Need to Boost App Usage? Here’s how to do it.


So you’ve built a sweet new app.

The tech’s on point. You’ve tested the hell out of it.

You hold your breath. Release it on the app store.

And…. nothing.

You know your app will make your customers’ lives easier, so why aren’t they using it?

Sound familiar?

It’s a common problem. You work hard to get those downloads, yet 1 in 4 people who download an app only use it once.  And 75 percent of users uninstall an app within 90 days.

So how can you break this cycle of disengagement and get your customers to engage regularly with your app?

Simple. You have to make using it a habit.

Habit Forming: A 2-Minute Tutorial

Research has shown that it takes an average of 66 days for an activity to become a habit.  So to get folks to use your app, you need to create a decently long campaign that gives them a reason to login and engage.

One way we’ve had success forming habits is with game-based marketing campaigns. Here’s the basic strategy:

Step 1. Create a fun game that doles out chances to win or instant prizes.

Step 2. Nest your app benefits messaging into the game so customers learn about your app as they play.

Step 3. Limit their available game-plays so they have to login each day to play again or explore your app to earn more plays.

That last step is important: to earn more plays, customers should have to engage repetitively with your app.

Those repetitive actions (like logging in, or exploring) will start to form habits of engagement that last long after the promotion ends.

Let’s look at how this works in practice.


Case Study: How We Used Game Tactics to Boost App Usage

One of our clients had created a cool new app for the customers. Only problem? They weren’t using it.

We knew game-based marketing campaigns were a great way to build habits of engagement, so we created a fun risk/reward game to drive adoption and increase app usage.

We Had Three Main Goals:

  1. Create a habit of logging into the app, so even after the promotion ended, customers would continue to log on and engage.
  2. Educate on the app’s value propositions within the game, to encourage customers to use the different features.
  3. Encourage exploration of the app among users. The idea was to expose users to as many of the different app features as possible.

How It Worked

To meet these goals we built an addictive game-based promotion that rewarded customers for using the app.

The game was simple: consumers flipped tiles for a chance to win entries for the grand prize. Each round of the game was associated with a different prize — and if they won an entry, they progressed to the next round.

But each round also had a game-over tile. If a player chose that tile, they lost all their entries!

Players could chicken out at any time and save the entries they had won — but the longer they played, the better the prizes became. This added a risk/reward element that kept players coming back to try and win better prizes.

Why It Worked

 1. Created a Habit of Engagement

Players could earn extra game-plays for engaging with our client’s app. The game was tied directly to the app, so anytime a customer used it, they were rewarded in-game with extra plays.  The rewards got exponentially higher when customers used the app habitually, helping to create habits of engagement that lasted after the promotion ended.

2. Educated In-Game

The game also featured quiz questions about different features of our client’s app, which players could answer at any time to earn extra game-plays. Players earned extra game-plays for correct guesses, which ensured they paid attention and retained the information.

3. Drove Adoption

In addition to rewarding for app use, we also rewarded customers for downloading the app. This let us drive adoption of their app — and immediately develop a habit of using it.

The combination of an addictive game and the incentivized exploration elements helped to create habits of engagement and increase overall app usage.

The Bottom Line

Build it and they will come is bull.

You’ve got to make using your app a habit.

Create an addictive game that’ll keep players coming back for more. Offer great prizes. And reward players when they log in or engage repetitively.