24 Strategies To Increase App Engagement

Written by: Garin Hobbs

Published on: 09-02-2024

Is your company frustrated by lackluster app engagement? That tiny icon on users’ phones might be waving, but is it getting the attention it deserves? Beyond the initial excitement of downloads, are users actually sticking around and interacting with your app?

If the answer leaves you a bit uneasy, you’re not alone. App engagement is more than just a numbers game; it’s about user-perceived value and how often people genuinely connect with and return to your app. 

In this guide, we’ll dive into app engagement and the top strategies and best practices to turn things around. Get ready to transform that icon from a mere presence into a buzzing hub of activity! 

What is App Engagement? 

Before we dive into the finer details, let’s define what app engagement is and is not. App engagement is NOT the number of downloads your app has. Anyone with a mobile device can download an app. A simple download hardly indicates use.  How many app tombstones do you have on your own mobile device?

App engagement is how often and for how long people actually use your app, interact with it, and keep coming back for more. 

Why You Should Care About App Engagement

In today’s multi-channel, multi-device world, customer engagement requires a symbiotic ecosystem, with each component lending value to the others. An app with solid engagement can round out your marketing strategy and often result in the following:

  • Higher user satisfaction
  • Longer customer retention
  • More daily and monthly active users
  • Better conversion rates 

The bottom line benefit is, of course–revenue. Loyal customers and return users spend more time with your brand. More time and exposure usually means more $$.

What if you have an app, but your engagement isn’t what you’d like it to be? Fear not! This is just untapped potential. An opportunity!

Meet your customers where they already are. 85% of total daily smartphone usage is spent on apps. Once your app is on an individual’s phone, they may spend up to 600% more time engaging with it than your website.

Influence Consumer Behaviour: What Factors Positively Impact Engagement Rates?

Influence Consumer Behaviour What Factors Positively Impact Engagement Rates

Research identified 26 different factors that influence app engagement. This research was in the health and wellness industry. However, many factors apply to apps in general. Here are the factors that apply to all apps regardless of industry:

App Awareness

Help people know your app exists. Optimize for app stores and market your app. Consider using paid ads, social advocacy, or leveraging blogs to increase discoverability. 

User Guidance.

Clear instructions and guidance directly impact engagement. An overwhelming navigation or app interface can scare away a lot of users. However, once a user is up to speed with your app, remove guidance pop-ups and instructions. These can be annoying to experienced users. 

Reduce Cognitive Load.

Consumers typically prefer apps that are easy to use. Apps that integrate a device’s features (e.g., tap-to-call, or use the camera to take a picture of a product, then display where to buy it) reduce user friction and are highly favored. 


Consumers report a higher appreciation of apps that help them track their progress. These apps may display stats, engagement, and goals. Consider a statistical information feature and reward users for their engagement and program adherence. 


Gamification elements are highly valued by users as intangible rewards can be quite motivating. Things like stars, badges, and points create a “feel good” experience of achievement when interacting with an app. 

Tactful reminders.

Notifications directly affect engagement–both positively or negatively. A personalized reminder personalized to the consumer’s needs and preferences delivers a “tailored” experience that will increase engagement. In contrast, bombarding a user with too many reminders can cause annoyance and reduce engagement. 


An initial subscription or app fee could deter users unsure about your app. Consider “freemium”-style strategies that lower the barrier of entry and entice users to try your product. Consider using ladder pricing to meet various points of price sensitivity. 

Personalization to Needs.

Users want personalized content, notifications, and suggestions. They also want the power to personalize an app to their needs. Allow users to input preferences and data to cultivate a personalized experience whenever possible. 

So, considering these factors, what strategies can you implement to increase your app engagement? Let’s explore…

24 App Engagement Strategy Examples 

So, you want to improve your app engagement now. What should we consider, and what actions should we take? Here are some proven methods that have yielded phenomenal results for other brands.

1. Notifications: The Sweet Symphony

Compose a symphony of notifications, but don’t overplay it. Push alerts at the right time with the right content. This study found that user retention decreased when push notifications were sent every 3 hours. Test and iterate to find the right cadence and timing. 

Take a cue from Duolingo – they nail it by reminding you to practice without pestering.



2. App Usability: Simple Onboarding and Easy Navigation

Deliver a guided user experience. Remember Clippy? 

  • Streamline the onboarding process with a clear and concise introduction to the app’s features. 
  • Simplify app navigation by organizing content logically and using familiar icons and gestures.
  •  Ensure the app’s layout adjusts seamlessly across various devices and screen sizes.

Remember, reducing cognitive load increases user retention. Simplicity is key! Take a look at these application onboarding flow examples. 

onboarding flow examples

3. Cloud Sync Data Across Devices 

For apps that store data, consider syncing data across devices. Make it feel seamless to increase the ease of use, improve user accessibility, and reinforce the value of your app. This feature is great for fitness apps, digital storage, games, and more. 

Evernote allows users to store their notes in the cloud and access them on any device they are logged into. 


4. App Store Optimization (ASO)

Think of this as SEO for the app stores—a must-have for your app’s discoverability. App stores can be overwhelming, and users may just download what comes up first. ASO will help ensure your app is higher up in the search results. 

Optimize app metadata, including keywords, app name, and visuals, to improve discoverability on app stores. The Monday.com app uses clear, user-focused language. Their practical information and keywords make it easy to find. 


5. Lightning Log In

Does your app require a username and password whenever a user accesses it? Few things are more tedious than typing out a login and password on a tiny phone screen. Ugh! Reducing user friction is key to adoption and retention. Utilize biometric features for app access and engagement. The easier it is to access your app, the more likely users will engage with it. 

My Disney Experience app uses fingerprint authentication for secure access to park information and services.


6. Personalization Magic

Have you ever received a recommendation that felt like your app knew you better than your BFF? That’s personalization for you. Use predictive analytics to anticipate user preferences and customize content proactively. 

Take personalization a step further and allow users to personalize themselves. Invite users to share preferences and input data to improve personalization. 

Some apps prompt users to select items or products that appeal to them when setting up their account. Then, the app’s home page is curated based on the desired items. 

Netflix does a pretty solid job of recommending relevant movies and shows based on your watch history.


7. Reward Purchases and Loyalty Programs 

Turn your app into a game. Add challenges, rewards, and a sense of achievement. Offer vouchers, limited-time gifts, exclusives, and points for purchases.

Starbucks  does this with its tiered loyalty program –– buy coffee, earn rewards – the more you engage, the more stars and perks you get. Simple and addictive.


8. Feedback Loop Love

Create a two-way street. Encourage users to share their thoughts and actually listen. Airbnb does this well – they ask for feedback and then show users the impact of their suggestions.

Is there a feature you are considering? A product your company wants to explore? Create a feedback loop with customers on your app—even better if you combine this strategy with a reward system to incentivize and motivate users to provide valuable feedback. 

Slack is another excellent example of this strategy. 


9. Regular Freshness

Nobody likes stale bread or stale content. Experience fatigue is all too real. Keep your app fresh with regular updates and new or revamped features. Instagram does this smoothly, constantly adding new filters and features.


10. Social Sharing Shenanigans

Humans love to show off. Let users share their victories or experiences from your app. Strava and FitOn, exercise apps, let users share their workout achievements> This provides instant motivation for others by fostering community and mutual support.


11. Good Performance = User Retention

No one likes a slow, glitchy app that crashes. Invest in optimizing your app’s performance by reducing latency and smoothing out any bugs, feature errors, or performance issues. 

Evernote streamlined their app to ensure quick note-taking – users love the efficiency.


12. Community Vibes

Build a tribe around your app. Forums, social groups – whatever works. The most successful apps create an ecosystem of community:

  1. Forums and Q&A. Dedicated spaces for discussions. Live Q&A sessions with experts.
  2. Challenges and Competitions. In-app challenges for user participation. Recognize and reward top performers.
  3. Collaborative Projects. Initiate user-driven projects. Highlight progress and impact.
  4. Themed Challenges. Introduce seasonal challenges. Encourage user participation.
  5. Direct Messaging. Enable direct messaging. Facilitate one-on-one or group chats.

Take a cue from Discord, a gaming chat app turned community hub.


13. Integrate With Voice Assistants 

Implement voice-activated features for a hands-free experience. This feature saves users time and allows them to use your app faster. Google Assistant allows users to perform various tasks within the app using voice commands.

Google Assistant 

14. Sneak Peeks and Previews

Provide exclusive sneak peeks or early access to upcoming features. Create excitement and remind users of the value your app gives. Instagram often releases beta versions of its app, allowing users to test and experience new features before the official launch.



15. Offline Access 

Allow app users to access specific features offline. This strategy can be used to improve engagement and drive greater loyalty. Using the app “offline” can be a premium feature to upsell your audience. 

Spotify offers offline listening with Spotify Premium, catering to users in areas with limited internet connectivity.


16. Progress Tracking

Allow users to track their progress within the app. Statistics and progress rewards motivate users to engage more. Users often request these features. Fitbit tracks users’ fitness goals, steps, and achievements, motivating continued app usage.

Fitbit example

17. Interactive Content

Include interactive elements like quizzes, polls, or interactive videos. Buzzfeed creates interactive quizzes within its app, driving user engagement and sharing. Their Daily Trivia feature engages and educates users, making the interaction itself rewarding.


18. Daily Log-In Reward

Creating new habits of customer behavior is difficult. To overcome this, reinforce the behaviors you want to see with rewards. 

Have a daily log-in or “check-in” reward. Create a pop-up when users open your app. Reward points, stars, or something else to create a positive association with using your app.  The more practical the reward, the better. 

A shopping app, Lazada, has a daily check-in reward. Users get ten coins, which can be used to purchase items on the app. 


19. Customer Support Wizardry 

Provide in-app support or chat features for quick problem resolution. This could be a quick link to your website’s FAQs or support page. Or use a live chat feature. The less frustrated users feel, the more likely they will keep using your app!  Remember: Friction = Failure.

The Super.com app offers a live chat feature for instant customer support.


20. Augmented Reality (AR) Features

AR is increasingly common. Implementing Augmented Reality (AR) features in an app can significantly enhance user engagement by providing immersive and interactive experiences.  It’s not just for touching up your online dating pics.

AR can be applied to:

  1. User Tutorials. Provide a fully immersive onboarding guide or user tutorial with AR. 
  2. Challenges and Games. Gamify your app and increase user enjoyment. Host challenges and reward winners. 
  3. Product Visualization and Visual Try-Ons. Create an AR shopping experience that allows users to visualize an item in their home. Use AR for visual try-ons of clothing, cosmetics, and accessories. 

Pokémon GO leverages AR to create an interactive experience where users can catch virtual Pokémon in the real world.

Pokémon GO

21. Live Streaming and Real-Time Interaction

Live streaming creates immediate engagement with users. Host live streams at different times and analyze how your audience responds and your engagement results. 

Twitch allows users to watch live gaming streams, events, and creative content while interacting with streamers in real time.


22. Ephemeral Content

Ephemeral Content–content that disappears in 24 hours. First introduced by Snapchat in 2013, this strategy quickly caught on. Since then, Snapchat has increased to 200 million users. 

Allow users to post stories, videos, and updates that last 24 hours. Encourage community by allowing users to add and connect with friends who can see their ephemeral content. 

Snapchat and Instagram Stories feature ephemeral content that disappears after a set period, encouraging regular engagement. 

Snapchat and instagram stories

23. Cross Promotion

Promote other relevant apps or features within your app to encourage users to explore additional functionalities. Find complementary partners to cross-promote your app. This strategy expands reach, credibility, and increases user benefits.

One example is Spotify and Uber. In 2014, Spotify and Uber announced a partnership that allowed Spotify users to control the music played during their Uber rides. 

Spotify and Uber

24. Deep Linking 

This technique allows users to navigate directly to specific content or pages within a mobile app rather than just launching the app’s home screen. Deep linking helps bridge the gap between web and app experiences and enhances user engagement. This is absolute table stakes in 2024.

Improving user experience, personalization, and target marketing are just a few of the perks of this strategy. Airbnb is an example of an app that uses deep linking. 


Analyzing App Engagement : 5 Introductory KPIs To Check Your Results 

So, you deployed one or more of the above strategies–great job! But how do you know if it’s working? 

App engagement can be identified by the following key performance indicators (KPIs) and App engagement metrics. 

1. Active Users and “Stickiness”

This KPI is pretty straightforward. Daily active users (DAU) and monthly active users (MAU), i.e., the number of people who open and use your app daily/monthly. 

Your app’s “stickiness” is how relevant and valuable users find your app. You want your app to be as valuable and memorable as possible. DAU and MAU are two figures you can use to gauge your app’s “stickiness.” 

2. Sessional Intervals 

This metric identifies the time between two successive app sessions. This KPI helps determine whether or not your users are “hooked” on your app. How often and how quickly do your users come back for more? 

A ” hooked ” user would have less time between successive app sessions. For example, an Instagram user who regularly opens Instagram multiple times daily with a few minutes between sessions is probably “hooked. Compare that to a user who opens the app once a week for 5 minutes. 

Best case scenario–your app has a good chunk of ” hooked ” users. 

3. Average Session Length

Summed up–the time a user spends on your app each session. If a user opens your app ten times daily, each session time (access to closing) will be logged. Then, an “average” session time is calculated. 

This metric informs you of your app’s ability to maintain interest. It can be applied to your retention analysis. 

4. Conversion Rate 

A well-used and vital metric. Conversion rate = the number of users who become paying customers. Higher engagement usually amounts to higher conversions. 

5. Churn Rate

Your churn rate is not a KPI in which you want to see a high number. It is the exact opposite of engagement and retention. Your churn rate is the number of users who leave or delete the app. A high churn rate is bad news! 


Giving your app some love and attention pays off big time! When people use your app often, love what they find, and keep coming back for more, it’s like hitting the jackpot. Higher engagement means you’re more likely to turn curious clickers into revenue-driving regulars.

Want a hand with your email, SMS, or app marketing strategy? InboxArmy is here to help! Our experts create engaging end-to-end cross-channel campaigns that achieve results. Contact us to learn more.  

About Author

Garin Hobbs is a seasoned Martech and Marketing professional with over 20 years of successful product marketing, customer success, strategy, and sales experience. With a career spanning across ESPs, agencies, and technology providers, Garin is recognized for his broad experience in growing email impact and revenue, helping launch new programs and products, and developing the strategies and thought leadership to support them. Understanding how to optimally align people, process, and technology to produce meaningful outcomes, Garin has worked to deliver sustainable improvements in consumer experience and program revenue for such brands as Gap, Starbucks, Macy’s, Foot Locker, Bank of America, United Airlines, and Hilton Hotels. For more information, follow him on Linkedin

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