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7 Steps to Product Roadmap Success

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Loyalty & Retention

5 App Retention Strategies to Boost Mobile Retention Rates

Chris Minnich  //  October 6, 2022  //  8 min read

High app retention is a golden ticket for mobile app owners. While customer acquisition and app downloads are important indicators of success, mobile app retention plays the biggest role in increased customer lifetime value and improved ROI. In this post, we talk about the current state of mobile retention and provide five key app retention strategies to boost your mobile retention rates.

The state of app retention

In the past year, brands talked with their customers more than ever, while clearly shifting their strategies toward retention. The following data comes from our 2022 Mobile Customer Engagement Benchmark Report. Check out the full report here.

2021 retention benchmarks

For the average mobile app, 30-day retention rates are typically between 15-20 percent (Appsflyer and Statista, 2021). Apps within Apptentive’s network had an average 30-day retention rate of 67 percent—an increase of more than three times the industry average, driven by proactive consumer engagement.

90-day retention rates for the average mobile app fall between 20-30 percent (Appsflyer 2021, MixPanel 2020). Apptentive’s data shows an average 90-day retention rate of 58 percent—an increase of double the industry average. If consumers engaged with a Love Dialog in the first 90 days, their average retention rate went up to 79 percent.

Annual retention is not always reported on, due to regular, high consumer churn, but many companies that have shifted their strategies from acquisition towards customer retention have begun benchmarking annually. Across all apps in our dataset, 44 percent of consumers who used the app in January were seen in December. 

If the consumers saw an Apptentive interaction in January, 60 percent were still seen in December—an improvement of 36 percent just from mobile teams being proactive about gathering consumer feedback.

Five app retention strategies

Five app retention strategies

1. Implement a VoC solution

One key app retention strategy is to implement a strong voice of the customer (Voc) solution. VoC solutions include the process of capturing, analyzing, and acting on data about customer expectations, preferences, likes, and dislikes.

When brands have a deep understanding of the voice of the customer, they can utilize VoC data to gauge customer sentiment, increase customer loyalty, and make feedback-informed product decisions. All three of these items are crucial to improving customer retention on mobile. 

A voice of the customer solution is more than just a recurring NPS survey. A complete VoC solution takes multiple feedback methods into account and leverages each of following four steps: 

  1. Capture and collect VoC data
  2. Analyze feedback, look for trends, and gauge sentiment 
  3. Take action and use VoC data to address customer wants and needs 
  4. Close the feedback loop and let customers know their feedback was addressed

Four steps to creating a better mobile experience: Collect, Analyze, Act, Close the Feedback Loop

2. Engage your customer proactively

Proactive engagement is a proven way to improve customer retention, and is therefore an essential part of your app retention strategies. 

In 2021, 79 percent of customers that were proactively engaged with the Love Dialog, were still around after 90-days. This is nearly 60 percent higher than the typical 90-day mobile retention rate of 20-30 percent. 

Proactive engagement has this level of impact because it gives your customers a voice early on in their experience and helps you uncover pain-points and areas of improvement within the customer journey. 

Check out this blog post, if you would like to learn more about proactive engagement and how it fits into your other app retention strategies!

3. Invest in a mobile customer loyalty program

Investing in a customer loyalty program is another retention strategy that can keep your customers coming back to your app time and time again.  

Loyalty programs give customers a reason to return to your app by gamifying their experience and rewarding customer loyalty. The possibility of earning points and achievements drives repeat purchases and higher customer retention. 

Loyalty programs are ideally suited for mobile apps because customers can easily check their loyalty status or points at any time with mobile reward programs. Customers can watch these metrics change in real-time, providing instant gratification with each purchase.

Mobile loyalty programs are especially effective in retail and quick-serve restaurant sectors because customers can just tap their phone at the point of purchase and instantly receive or redeem earned points.

4. Personalize customer experiences

Personalizing engagements with your customers is another key way to retain mobile customers and stand out among your competitors. Customers have become accustomed to using their mobile devices in a conversational, personalized way – and interactions with brands are no different.

Personalizing in-app experiences center on delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right place, and at the right time within the app. Let break that down: 

  • Right message: Is your message relevant and helpful?
  • Right person: Are the right customers seeing your message?
  • Right place: Are you meeting customers where they’re at?
  • Right time: Are you communicating at a time that’s convenient and makes sense in the customer journey?

App retention strategies: Personalizing customer experience

What does this look like in practice? 

Let’s say a mobile product manager wants to start collecting more relevant and actionable mobile customer feedback. They implement an in-app feedback solution like Apptentive, and deploy targeted in-app surveys asking customers how their experience is going. 

These surveys occur 30 days after the customer downloads the app, ensuring they only ask customers with enough experience to provide meaningful feedback. They only send survey prompts after the customer completes an in-app action, such as successfully checking out, to avoid interrupting customers.

Survey targeting in action

The mobile product manager starts seeing increased survey response rates and more actionable feedback, as they personalize who and how they are asking for feedback. After collecting enough data, they identify key issues impacting the customer’s experience.  

The PM notices customer retention steadily rises, as they continue to make product improvements, validated by their targeted customer feedback.

In-app targeting and personalization can be far more precise than this example, but this simple story shows the logical progression of how targeted and personalized feedback collection can lead to improved app retention. 

5. Always close the feedback loop

Your app retention strategies won’t go very far if you don’t close the feedback loop with your mobile customers. Companies that close their feedback loop see a strong increase in retention, yet only five percent of companies do this today. 

The shift to mobile has made it easier than ever to let customers know that you care, and that you are not just hearing their feedback, but taking action too. For example, after adding a specific feature you can send Notes to the customers that made the request, letting them know that the feature is now live and was made possible by their feedback.

Graphic showing how customers can be retargeted after completing a survey

Precise targeting, like this, is only possible with the right in-app feedback solution. If customers feel like their voice is heard, they are far more likely to continue engaging with your brand and app, while being far less likely to churn.

Check out this free guide for more information on closed-loop feedback

Bonus: Identify and activate your brand’s biggest fans

Customer retention can come down to how well you understand the emotions, wants, and needs of your brand’s biggest fans. Retaining Repeat Fans is critical to brand success, because this segment is where your deeply loyal brand evangelists live. 

This segment has more brand knowledge, a deeper buy-in, and are more likely to say “yes” to things such as beta testing or focus groups. They are also more likely to provide actionable feedback or be a brand advocate. 

By utilizing your Repeat Fans in these ways, you can create better products and experiences that, in turn, reduce churn for other customer segments and create more New and Repeat Fans.

How the Love Dialog segments fans and risks

At Apptentive, our customers identify their Repeat Fans through Fan SignalsⓇ, which allows mobile teams to measure expressed sentiment across time and touch points. Apptentive automatically segments your customers into one of several Fan Signals groups, based on their Love Dialog responses across a span of time. 

While it is especially important to identify and utilize your biggest fans, remember to give all of your customers a voice, even the unhappy ones.


When you are deciding whether to invest in your app retention strategies, remember that acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer. 

We cannot emphasize it enough, the key to app retention comes down to how well you capture, analyze, and act on mobile customer feedback.  

You aren’t in this alone! Apptentive is here to help you implement successful app retention strategies. Request a product demo to learn how we can work together!

About Chris Minnich

Chris Minnich is a Content Specialist at Apptentive. He enjoys telling stories with written and visual content.
View all posts by Chris Minnich >

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