Your App is Not Sticky Enough

You've spent a lot of time and money developing an app, so then why is nobody using it? Here are some ideas why your app may be lacking stickiness.

Odds are you want a lot of users to download your app. But, you also want them to use your app regularly. In this way, you expand opportunities for monetization – such as in-app purchasing or ads – and increase your app ratings, which helps promote your other apps and development shop.

So why are users deleting your app? After only one day or one use? Or why are they burying it in some folder, say, never to be used again? There may be several reasons why your app is not “sticky”.

Is it free? First and foremost, it cannot be overstated that when users pay for an app, even spending as little as 99 cents, they are likely more committed to extracting value from their purchase. If you make your app free the user may never care enough to spend the time to understanding all its functions and how it can benefit them over days and months, maybe years.

Quality assurance is another key reason. Does the app crash? Freeze? Does your app work on multiple versions of Android, for example? Did you forget to test the app following an update?

You built an Android app, but does it run on all Android devices? Don’t assume your app works across devices and versions.

Do you listen to and respond to customer inquiries – and complaints? Is the app as simple to use, from the very start, as you believe? How do you know?

Are you honest with yourself about the functionality of your app – and its continued appeal? Or is it really more of a novelty, something people will use once and never again?  Just as importantly, did you adequately describe your app and its functions? Having the wrong customer is not good for you or them.

Did you leverage the freemium model correctly? People are happy to try an app for free, even those with limited functionality. However, that “limited functionality” must still offer real value if you expect them to then pay for an ‘upgrade’ and/or enhanced content.

Freemium is more than creating in-app purchase points, you need entice the user and create a real reason for them to buy.

Did you categorize your app appropriately? Were you specific enough regarding its functions and uses?

If the appeal of your app is already met by another app – or another hundred competing apps – how does yours stand out? Why is it better? Unique? Worth the user’s time and money? Why choose your app and then continue to use it, rather than deleting it and trying your competitor’s? Be honest with such questions, and ask your testers (and friends and family test members) to be similarly honest.  If the app is in an extremely crowded field, is it even worth it to build still an other one? What makes yours so special?

Are you using Twitter and/or Facebook or Google + to interact with users, listen to their feedback – and promote your product?

Even something as simple as creating a great app icon, one that captures the attention, is useful. The further from their ‘home’ screen your app resides, the less likely it is to be used repeatedly. Remember, you may believe you app is special but most users are likely to have over a dozen apps on their smartphone. There needs to be a reason why yours stands out above the rest.

Great app icons stand out and draw user’s thumbs to them. Does yours?

Does your app offer notifications? Are these easy for users to set-up? Perhaps your app includes a to-do list or reminders, for example – a habit that keeps the user engaged. These are useful to encourage repeat interactions.

Consider all the ways to make your app ‘non-delete worthy’.  Have you made sign-ups simple by incorporating Twitter or Facebook IDs, for example? Is there information or achievements or scoring within your app, for example, that users can share with the world through Twitter or Facebook? Can people find others who are using your app? We crave connections and community but their needs to be a reason behind those serendipitous encounters.

To users, notification flags are like an itch that needs to be scratched. Does your app have them?

Does your app leverage the unique modalities of smartphones and tablets? These include things such as time and place, obviously, but also social media, access to the user’s contacts, calendar, photos and more.

Can users personalize the app for their unique circumstances?

The opportunity for apps is astounding. According to ReadWrite , the market for mobile app development services alone is expected to grow to $100 billion within the next two years. Considering the scope of the app market, it’s not surprising that there are 14,000 app publishers across the major smartphone and tablet platforms. When developing and promoting your app, continue to ask yourself, ‘how does my app stand out? How do I make it “sticky”?

About Brian Hall

Brian S Hall writes about technology, immortality and food for ReadWrite, Techpinions, Unwired View and other publications. His thoughts on the 'smartphone wars' and how these are rapidly de-constructing markets, industries, business models and relationships around the world can be found on his personal site at www.brianshall.com

  • Shruti Lele

    Another reason for high app abandon rates is the lack of user understanding. The main
    issue today is that app developers have access to information about HOW users are using their app and not WHO is using their app and WHY. Even if the app is sticky, if it is not catering to the needs of the RIGHT audiences, then it will have low retention rates. I have addressed this issue in my blog post : http://blog.personagraph.com/who-is-using-app-really/.
    Would love to hear your thoughts on that!