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Article Written By:
Johann Dowa

How to Develop an Engagement Strategy That Brings Users Back to Your App


Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by John Clancy from (

If you’re like many of today’s top developers you’re giving away your app for free and relying on making money on the back end. But if you’re not combining that business model with a well thought out engagement strategy you’re crippling your potential.

Undoubtedly, before you even contemplate your engagement strategy, you first need to build an app that people actually want to use. Follow that up with a killer marketing plan and PR that generates some good buzz in the media and you’ve got the basis for success.

But to really hit a home run you’ve got to think about how you’re going to create an always-on connection with your users to ensure that your app has a permanent spot on their mobile desktop.

Here are some tips to help you start thinking about your engagement strategy:

Provide superior customer support. By respecting your customers and letting them know that you’re listening and keeping your promises, you’ll quickly build a loyal following. People who love your company will want to support you, not only by purchasing your in-app offers but also by becoming disciples who spread the word about your app.

Develop a schedule of updates. Whether it’s introducing more stages, characters, chapters, features or add-ons, give your users more to look forward to and, subsequently, come back to. As you gather more users solicit feedback from them and use that information to continuously improve your app. The knock on effect is that these updates will also show potential customers that you’re focused on improving the quality of your app and you’re not just a “fly by night” developer.

Build a community. Equip your users with more than one way to share your app’s content.  For instance, integrate sharing buttons in your app at the point of completion of an activity and prompt users to share. Or, alternatively, incentivize users to “like’ your Facebook page or post on other social media sites in exchange for “soft currency” such as being able to access content or features, play new stages, get additional coins or receive “hints” that help users advance their play.

Hold a contest. The purpose of a contest is to get your users and potential customers using your app and telling others about it. Your contest should therefore include elements or rules that encourage people to use your app or share its content in order to participate. For instance, if you have an app that lets users enhance their photographs, hold a monthly photo contest, with the proviso that entrants must use your app to take and edit their pictures.

Send push notifications. Push notifications are short text messages, videos, pictures or external links that are sent directly to users based on app usage and segmentation statistics. They’re great for re-engaging users who have not interacted with your app in a pre-determined period. At the same time they allow you to keep users informed with timely and relevant content. Notifications can range from surveys and lifecycle rewards, to review requests and upgrade, up-sell or cross-sell notifications.

Build an in-app loyalty program. Integrate your existing loyalty program into your app. Customers notice and appreciate consistency across all channels and reward companies that provide it through loyalty. A well-executed in-app loyalty program can: 1) attract new customers who don’t normally participate in loyalty programs, and; 2) help existing customers take advantage of your loyalty program more often by being able to conveniently access accumulated points or redeem rewards directly from your app. If you don’t have a loyalty program, maybe this is the time to create one.

Produce “Appisodes”. An appisode is a TV show, video clip, game, comic or other editorial content delivered as a serial story through a user’s device. If your app has new levels of play, new themes or other regular updates that you can easily turn into episodes that users are eager to buy/receive through in-app purchases or as a regular update, then you are on to something really good.

As the old marketing adage states, “keeping customers is much cheaper than finding new ones.” So don’t get trapped in the numbers game. Think long-term and build a sustainable business model with apps that people want to buy and use over and over again.

And remember, if your app isn’t generating engagement, it isn’t generating revenue.

Author Bio

John Clancy is an Internet Marketing Consultant, the Managing Director and co-founder of Crop Duster Media, a Lecturer at in Holland University in Amsterdam and author of App Marketing Pro (, a 4-part “do-it-yourself” guide to marketing apps. John has over 25 years of experience in marketing and communications with a proven record of developing and implementing successful Internet and mobile marketing strategies for both startups and established firms.  His clients are based in Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. You can reach John at [email protected].


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