How to Align Your App Onboarding Experience for Ultimate User Engagement

It’s a special feeling to watch people download an app you’ve created. But mobile user acquisition is much more than installs. It’s common for many people to put a new application on their smartphone and then promptly forget about it. In fact, the average mobile app retention rate was just 20 percent after 90 days!

Below we will discuss how to align your app onboarding experience to help retain users and drive engagement.

Why User Engagement Is Key  

Having strong user app engagement means you’re giving users value, and your retention numbers will reflect it. But how do you build engagement when starting out? You want to align your app onboarding experience into a seamless, straightforward process that quickly integrates users with your app’s offering.

A good app onboarding experience keeps people using your app and urges them to perform meaningful actions, like reaching the aha moment, making a purchase, subscribing to a service, creating a profile or otherwise engaging with content (like reading an article).

User engagement can vary widely depending on the type of application and industry. A travel application might only be used when someone is looking to plan a vacation, while an app focused on sports news could be opened multiple times a day.

As a result, there is no ‘golden rule’ when it comes to engagement. The best mobile app engagement campaigns are tailored to apps’ user base and industry, but that doesn’t mean other examples can’t yield inspiration.

Align your app onboarding experience with these strategies to boost user engagement.

Give People A Mission

People’s motivation to use your app is at a peak after the first install. One way to give users an incentive to continue engaging with your app is by allowing them to achieve something meaningful.

For example, the onboarding process for heat map tool Ptengine guides people through an interesting storyline that also shows them how to use all of the platform’s features. This process gets people accustomed to the program and pushes them to ‘get things done’ while fostering interaction.

The onboarding process for the popular game Clash Royale is another example of user engagement that’s driven by initial success. Users who download are immediately thrust into a mock battle which they win pretty much right away. This lets people get used to how the game works and encourages people to keep coming back to the application since they’ve already succeeded during their first play.

First Steps Made Easy

One of the simplest ways to boost user retention is to make it easy for people to start using your app. If your app has a complicated sign-up process or jumbled information fields, people are less apt to sign up or stick around.

First impressions are everything in a crowded mobile app market. Make it simple for people to register and create accounts. Gradually expose people to new information and features as they get comfortable. It may be tempting to throw out all your features at once, but it’s more likely that you will scare people away than keep them as engaged users.

Incorporate Mobile Personalization

Many companies ignore any touches of personality in their onboarding process. This is a big mistake and one of which you can take advantage to separate yourselves from the competition.

Personalization offers people a more unique experience on your platform, which gives them a reason to keep using the app. An easy way to personalize your app’s experience is to display a user’s name on different screens.

But if you want to go one step further, personalizing push notifications is an even better way to foster strong user engagement.

Push notifications remind users that they’ve downloaded your application and can be used as part of a targeted messaging campaign to offer discounts and promotions. These are powerful ways to re-engage users. In fact, Localytics found that people who opt into getting push notifications have 88 percent higher application engagement than those who don’t.

Make sure to use personalization and push notifications the right way, though. If you’re sending a flurry of irrelevant or annoying messages, you’ll turn off people to your app quicker than you can say “uninstall.”

Aligning the Onboarding Experience

People have a lot of apps from which to choose. Incorporating the above strategies in your app onboarding experience will go a long way in upping your user engagement.

Overall, your onboarding experience needs to be simple, but comprehensive, so that people can quickly get acquainted with what you have to offer and be encouraged to come back often.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.