My app retention rates are falling: what can I do?

Average app retention on Android was 21.1% on day one, dropping to 2.1% by day 30. On iOS, it was 23.9% on day one, falling to 3.7% by day 30.
It means you have a short time frame to impress your users or risk losing them. In an over-saturated tech world, users won't stick around on your app if they think they can find something better elsewhere. They will start searching and stumble upon your competitors.

But how do you prevent that from happening?

We decided to ask tech experts from around the world for their top tips on improving retention rates and keeping customers happy. Here's what they said:

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1. Make the customer feel valued

Feeling valued and well taken care of is crucial, both in life and when interacting with a mobile app. Personalizing your content can significantly boost user loyalty, as people appreciate a tailored experience. Surprisingly, many apps still fail to offer this, missing a vital opportunity to stand out, and this is where you can excel.

The customer is king when it comes to app retention. If an app doesn't resonate with users, they will quickly delete it. Therefore, it's essential to prioritize the customer in every aspect of development—from design and build to testing, production, and post-launch. Conduct thorough research to understand customer needs and preferences. Low retention rates are often a clear sign that users are dissatisfied.


So, how do you improve retention? Leverage the wealth of data available to you. Data is one of your most powerful assets, so use it to gain deeper insights into your users. Collect information on their:

  • Location, 
  • Interests, 
  • Age, 
  • Gender, 
  • App usage frequency, 
  • Behavior, and 
  • Conversion history.

The more data you gather, the more personalized and engaging your app can become.
Personalization can be categorized into two types:

  • Static personalization, which includes constant factors like the user's name in notifications and 
  • Dynamic personalization, which involves evolving factors such as user behavior and conversion history.


A prime example of effective personalization is Netflix. They masterfully use personal data, collecting historical viewing information to create customized recommendations and curated content lists. This approach results in loyal users and a high-quality, personalized service for viewers.


Also, if users fail to perceive the value of a new app or encounter difficulty accessing timely support, they may quickly abandon it. Enhancing your customer support experience can mitigate frustration and abandonment, thereby significantly improving long-term retention rates.

What experts have to say

“For us, customer engagement is driven by a combination of a robust product and stellar customer service. Product enhancements include major feature releases as well as minor usability, UX/UI, and performance improvements. Customer service is our conduit to better understand these product improvement opportunities. Pushing product changes without knowing our customers' needs would be futile. That's why the customer service team is a valuable tool for gathering product feedback. QA and testing are a great example of the importance of the relationship between product and service. Without a full understanding of customer use cases provided by customer service, product testing would not be nearly as extensive.”
                                                    Sunny Ashley, founder and CEO of Autoshopinvoice.

Stand the test of time

If your app is perceived as a passing trend, it may initially generate a brief return on investment but ultimately falter. This can adversely affect both app retention rates and revenue. To encourage customers to return consistently, ensure your app idea has lasting value.

For example, consider Instagram. Initially launched as a simple photo-sharing app, Instagram continued to evolve by introducing features like Stories, IGTV, and Reels to keep users engaged. These updates transformed it into a platform that users integrate into their daily lives, making it difficult for them to consider deleting it.


Therefore, if you notice your app is losing user interest, strategize new features or updates that align with evolving user needs and behaviors. By becoming an integral part of users' routines, your app can maintain long-term relevance and user loyalty, contributing to sustained retention rates and revenue growth.

What experts have to say

“From my point of view, apps need to be able to stand the test of time, which in the world we live in is very difficult. We see that apps that have a lifespan, such as something to use every day, have much better retention rates than the more casual app. This is not to say that games cannot have good retention, you just have to give the people a reason to continue to use the app.”
                                                                                                           - Jase Rodley, Entrepreneur

Ensure your UX is top-notch

You might have a great idea – one that stands the test of time. Your aesthetic design might also be fun, new, and exciting, ready to impress global markets.  But if the UX is poor, your customers simply won't enjoy using it. And if they don't enjoy using it, the likelihood that they will churn is very high.

Customer journeys are extremely important, especially for apps that involve payment functionalities. If your customers struggle to make their way through to payment, it's going to have a direct impact on your ROI. Your UX needs to make the app feel exceptional, easy to use, and trustworthy.


For instance, consider Wise’s success. Beyond facilitating payments, theirUX ensures seamless navigation and security, building trust among users. This approach enhances user satisfaction and fosters long-term loyalty and retention. Therefore, investing in a superior UX is indispensable for sustaining user engagement and maximizing ROI in the competitive app market.


What experts have to say

“To improve app retention rates, get your user design and experience right. The biggest reason why users uninstall an app after downloading it is because they did not enjoy the user experience. When the UI does not enhance the user experience, the site has a high bounce rate.”
                                                             - Reuben Yonatan, Founder and CEO of GetVoIP

“UI and UX play a distinctive role in making the first impression the best one. The success of the app depends on the optimum performance and fast loading and we put them to the top priority.”
                                                        - Mehul Rajput, CEO and co-founder, Mindventory

Keep customers engaged

Once you've caught your customers' attention, you need to work hard to keep it, as the competitive app market offers users numerous alternatives at their fingertips. If your app fails to engage users continually, they may be enticed by competitors providing additional features or better experiences. To effectively retain user interest, consider implementing diverse engagement strategies.

For instance:

  • Integrate gamification elements such as badges, rewards, or leaderboards to incentivize ongoing interaction. 
  • Personalize user experiences through tailored recommendations based on their preferences and behavior to enhance engagement and satisfaction. 
  • Use proactive customer support that promptly resolves issues and gathers feedback to foster a sense of trust and loyalty.
  • Update the app regularly with new content or functionalities to keep it fresh and relevant and encourage users to return frequently.

With these approaches, apps like Duolingo have successfully retained users through gamified language learning, while Spotify engages listeners with personalized playlists and curated content updates.


What experts have to say

“These following methods will help you towards 70% retention value:
- Include loyalty programs for customers
- Reach out via emails or app notifications with personalized offers that customers can't neglect (Re-marketing  techniques)
- Provide regular updates and let people know about them
- Collect customer feedback and use the insights for smart decision making”                                                             Dhanesh Haridas, CTO, Epixel Solutions.

Use in-app and push notifications

Push notifications are another fantastic way to increase customer engagement. They remind customers that your app is available, inform them of deals or promotions, and act as a subtle hint that users should engage.

Effectively utilizing push notifications can significantly impact app retention rates by informing users about relevant updates and activities within the app. However, it's essential to use notifications in a way that enhances rather than disrupts the user experience.


Studies reveal that 64% of users are likely to abandon an app if they receive more than five push notifications per week. Therefore, it's crucial to prioritize quality over quantity and focus on delivering notifications that offer genuine value to users.

To strike the right balance, consider implementing these best practices:

  1. Opt-in Approach: Allow users to choose whether to receive notifications. Respect their preferences to ensure they receive notifications that align with their interests and needs.
  2. Relevance: Tailor notifications to be timely, personalized, and aligned with users' behavior and preferences. This personalization helps ensure that notifications are perceived as valuable and not intrusive.
  3. Optimal Timing: Schedule notifications to be sent when users are most likely to engage with them, avoiding interruptions during busy periods or late hours. This approach enhances the likelihood of user interaction and positive engagement.

This strategic use of notifications can foster a stronger connection between the app and its users, ultimately contributing to long-term app success and user loyalty.

What experts have to say

“Push notifications and In-App messages are a great way to bring users back to your app. Don't forget to offer some value in those notifications with an incentivization program (discounts, rewards, bonuses). Try to build a relationship with your users. Otherwise, those notifications will be ignored and will lead to user abandonment.”
- Jose Gomez, CTO & CoFounder @ Evinex

Don’t forget to test and do it often

Customers are on the hunt for quality. 
If your app is glitchy, full of bugs, and unreliable, it will not inspire trust in your users. Customers will have no qualms about deleting an app they don't believe is fit for purpose. 
However, a high-quality app that has consistent functionality and seamless UX and doesn't crash might be the difference between an app that flops and one that becomes a fantastic success.  But, for an app to be high quality, it must be well-tested.


What experts have to say

“It is most important to test an app to deliver a better product to the market. If your app lacks proper features and functionality, users will remove the app without thinking twice.
Mobile testing needs some investment at first but it must be done before the release in order to get higher profits in the future.”
                                                     Mehul Rajput, CEO and co-founder of Mindventory

“Nothing is more important than making sure that when you release new versions, everything remains smooth on the user side. Users don't know nor do they care that you just released a new version, and will react just as negatively should anything go wrong.”
                                        Joaquim Miro, Founding Partner & CGO at Hoppin' World

“Testing is the most important part of a pre-launch. It can be a devastating process, as tiny bugs can take days or weeks to fix. But it’s so important to make user mistakes, such as just being impatient before something properly loads and seeing how the app responds. 
Testing is all about finding out whether your vision was perfectly created by the developers.” 
                                                                         Sall Grover, founder & CEO of Join a Giggle

How to improve your app retention rates

Mobile app retention measures how well users continue to engage with and find value in your app over time. So, in addition to the already mentioned best practices, here are additional ones:

  1. Optimize onboarding for insights: Streamline the onboarding process to gather valuable user insights. Choose from function-oriented, benefit-oriented, or progressive onboarding based on your app's features and user needs. Collect feedback early to refine user interfaces and improve usability.
  2. Monitor customer satisfaction: Use metrics like Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Customer Effort Score (CES) to gauge user sentiment. Use feedback to make informed improvements and prioritize enhancements that resonate with users.
  3. Utilize in-app messages: Deploy in-app messages strategically to convey promotions, gather feedback, or guide users through features. Segment messages based on user behavior to maximize relevance and effectiveness.
  4. Implement reward programs: Introduce loyalty programs, discounts, or gamified rewards to incentivize continued app usage. Tailor rewards to match user preferences and behaviors to foster long-term engagement.
  5. Ensure cross-platform seamlessness: Create a seamless experience across web and mobile platforms by synching user data and preferences to provide consistent experiences, allowing users to switch between devices effortlessly.
  6. Content marketing strategies: Develop engaging content such as videos, podcasts, and articles to educate and entertain users. Use content to showcase app features, offer tips, and build community engagement around your niche.
  7. Integrate gamification: Introduce gamified elements like badges, progress bars, or challenges to make app usage enjoyable and rewarding. Gamification can motivate users to achieve milestones and interact more frequently with your app.
  8. Align marketing with product experience: Ensure marketing messages accurately reflect the app's features and benefits. Avoid misleading promotions that could disappoint users and lead to churn.
  9. App Store Optimization (ASO): Optimize app store listings with relevant keywords and appealing visuals to improve discoverability and attract high-value users organically.
  10. Email marketing campaigns: Leverage email campaigns to nurture relationships with users. Provide personalized content, updates, and exclusive offers to encourage app usage and retention.
  11. Clear Call-to-Actions (CTAs): Design prominent CTAs within the app to guide users toward completing key actions. Ensure CTAs are visible, intuitive, and aligned with user goals to drive engagement.
  12. Re-engagement strategies: Use retargeting ads and win-back campaigns to re-engage inactive users. Personalize messages based on past interactions and behaviors to encourage returning users.
  13. Cross-sell and Up-sell opportunities: Identify opportunities to cross-sell or up-sell within the app. Recommend complementary products or premium features to enhance user value and drive revenue.

What can GAT do for you?

At Global App Testing (GAT), we excel in aiding the creation of exceptional apps through:

  1. Functional and UX Testing: Seamlessly integrated into your workflow, our approach combines exploratory tests and scripted test cases to identify and resolve issues early, ensuring high-quality apps and faster feature delivery.
  2. Real-World Testing: Operating in over 190 countries with 90,000 testers and 60,000 devices, GAT ensures your app performs flawlessly across diverse devices, operating systems, and network conditions.
  3. Localized and Internationalization Testing: Our rigorous testing verifies translations, localized product changes, and compliance with local regulations, ensuring your app remains functional and relevant globally.
  4. Performance and Accessibility: We optimize your app's performance in diverse global contexts, including low-data environments and older devices, while ensuring accessibility standards like WCAG are met for improved inclusivity.
  5. Continuous Feedback Loop: GAT gathers invaluable insights into usability and user experience by involving real users in the testing process. This iterative approach allows for constant app improvement based on real-world user feedback.

If you want to learn more about delivering quality to your customers, speak to one of our growth experts today for a free consultation.

We can help you drive app retention as a key initiative aligned to your business goals

Contact us

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