Why App Stickiness Matters and Top Tips for Retaining Users

Why App Stickiness Matters and Top Tips for Retaining UsersThe following is an exclusive guest contributed post to MMW from Boaz Yaloz, the VP of Mobile Engagement at GrowMobile by Perion, a provider of top user acquisition and engagement solutions for mobile businesses.

Stickiness is considered by many to be an important element in the success of any mobile app or game. As Lauren Drell writes in Mashable, “the best apps have ‘stickiness’ and offer something inherently valuable to users.”

But what exactly does stickiness mean? Why does it matter for your mobile app or game? And how can you go about building stickiness into your app to make the most of it? Check out our tips below.

Stickin’ around

Out of all the mobile marketing jargon terms, stickiness is both one of the most difficult to precisely define and one of the easiest to instinctively understand.

Essentially, an app or game that boasts “stickiness” is one that keeps its users. While it is difficult to explain exactly what that entails, or to calculate it confidently as a coherent figure, the following metrics can all be used to measure stickiness.

  • The uninstall rate of your app or game.
  • The number of sessions within your app over a period of time.
  • Retention figures such as 1, 7 and 30 day figures.
  • The session length, particularly for detailed or involving apps.
  • How much players are spending in your app or game.
  • Whether it has natural virality.

Stickiness, therefore, is about engagement. But it is something more than that. It isn’t simply about measuring whether people are engaging with your app or game and that they continue to use it.

Stickiness is about your app possessing a certain je ne sais quoi that enables it to dig into the habits of a user. It’s not just about being used; it’s about becoming a constant part of that user’s device and their life.

Why it matters

An app that possesses stickiness will have a strong advantage over an app that doesn’t. As we’ve discussed on this blog before, the maturing mobile market is rewarding companies who can create products that enrich or become a part of a user’s life.

In particular, sticky apps will benefit because:

  • Apps that engage have more chance of surviving. 60% of users won’t open an app again if they open it only once in the first week they have downloaded it, making sticky apps and games more successful at surviving.
  • Sticky apps have greater chances of going viral. The likes of Tinder, Periscope, Crossy Road and Snapchat show how apps with longevity can drive installs via that all-important word of mouth discovery channel. They will also often find their way into the free charts, where the stickiest apps can often sit for weeks or months.
  • Sticky apps retain better and, ultimately, offer you more hope of marketing them effectively. Life Time Value (LTV) marketing relies on strong retention rates to make it really effective, making app stickiness important.

Ultimately, a sticky app will ultimately benefit a company more because it will offer them the basis to form their business upon. Instead of relying on a flash in the pan success, a sticky app or game offers you the basis for a successful company – not just a successful product or service.

How to make the most of stickiness

How can you go about making sure that your app benefits from the effects of stickiness? Well, one of the top tips is to recognize what is considered successful and realistic for your particular app category.

For example, messaging apps sit at the top of the engagement tree while e-commerce apps struggle to drive regular interactions. But while messaging apps rely on constant usage to justify the cost of using it (e.g. WhatsApp’s subscription model) or monetizing their audiences in an alternative way (e.g. with games), an e-commerce app may only need a handful of interactions to generate tens or hundreds of dollars of revenue in return.

Beyond those app specific differences, we recommend looking into the following to increase your app or game’s stickiness:

  • Deliver the right offers to the right people at the right time, using the right communication channel – Automate the process as much as possible to relieve bandwidth limitations. Using a mobile engagement automation platform can help simplify this process by allowing you to build multiple CRM campaigns easily. Define the KPIs you want to use in order to assess campaign effectiveness and monitor them overtime.
  • A/B test everything – trial and error is the way to go. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, move on to the next idea. Easier said than done right? There’s a science behind this and if you find a platform partner that you trust and that allows you to experiment with several engagement initiatives, you’re on your way.
  • Work out a smart communication strategy and intelligent segmentation – Knowing when to send a push notification or an email to a user of your app to drive sales is an important way of keeping users faithful. Dice FM sends emails to you after you book a ticket with it, just before the show and after, to check everything went well.
  • Provide a quality app experience – Beyond being practical/fun/an absolute lifesaver, you have to make sure your app experience is high quality. Crashes, battery draining and device memory hogging are all cardinal sins, while low quality graphics and user experiences aren’t far behind. It really matters!
  • Consistently add useful features and updates – Regularly including new features or making sure your app runs effectively is an excellent way to retain users. MyFitnessPal, for example, added a pedometer to the app last year to allow mobile users to benefit from the fitness tracking revolution. Automatically counting your steps and deducting it from calorie counts, makes it an excellent addition to an already successful app.
  • Integrate with complementary apps – Integrating your app with apps that complement your experience is a smart way of keeping users engaged. High churn games have found messaging app partnerships a smart way to survive, while taxi service Uber’s recent integration with check-in service Foursquare makes a lot of sense.

So it is really worth putting the time into making your app sticky. Not only will it help you succeed and sustain your business, a sticky app is a sure fire sign that users love it.

And if that isn’t a great basis for success, then we don’t know what is.