages that resonate with multiple target audiences requires a deep understanding of each audience’s specific needs and preferences. For example, a TikTok user’s preferences will vary based on specific demographics like age. You’ll want to learn those preferences in depth to get the most out of any customized versions of these landing pages. Before embarking on a custom product page project, researching your target audiences is an obvious first step. You can effectively focus your efforts where they’ll have the most impact through user surveys, testing, and analysis. Surveys User surveys can help you gather feedback and insights from your target audience on their needs, preferences, and pain points. You can use online survey tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to create and distribute surveys to your target audience. Testing User testing involves observing users as they interact with your app to identify areas of improvement and gather feedback. You can use remote user testing tools like UserTesting or Userlytics to conduct user testing sessions with your target audience. Analysis App Store analytics can provide valuable insights into your target audience’s behavior and preferences. By analyzing App Store data such as user reviews, ratings, and search queries, you can better understand your audience‘s needs and preferences. Impact Creating multiple versions of your app page can be time-consuming and may require additional resources. Consider focusing your efforts on your most valuable audience segments, where you can maximize the impact of your custom product pages while minimizing the resources required to create them. Choose Strategic App Previews & Screenshots The key benefit of custom product pages is the ability to segment what each user sees when they preview your app. Here are some tips to choose assets that will attract and convert your target user. Emphasize features: Use your media to highlight your app’s key features and benefits. Targeted images and videos can catch the attention of different user segments. Keep it concise: Use short video clips and images. Quickly and effectively communicate your app’s target value proposition to each of your audiences. For instance, let’s consider a “Fitness Tracker” app targeting two user types: gym enthusiasts and busy professionals. For the gym enthusiast audience, you can use app previews to show users how to set up and customize their workout plans, track their progress, and view their stats and achievements. For the busy professional audience, you can use screenshots to showcase the app’s meal planning and nutrition features. For either audience, users can see firsthand how the app can help them achieve their fitness goals at first glance. Provide Relevant Content & Keywords in Promotional Text Content about your app and relevant keywords in the promotional text help you attract the right users and increase conversions. For example, if you’re developing three custom product pages for a healthcare app—one for patients, one for doctors and clinicians, and one for health organizations—here is how the promotional text and keywords might vary per page. Custom Page for Patients Promotional Text: Take control of your health with our intuitive healthcare app Access personalized health information and track your progress Connect with healthcare professionals and schedule appointments easily Keywords: Healthcare app, personalized health information, track health progress, connect with healthcare professionals, schedule appointments Custom Page for Doctors & Clinicians Promotional Text: Streamline your practice with our advanced healthcare app Efficiently manage patient records and appointments Access medical resources and collaborate with colleagues Keywords: Advanced healthcare app, practice management, patient records, appointments management, medical resources, collaboration tools for doctors Custom Page for Health Organizations Promotional Text: Transform your healthcare organization with our comprehensive app Improve patient outcomes and streamline operations Gain insights through data analytics and reporting tools Keywords: Comprehensive healthcare app, patient outcomes, streamline operations, data analytics, reporting tools, health organization management Measure & Optimize After your customized product pages go live, you can gauge their effectiveness using App Analytics in App Store Connect. 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For instance, an app that caters to sports enthusiasts might showcase the latest Superbowl champions in an email promotion and connect to the tailor-made product page that spotlights that team. The exclusive URL incorporates a new product page ID parameter into the standard product page URL. Increase Impressions With Apple Search Ads Apple Search Ads enable you to produce ad variations for App Store Today tabs and search results for eligible custom product pages. When you establish your ads campaign, you can customize your ad message and visuals for different audiences, product launches, or seasonal promotions. Tailored product pages can greatly enhance the effectiveness of Apple Search Ads and thereby increase the ROI of your paid campaigns. Giving users a more relevant and individualized experience boosts the conversion rate of keywords and reduces the cost per install. Ultimately, you‘ll obtain more downloads—while paying less for each. Promote Events for Maximum Exposure Certain seasons, holidays, and events present great opportunities for increasing downloads. To capitalize on these moments, you can create custom product pages that showcase them. These pages can be tailored to highlight relevant features, promotions, or content related to the specific occasion, making your app more appealing to visitors. There has been a lot of excitement around in-app events, as well. Adding to the iOS marketing arsenal are these timely in-app experiences, such as challenges, competitions, or special content launches, featured on your product page. In-app events have unique promotional capabilities and App Store discoverability. Notably, all visitors to the custom or default product page will see the same in-app events. Understanding the diverse needs and motivations of your target audience can help in tailoring your marketing approach accordingly. 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InspiringApps’ Complete Guide to the App Store & Google Play is the ultimate technical playbook for setup and navigation of the digital marketplace. For more insights on identifying your target audience(s), download our free ebook InspiringApps: A Business Perspective on Building Mobile Apps.

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Marketing Your App

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By honing in on your app’s value proposition, you can create messaging that resonates with potential users. Conducting In-Depth User & Competitive Research Market research will help you identify and understand your target audience. Apply techniques such as app store reviews for competitor insights and surveys to gather user preferences. This data-driven approach will inform your feature prioritization and marketing copy for better audience engagement. Crafting an App Marketing Plan With a clear knowledge of your app and audience, it’s time to craft a marketing plan. Setting SMART Goals Use the SMART criteria—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound—to define your marketing objectives. For instance, aiming for a certain number of downloads within the first month could be a specific and measurable goal. Choosing the Right Marketing Channels Hundreds of platforms and marketing tactics are available, but it’s crucial to understand that you can’t be everywhere. Selecting the most effective channels for app marketing is key to efficiently reaching your target audience. Here are four of the most common. 1. Website & SEO A well-designed website serves as the central hub of information and engagement for app marketing. It acts as a dynamic platform to push news, updates, and announcements about your app, keeping your audience informed and excited. Incorporating testimonials and user reviews on the website can significantly boost credibility and persuade potential users. Other best practices include: Optimizing for SEO to increase visibility. Ensuring the site is mobile-friendly, offering a seamless experience across devices. 2. User Engagement Through Social Media Social media marketing is an invaluable asset in the arsenal of app marketing strategies, allowing for user engagement with potential customers. And not to mention, it’s free. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn offer opportunities to showcase your app’s features, share user testimonials, and post engaging content highlighting your app’s value proposition. Through targeted advertising and organic reach, these channels can significantly increase your app’s visibility and download rates. The interactive nature of social media also facilitates immediate feedback and community building, which you can use to enhance user retention and attract new users. 3. Influencer Marketing Influencer marketing has become a powerful tool in app marketing, using the credibility and audience of influencers to boost app exposure. Influencer marketing showcases the app’s features and benefits through real-life usage. It provides instant social proof as followers see their favorite personalities benefiting from the app. With influencer marketing, developers can tap into a ready-made audience that trusts the influencer’s recommendations. The authenticity and relatability of such promotions, in addition to app store optimization, can significantly drive app downloads and user engagement. 4. Paid Advertising Paid advertising is often key to mobile app marketing, as many social platforms operate on a “pay to play” model, making visibility without investment challenging. With the precision of audience targeting, ads can quickly get your app in front of the right people, significantly speeding up the recognition process. Options for paid advertising range broadly, including: Social media platforms. Google Ads. Various sponsorship opportunities. This variety ensures marketers can choose the most effective channels to reach their target audience efficiently. Implementing Effective User Acquisition Strategies Choosing the right channel is the first step in developing a successful app marketing plan. Acquiring the right users through these channels to engage with your app is equally important—and here are a few simple steps to get you started. 1. Optimize Your Listing App store optimization (ASO) is a fundamental aspect of a successful app marketing strategy, playing a crucial role in making your app more visible in app stores. At a high level, app store optimization involves optimizing your app’s title, keywords, description, and visuals to improve its ranking in app store search results. By enhancing these elements, ASO helps increase your app’s discoverability, potentially leading to higher download rates. This optimization process is similar to SEO for websites (hence the similar acronym) but tailored for app stores. 2. Optimize Landing Pages Once you’ve chosen your marketing channels, the next step is to ensure that potential users are directed to a landing page optimized for conversions. This involves creating clear, compelling content highlighting the app’s features and benefits and including strong call-to-action (CTA) buttons that prompt visitors to download the app. 3. Create Engaging Content Developing content that resonates with your target audience can significantly boost user engagement and acquisition. This can include blog posts, videos, tutorials, and social media content that showcases the app’s utility, entertainment value, or unique features. Content marketing not only helps drive traffic but also establishes your brand’s credibility and user trust. 4. Run User Acquisition Campaigns Paid advertising, app cross-promotion, and referral programs can all be part of a robust user acquisition strategy. It’s important to continuously test and optimize these campaigns to achieve the best possible results. 5. Use Analytics & A/B Testing Using analytics tools to track the performance of your user acquisition efforts is critical. Analyze key metrics such as conversion rates, app downloads, and user engagement to understand what works and what doesn’t. A/B testing different marketing campaign elements, like ad copy, landing pages, or CTAs, can help optimize your strategy for better results. 6. Iterate & Scale Based on the insights gathered from analytics and A/B testing, refine your marketing strategies to improve performance. Identify the most effective channels and tactics, and allocate your budget accordingly to maximize ROI. Scaling successful strategies while continuously testing new approaches is essential for sustaining user acquisition growth over time. User Retention & Engagement Your marketing efforts don’t end after the download; retaining and engaging users is critical. Here are some user engagement strategies to keep in mind. Build User Loyalty Through Personalized Experiences User onboarding processes and personalized app experiences can elevate your user retention rates. Implement tailored recommendations and personalized notifications to keep users engaged. Use Push Notifications & In-App Messaging Push notifications and in-app messaging can be powerful tools for re-engaging users and driving them back to your app. Use them thoughtfully to provide value and avoid overwhelming your audience. Engage Your Users Through Marketing & Take Advantage of User-Generated Content Active user participation, whether through social media campaigns or user reviews and testimonial features, can be incredibly influential in attracting new users. Tips & Takeaways for App Marketing The success of your app marketing efforts also hinges on a few additional strategies and insights. Don’t Rely on One Marketing Channel. Diversify your marketing efforts across multiple channels to reach different audience segments and reduce dependence on any platform. Use Free Resources, But Budget for Paid Opportunities. While organic growth is ideal, sometimes investing in paid marketing opportunities can significantly boost user acquisition and awareness. Always Focus on Your Customer. The core of any successful app marketing strategy is understanding and addressing your customer’s needs and pain points. Keep learning, stay agile, and don’t be afraid to experiment—the future of your app’s success is in the details and learnings you’ll uncover along the way. Through continued app store optimization and a dedication to understanding and meeting user needs, startups and founders can maneuver the competitive app landscape and ensure long-term success. Did We Mention Free Resources? Get a deeper dive into the A to Z of mobile app development by downloading our book, InspiringApps: A Business Perspective on Building Mobile Apps. It’s free on our website and available for a small charge in the Apple Book store or on Kindle.

8 years ago

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