What is User Engagement and 5 ways to increase it on Apps

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    Home / Product / What is User Engagement and 5 ways to increase it on Apps

    Need to increase your user engagement?

    You wouldn't be here otherwise 🤷

    User engagement is delicate work, and I will walk you through EVERY detail in a bit, but before that, let's just check something...

    Answer these 3 questions:

    • Why do you download an app in the first place?
    • Can you find what you are looking for in that app?
    • What makes you keep using that app?

    Satisfied with your answers?

    Then congratulations, you've got the base for successful user engagement 🎉

    Not satisfied, you might wanna start working on your user engagement metrics right away.

    Either way, let's answer the questions one more time and dive into:

    👉 What user engagement is,

    👉 Why it matters to track user engagement metrics,

    👉 Some best practices and strategies to improve user engagement,

    👉 Best user engagement platforms to get you started

     Don't have the time? Here's the TL;DR:


    👉 User engagement is a measurement of how much and how often your users interact with your product, or "engage".

    👉 Everyone with a web product or mobile app should be concerned with user engagement since it is one of the main contributors to app retention and higher revenue.

    👉 Some of the best practices in increasing user engagement include; a great first impression, user onboarding like a pro, relevant content & friendly design, announcing updates right, and collecting feedback.

    👉 Some of the best tools to increase use engagement are UserGuiding, Firebase, CleverTap, Airship, and Hotjar.

    Let's jump in with some definitions ⬇️ 

    What is User Engagement?

    User engagement is a measurement of how long, how much, and how often your user base interacts with your product over a period of time. The term is interconnected with many other variables like customer experience, personalized experiences, social proof, and user retention rate.

    User engagement can also be explained differently in different contexts. For example, on social media platforms, the term is used for interactions with smaller pieces of content in a shorter time period.

    what is user engagement

    The name user engagement can be tricky in the sense that you may perceive it as the way businesses engage with their users. However, as I said, user engagement means users engaging with your app. 

    Having that in mind, let’s talk about the three questions that I emphasized in the introduction of the article.

    Having mentioned it already, let's also clear up one thing:

    User engagement is its own thing.

    👉 User engagement is not user retention but a factor that supports higher user and app retention rates.

    👉 User engagement is not user experience; user experience is what makes or breaks user engagement.

    👉 And finally, user engagement is not just tweet likes and follows, especially in B2B SaaS; it goes over and beyond that.

    Now, if we're on the same page, let's take a look at:

    Why is it important to track and improve User Engagement?

    It is important to track and improve user engagement because it is a powerful indicator of success.

    👉 Higher engagement rates show that your users find value in your app.

    With that being said, we understand that:

    The more highly engaged a user is with your app, the more likely they will buy from you, promote your business through word of mouth, and come back for more.

    👉 User engagement also tells a lot about user behavior.

    It is important to know when your users use your app the most and when they stop using it, and which features of your app are the most used.

    Knowing about these, you will have a better idea about how to provide a better user experience.

    And, by analyzing these, your product team will be able to adjust better to user behavior, therefore, needs and expectations.

    They will create a better opportunity for your marketing team to know to which needs and expectations of your customers they should speak, which in return will increase the profitability of your app.

    👉 In other words, thanks to user engagement data, you will be better able to segment your users and interact with them accordingly.

    So then, how to do that?

    Let's take a look ⬇️

    Tracking User Engagement: Top 7 Metrics and KPIs

    There are a ton of metrics and KPIs to help businesses figure out how well you're doing in user/customer engagement rates.

    I tried to collect a bunch of metrics and KPIs that are relevant for mobile app engagement and for web tools.

    And, here we go:

    1- Downloads

    Let's start off with metric often used in mobile app engagement strategy.

    Now, to be clear...

    The number of downloads doesn’t necessarily mean that users will engage with your app.

    However, it can still give you an idea about how many people download your app and not even use it for some reason.

    Fun stat for you:

    The average person uses 9 mobile apps per day and 30 apps per month.

    The majority of people use apps just once.

    Once a month, once a year, or just once. Overall.

    Depending on your app, it is in your hands to increase the number of engaged users and make sure the download numbers doesn't overexcite you.

    What really counts is...

    2- Active Users & Stickiness

    Having looked at downloads, you should then focus on your active users.

    Active users is the number of people who download your app and actually use it.

    And yes, all products should be measuring their users using the app in frequent intervals, A.K.A. active users.

    So, let’s say you have a reminder app and it requires your users to use it once a month.

    So then, it doesn't make too much sense for your case if you try to add the daily active users metric to your strategy plans, you need to be checking monthly active users.

    Analyzing the number of active users, you can calculate your app stickiness, a metric that shows how likely your users are to engage with your app in the long run.

    app stickiness calculation formula user engagement metrics

    3- The Number of Sessions

    This metric measures how frequently your users interact with your app.

    The more frequently your users use your app, the more you can be sure that you are on the right path.

    Because this means they can find something to engage with in your app.

    number of sessions

    However, if you see that the number of sessions decrease over time, you should find a way to get the attention of those users who lost interest in your app.

    To do so, you can send push notifications and remind users that you're here and inform them about new updates.

    You can also offer them discounts and rewards to attract them back to your app.

    But that also depends on your product 🤷

    If you can constantly increase the number of sessions, this shows you are successful in what you are doing.

    4- Average Session Durations

    average session duration user engagement metrics

    It is often considered that the more a user spends time looking at the screen when using an app, the better the app is.

    This is generally true for social media or news platforms.

    However, if a user spends so much time, let’s say, in an app like Uber, then this obviously doesn’t mean success.

    Because it possibly means that the user is having a hard time finding a ride.

    So, depending on the type of your app, you should analyze session durations and decide whether is good to have longer or shorter sessions.

    If your app is similar to Uber, an app that users should be quickly able to get what they need, you wouldn’t want your average session durations to be long.

    But hey, for the sake of experimentation, let’s say yours is a media app.

    In this case, you would want your users to look more at the screen because this is an indicator that they engage with your app.

    Then it is your responsibility to produce or curate engaging content so that you can increase average session durations, which, as I just said, is the way to go for media apps.

    5- Screenflow

    One of the best ways to increase user engagement is to know how your users navigate through your app.

    In this regard, screen flow helps you visualize your user journey through your app.

    If you know how and what percentage of users navigate through your app, it will be easier for you to detect the less attractive features of your app.

    It gives you the opportunity to make changes to key features and make them more attractive to your users.

    screen flow user engagement metrics

    By analyzing where your users spend most of their time or where they don’t spend time on your app, you can focus on improving your weaknesses.

    6- Session Interval

    This metric gives you an idea of how much time passes between your users’ first session and the next one.

    It helps you understand the user behavior of different types of users.

    Looking at this metric, you can also better segment your users and send push notifications accordingly.

    As in other metrics, the length of session intervals should be evaluated in accordance with the type of app that you have.

    A music streaming app like Spotify will probably have fewer session intervals, whereas a platform like Airbnb will have more.

    It is, again, your call to make deciding how you are going to categorize your product.

    7- Retention

    Retention is one of the most important processes of a business, if not the most important.

    If your existing customers do not keep engaging with your product or your app, then you know something is wrong.

    By now, we are all familiar with the stat that goes:

    You can raise revenue by 25-95% by just increasing customer retention by 5%.

    So, app retention isn't just important for engagement, but also for the health of your business. 

    And gaining loyal users.

    And better customer lifetime value.

    And with all that, higher revenue.

    Here is how you can calculate your customer retention rate:

    customer retention rate formula user engagement metrics

    Now that you know some of the most important metrics and KPIs to watch out for, it is time you learned some user engagement strategies ⬇️

    Top 5 Ways to Improve User Engagement

    This is where you distinguish yourself from your competitors.

    The better you do what is suggested in these tips, the more user engagement you will get.

    Let’s get into it the best user engagement strategies and practices!

    #1 – Make a great first impression

    Each day is a new chance to meet new users who will voluntarily log in to your app.

    You should keep that in mind and create your app to make them fall in love with you at first sight.

    So, the most crucial thing turns out to be the landing page.

    Your landing page and the message you are trying to deliver should be:

    ✅ Easy to understand,

    ✅ Helpful, and

    ✅ Beautifully designed to motivate your new users to visit your app more

    Basically, just make them feel welcome.

    Like so ⬇️

    You can send them a welcome message to greet them for becoming your users, or you can kindly invite them to your user onboarding flow.

    user engagement best practices keyhole checklist

    And, that's the first step done right.

    Now you got their attention, quick! What's your next move?

    #2 – Onboard your users like a PRO!

    Creating the perfect user onboarding process is actually the best way to increase user engagement.

    Because it is the part where you teach your users what your product does, how they can use it, and become masters of your product.

    Or to put it simply...

    This is where you deliver them to “Aha!” moments and get them to see the real value in it.

    So then how do you do that?

    A good user onboarding process should be:

    Short and concise for quick value and product adoption,

    Interactive to keep users engaged and even entertained,

    In sync with the rest of the UX for a seamless operation,

    And most importantly, fully and entirely on-brand for your product, with your brand voice and brand image!

    As users start their journey with your product by engaging and seeing that your product delivers what it promises as they use it, they will come back whenever they need the solution you offer.

    User engagement tips user onboarding experience

    #3 – Offer relevant content and friendly design

    Now, this again boils down to the specificities of your product.


    Any product or app has a content in this or that form, be it images, videos, blog posts, or support documentation.

    Your job is to make sure that the content you offer is relevant to your users.

    Because when you provide them with valuable and relevant content, they will stay with you to access more content.

    Which then means, yup, higher engagement rates!

    But hey, along with the content itself, your presentation of content matters as well.

    Users are often goal-directed when looking for content.

    They must find and access what they want and do it quickly.

    Hence your app’s design, in general, should be descriptive and specific, which is the short definition of being user-friendly.

    Users should easily find out the features that will contribute to their lives.

    #4 – Announce new and useful features in the right way

    Change is the nature of tech products.

    If you have an app, you will need to update your product, add new features, and remove the bugs constantly.

    When there is an update, it is always good to let your users know about it.

    You should master the art of announcing features in the right way. (I highly suggest annoucement modals 'cause they are very effective when it comes to new feature updates.)

    new feature announcement frase user engagement

    In-app messages, email marketing, and push notifications are proper tools to make your users active and engaged.

    Third-party user onboarding tools such as UserGuiding offer you the chance to easily highlight new features and increase feature adoption.

    Also, your new feature can be attractive and useful to a user that they can come back when they are about to uninstall your app.

    So, try to see every new feature or even simple update as a chance to contact your users to encourage them to engage.

    It might turn into a better strategy than you expect 👀

    #5 – Don’t forget to collect feedback

    You can collect quantitative data from your users, but these numbers need analysis to gain meaning.

    Instead, you can ask your users how you can improve the components of your app, including even the fonts and your style, or why they do not like one feature.

    Here’s our article on collecting, analyzing, and using feedback effectively.

    These why and how questions will provide you with critical insights. You will know your mistakes and how to fix them.

    By adjusting your errors and making improvements through the feedback you have collected, you will encourage your customers to visit your app more.

    All of these tips will help you take a step in creating a more interactive app that your users love. Increasing the in-app user engagement will provide you with active customers that support your business.

    You can increase user engagement by activating your users right off the bat.

    If you want more tips to increase user engagement, you should definitely take a look at our ebook to have a wider perspective on user engagement.

    Best User Engagement Platforms for You to Check Out

    I will share with you the best mobile and web platforms to help you increase user engagement.

    They will help you get work done much easier.

    1- UserGuiding – No-code Solution to Increase User Engagement for Web Products

    UserGuiding is a no-code digital adoption tool that is easy to use, easy on the eye and easy on the pocket.

    And if you are looking to engage your users in-app with personalized messages, user feedback option, an excellent onboarding experience, and more, it is the solution you are looking for.

    Here's an interactive user onboarding flow created in under 5 minutes with UserGuiding:

    userguiding user engagement

    Or if you are looking for a bit of fun in engagement, here's a Star Wars-themed tooltip:

    userguiding user engagement tool

    You can create more engaging app experiences using UserGuiding's features like:

    ✅ Interactive guides, product tours, walkthroughs,

    ✅ User onboarding checklists,

    ✅ Tooltips, hotspots, in-app messages,

    ✅ Resource centers,

    ✅ In-app surveys,

    And more, powered with powerful analytics, customization, localization, user segmentation, and targeting.

    👉 Give UserGuiding a try, for FREE 👈

    2- Firebase – Boost User Engagement for Mobile Apps

    firebase user engagement platform for mobile apps

    Firebase has so many useful features to help you increase the user engagement of your mobile app.

    Here are some of these features:

    • Google Analytics > Lets you monitor app usage and gain insight into who your users are.
    • Predictions > Helps you predict future user behavior.
    • A/B Testing > You can run experiments to test ideas and learn how they impact metrics.
    • Dynamic Links > Helps you organically grow your app by deep linking users to the right place.

    3- CleverTap – Personalized Omnichannel Campaigns

    CleverTap user engagement platform for mobile apps

    There are more than 10,000 brands that use CleverTap's platform for a reason.

    CleverTap has the following features that will give you the best abilities to increase user engagement via personalization:

    • You can group your users based on their intent, behavior, preferences, etc. to send hyper-targeted messages.
    • It helps you deliver a consistent experience across channels such as email, SMS, push, web push, in-app, WhatsApp, and more.
    • It lets you track uninstalls and other key metrics to understand churn and so that you can create effective win-back campaigns.
    • Help you connect with your users while they are in your app or on your website with in-the-moment relevance.

    4- Airship – App Messaging Solutions

    airship user engagement tool

    Airship is a user engagement platform mostly focused on mobile app messaging solutions.

    As I put forward throughout the whole article, messaging is among the most effective ways to retain users and increase engagement.

    The better you can use messaging, the more you will be able to increase user engagement.

    5- Hotjar - Powerful Heatmaps for Web Products

    hotjar user engagement tool

    Hotjar is an amazing tool for understanding what your users think, and how well they are engaging with your application.

    It is not an exegarration to say that it is perhaps one of the most famous tools when long-term engagement projects are the topic.

    And of course, its main feature heatmaps is the reason why.

    The heatmap functionality is particularly useful if you want to focus on specific page elements and visuals when tracking user and customer engagement.

    Moreover, you can use the built-in feedback tool to ask users what is up and why they are specifically engaged with a certain element.

    Before we go, let's go back to my first 3 questions, and the big question:

    Should YOU start increasing your user engagement?

    The answer is:


    The answer to this question is always yes.

    Because with higher user engagement rates, higher customer loyalty, better user journeys, and more potential customers are higher possibilities.

    But just to lay it out clearly for your case, let's answer the questions in the intro together:

    1- Why do you download an app in the first place?

    You may have thousands of reasons to download an app.

    And the reason you download an app tells a lot about user engagement.

    👉 Here's an example:

    Let’s say you are too busy to cook for yourself, don't have time to browse, and your budget is not too big.

    The classic savior of the bachelor, you download a food delivery app.

    And since it is a food delivery app, you will be using the app only when you want to eat.

    So, unlike social media apps, food delivery apps have limited potential when it comes to the amount of time spent on the app.

    👉 In this regard, users engage with a food delivery app for a specific need that comes out during specific times of the day.

    2- Can you find what you are looking for in that app?

    Let’s keep going with the assumption that you are a bit lazy or too busy to cook, you are not able to decide what to eat easily, and you don’t want to search for food all the time.

    What would you look for in a food delivery app?


    You would look for an app that is:

    👉 Easy to use because you don’t have much time,

    👉 An app that has many options, and

    👉 An app that offers you promotions and affordable prices

    Between a food delivery app that offers 2 promotions a day without many options and an app that offers 10 promotions a day with various options, it is highly likely that you will engage more with the second one.

    👉 You will use it more often, and you will spend more time on that app because you want to discover more about the promotions and the options.

    3- What makes you keep using that app?

    There are a lot of factors that play an important role in keeping you using an app.

    These reasons may be its services or opportunities and conveniences it provides, such as promotions and options of a food delivery app.

    In addition to what an app provides to you, how they provide it is also crucial.

    This is why easy-to-use core features can also help you increase your customer retention rate.

    👉 To put it simply, the more you can increase retention, the more user engagement you will get.

    So to sum it up, it is essential that you understand why your users use your product if they can find what they want in it, and what makes them stay.

    It works a certain way for food delivery apps, and it will work completely differently for you 🤷

    But more importantly, let's try and understand:

    Final Word

    Now you know increasing user engagement is up to you, your efforts, and the help that you can get through a third-party tool.

    That means you will be able to provide a better experience to your users.

    And that's where higher user engagement starts.

    I love to emphasize throughout all the articles that I write that the best way to do something good for yourself is to start with a great user experience.

    Then follows an excellent user onboarding process, the real star of the show.

    Once you figure out all we've talked about in this article, you will realize you are well-equipped to keep increasing your user engagement rates in the long run.

    Good luck!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the five levels of user engagement?

    The five levels of user engagement are: discover, shop, buy, own, and advocate.

    How do I get user engagement?

    You can get user engagement by providing an excellent user experience for your users. Starting from a perfect user onboarding process, you should constantly help your users make use of your app in the best way possible.

    What is user engagement in digital marketing?

    User engagement in digital marketing usually means people clicking on the content that you are marketing. The term engagement may not correspond to the exact meaning of engagement when it comes to app usage because for an app, engagement means much more than just clicking or downloads.

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