“It’s like Uber…but for your shoes!”

There I was, sitting in another business pitch competition when the umpteenth developer walked up to the podium to show off their revolutionary new mobile app idea. “Just swipe here, tap here, navigate here, sign in here with your name, address, date of birth, name of first born child…blah, blah, blah”


Mobile app development has been around for over 10 years, and yet, with millions of innovative, creative, fun and useful apps to download, mobile smartphone users spend 84% of their time using just five non-native apps.

Alright, so maybe you’re not the next Facebook, but you would like robust user interaction and ultimately retention. Understanding that 71% of all app users will churn in 90 days, how can you sustain user interest and keep your app on the desktop and not in the tray?

Start lean
  1. Start Learn – Build an MVP that will satisfy 80% of your target market’s needs and worry about the bells and whistles later. A lot of apps get bogged down with unnecessary fluff that creates confusion or even worse, bugs. Obviously, your development team should be debugging during the acceptance period. However, I recently switched weather apps from the Weather Channel to Google Weather because the Weather Channel app decided to add a ton of video content which only caused lagging in both startup and in-app performance. Sorry Weather Channel, I came for the 10-day forecast not a cute puppy, snow day video.

2. Simplify the Onboarding Process – There’s a reason that dads like me throw out the manual when we get a new toy, we just want to use it. Similarly, with mobile applications, I don’t want to spend a ton of time trying to figure out how to navigate your app. In a 2016 case study by Localytics and Slice, retention rates went up 50% after implementing a solid onboarding process. Localytics has a really good primer on some onboarding best practices so I won’t repeat all of them here but make note of number six: “Make it Easy to Sign Up.” By utilizing social media accounts as log-in options, you not only speed up the process but also ease your user’s brain of having to remember yet another password.

3. Keep Your App Fresh/Updated – I’ll be honest, when checking out a new app, I first look at the user reviews and then I note when the last update took place. As rapidly as technology and user demands change, so too should your app. There are several theories on how often you should update, but the most successful apps release updates between 1-4 times per month. Keeping your users engaged doesn’t just mean working out the bugs, it also means fresh content. Whether it’s adding levels to your game, new products to your ecommerce app, updating maps, badges, emojis, etc., by keeping your content relevant it shows you’re listening to market demands, which leads to my final point…

4. Listen to Your Users – With any business, the hardest part is getting customers/users, but now that your app has users, you must have a rock-solid customer engagement strategy in place to keep your customers/users. If you look at a traditional marketing funnel, then you know this means loyalty programs and incentives, ancillary products and/or services and referral bonuses, among others. In the world of mobile app development, you should be combining the traditional with the uniqueness of your digital brand to create a personalized experience for your users.

Users want to know that you’re listening to them, and while you don’t need to respond to every negative review, you should, at a minimum, be using the 80/20 rule (aka the Pareto principle) to address the most critical issues. Also, don’t be afraid to use social media platforms to respond to your user base in a fun, yet on brand, voice. Lastly, engage your power users through beta testing opportunities and participating in online communities like Reddit and Slack.

As with any good marketing strategy, be sure to coordinate with your team well in advance of your launch date and make sure the communication pipeline is wide open and active. After all, if your team is not engaged, why should you expect your users to be engaged?

“Ding! Your shoes have been delivered!”

We’ll discuss push notifications next time…

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