young man holding his phone and hot drink with graph showing dropping retention in background

App User Churn: 3 Reasons Why Users Ghost

Many app publishers – particularly in mobile gaming – will relate to dashboard reports of app user churn and fluctuating revenues. 

This typically comes down to a bad UX in general:

  • excessive ads
  • ineffective notification strategy
  • confused users
  • limited new content
  • and technical issues

Knowing that your app is struggling to keep users engaged is painful – especially when revenues depend on this engagement. So, amid fleeting interaction and loyalty, publishers should look to robust tactics to recover churned users and prevent them from churning in the first place.

1. Bad In-App Onboarding

A confused or unconvinced mind will always say “no.” If an app is losing users early on, it will be harder for publishers to recover churned users – and monetize them.

If users don’t understand the fundamental value of an app from the very first minutes they engage with it, they won’t stick around long enough after installing it. One mobile gaming study, for example, has shown that 57 percent of Android users uninstall a mobile game on the same day they download it. 

All users must pass through an onboarding stage. Their lifetime value will often depend on their first interactions with an app during this time, so providing in-app guidance for first-time users will go far.

A solid media plan with push notifications, for example, should also therefore establish an essential initial loyalty between users and an app by compelling them to open said app. And during this interaction, the app must demonstrate and deliver a good UX as quickly as possible.

2. Bad UX

To recover churned users costs time and money. That’s why an app needs to quickly deliver its fundamental value along with a good UX.

What makes a good UX – or a bad UX – varies from vertical to vertical. Take loyalty apps, for example, whose users claim they want to see redeemable points, discounts, exclusive offers, and personalized offers. The greatest incentives to return to any app are genuine utility, fear of missing out, and enjoying exclusive new content or offers on a daily basis.

Global app publishers have clocked onto the fact that many users welcome certain ad formats in their apps – especially mobile gamers. More and more of them are therefore exploring rewarded ad formats – especially those that are user-initiated and reward users for their time. FOMO is then amplified with daily content updates or daily offers and drives users to re-engage with the app.

diagram showing UX equation with features on top that increase value and features on bottom which destroy an app’s value

Publishers should consider these engagement tactics and ensure the strengths of their app significantly outweigh any components that destroy a user’s app experience. These can be continuously fine-tuned with A/B testing to maximize an app’s UX and decrease the likelihood of churn as much as possible.

3. Irrelevant Ads

Many publishers want to turn their attention to their nonpaying users through ad monetization. But they’ve got to hit the sweet spot with this strategy for real revenue impact. 

If you give users what they want, getting them to engage with ads doesn’t have to cause friction.

Some publishers have put their users first by tapping into rewarded ad solutions that help their users reduce their phone or utility bills the longer they engage with these ads. This has the benefit of lifting ARPDAUs and overall engagement and ad revenue. Instead of giving them a reason to leave, you give them a reason to come back.

four phone screens showing user flow with adjoe playtime

Loading an app’s UX however with irrelevant, excessive, and disruptive ads will lead to disgruntled and disinterested users. But they can get on board with ads when they are user-friendly, relevant, and diverse – and when the timing and frequency is right. With brand safety also being a key concern these days, the key thing to remember: Disruptive ads will disrupt your brand reputation.

Recover Churned Users and Lost Revenue

The app economy is noisy. Publishers are competing against user inactivity in their own apps – not just against their competitors’ apps.

It’s hard – near impossible – to achieve “evergreen status” for an app in any vertical and to reduce churn completely. But there are steps every publisher can take to lower friction for users engaging with an app at all stages of their lifecycle.

By optimizing an app’s onboarding, UX, and ad experience, publishers can recover churned users and prevent app user churn. In the end, it all comes down to this: The harder publishers concentrate on these, the easier it will be for them to engage and connect with users – and effectively monetize them.

Build your app for success

Speak to our experts