Digital Marketing

The secret of mobile app retention revealed: User engagement

Mobile app retention platform

Mobile app use is growing like crazy. In fact, the number of app users is forecast to expand to 4.4 billion by the end of 2017, according to Portio Research. But the app market itself is incredibly crowded, with hundreds of thousands of apps already on the market and more being developed and released daily.

In a May 2013 infographic, "How Mobile Apps Have Changed the World," TopApps listed the most popular app stores, along with total number of apps available. Apple had the most at 850,000 apps, with 50 billion total downloads. Google Play was a close second with 800,000 apps and 48 billion downloads. That's truly an amazing number of apps for any user to choose from! It's no wonder that many of these apps get downloaded, tried once or twice, and then abandoned. So how can you, the developer, ensure that mobile users continue to engage with your app after they download it? The key is to build in user engagement.

Key to Success

Strong, consistent user engagement will help you ensure that your app is seen as an essential tool that users will rely on in their daily lives.

Here are a couple ways to increase user interaction and engagement:

Push Notifications

Push notifications can be a great way to engage users who don't currently have the app open on-screen, by sending them messages that contain alerts about important events, new features, app updates, bugs that have been fixed, special offers, etc. For those currently using the app, push notifications can be used to conduct real-time A/B testing for gathering insights into user preferences and behavior.

In-App Messaging

This approach is much more targeted than push notifications and as such, can take user demographics and behavior into account to create a more personalized message during app use. Examples of in-app engagement include upselling and cross selling of upgrades or products that may be attractive to your user. This is also another way to obtain user feedback during app use.


The ubiquity and platform independence of SMS make it a practical, effective and affordable channel for communicating with app users. SMS is a very good tool for developers to build deeper user relationships. SMS can be used to simplify app installation, send download links, provide advice, translate email for feature phone users, etc. SMS can also be used as part of the user authentication process.


Mobile email enables more detailed communications. It can be highly targeted and relevant, it can be a great way to introduce a new app or feature, and it can also be readily shared with the recipient's friends.

There are more secrets that can be learned about mobile app user retention. For example, read more about how web to mobile SMS increases client engagement or check out these 10 mobile CRM best practices for implementation and development.

Explore other articles

Step into the future of business messaging.

SMS and two-way channels, automation, call center integration, payments - do it all with Clickatell's Chat Commerce platform.