Three top tips to boost user engagement, courtesy of SessionM

Downloads are one thing, engagement's another

Three top tips to boost user engagement, courtesy of SessionM
Scott Weller is the co-founder and CTO of SessionM, a Boston-based mobile monetisation outfit.

When developers talk about success, they often reference download numbers, but that, of course, doesn't tell the whole story.

The reality is that the average mobile user will only use 40 percent of the apps they've downloaded in a given month.

So how can you guarantee your app will not fall prey to the 69 percent of users who install an app and never open it again?

With that end in mind, I present SessionM's three top tips that will help developers turn their average users into power users.

1) Welcome them

After months of hard work creating an app, developers sometimes forget that casual first-time users don't know anything about the app and its various features. It can be hard for those users to just figure out everything they need to know.

Welcome them to your game by guiding them through some of the key attributes of the app on their first visit, showing them how and why they should be playing the game on a regular basis.

This significantly reduces the frustrations some users may feel, thereby increasing the chance that they'll not only come back, but they'll take full advantage of everything the game has to offer.

Game developers – over and above other app developers – have an opportunity to deliver a warmer welcome for their users by guiding them through their first experience.

The most effective (and fun) games take the time to walk users through their first turn, play the first hand with them, or take them on their first quest.

And if you offer virtual currency, give your users a taste of what they can experience as they acquire specific items.

For instance, as part of the walkthrough for a role-playing game, show what a Level 25 Elven Spirit Warrior with the Crossbow of Wonder can achieve, and why purchasing gold coins will matter to them later in the game.

This all boils down to one key takeaway: make your walkthrough interactive. Collect feedback and train the user to engage with the right elements of the UI to progress through – and enhance – the experience.

2) Encourage social sharing

Most people are inherently social creatures. They love having the opportunity to talk about their experiences with friends and family members. So why not make it easy for them to talk about their in-app experience with others, too?

By building social features into your game, you encourage your users to engage with others directly from the app. Of course, social features can help drive users' friends into the app, too.

A great way to encourage social sharing, and perhaps even engage new players, is to allow your players to gift in-game opportunities to friends.

For instance, you could start a Facebook Brand Page and elect community members from your most engaged users to help guide new players through the experience.

Give your players the ability to share their personal experiences and victories and build that mechanic into the game experience itself. From simple high score lists, to screenshots of completed game boards, to playbacks of awesome battles for any player to see, these sharable moments make the game experience more engaging and social.

And don't forget about in-app chat capabilities. Not only can this be a good way for players to socialise, build teams and create guilds, but can it also be an effective customer service tool.

3) Provide more value to keep them coming back

Users don't care about why millions of people should download an app – they care about why they should, and how it can benefit them.

One of the best ways to provide a valuable experience is by letting users personalise the app, like offering them the option to customise features and content.

Additionally, providing something of value to a user – like virtual currency or exclusive content – when they complete an in-app activity or achieve a specific milestone is a great way to encourage them to come back.

And offering daily rewards is another way to ensure your users don't forget about you; these daily rewards can actually lead some users to make your app part of their daily routine.

Another way to remind users to come back to your game is to create experiences that have an expiration date. Scheduled timers and push notifications can be annoying, quickly becoming a reason to delete an app if implemented poorly.

But, if your users have put their time into completing in-game activities, a reminder that a little more work prevents a reward from expiring can go a long way to re-engage a valuable percentage of your audience in a genuine way.

For example, if one level in a role-playing game is a collapsing cave that can only remain open when the user uses the Gem Of Titan, send them an email with the Gem Of Titan. Expire that reward in 24 hours.

This gives you a real and legitimate reason to re-market to the user while delivering them with a fun new reason to explore your content. Use your churn metrics to understand and fine tune this approach.
For more information on SessionM, take a look at the company's website. Or, for more from Scott Weller, you can follow him on Twitter.

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