Defining “App Stickiness” to Help Build User Engagement

4 minute read

Team Localytics

Making your app sticky means that your users are coming back regularly and giving you more opportunities to monetize, whether that’s through purchases made in-app or through views of ads. A formula would look something like this: retention + engagement = stickiness.

We talk a lot about app user retention and engagement here. It’s kind of our bread and butter. While we realize that getting a handle on what engagement looks like varies from app to app (business to business), we can provide some insight into the metrics you can use to start defining how sticky your app is.

The first metrics you’ll want to look at are monthly and daily active users. How many people are coming into your app daily or monthly is the primary lens you can use to tell if your app users are sticking with you. On it’s own, MAU/DAU might be seen as a vanity metric, but combined with the other data, you’ll start to get a clear picture of how many users are truly engaged.

The next metric to keep an eye on is session length. Session length tells you how long, on average, users spend in your app. This is a good way to gauge how well users are taking advantage of the features in your app.

A good session length will look different based on the type of app you have. Media and entertainment apps might expect to see longer session lengths while their app users are watching movies or listening to music during a commute. A banking app might expect to see shorter session lengths since users log in to check a balance to pay a bill quickly.

The key is understanding what the average session length for your specific app should be and comparing that against your best customers to set engagement goals.

Once you have an understanding of how long your users spend in your app, you want to make sure they’re taking actions that are valuable by measuring conversion. Conversion doesn’t necessarily mean completing a purchase. Conversions can look like creating an account through the app or logging in. What’s important is that you define what those behaviors are and measure the frequency at which users are completing them.

A screenflow report can be helpful in mapping out the path users take once they install your

app. To ensure extra stickiness, you can create campaigns that drive users to take the actions that add customer value. Using Localytics, you can set a custom conversion event for each campaign to make sure your app marketing is driving users to take actions that add value.

Churn is another metric that helps define how sticky your app is.Your app’s churn tells you the rate at which you’re losing users in a specific time period. Keeping churn low means retaining more users and potentially lessening the amount of work you need to do in acquiring new app users.

Hot Tip: Churn Rate = number of users at the start of period- number of users lost / users at the start of period

How you measure churned users can be unique to your app, based on the way you expect users to interact. If you’re a retail app and a user hasn’t made a purchase in over 60 days, you might consider that a churned user. You can set those parameters yourself or use the Localytics Predictions tools for guidance.

Measuring app stickiness might sound like fluff (see what I did there?) but what it really means is creating app experiences that help you retain your users and increase engagement. By tracking your app’s daily or monthly users, average session length, conversion rates and churn, you’ll be on your way to understanding how well your app keeps users coming back.


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