The ever-expanding market of mobile apps has already seen its share of victims: apps which are losing users, some by uninstalling and some by decreased engagement. This is a natural consequence on any free market where the offer is larger than the demand. People have the opportunity to choose between several apps which offer the same functionalities and solve the same problems.

Understanding the Reasons of Disengaged Users

There is no simple answer to the question: what makes users stop using apps? For some of them it was a one-time need or problem which was solved by the app. Once this need was solved, the users no longer need the app and uninstall it. For many users, however, the need is continuous but they feel that the app is not the exact answer to their problem, or they do not feel motivated enough to stay loyal to it.

Just like with any product or service, mobile apps have a moment of initial excitement among new users, followed by a period of plateau (when users maintain an average level of satisfaction with the app) and then by the decline. This is the result of a very wide range of offers on the mobile app market which has led to very high expectations from the users.

The Key to Keeping Users Motivated

There is one category of apps, however, which has a thriving and deeply engaged mass of users: game apps. These apps, designed both for children and adults, boast millions of downloads and active users, significant in-app purchases and an ever-increasing popularity.

So, what can business app designers learn from game apps and implement in the structure of their products? The answer is: the gamification strategy. This is the key force behind the continuous popularity of game apps: the carefully planned set of activities and incentives which keep users interested, pitting one against another in achieving a higher score and getting more points and bonuses.

But how can you introduce such principles into a business app without trivializing it? The answer is to find the basic mechanism behind the gamification strategies used by game apps and adapt it to the features and functionalities of your app. These are a few ideas to explore:

1. Create a System of Rewards

All games are full of rewards – extra energy for reaching a new level, extra features unlocked after accumulating a number of points, and so on. In a business app, you can apply the same system of rewards for users who engage frequently with your app, or use a certain feature a number of times.

The reward can be anything from a discount on the next purchase to free access to premium features of the app.

2. Organize Competitions for Users

In the best spirit of sportsmanship, you can host an in-app contest for your users. The specifics of this contest pertain to your type of app and niche, but it should involve activities within the app, inviting friends to install the app and other similar activities.

Contests are among the most popular strategies for maintaining users engaged, especially if the prize is something of value to them. It is important to give a meaningful prize, one which would encourage people to join the contest.

3. Keep Your Strategy Natural and Relaxed

The secret of success in any gamification strategy is to refrain from pushing users too hard in a certain direction (using a specific feature, joining a contest, upgrading their account). Nothing turns off people faster than the impression that they do not hold the control over the way they interact with an app.

4. Add True Value

“What’s in for me?” This is the first natural question a user has when they are invited to start accumulating points by using your app in a certain way. You must always provide the key benefits and added value of this participation when you launch the invitation. If people perceive the value, they will join. Otherwise, they will simply overlook your efforts and become disengaged.

5. Keep It Simple

Last but certainly not least: test and double test your gamification strategy and make sure it is easy for the average user to follow through. Simplify and reduce the steps of completing each goal as much as possible and make sure that the gamified app works properly on all of the most popular smartphone models on the market.