One of the biggest challenges I have in my apps is keeping users interested. If you share this challenge, you might be interested in some things that we’ve learned in the Amazon Appstore, and some simple things we found that work well to keep customers engaged.
First and foremost: customer expectations are really high. No wonder, there are so many apps available—it’s easy for them to simply delete my app and download another.
Consider this: According to Google, the average user downloads about 26 apps on their mobile device. And because average users only spend about two hours a day using apps, there isn’t much time to convince customers that your mobile game is where they should be spending their time.
How can we keep the interest of users that are swamped with a million things to do and so many other apps to distract them?
Here are five suggestions we’d like to share:
Make your app fast. A slow app is one of the top ways to earn a one-star review in most app stores. I hate slow apps and games, and I’ll bet you do too. In one of my apps, the lowest star ratings came from customers who thought it had too much network lag. It did. Did you know the average user only uses an app for about one minute before moving on? You can’t hook users if your game takes longer than this to open. When working on optimizing, start on optimizing launch time. Find smart ways to reduce some of the bloat when your game opens. If necessary, cut out some of the heavy graphics. And be sure to optimize your app code to get rid of any lag.
Easter Eggs. There’s nothing like a surprise or an adventure to pique users’ curiosity. Hunting for an Easter Egg in your app can be the adventure your users need in order to get hooked. For instance, make your game do something special if they shake your app in a few different directions. Or, give away an appealing prize if they find the secret room in your game. Finally, consider developing a special Easter Egg available only on Easter day that gives players an in-app purchase for free. Think "delightful surprises"!
Add small features with big impact. We all know it can be expensive to constantly add loads of new features, especially big ones. However, big features are not necessarily required to keep your players hooked. Try to learn more about your users’ needs and make small tweaks that can make a big impact. Yes, this is a lot easier said than done, but sometimes all it takes is replacing a boring solid color background with a more textured, more interesting background. Or in one case, simply animating the protagonist’s eyes and smile can make your main character much easier to relate to.
You’ve got the look. If you want to keep users interested and opening your app more, you have to keep your look fresh. We all know about Downloadable Content (DLC) updates and the impact regular DLC updates have, but that can be time-consuming and require heavy engineering. It doesn’t have to be this significant though. Like adding small features, this is a pretty simple concept; just make small changes. For instance, consider changing your button colors, your game’s font or your intro video. These are all easy ways to make your game’s appearance new and fresh. Also, test out how often you have to update your game to keep users. While some mobile games do well with quarterly updates others do better with weekly updates. Just test, analyze, and act accordingly.
Awesome customer service. Make it easy for your users to reach out, especially if they have a problem. Add in-app chat to your game or include an awesome in-app FAQ section chock-full of helpful videos or animated .gifs. Furthermore, setup emails, text messages and push notifications based on your users’ specific behaviors. If you can, have a forum or at least a Facebook page where you can interact with your customers, and let them share what they think is amazing about your game!
Don’t discount the power of tip #5. In our study of recent the top 50 freemium games in the Amazon Appstore, we found that players were four times more likely to continue using an app past the three-month mark when developers engaged with them socially.
To learn more about how the top 50 freemium games engage their users longer and generate more revenue check out our new eBook: “In-App Purchasing Lessons from the Top 50 Game Developers”.