In the first part of this series, we touched upon mobile gaming user acquisition. In a highly saturated mobile app market—the App Store and Google Play Store have more than five million apps available—brands have to make sure their apps are not only discoverable, but also align with the needs and wants of their intended audiences. But, once your brand has overcome the acquisition hurdles, how do you keep them engaged?
In this installment of our mobile gaming series, we’ll be covering mobile gaming user retention strategies to ensure that once your game is installed on a user’s phone, it stays there.
The Challenges of Mobile Gaming User Retention
Once a user downloads your app, it’s pretty easy for them to remove it from their phones. In fact, 25% of users open an app only once. But, if they decide to uninstall, you lose an engaged, active user plus access to multiple marketing channels (push notifications, in-app messages, etc.), which is why retention—and timing—is crucial.
The actions taken in the first “N” days—from initial install—are often used to define retention success in the mobile gaming industry.
The First “N” Days
To determine retention success, mobile gaming brands generally track user behavior within the first N days—a predetermined time frame. Some common defaults are one day, seven days, or 30 days.
Keep in mind that, depending on your specific app, this timeframe can be shortened or extended—this is just a common default. In fact, Deconstructor of Fun suggests an even longer-term—180 days—measurement. Once the timeframe is set, brands can determine expectations within those timeframes and challenges users have when executing those expectations.
A challenge mobile gaming brands face is consistent interaction with their users in a set number of days. It’s proven that 90% of mobile users who regularly engage with an app (even once a week) are more likely to continue using it. So, how can brands stay engaged with users both in the short term and long term?
It’s all about delivering the right value at the right time. Brands need to find the right balance between connecting with the user and overwhelming them with notifications and messaging. Plus, brands have to understand which milestones or achievements help retain users and make the game worth playing. Remember, there are five million other apps to choose from, so getting users to continue to choose yours is a huge hurdle.
Another challenge mobile gaming apps face in the first N days, for example, is gaming fatigue. So, even if you do create ways to engage the users, they could get bored or even overwhelmed. The Gamer equates gaming fatigue to burnout. “For [gaming] hobbyists, the time they spend working can drain their mental stamina, and trying to accomplish tasks in a video game just taxes them more. Sometimes, the game itself can be a stressor…” With all of this stress and exhaustion, gamers can lose interest in the game itself.
Mobile gaming brands need to get creative when it comes to overcoming engagement and fatigue challenges.
Overcoming the Challenges
To overcome the challenges of mobile gaming user retention, it helps to put yourself in the gamers’ shoes. With a world of other entertainment options to compete with (not just other apps, but all media), brands have to find the right engagement tactics to ensure longer interactions.
Think from their perspective. What do users need to first get introduced to your game? What are they expecting as they continue to interact with your game? When answering these questions, it’s crucial to remember that each user is an individual, with unique stories and experiences, and should be treated as such.
Clear, Concise Onboarding
If a user is trying your game for the first time, but finds the interface confusing and can’t determine the goal of the game, they’re going to give up. Onboarding is a crucial part of the mobile gaming customer journey because it can really make or break a relationship. As Appcues puts it, “In many cases, an effective user onboarding strategy meant the difference between a beloved classic and a forgotten flop.”
They also mention that early retention rates can result in compounding engagement rates over time. “A 15% improvement in user retention in the first week can compound into nearly twice the number of retained users after 10 weeks.” But, each user is different and will need the right messaging during onboarding—and beyond—to create a long-lasting relationship with your game.
Each user is unique in how they interact with your game; mobile gaming retention strategies need to be highly personalized to be the most impactful. For example, you could send triggered, individualized communications based on the actions a user has taken. The messaging would be different for a user who has only logged in once compared to a user that logs in every day.
What’s more, personalization isn’t widely adopted by gaming apps…yet. According to Udonis, “Only 28% of all apps are personalized.” So brands should strike while the iron is hot and make sure their real-time personalization strategies are in place to increase engagement and mobile gaming user retention.
Another tool to overcome mobile gaming user retention challenges is predictive analytics. Based on how users have interacted with your app in the past, predictive analytics uses AI to recognize patterns and determine where along their journey an individual user is likely to drop off. This is highly beneficial for brands because measures can be taken before users drop off, to keep them engaged.
For instance, if, according to your predictive analytics, users tend to stop playing after level 10, maybe at level nine, you can offer incentives. Give users extra lives, exclusive content, new challenges, etc. to keep them playing through level 10 and long after. New tools and technology can help improve and automate mobile gaming user retention.
Advanced predictive analytics tools can also shed light on the data behind the predictions. They not only provide a “what” but a “why” and “how” as well. If a gamer is at risk of churning, these advanced tools can show what data indicates a predicted churn, allowing your marketing team to adjust strategies to prevent that from happening.
From Retention to Conversion
Now we’ve covered acquisition and retention, but the last and final step in the journey is conversion. We’re all familiar with in-app purchases, but how do you get users—once they’ve discovered your app, downloaded it, and use it regularly—to make in-app purchases. Stay tuned for the next installment of this mobile gaming series.
To learn how Iterable can improve your mobile gaming user retention strategies (and beyond) through onboarding, real-time personalization, and predictive AI, schedule a demo today.