Audience retention is of paramount importance for any product. It is particularly important to retain as many users as possible in the first days after the app install. If you manage to keep 15% more users during the first week, you may expect double the retention rate in 10 weeks.
Needless to say, this puts a lot of pressure on developers. The good news is that you can improve user retention in the first post-install days. In this article, we will share seven proven ways to increase retention through improved onboarding.
There is an established pattern to build mobile app onboarding. It usually includes one to five screens with a title, some text, a picture and a Next button.
Jakob’s Law tells us that we should not deviate too much from an established mental model without good reason. However, it is certainly worth adding a screen counter or even a Skip button (if omitting onboarding to go straight to the main scenario is an acceptable option for you).
Naturally, your onboarding should be as brief as possible, given that users today expect things to be fast and smooth.
Try to describe the key features and benefits of your product with only a few screens and as little text as possible. Make sure to include the most important information on the first two slides, as potential users are likely to just skim or skip the rest.
Take meditation app Headspace – an example of perfect onboarding content-wise. The first screen lays out the value proposition. The second screen bolsters it with data. Finally, the third describes one of the key features. Each screen has a big title and minimal text.
Remember that onboarding is not a product tour. Dedicating a separate screen to each of your app's features makes no sense, as most of them would only be used once people really sink their teeth into the product.
Flo, a women's reproductive health app, has plenty of features, but its onboarding highlights only the product’s key value for the audience – an AI solution to help monitor the menstrual cycle, interpret symptoms, and improve well-being.
Importantly, one of the first screens shows the number of users, which is an impressive hundreds of millions. More on that in the next tip.
Nowadays, users only trust facts that are based on evidence.
Endel is a generative music app that helps with focus, relaxation and sleep.
The very first onboarding screen starts with the words “scientifically proven,” which is reiterated on the subscription screen, this time backed by specific numbers: 7x increase in focus, 3.6x decrease in stress. The app lets users unsubscribe whenever they want. In addition to a free trial button, the slide also has an X button in the top-right corner for exit.
If your product value is supported by evidence (scientific or social), make sure to include that in onboarding. This will increase the credibility of your app out the gate.
If you know the problems and fears of your audience and your product can help eliminate them, you should mention that on the first screens of your onboarding. This is another way to win over users right off the bat and rise a couple of notches above the competition in their eyes.
One of the most popular sneakerhead apps followed this approach. GOAT is an online collectible sneaker marketplace. Here, shoppers have two major fears – fakes and overpaying.
GOAT solves both by verifying the authenticity of and showing the average market price for each sneaker pair. When it launched, the app's first screens mentioned these things, which helped win customer loyalty before they even started shopping.
At present, the app has no onboarding at all. The platform is so popular that new customers know everything about it prior to visiting.
If your product offers personalized user experience, be certain you start it right at onboarding. The sooner users feel that you care about them and are willing to cater to their needs, the higher the chance they will be back.
Loóna scores top marks in personalization. The app helps relieve anxiety and ease into sleep. The first traditional onboarding screen is followed by 15 more, where users share information about their mood, relaxing colors, favourite sounds, etc. The information is collected in a dialogue format.
Without these data, helping users would be practically impossible. To keep people's attention and make sure they go through all the screens, the app shows them user statistics, feedback, and personalization progress in-between the questions. The user is visually reminded that the process is going to end soon.
Be careful with requests for registration, payment, location tracking, notifications, or sensitive data collection.
At the onboarding stage, you should either avoid asking for anything, or request only things that are necessary for the app to work. Give users an opportunity to get to know your product and let them decide what they are willing to share later.
Developers of Medium request that users create an account to offer them content tailored to their interests and ask them a few questions to personalize the feed – that is all.
Only when people start using the app, they are subtly invited to subscribe to an interesting author (and turn on push notifications), and, a little later, for a paid unlimited service.
In some cases, you can actually do without onboarding, like with a strong and famous brand (see GOAT above). With apps like that, users know in advance that all their needs will be met, so there is no need to waste their time and developer resources.
OpenSea, a P2P marketplace for crypto collectibles and NFTs, describes its product in just a few words. The text is accompanied by NFT images that are familiar even to newbie crypto enthusiasts.
Another example is the free graphic design platform Canva, which is well suited for both experienced professionals and novice designers. To save users time, a single screen provides information on the app's main features and the option to login via social networks.
Well-thought-out onboarding is critical for high retention rates.
We shared seven effective ways to improve your app's onboarding process. To understand which of the tips would work best for your product, try implementing one or several and watch your metrics (using MyTracker, for example).
Want to learn more about tracking user retention? Read the linked article.