When it comes to mobile development, ensuring that users are engaged with the application is essential. An unengaging app can quickly fall to the wayside – many apps are downloaded and only utilized once by the device owner, before being forgotten about or deleted.

Top symptoms of unengaging apps

According to industry statistics, there are a few key things companies can look for to gauge the effectiveness of an app’s engagement. These include:

  • Little to no use after download: Luxury Daily reported that in 2014, American smartphone users leveraged more than 26 apps each month. While this means there is considerable opportunity, if an app is not optimized for engagement, it can quickly be removed or replaced. Google noted that 25 percent of all mobile apps initially downloaded by users are utilized only once.
  • Low opt-in numbers: Many of today’s mobile applications use statistics like push notification opt-ins or other metrics to judge engagement. These numbers can be particularly telling. For instance, low push message opt-in rates can signal that the app simply isn’t engaging users as much as it could. Otherwise, they would be interested in push notifications that keep them connected to the platform.
  • Higher web usage: While an unengaging app can sometimes cause users to seek out competing alternatives, some users will instead flock to a company’s online website if the mobile app isn’t up to par. A higher rate of web users can illustrate that the mobile version of the platform is in need of improvements.

An app that doesn’t effectively engage users can considerably lessen the opportunities a brand has to connect with its user audience. This can also cause users to seek out alternatives, which might lead them to a direct competitor. For this reason, it’s critical to ensure that if an app isn’t engaging upon release, improvements are made.

User engagement metrics

In addition to usage, opt-in and web visitor numbers, there are a few other metrics to track that can illustrate an app’s engagement level. Personagraph marketing associate Arthur Noort noted that critical benchmarks to measure here include:

  • Active users: It’s essential to keep an eye on the number of active users engaging with the app. This includes the daily, weekly and monthly active users, which can help show the level of engagement over a period of time.
  • Session length and time in app: It can also be helpful to track individual session length – the amount of time users spend on the app per interaction – as well as time in app. The latter here refers to the “total amount of minutes users spend using the app in a given time period,” according to Noort. Longer sessions and time in app can signal that users are engaged, especially if they are spending a considerable amount of time using the product.
  • Use of features: There is also technology that can track the usage levels of specific features, which can show which capabilities are utilized the most, and which have the lowest levels of engagement. This metric in particular can help guide improvement efforts. If a specific feature is only being leveraged by a small pool of users, this should be one of the first items enhanced for a subsequent update.
  • Retention: As Google pointed out, a large number of apps are downloaded and never used again. Retention rates can help companies gauge if their app is included in this percentage. “This is a crucial metric since a high retention rate shows that users love your app, and vice versa for a low retention rate,” Noort wrote.
  • Reviews: While the number of user reviews can be telling, it is their content that is particularly important. For example, if a large amount of users are complaining about a specific feature not working properly in their reviews, this should be among the items prioritized during improvements.

These metrics are imperative, and there are a number of different tools on the market that can help developers and companies glean these results. Technologies like Google Analytics, Flurry, Localytics, AppSee and Adobe Analytics are some of the most popular.

Ensuring engagement: Top strategies for success

While baking user engagement into the planning for a mobile app is important, this doesn’t mean that improvements can’t be made after the product is released. This is why the above-discussed metrics are so important – they can help the team prioritize their enhancement efforts, and pave the way for a more effective, engaging app.

Google noted that although certain benchmarks can be applicable for any type of application, it’s important to focus on those that mean the most for the company’s goals. For instance, session length is important, but for a transportation or ride-sharing app like Uber where interactions are typically short, this benchmark is much less telling.

In addition, once initial insights are mined for insights and subsequent improvements are made, it’s essential to test the app again before releasing an update.

“Like any other channel, you have to constantly test and improve,” Jon Mew, IAB Chief Operating Officer told Google.

Finally, one of the best strategies for ensuring user engagement is to work with an expert development team. These individuals are more knowledgeable, not only when it comes to essential metrics, but the designs and features that can keep users coming back. And when it comes time to enhance and update the app, a trusted, skilled team can boost the overall chances of success.

For more information, contact Making Sense today.