August 23 2016

With every kind of business taking to mobile, apps have always been facing a challenge in user acquisition and user retention. But according to the most recent study by Localytics, mobile games suffer the most when it comes to user retention. In our previous post, we shared some smart user acquisition hacks for new games.

In this post, we are going to discuss the user retention problems faced by mobile games today and the best solutions to counter it.

The mobile user retention problem

According to the study by Localytics mentioned above, the average number of users churning across all apps has increased.

With a 5% increase from last year’s statistics, roughly 63% of users churn from an app within one month of download. On an average, about 75% churn from an app within 2 months and 80% churn within the first 3 months.


If you think that is a bad number? Here’s how the games are doing:

On average, games retain only 27% of their users a month after download, and the number drops to a mere 11% after three months.


The reason?

Mobile games do not keep users engaged for a long time. They aren’t able to become a part of the user’s daily life, so as soon as the player feels he has ‘experience the app enough’ or ‘needs to make some space on the phone’, the game becomes the first to get deleted.

So how can games reduce their churn rate?

How to reduce your churn rate

Keeping your players engaged is the key to reducing your churn rate. While you may not be able to become a solution that solves their day-to-day concerns, but you could definitely become a part of their ‘break time’.

Your primary goal is to increase the number of sessions that a player has with your app in his first 30 days from download.

According to another study by Localytics, the more sessions a player completes, the less likely he is to become inactive and churn out.


Here are a few tactics that even the top grossing games swear by:

1. Personalize their first experience in the app

The first and foremost step to hook the player’s interest is to give him a personalized onboarding experience. Like they say, the first impression is the last impression and you don’t want the player to think of your game as a ‘waste of space’ right from the start.

Based on the source the players have come from, use deeplinking to take them to a relevant piece of content in the app. This will ensure that your messaging remains consistent, and will not overwhelm the first time player.

While onboarding the player, remember to ask only for information that will help you create his custom journey in the game.

2. Create an in-app networking platform

An average smartphone user, has at least more than 2 apps open at a time. One of them most certainly to network with his friends and family. So if a player is playing your game, and a friend messages him, there is a high chance he leaves the session to reply to that friend, if the chat is game related. Now, what if you created this networking platform within the game?

Using in-app chats and activity feeds, you can create your very own networking platform. Activity feeds lets players interact with others as they progress through the game and keep each other motivated. 


GetSocial’s Activity Feed

3. Make it possible for them to easily invite their friends

Continuing on the point above, to create an in-app networking platform, it is important to onboard most of the player’s circle. In simpler words, you need to encourage the player to invite his friends to the game and ensure it is easy to do so.

Create an in-app referral program that fits into the natural flow of your game. For instance, make inviting friends a part of completing a specific level or an incentivised activity to earn more coins. But the catch here is, if it is even slightly troublesome for the player to invite his people, he would rather not.

Using GetSocial Smart Invites, you can enable players to invite their friends via the popular chat apps like WhatsApp, Kakao, Twitter, Kik and more! Since it is more like ‘one-click to call a friend’, the player is more likely to complete the action.


Nibbler’s Referral Marketing with Smart Invites

Simply put, the more of a player’s circle you have on your game, the more likely he is to have frequent sessions. With good app frequency, the more likely he is to stay loyal to your game and not churn.

4. Use in-app and push notifications to encourage more sessions

Sometimes, it takes a slight nudge to encourage a player to get back to a session in the game. With other activities in his day-to-day life happening, it is important to touch base with him every now and then.

Using in-app and push notifications, you can reach out to your players and re-engage them. It could be to promote a new level in your game, offer an incentive, notify of another player’s progress in the game or more. The idea is to peak his interest in it again and give him a nudge to come back to the game.



5. Enable social sharing of milestones

One of the most effective ways to keep a player engaged is to keep him motivated. Now you can’t possibly be there all the time, so why not let his friends do it for you?

A player may or may not be aware of who in his friend circle is playing your game. So enable social sharing of milestones from your app. When a player shares his achievement, his friends are sure to view and comment on the same.

Those who are already on your game, will engage with this player in-app as well. And those who aren’t playing, will get interested in it because someone in their circle is. Word-of-mouth marketing and brand exposure, all done with simple sharing!

Bonus: Retarget them on social media consistently

Once you have acquired a player, your marketing strategy should not end there. Initially, it takes a while to stay on top of the player’s mind. So make use of social media retargeting to consistently remind them of the game they just downloaded.

Remember to not overdo the promotions with the same message. Share different aspects of your game and what other players are doing to keep him interested. The more he sees you on platforms he is active on, the more likely he is to head over for a gaming session.

Over to you

Don’t just be their source of entertainment in free time, keep them hooked on to your app using re-engagement strategies consistently to not be ‘deleted’ the next time they need to make space for another game.

The only way to reduce your game’s churn rate and boost your retention rate is to keep your players engaged and increase that session frequency!

What techniques do you currently deploy to fight that dreaded mobile user retention?