Launching an app must have got you super-excited. You have had infinite hours of discussion about the idea, design, development, launch strategies etc.
You think your idea is super-cool and you will get 1000s of users every second….You have even invested heavily in paid marketing and public relations to get the word out.
However, when reality strikes, you have no choice but to experience this…
My friend, you are not alone.
With millions of apps on Apple App Store, the cost of installs (CPI) can run as high as $10 if you consider your paid marketing efforts. The Android marketplace may cost 20%-50% less, but the cost is cost.
And, if your users are installing apps, you are leaking money, real bad.
Uninstall.io states that 94% of your users will abandon your app within 30 days of installation. Moreover, data also shows that losing 80% of your users is normal. No matter how crazy this sounds, but, this is true.
Before we move into the whys and hows, its important to understand that as an appreneur, your undivided focus must be on retaining users. Once a user has installed your app, the real game starts. What about the sign-up, activation, engagement and ultimately retention?
Sadly, many appreneurs, we know are terribly guilty of not measuring their apps’ uninstalls and retention metrics. These are the real numbers you should have eyes on.
Coming back to the data, if you are not amongst, the top 60 apps on the marketplaces, 80–90% of your users will leave you within 90 days. Therefore, let’s say, the average cost of acquisition for an android app is $2.73. If you apply some maths, all this could mean the average cost of $2.73 to acquire a new user boils down to $14–27 per engaged customer.
Let’s see why users don’t care a shit about your app and pull that UNINSTALL plug
1.Your app eats away a sizeable chunk of the device’s memory
Have you ever seen the message ‘Insufficient memory space’ on device’s screen when you wanted to install a new exciting app? The next moment we go to settings, manage apps and see which apps are the culprits and bam! There goes your app out of the device.
At Multidots, when we were building an app for teenagers who wanted to practice mindfulness, we faced this issue. You see, the app, involved a lot of audio exercises. Plus, the app had to have support for two languages. To cut long story short, our app had a mammoth size — 742 MB. Leave apart uninstalling, nobody, was ever going to download the app. We worked to reduce the app size to under 45 MB and it gradually reduced uninstall rates.
2. Dismal onboarding experience
Back in 2014, when the Sochi Winter Olympics’ app was launched, users have to go through a seven-step process to set the app. When you launch an app it tells you that it is loading but not with this particular app. No hints, no clues. Users are left stuck of what to do next. When you ask your users to wait when they launch your app for the first time, you are finished. Luckily, this was a Winter Olympics app. But, yours is not.
Another thing that leads your users to uninstalling your app is — making them feel overwhelmed, just like this app did -
Project, a magazine app, offered a simple onboarding experience in the initial few pages, but then when you bring users to a screen like this, they are overwhelmed. Don’t give them too much content to consume, they get distracted and leave.
Here’s another example — 500px, a photography showcase app
While the app offered brilliant functionalities, it focused one explaining some obvious features.
Source: Smashing Magazine
3. A user interface that sucks
Although there are many ways you can make your mobile app’s UI pathetic, one of the most common way is to replicate the web experience on the app. Take the TD Bank app for iOS as an example.
When a user feels like he/she is visiting mobile web instead of an app, you are essentially falling back on a promise you made. See the app’s sign in form.
4. Features which do not function as promised
Staples app is a classic example of features not working as expected. There were problems with user authentication and some even complained about their accounts getting locked on the app even if the credentials worked properly on desktop.
United Airlines app was not different. Flight tracking would not work properly in the app but worked just fine on the mobile website. Take a look.
5. App crashes and freezes
- 76% — freezing
- 71% — crashing
- 59% — slow responsiveness
were some of the primary reasons why people hate apps and then uninstall these.
6. Porting your app for devices
When you adopt the ‘one size fits all’ approach or in other words adhere to the porting for apps for every device, experience takes a hit. If you focus too much on the tablet experience, people might install your app from their smartphones.
7. Draining device battery
Image source: Wired
The Taxi Magic app is said to have drained 20% of a device’s battery when you used it for a, say 40-minute drive. Then the user has to look out for options to charge the battery (more problematic, when you are going to an airport or similar other place.)
8. No use for the app
VisitKC is an app for people who want to know everything about things to do when they visiting Kansas. There’s a mobile website too. Remember, in our last post we stressed on the point for having a mobile website if your users just want access to information. There is, as such, no need for a mobile app.
9. Forcing users to take actions
Never force your users to take particular actions. For instance, ratings and reviews is an area wherein this is quite common. Ask your users to rate an app with various options. For instance, Step Out Alarm Clock was guilty of forcing users to rate and unlock paid features when a user hasn’t even got a chance to use the app first.
Source: Lyndon Cerejo
10. Unnecessary, annoying push notifications
Appiterate Survey found that 71% users uninstall an app because of annoying notifications. Constantly pushing messages is going to be a big turn-off for users. Right from the message to timing, everything needs to be planned before you push that promotional message or else, your efforts are going straight down the drain.
Right from security reasons to a below-average user experience, there can be infinite reasons why users can uninstall your app.
So, what’s the magic wand……..
to ensure a minimum number of users uninstall your apps. The point is people will discard your app. Our aim is to keep this number low.
1. Focus on making the first experience right
Blink Me, a snapchat like app for the Latin America, was losing 30% of its users. Then, they made a change on the very first screen of the app.
The change elements weren’t the Facebook and Email Login buttons. But, the big click me button before that. Changes in button colours, designing different screens etc. was not working. They did some usability testing and found out that the first screen was not up to the mark.
It only took them 10 minutes to develop this feature, which turned out to be the ‘aha’ moment.
2. Never compromise on the user experience
Sounds pretty basic huh? But, not many apps actually focus on this.
Marbles app ( a free, 24/7 peer-to-peer mental health support) used the hook canvas (a model illustrated in the book Hooked by Nir Eyal) to improve the app retention rates by 53%.
The guys strengthened the internal triggering that works within the app plus increased external triggers too. By increasing the frequency and diversity of push notifications, the app was able to dissuade users from uninstalling it.
It even allowed users to skip some information which they felt was cumbersome, in a sense, offering more control to users.
3. Using push notifications cleverly
Alibaba does not pester its app users by pushing messages every now and then. In fact, it sends one message every two weeks.
The information in its notifications is succinct and never annoys.
4. Keep testing your ideas
Cringle increased its user registrations by more than 50% by adopting a dedicated A/B Testing strategy. When it comes to uninstalls, the way registrations work can make a huge impact.
Financial apps are notorious for having poor registrations which takes a toll on app retention.
Cringle decided to extensively A/B test its ideas and it paid off.
They did an A / B test on the acceptance of a new bank account registration method called “Cringle Connect”. By logging in using Online-Banking credentials, the feature pulled in bank account information and verified it. The alternative variant required manual entry of IBAN and the account holder’s name. To verify the entered IBAN, the user received a 1-cent transaction containing a 6-digit verification code which then needed to be entered within the app. After entering the verification code the user’s bank account was verified.
The testing went on for weeks. The “Cringle Connect” had outperformed with about 70% of users adding their bank account this way. In addition, these users showed an increased willingness to make a first transaction. The second big surprise was the high acceptance for adding the complete bank information during the onboarding process.
5. Make onboarding pleasant
The Quartz App is an excellent example of how mobile onboarding should be.
The Big Bonus….
Case study — Cardup, a social networking app that increased the iOS app retention by 300%
Cardup was launched by Richard Aberefa back in 2013. The purpose of the app was — calling. Cardup would enable anyone to call their family or friends located anywhere in the world for a low price.
The app provided a way to avoid the expensive call rates to reach people overseas, offering the cheapest rates anywhere to make calls. Cardup provided an alternative to even modern technological communications such as VoIP systems, which require both calling parties to have the same application in place.
Richard realized that users were not as engaged with the app as they were with social networking apps.
So, here’s what he did that would ultimately result in 300% increase in user retention. He relied on four things for this —
- Background updates
- Push notifications
- APNs Feedback services
- Using emails
Read the detailed case study here on his medium account.
Getting users to stick to your app can be one of the toughest nuts to crack. A whole gamut of factors have to fall in place for your users to keep using your app. The fundamental thing to remember is that if your app is initially flawed, there is no need for it in the market, then no matter how much good onboarding you have in place or money you invest in user experience, design, marketing etc. nothing ever is going to stop users to hit that remove button.
However, there’s a silver lining. If there is a need for your app, carefully implement the factors discussed in this post and you shall be able to retain users considerably.