Increasing User Retention


(B) User retention is a challenge for every mobile app developer. With over 1.5 million apps on both the Apple App Store and Google Play for users to choose, retaining users is key to the success of any app. The user experience must be engaging: users need to be interesting to explore the app features, and must be fulfilled: users need to feel that their interests in the app are being rewarded.

App developers need to think about user retention with the specific experience, design, and features of their apps.

Following is a small case study of how the smartphone notification system can be used to remind the user of the capabilities of an app, and what the user could be missing by not using the app. For this case study, I will take the Evernote app as the mobile app but all the concepts can be applied to any other app.

Proposed New Feature Concept

If the user has not re-used the Evernote app, two days after she or he has just started installing and using it, re-engage with the user in order to convince her or him of the app usefulness. If she or he is not using again the Evernote app for two more days, re-engage again with the user but this time in a different way.

User re-engagement will be generated by a “friendly” notification inviting the user to re-use the Evernote app. The notification will be generated by:

Analyzing the changes to the user activity for location, contacts, calendar, and photos

Proposing how those changes could benefit from re-using the Evernote app

The more the user has changed of locations and the more new content has been created to her or his contacts, calendar and/or photos apps, the more the notification message will be pertinent. Let’s call this new proposed feature, FirstWeekRetention, and let’s considered it on iOS.

FirstWeekRetention Description

FirstWeekRetention will re-engage with each Evernote user when some activity has been detected in one or a combination of:

  • The iPhone location
  • The Contacts, Calendars, or Photos iOS native apps


FirstWeekRetention Use Case

Let consider the use case of Shirley, a very busy marketing professional living and working in Redwood City, who is an iPhone owner:


Shirley downloaded from the Apple App Store the Evernote app on her iPhone 6. She wrote a few notes, a list and put a note reminder on her calendar about a marketing seminar that she will be attending on Wednesday in San Francisco.

Tuesday and Wednesday 

Shirley has not used Evernote on those two days. But FirstWeekRetention detects that Shirley on Wednesday was in San Francisco, and added a lot of contacts. FirstWeekRetention identifies those new contacts that are Evernote users.


FirstWeekRetention will send a notification to Shirley on Thursday morning that she will discover when she will turn on her iPhone.


Friday and Saturday 

Despite FirstWeekRetention notification on Thursday morning, FirstWeekRetention detects that Shirley has not used Evernote Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. But FirstWeekRetention detects that Shirley on Saturday was in Santa Cruz, and added a lot of pictures


FirstWeekRetention will send a notification to Shirley on Sunday morning that she will discover when she will turn on her iPhone.


Note: The picture above is “Flowering Fruit Trees” from Joseph Raphael.

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Categories: Mobile, User Experience