7 Tips For Increasing User Engagement For Your Mobile App

Given the time, energy and investment that goes into developing mobile apps, it’s extremely frustrating that they so often end up underused or even overlooked. And while some businesses will blame their followers for being apathetic, or chastise those who suggested offering mobile apps in the first place, lack of engagement generally stems from issues with implementation.

Whether you have a mobile app already developed or are still in the development process, it’s vitally important that you make every effort to work on user engagement. It won’t initially help with the uptake rate, but if you manage to engage those who are using your app, the positive feedback they produce will certainly make a meaningful difference.

Very notably, 71% of publishers say well-formed mobile content boosts user engagement. In this post, we’re going to run through seven tips for making a mobile app more engaging, helping it to keep users interested and demonstrate its value. Let’s get to them.

Offer easy-to-reach support

What happens if someone using your app becomes confused about an element of the app or your operation in general? After a short while trying to figure things out, they’re likely to do one of two things: ask for assistance, or give up on the app (and possibly uninstall it). This is why you need to make it as easy as possible for them to get some help.

While it’s definitely useful to have a “Contact Us” page available through the menu (it’s key for desktop ecommerce, at least), you should supplement it with some kind of support-centric overlay: perhaps a tab at the bottom of the screen through which the user can access live chat, whether with a real person or a chatbot, or just a button they can select (as with HappyFox Chat, pictured below).

Implement social sharing

Social activity is a core part of mobile engagement — and as any SEO agency will tell you, also crucial for building brand awareness and visibility. Whether they want to share content they find entertaining, forward useful information, or recommend specific features, users often wish to send out links — and while this is easy on websites where URLs can simply be copied, it’s not so easy in mobile apps.

By providing a general share option allowing users to send content snippets, web links, or even the app link, and including further sharing actions throughout (such as a “Tweet about this” button next to a particular offer), you can make your app much more engaging for those who really like to keep their friends and acquaintances updated on what they’re doing.

For attribution, Branch (pictured above) can be extremely helpful whether you’re using iOS, Android, or both. Not only does it make it easy to add varied social sharing options, but it also makes it simple for you to tell how often people are sharing your pages, giving you invaluable insight into the actions of your users.

Use clear progress indicators

While some apps are designed solely to offer information, most are action-oriented, and that’s almost always the case for branded apps. They offer functionality that helps users and ultimately leads to value being returned to the creators. Take ecommerce apps, for instance: they aim to make sales, allowing users to get what they want and sellers to profit.

Assuming your app has this type of multi-stage process (selecting an item, reviewing the cart, choosing the shipping, etc.), you must use clear progress indicators to reassure your users that they’re getting somewhere and won’t need to repeat themselves. Something like a breadcrumb trail from a website can be enough if presented prominently. 

Don’t bombard your users with constant updates, though — user experience is a key success factor for both websites and apps. If the design of your apps’ interface only serves to frustrate your users, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

Send personalized messages

Personalization is very effective at winning and keeping interest, because we all pay more attention to things that are about us personally or cater to our preferences. App-based updates are very common because push notifications are excellent at cutting through the noise of social media refreshes and piled-up spam emails — but you need to use them smartly.

Overloading your app with generic messages will largely serve to annoy the users and push them to abandon it. Instead, dole out messages with unique content, fleshing out templates with specific names and stats and putting a cap on message frequency to keep things interesting.

Provide app-only incentives

If you maintain a mobile app alongside a mobile-responsive website that also looks fantastic on mobile screens, you can lead your customers to wonder what the point of using your app is. Surely they’d lose more time installing and configuring it than they’d get back through superior efficiency or convenience, or at least fail to see a huge improvement.

In addition to making it clear what sets your app apart, you should consider offering app-only incentives: for example, offer 5% off all orders made through your app for the time being. That discount is small enough to still allow profit (assuming you have healthy profit margins) but significant enough to tempt even the most ardent skeptics: 80% of people feel encouraged to buy from new brands if given offers or discounts, and the same goes for mobile buying.

UK clothing retailer ASOS has taken this approach on numerous occasions stretching back to 2015 — this keeps new website visitors notified of the value of the app.

Include gamification elements

Using utility apps can be fairly uninteresting, making it hard to expect the users to be engaged beyond the level required to get things done. This is why gamification elements can be highly effective: by drawing from the mechanics of games to make basic functions more interesting, you can greatly increase the level of engagement and enjoyment.

In addition to adding visual flair to your progress bar (more on that later), you should provide achievements of sorts for various things: first item ordered, first address added, first week of app use completed, etc. Try throwing in elements of competition, too: how does each user stack up against other users of the app when it comes to purchases made? It sounds trivial, but competing with others is fun, so it could drive more conversions.

Add subtle animations

When we speak of visual flair, we aren’t just referring to bold colors and interesting patterns: we also mean animation. Some UX designers make the mistake of overloading layouts with animation, of course, but the problem there is excess. Used with subtlety (among other things, this means getting the timing right: between 200 and 300 milliseconds on a smartphone, for instance), animation is fantastic for adding life to digital designs and reflecting user action.

For instance, when the user completes a necessary step, you can have a tick animation play to make the success clear. Or if they try to move ahead without filling in a necessary field, you can have the field shake slightly and change hue to indicate what needs to be done. If you work with sufficient subtlety, the effects may go largely unnoticed, but they’ll still make a difference.

Mobile user engagement is hard to secure, but it can be done if you make a strong commitment to improving the user experience of your mobile app. The tips we’ve looked at here should help you get your app moving in the right direction. 

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Adam Roger

CEO and Founder of Magetop. A friend, a husband and a dad of two children. Adam loves to travel to experience new cultures and discover what is happening with ecommerce all around the world.

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