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Why Is It Important To Have An Incentive Program For Better In-App Engagement?

In-app engagement and retention metrics define the success of a business. Here are a few best and tried techniques to improve user engagement on your apps.

Rohan Sheth
Mar 4, 2019

In-App Engagement

In-app engagement

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Most app creators and owners believe that user acquisition is the only metric they should focus on to determine the success of their apps. However, the reality is that even though many people will be downloading your app, whether they are active users or not is a different issue. So, after acquiring users, you need to think about retaining as well as engaging them. In-app engagement and retention are the two most important metrics that you can monitor to determine the success of your app.

The In-App Engagement Problem

The reality is that achieving in-app engagement is usually a difficult task. If you come to think about it, there are many apps that you have used only once after downloading them. And just like you, there are millions of users. While there has been a slight improvement in this metric, the reality is that almost 25% of all users still give up using an app almost immediately.

How Can You Improve In-App Engagement?

Make Using The App Easy

While this may be strange, the truth is that there are still many apps on the market that make users’ lives complicated. Some apps just keep requiring many steps just to sign up, others include complex functions and features, among so many other problems. So, as you can imagine, users simply give up using such apps.

Use Push Notifications

Most users are so used to see push notifications that they are already ignoring them. However, it is important to understand that when you use rich push notifications and use them the right way, these can actually help you increase retention.

As a rule of thumb, when users accept to receive your push notifications, they have higher in-app engagement.

Push notifications should be used for a specific purpose. This way, you will be able to send the user back to your app immediately for taking the desired action.

You can use a technology like SmartKarrot to personalize the notifications that your app sends to customers. The SmartNotifications solution can help you deliver the right message to your customer through the right channel at the right time.

Allow Users To Personalize The App

When you allow users to personalize your app, you are giving them more control over what they like and prefer to see. So, their experience will be more relevant and they are more likely to continue using the app.

As we already mentioned above, push notifications can work extremely well when you use them properly. So, when you use the name of the user in the push notification as well as you allow them to use different personalization elements, this ensures that in-app engagement and retention will be extremely good.

Offer An In-App Referral Program

In-app referral programs are also a great idea to increase in-app engagement. After all, you are granting an incentive to the users who continue to use the app. An in-app referral program can include a wide variety of things – gamification using leaderboards & badges, incentivization with points or currency, etc. are some ideas that you can use.

Here too, using technology like SmartKarrot can help you boost your app success. With SmartReferral, you can create highly scalable referral programs with just the right amount of customization and incentivization.

Encourage Two-Way Communication

Asking for feedback to your users or to fill in a survey can help you transform your app on what your users are looking for. In addition, by establishing the first contact with users, you are opening the door to communicate with them. Ultimately, this encourages loyalty and improves in-app engagement.  

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Originally Published March 4th, 2019, Updated March 31st, 2021

Rohan Sheth

Rohan has over 11 years of experience in client services, marketing and hospitality field. Previously, he was head of digital marketing for a hi-tech mobile application. Rohan is driven by new challenges and the possibility of making an impact on individuals and businesses.

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2 years ago

Jasmine Hewitt

incentive programs really are a great way to drive engagement!

2 years ago

Justin F.

Great tips here and certainly some I’ll take on board into my own app. I’m always making use of push notifications with great success and I believe the app is easy to use as well. However, that’s just my assumption. I should introduce a survey or feedback system to understand what users are wanting.

2 years ago

Bill Wurtz

People need to be incentivized to do most things and this especially applies to mobile apps. A personal experience is very important as you’ve pointed out. I like to use first names on the welcome message and push notifications giving them the feeling that they are being spoken to. Allowing certain features to be hidden is useful as well, users don’t need to see things they will never use. Good article, SK!

2 years ago

James Peterson

Good points! I make use of all of these and can confirm their effectiveness. Push notifications are great as long as you make them stand out, people already get flooded with them and you don’t want yours to be swiped away with the rest. A good referral program can work wonders, too. Give people something to work towards for hitting certain milestones and they’ll keep bringing in new users.

2 years ago

Marie White

Push notifications are a great tool to bring back inactive app users and to also let others know what they are missing out on. Whenever I introduce a new promotion, push notifications are how I get the message across. I’ve not yet added a referral program but I definitely see the value in them.

2 years ago


Hello. This post was extremely interesting, particularly because I was browsing for thoughts on this topic last Monday.

2 years ago

Sonia Fowler

An easy-to-use app is so important, I like to follow Google’s Material Design guidelines as it makes for a very nice experience. Allowing user personalization is good as well such as changing language, colors, icon sets, and so on. The user should feel like they are using an app tailored just for them. Good points and great article!

2 years ago

Richard Healy

I think most of us unfairly give up on a lot of apps too quickly! Anything that isn’t easy to setup gets abandoned even if the extra work may be worth it. This is why I make setup as easy possible, just a few questions to help personalize the experience then you’re straight in. The job isn’t done there, though. Onboarding can be a struggle and I still change things in my app almost daily.

2 years ago

Perry Chaplin

It’s somewhat unfortunate that people need pushing to use your service, no matter how great it is. If you understand the users journey and make it effortless to reach the destination, you’re doing everything right. I’ve long been using push notifications to encourage completion or remind users what they are missing out on. They are a very useful tool.

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