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For mobile app developers, retention is hard. An average of just 7.5% of mobile users stay active 30 days after downloading an app. And while mobile game developers have spent countless hours trying to crack the retention code, there are plenty of lessons they can learn by looking at their non-gaming peers.

Below, we examine four ways that non-gaming apps are using innovative strategies to boost user retention and get their users to stick around longer.

Using relevant notifications — and not just push

When users opt into notifications for Duolingo, a language learning app, they sign up for more than generic “We want you back!” messages — which would hardly work, given the high attrition rates of language classes. Duolingo’s notifications bolster retention rates through schedules of reinforcement, which vary between variable and fixed intervals.

Push notifications are used more often for the variable interval reinforcements, with enticements to come back for events such as chatting with a character. Meanwhile, Duolingo leans on email for a once-daily reminder email, sent 24 hours after your last lesson to remind you. The schedule plays on the psychology of intrinsic motivation — a sense of progress and achievement — and habit formation to keep users coming back to the app.

The power of push has long been known, increasing retention rates by as much as 20%. But with everyone doing some form of basic push, it pays to think beyond the most basic strategies.

Win over new users with intuitive onboarding

Tile, a bluetooth gadget that helps find misplaced items, increased app activation rates from 29% to over 60% by cleaning up the interface and adding a simple tutorial video. Meanwhile, the music video app Vevo found that most users skipped through their tutorial, and they did away with it altogether, increasing logins by 10% and retaining the same amount of users even after day 7.

Onboarding is critical because apps often only have one shot to impress: more than 75% of users don’t come back after the first day of using an app. And because 94% of first impressions depend on design, developers should make sure the user’s first experience with the app is frictionless and intuitive.

Create triggers for important in-app events

Wish is a retail app that bested Facebook, Instagram, and even Amazon during the holiday season. More importantly, as much as 85% of its user base is made up of returning customers. The $3 billion app attributes its success to taking cues from user activity inside the app: remarketing on social media by showing users products they checked out but didn’t buy, offering discounts if a purchase is completed within one hour, or a day after cart abandonment.

Mobile game developers have a long list of in-app events to track, but fortunately for developers of non-gaming apps, in-app events tend to be fewer, making them easier to monitor using platforms like Tenjin’s Custom Events Dashboard.

Impress with lightning fast in-app customer service

Users expect swift responses from customer service, partly due to dozens of convenient channels where brands can reach customers. And there’s no faster channel for mobile than support within the app itself, as discovered by Dineout, a restaurant reservations app that cut response times from 30 minutes to 2.5 minutes after integrating in-app support. Customers appreciated being able to easily give voice to their needs, raising customer satisfaction by 40%.

Native service also increases the chances of the user interacting with the app further after chatting with support. Apps that enable swift communication between the brand and user are rewarded generously: more than 70% of users come back for business if their complaints are addressed quickly.

Any optimization strategy needs a degree of A/B testing to get the perfect fit for each app. Developers can easily track and monitor user activity and retention rates using Tenjin’s dashboard. Contact us for questions on setting up your own custom dashboard.

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