App stickiness

An app’s stickiness is determined by the extent to which users engage with it on a regular basis. The higher user engagement is, the stickier the app is.

What is app stickiness?

What is app stickiness?

A sticky app holds a loyal audience, low churn, and high engagement when it delivers a great and unique user experience that sets it apart from the competition. 

Stickiness is all about users finding your app valuable and relevant to their lives. Ensuring your app is sticky means your users will be compelled to come back regularly, giving you more opportunities to monetize through in-app purchases (IAP) or in-app advertising (IAA).

The DAU/MAU ratio – Calculating app stickiness

Pairing your daily active users (DAU) with your monthly active users (MAU), the DAU/MAU ratio allows you to measure the relative volume of monthly active users who engage with your app over a 24-hour time period. 

Using this formula, you can forecast traction and potential revenue over time. But even more importantly – this ratio helps you determine how valuable your users find your app by measuring how often they return to it. 

 Here’s how it’s calculated:

How to measure app stickiness (DAU/MAU ratio)

And here’s a practical example:

Let’s say you had 2,000 DAUs and 8,000 MAUs during the month of August. Your stickiness ratio for that month would be 25%. 

That’s a very happy place to be in, by the way. A stickiness average of 20% across industries is considered good, while 25% and beyond is considered exceptional.

How to improve app stickiness?

How to improve app stickiness

So how do you make your app stickier? What is that secret sauce that compels users to keep using certain apps? Well, it turns out that sticky apps have a few things in common. 

Here’s what you need to do to harness their hard-learned lessons into a wonderfully sticky app engagement strategy: 

1 – Identify your weak points

Everything starts and ends with your users, their needs and expectations. Instead of ending up chucking away clunky functionality because you thought it’s what your users want, why not get rid of the guesswork and involve your target audience with development decisions?

Ask for their input on issues, broken user experiences, and wishlist for value-adding features. The more specific they are, the better your chances are of incorporating effective stickiness factors into your app.

2 – Ensure a joyful onboarding experience

After downloading, onboarding is the first introduction a user has to your app. Think of it as an audition that sets the tone of your relationship, where you need to quickly prove your app’s value and usefulness in solving their problems.

If onboarding is paved with interruptions like too much requested information, buggy performance, lack of clarity around functionality, or a long and tedious sign up process, users are very likely to take their frustrated thumbs elsewhere. Trashing your app is then likely to follow, and potentially even sharing their disappointment over social media, so be sure to put time and effort into a great first meeting.

When executed right, a clear, hassle-free and delightful onboarding process can not only improve your app stickiness, but also step up your user LTV and retention rate, making it a long-term investment well worth your resources and continuous optimization.

3 – Personalize!

Enabling users to personalize their user experience (UX) can have a dramatic effect on app engagement and user retention, but it can also deepen their emotional connection to your app. And the deeper the relationship is, the more chances you have to retain your users and have them coming back to your platform. 

From allowing users to choose their plan, which then adapts their entire user journey, to suggested items based on shopping history – personalization helps create relevancy and heighten value, while delivering a unique UX.

4 – Understand what you’re doing right, and do more of it

Pinpointing successful experiences and breaking them down into their components, can help you formulate an incredibly sticky app. You can do that by first identifying your “power users”, who are typically those with the highest LTV, the highest engagement, and app longevity. 

Once you know who your power users are, it’s time to understand how they’re using your app, so you can find out what keeps them coming back.

You should know what features your power users engage with most often, what is their typical user journey. Looking at activities of current power users can suggest patterns of behavior that correlate to a future of high spending and engagement.

Use these insights to advance your app development, determine which new features to focus on, and identify which existing functionality needs to be highlighted to new users.

5 – Build brand loyalty

Building rapport by adding tangible and unique value to your users’ lives can create a strong sense of loyalty, which will not only help improve your app stickiness, but also bring down the chances of bleeding out users to the competition.

Offer your users personalized content that they will find helpful and relevant. The more objective and non-salesy that content is – the more trust you’re going to establish with your users.

6 – Interact with your users in a meaningful way

Your app stickiness doesn’t end outside of your app. To stimulate engagement, we need to look past your app, leveraging a variety of communication channels that can give your UX a boost.

Use timely, personalized push notifications that feature an irresistible offer based on your users’ status or progress. Send creative emails with engaging subject lines that tap into users’ FOMO. Share value-packed educational materials like video tutorials, best practices and industry-relevant use cases.

All with the end goal of keeping top of mind with your users, and reminding them of your app’s usefulness.

7 – Keep a finger on your stickiness pulse

Ultimately, stickiness is an engagement metric that indicates the long-term health levels of your app. In parallel, analyzing your competitors’ stickiness can also play a part in your development strategy, so measuring stickiness on an ongoing basis is an allround imperative habit to adopt.

That said, keep in mind that improving app stickiness takes time. To know what’s working and what needs to be fixed – you need time for proper testing, otherwise you’re just shooting arrows in the dark.

Key takeaways

  • A sticky app holds a loyal audience, low churn and high engagement, because it doesn’t fail to deliver a great and unique user experience that sets it apart. Use this metric to optimize your campaigns and monitor your app’s growth rate.
  • To calculate stickiness, pair your daily active users (DAU) with your monthly active users (MAU) for a ratio that will allow you to measure the relative volume of monthly active users who engage with your app over a 24-hour time period. 
  • Improving your app stickiness involves identifying weak points in your users’ journey, ensuring seamless onboarding, personalizing your UX, understanding “power users” behavior, building brand loyalty, engaging with your users in a meaningful way, and continuously measuring your app engagement.
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