Strategies to Increase App Retention Rate


After developing a mobile app, attracting users and retaining them is a tough job to do and one of the best ways to retain users is to build an onboarding strategy. As we have already discussed in our last article “Mobile App Engagement Techniques”, all the applications need to engage users for maximum number of sessions and time for which they require sophisticated onboarding plans. On-boarding is about introducing the mobile app in the best and compact way to exhibit its benefits and features. It is the process of optimizing the UI of the app to simplify the learning process for the users.  You will have a single opportunity to make this happen correctly and if you do not succeed to engage the users in the first attempt, they will switch to another competitive application and the chance will be gone. It is almost impossible to win over them at the second attempt, so its important for you break the ice in the first go. On-boarding Concepts

  • It should start as soon as the new user downloads the app.
  • It should be short and simple to engage the user with the app quickly.
  • It should focus on the most important features of the app.

Various onboarding techniques and their real world examples are discussed below:

Tutorial: It is a common technique used in the onboarding process that displays a quick tutorial before taking the user to the UI of the application. It is generally an array of screenshots of the app’s key features and benefits. Tutorial technique is used in the Mailbox application in the onboarding process for the new users to quickly see unique features of the app and how to use them. Remember, the onboarding process does not get into detail and only highlights the core features and benefits.

Walk-through: This technique ensures to avoid the blank slate problem to users by suggesting them to fill the information to begin using the application. The only drawback of walk-through is that they are rigid and the user has to complete it before exploring the interface of the app. So to avoid the user to leave the app, walk-through should conclude quickly. They should be as short as possible and gather only the important information. This technique is used in Tumblr where the user is prompted to input the information to ensure customized experience. The user is free to explore the application by himself after walk-through.

Screen-Overlay: This is another popular technique which is used in the onboarding process to guide the user’s attention to a specific element of the UI to provide important information. The rest of the UI is made out of focus so that the attention is on the particular element which is being highlighted. This technique draws the attention of the user to the most important features but also gives the user the freedom to explore the app by themselves. Real world example of this technique is Fitocracy that helps the user to track the workouts. The onboarding process of this application uses screen overlay to focus on the most useful features and also letting the user to discover the app by himself.

Inline-Hinting: Another technique used while onboarding a new user is to show hints when the user is exploring the application. It is used when the user has reached a point that may require in depth explanation. Same like screen-overlay, this technique also gives freedom to the user to discover the app by himself. The example of this technique is YouTube that uses inline hints to describe the app’s UI. You can use the combination of all these onboarding techniques according to the requirements to engage the users on your app. You can begin with the tutorial and then go for screen overlays or inline hints after the user starts interacting with your app for the first time to engage him and make the first impression impressive. Keep in mind that onboarding is not a necessary process and for the apps that are too simple, onboarding will nothing be more than a burden for the user.

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