Last Updated: December 2023
The success of any app depends on two critical metrics: downloads and user retention. While app downloads signify an app’s popularity, user retention represents an app’s performance in retaining users over time. Many developers and marketers concentrate only on user acquisition and downloads but ignore user retention, which is a short-sighted strategy. A high download rate is good, but the number is just a vanity metric and doesn’t guarantee any business growth or revenue generation. Therefore, it is crucial to consider user retention as a vital metric in App Store Optimization (ASO) efforts.
ASO Expert Quote
“Focusing solely on driving app installs is an outdated way of thinking. While downloads and installs are still critical to the success of your app, long-term engagement and retention are the metrics by which your app will be judged in the era of digital disruption.” – Patrick Haig, Director, Mobile Strategy & Innovation, Apptentive
Why User Retention is Important for ASO
User retention is a measure of the number of users who continue to use an app over time. A high rating of user retention indicates that the app is relevant, engaging, and meets users’ needs over an extended period. ASO strategies should focus on user engagement and retention to maximize the value of each user. A high number of downloads with low user retention will hurt an app’s ranking on the app stores, which will eventually lead to decreased downloads. While app downloads help to increase your app’s visibility, it’s user retention that drives engagement and long-term revenue generation.
User Retention Increases Brand Loyalty
User retention induces brand loyalty, which is critical for brand recognition and advocacy. Loyal users tend to influence others about an app’s usefulness, UI/UX, features, and services, which would ultimately increase an app’s visibility and downloads. If users abandon your app after installation, your app will never earn loyalists, which would eventually lead to a dip in rankings and downloads.
User Retention Maximizes User Lifetime Value (LTV)
User retention is also crucial in maximizing the user’s lifetime value, a crucial metric that determines the net revenue gain per user for the app. A high LTV metric indicates that users remain engaged with the app for an extended period, eventually resulting in higher revenue generation. This metric determines the app’s success over time, ultimately leading to increased customer satisfaction and revenue generation.
Users Are More Likely to Return for Apps They Love
The reason apps like Netflix or YouTube retains so many users is because of its user-friendly interface, reliable access to its essential features, and a personalized user experience. Users stick with the app because they enjoy using it, and it meets their daily entertainment needs. Retention efforts such as push notifications, in-app offers, personalized content, and an excellent UI/UX will keep users engaged with the app over time.
Retention Rates Determine App Store Rankings
The algorithms used by the App Store and Google Play store reward apps with higher retention rates. Apps that have high user churn rates and fail to retain users will be penalized by app store algorithms, resulting in a lower search ranking or visibility. Over time, app store algorithms will degrade an app’s visibility, leading to a drastic reduction in downloads and revenue.
How to Improve User Retention?
There are several strategies that app developers or marketers can use to improve user retention for their apps. Here are a few:
An App that can monitor user behavior is more likely to perform better. Insights about user behavior can enable developers to make data-driven decisions that can improve user experience and engagement on the app.
In-app notifications can remind users of their interest in the app by pushing personalized content, relevant offers, discounts, and subscription plans. However, be careful not to overdo it, as it can become disruptive and annoying to users.
With personalization, apps can connect with their users on a more personal level. Apps should provide users with personalized content, recommendations based on the user’s interest. They can also adjust settings and preferences, making it easier for users to engage with the app.
Quick Bug Fixes and App Improvements
Users tend to abandon apps with persistent issues or irregular updates—they prefer apps that can offer a seamless and bug-free experience. Developers should consistently monitor and update their app for bug fixes, introducing new features, UI/UX enhancement, and other improvements that make the app stand out in the market.
User retention is an important metric for the success of an app. While downloads signify an app’s popularity, user retention represents an app’s performance in retaining users over time, which leads to long-term revenue generation. User retention is also a deciding factor in app store algorithms, affecting an app’s rankings, visibility, and downloads over time. Therefore, it is essential to implement retention strategies and features, such as personalized content, push notifications, rapid bug fixes, UI/UX enhancement, and other approaches, that can help to optimize user engagement and retention.
App developers and marketers should know that app marketing or ASO isn’t just about driving downloads or increase visibility but also about user engagement and retention over time. By making user retention an essential metric in their ASO strategies, they can measure and analyze user behavior, optimize engagement and revenue generation, and eventually establish a strong, loyal user base with consistent revenue growth.