How to create engagement in mobile apps?


Axiom 1: User engagement is an important factor for monetizing mobile apps.

More engagement means greater impressions and great impressions attract revenue in every kind of the business model (e.g. Advertisement, InApp, Subscriptions, App sales or Sponsorships).

What are the metrics for engagement?

As Done Labs, we use the following three simple metrics in order to measure and evaluate our mobile applications’ success:

  1. Users: # of users who downloaded the application. Active users: who use the application at least once in a month. What is the percentage of our active users? (i.e. active users / all users).
  2. Frequency: How many times a day/week/month our applications is used by active users?
  3. Duration: In each session, how many minutes/hours our active users continue using our application?

Monthly Engagement = # of active users (monthly) x Frequency (monthly average) x Duration (monthly average per session)

How do we create engagement in mobile apps?

Here are three easy and straightforward principles we follow. These are easy to articulate but not that easy to implement.

First, we dedicate a great time and energy on the storyboard of the application with a great emphasis on User Experience (UX) and Game Mechanics (GM). User experience is an essential factor for creating great applications and game mechanics/gamification is essential to keep player motivations high. Good examples for good game mechanics are included in Foursquare mobile application and World of Warcraft.

We do benchmarking (for the best applications in the app store), research (we read blogs of the successful application developers and also academic publications such as MIT Technology Review, and all UX and GM related books) and we experiment. Our storyboards are detailed so that any developer and designer can get the whole idea by just looking at them. We use “Minimal Viable Product (MVP)” Strategy which insists to focus on the “core value proposition” and related functions and evaluate others for future releases.

Second, we try to develop a high fidelity prototype as early as possible and do usability testing at an early stage. In this phase we are so open minded that we are even ready to change the whole storyboard if we have a better idea or the application is not perceived to be simple and intuitive.

Third, after our application is live, we continuously receive feedback from our users, continue usability testing and do the neccessary corrections and new additions without sacrificing our principle of MVP (this resembles Kaizen principle).  We learn from our past mistakes and try not to repeate them again. We strongly believe in excellency through iteration.

How do we evaluate UX design of our mobile apps?

This is pretty straightforward. There are three metrics.

  1. Effectiveness: Are users able to do what they intend to do? For example during usability testing are users able to achieve their tasks in their scenario?
  2. Efficiency: Are users able to accomplish their tasks within an appropriate time and with a little cost?
  3. Satisfaction: Are our users happy to use our application? Do they re-use them after a while? For example engagement metrics are a good result for revealing satisfaction levels of our users.

About ozgurzan

Professional: 1999- Co-founder and Managing Director of Done Information & Comm. Systems http://www.donetr.com http://www.donelabs.com Academic: 2008 Ph.D. Organization and Management - Yeditepe University 2002 MBA - Yeditepe University 1994 Computer Engineering - Bogazici University
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