It would surprise nobody that the mobile apps will garner around $189 billion by the end of 2020, with over 258 billion downloads annually. Apple has more than 2.2 million apps, while Google Play Store boasts of more than 2.8 million apps.


But what might surprise you is the average number of users who use the apps. By 2017, users used at the most 12 apps. But they spend 3+ hours to use those apps. What is even interesting is the churn, i.e., how many users stopped using particular apps from what they downloaded.

As you can see, very few applications from the billions available on app stores could sustain users’ interests and engagement. Unless users continue to use your apps continuously, your chances of generating revenues decrease, that’s why it’s essential to understand the factors that compel a user to continue using your app over a long period. 

In this article, we will discuss those factors so that you can create apps that your users will love, and will use despite the overwhelmingly large number of available apps.


Focus on the primary problem

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Your application may have many features. While you need to control the number of features, what’s even more important is how you solve the primary use case. Let’s take the Uber app. There are two or three use cases. The first, and the primary one, is to hail the cab where you are right now. And when you open the app, all you get are the options to achieve this use case. Sure, there are other use cases. Do you want to book a cab for a later time? Sure. You can do it. But you need extra step for it. Do you want to book a taxi for someone else? You can do that too. Again, there is an extra step. And both the later use cases are almost hidden. (The example uses the Uber India app. There might be differences based on geographies.)


Prompt for engagement

Have you attended Facebook, YouTube, or LinkedIn live events? You must have seen the emoticons flying around during the events. The other day, I was watching one such event on LinkedIn, and my six-year-old daughter was near me. She saw those flying emoticons and asked me, “dad, why aren’t you pressing the like icon? Is it not good?” The simple feature of showing those emoticons prompted her desire to get engaged.   

Such prompts create a psychological cue for the participants to express their feeling towards the program. Once you have attached your feelings with an event, object, person, or in our case, the app, your engagement automatically goes up. You want to come back again to the app because you are emotionally involved with the app now. 

From that perspective, even negative feedback is a good sign. I was involved with an EdTech company. They had learning apps on both Android and iPhone. They used to follow every negative feedback individually and created metrics around it. They used to follow up with the users who gave negative feedback, try to solve their grievances, and turn them around to become a valuable customer. The young CEO used to say that when users give even negative feedback, they are already invested in the app. All you need to do is to remove the block, and they turn into your assets. 

The apps that try to involve users in becoming part of the process have more chances to see improved customer engagement.


Provide additional value

Most of the useful apps, web or mobile, provide a wide variety of resources that add value to the users beyond the apparent product. HubSpot, a leading CRM, provides a wide variety of resources, from templates to eBooks to even online courses. 

What creates engagement is the trust in users’ minds that the app and developers have intentions and capabilities to solve their problems beautifully. They believe that the app adds value to their lives, personally and professionally. It is the responsibility of app developers to create and maintain this trust. 

Newsletters and app notifications are also instrumental in ensuring continuous communication and value delivery. If you follow the example of good companies, you will find that they rarely talk about “sales.” Their entire focus is on customers. This kind of attention also helps create trust and engagement.

However, this additional value quite often translates into information overload. Every user has different preferences for the content and communications they want to receive. The technology thankfully allows a great deal of personalization now. Utilize it, and it can allow for better information without the overload.


Let’s recap

Engaging users should be your primary goal as a developer. Engagement drives continued use and continued use results in revenues. Let’s use recap the three steps we discussed that can help you in increasing the engagement

  • You may give many features in your app, but ensure that it does the primary activity as efficiently and as easily as possible.
  • Provide opportunities for users to get engaged. Don’t ignore even the negative feedback, but try to turn into a positive one.
  • Provide as much value to users as possible, even for peripheral activities. Continuous, personalized communication is the key to deliver such value.

I will continue to share more tips on delighting the users and delivering the value. Till then, why don’t you check out the level of engagement for your apps? Get in touch If you want me to review your apps with you, and together, we will give your users a superior experience. 


Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

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