12 Practical Ways to Increase User Engagement [With Expert Quotes]

Sakshi Gupta
April 4, 2024
15 mins


Improving app user engagement is a critical problem many product managers spend their time on. From strategizing product marketing campaigns, and working on redesigning UX to analyzing user data – there are endless ways to improve engagement.

But where and how does one get started?

In this guide, we help provide practical ways to increase user engagement that you can explore for your product.

What is user engagement?

User engagement refers to the level of interaction and involvement users have with your application over a period.

Typically, you can understand the level of engagement via clicks, time spent, repeat users, sharing, and other custom parameters decided by your product team. Essentially, it measures how invested and active users are with your product.

Many product owners focus on user acquisition and churn metrics. But user engagement is the path that will make your acquisition efforts a success and make sure you do not face churn notifications.

User Acquisition —> User Engagement —> Churn

The more your users are engaged within your app, the more you can keep them in your funnel to make a commercial sale and avoid any churn.

Thus, you can see how technically, user engagement is a critical metric that directly impacts other crucial metrics like retention rate, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, your bottom line. 

“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.”

Kevin Stirtz, Author of More Loyal Customers: 21 Real World Lessons To Keep Your Customers Coming Back

Let’s understand this with an example.

Instagram is a popular social media platform where its users share photos and videos with their network. When it started to take off – it had basic posting features. When a user comes across a captivating photo on their feed, they might double-tap to like it and then leave a comment expressing their thoughts. In this scenario, the user actively engages with the content and contributes to the overall community conversation. Similarly, if they encounter a post that resonates with them, they might choose to share it with their followers, further extending the reach and impact of the content.

Today, Instagram is much beyond photo sharing. Its team figured out new app features to further engage its users and increase time spent on the platform. Now user engagement on Instagram extends to features like Stories, where users can post ephemeral content and engage with polls, quizzes, and interactive stickers. Additionally, direct messaging allows users to connect one-on-one or in group chats. These foster deeper interactions and relationships within the platform.

All of this translates to more time spent on the platform, and thus, they will see more ads – which translates to revenues for Meta.

instagram platform statistics

Hence, a product has to continuously measure user engagement, track user behavior, and devise new ways to keep them engaged on the platform.

Importance of User Engagement

Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, perfectly explains the importance of user engagement and customer experience:

“Every day we're saying, ‘How can we keep this customer happy?’ How can we get ahead in innovation by doing this, because if we don’t, somebody else will.”

Thus, the more your users are engaged within the app, the fewer chances of them exploring other options within the market to deal with problems that your app solves. 

Here are five pointers that summarize why it is important to pay attention to user engagement:

  1. Retain users: engaged users are more likely to return to your application, explore its features, and integrate it into their daily routines, thus making it difficult to leave and choose other options in the market.
  2. Push user towards sale:  engaged users are more inclined to make in-app purchases, subscribe to premium features, or participate in monetization schemes such as advertising or affiliate marketing. By maximizing user engagement, you create opportunities to monetize your product effectively.
  3. Gain competitive advantage: it’s not easy to leave habits – and more user engagement means your app is becoming habitual to them. A highly engaged user base not only demonstrates the value and utility of your application but also creates a barrier to entry for competitors. This is because it's not easy to switch products that become a daily part of your life.
  4. Nurture brand advocacy: when users feel a strong connection to your application, they are more likely to share their positive experiences with others through social media, reviews, and word-of-mouth recommendations. 
  5. Define and form user behavior patterns: by tracking user interactions, behavior patterns, and engagement levels, you gain actionable insights into what drives user satisfaction and retention. You can double down on these and align marketing and sales strategies accordingly.

Thus, engaged users are more likely to stick around, advocate for your product, and even make purchases, making it a fundamental aspect of any successful business.

Now, let’s understand how to design a user journey map to create remarkable and memorable user experiences.

1.  Create a seamless user journey map

A user journey map is a visual representation of the steps users take when interacting with your application, from initial discovery, and ongoing engagement, to reaching the end goal for which they are using your product or service. It provides valuable insights into user behavior, pain points, and opportunities for improvement. 

For example, here’s a user journey map for a B2C brand. Notice how it covers their activities, thoughts, feelings, experiences, and opportunities at every stage of the journey. When you perform this exercise, you find it easier to identify friction points, bottlenecks, and areas where users may drop off or disengage. Based on that, you can streamline user interactions so that they achieve their goals smoothly.

user journey map

How to enhance engagement at every touchpoint?

user story mapping quote

After creating the user journey map, the next step is to identify opportunities to improve user engagement across every step. You can check for below ten pointers to get started:

  1. How intuitive is your user interface?
  2. Is your user onboarding process clear and straightforward?
  3. Do you have a consistent layout and branding across the app?
  4. What personalization steps have you taken across the user journey?
  5. How can you increase user interaction across each touchpoint?
  6. Can you include rewards to incentivize users to interact with your product?
  7. At what touchpoints are you collecting user feedback to understand engagement levels?
  8. At what touchpoints can you showcase tailored content?
  9. Which touchpoints are confusing to the user? How can you make it better for the user to learn and engage?
  10. At what touchpoints can a user drop off? What measures can you take to avoid this situation?

The more detailed your user journey map is, the clearer it becomes to optimize for user engagement.

2. Design an effortless and intuitive user sign-up flow

User sign-up flow is where your product creates a first impression. A tough, multi-step, or worse, sign-up process that doesn’t work is an easy potential user drop. Here are some recommendations from our side to build a usable and effortless sign-up experience:

(a) Simplify and shorten form fields

Keep your sign-up forms short by asking only essential questions. Prioritize collecting information that is crucial for account creation (like name and email). You can always use this information to personalize the user experience later on.

For example, if you run an eCommerce site, instead of asking for a user's full address during sign-up, consider collecting it later in the onboarding process or during checkout for a smoother experience.

(b) Try having a guest checkout flow or showcase demo

For applications that require account creation but offer value even to non-registered users, consider implementing a guest checkout option or a demo mode. Allowing users to explore the app's features without committing to a full registration can lower the barrier to entry and entice them to create an account later on. This trick is commonly adopted across eCommerce platforms where one promotes exploring the store and signing up only when one has to make a purchase.

(c) Use descriptive tooltips to guide sign-up

Tooltips are useful to align the user’s attention as per the designed sign-up flow. Use descriptive labels and error messages to help users understand what information is required and how to correct any mistakes. Real-time validation can prevent errors before submission, thus avoiding any redos (which can drop users).

Nudge can help you design information tooltips to make your sign-up process more engaging and clear – learn more from our guide on mobile app tooltips.

3. Personalizing onboarding experiences for new users

Today’s users do expect personalization as a part of the product experience. With user experience software like Nudge making it easy to implement personalization via no-code, it is no longer a competitive advantage, but a default.

Onboarding flow is a good place to start – where you can first segment your user base based on demographics, behaviors, or goals of signing up for your app. Once you've identified user segments, personalize the content and messaging throughout the onboarding process. Deliver relevant information, tips, and tutorials that resonate with each user group, guiding them toward their desired outcomes.

Further, you can make it adaptive such that the onboarding flows adjust based on user interactions and feedback. For example, if a user demonstrates proficiency in certain features during onboarding, you can expedite the process by skipping introductory tutorials and focusing on more advanced functionalities.

Here, LinkedIn will ask newly signed up users about what they want to do with the app. They have provided three key use cases only – where each segment has unique goals and pain points, necessitating tailored onboarding experiences to address their specific requirements effectively. If anyone doesn’t fall into these categories, they can skip this step by choosing ‘Not sure yet. I’m open!’ option. 

linkedin's user onboarding

Doing this provides LinkedIn with insights on their user base and the kind of expectations they have from them. Check out more user onboarding examples for your inspiration – 25 user onboarding examples

Using Nudge, you can design, test, and implement an engaging user onboarding flow without spending resources on developers. You can also understand where the user drops, personalize based on user segments developed, and measure effectiveness in a single platform – check out Nudge for user onboarding.

4. Leveraging in-app messaging for enhanced engagement 

In-app messages are a great strategy to communicate with your users in real time via contextual and targeted messaging. Unlike external channels like email or social media, which require users to switch contexts, in-app messages appear directly within the application, minimizing friction and maximizing engagement.

Timing plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of in-app messaging. Avoid bombarding users with messages at inconvenient times, such as during critical tasks or late at night. Instead, use contextual triggers—such as when a user completes a certain action or reaches a milestone—to deliver messages when they're most likely to be well-received and acted upon.

For example, using Nudge’s in-app messages feature, you can nudge the user about a limited-time offer you’re running for a product that was on the user’s wishlist. For this, you can explore various in-app message types like modals, banners, pop-ups, and more. A simple reward and targeted messaging increase the chances of the user making a purchase.

amazon's in-app message

Here, the Amazon Music app understands that the user engages more with its podcast listening features. When they log in after a long time, it shares this in-app message asking them to check new updates to the offering. It also provides the user with a choice where they can either opt to ‘Explore More’ or else skip.

5. Implement interactive guides

Unlike traditional tutorials or help documentation, interactive guides provide a hands-on learning experience within the app interface itself. Such hands-on experience will help the user remember and apply best practices of using your app, and thus, help you boost user engagement. Interactive guides will also help you reduce support tickets raised that are related to using your app.

For example, if a user clicks on a particular feature or interface element for the first time, trigger a relevant guide that explains its purpose and usage. Make sure your interactive guides are contextual such that they don’t feel bombarded with information that is irrelevant to them. You can incorporate interactive elements such as clickable buttons, sliders, and animation. By encouraging active participation, users can learn by doing, reinforcing their understanding and retention of key concepts.

Here’s a representation of how Nudge can help you implement interactive guides to highlight features via a walkthrough series:

nudge tooltips and walkthroughs

Let’s take a real example of Google Chat – here, they have three different use cases of using the product. For each, they have provided a short three-step walkthrough of how they can use the app for that purpose. The illustrations and interactive nature where it points to the exact location of the feature for every step help improve overall usability and engagement.

6. Plan retention strategies in advance

“It's okay to have a faulty product, it's not okay to have faulty customer service. We cannot control engineering issues or weather, but we can control how we serve our guests.”

― Janna Cachola, source: Goodreads

It is important to ensure product owners and managers work towards designing app retention strategies before development or release. Effective retention strategies not only keep users engaged but also increase their lifetime value by encouraging repeat interactions and purchases.

To start, first define goals and key performance indicators you wish to achieve when it comes to retention metrics. Then, segment your users and define various behaviors, expectations, rewards, and pain points that impact their decision to use your product.

Now, as you design your product, take initial user feedback from test users and collect the data. Analyze this user behavior data to identify patterns that may indicate potential churn points. These could include prolonged periods of inactivity, frequent app crashes, or dissatisfaction with certain features. 

Now, devise ways to tackle these churn reasons such that it aligns user behavior and motivation. Test these strategies by performing A/B tests and observing the impact on your user retention metrics.

Based on iterated designs, you can find strategies that work best and then focus on releasing your product or new feature. By being user retention-first in your app design phase itself, you reduce the chances of failure when you launch in the market.

7. Implement gamification elements in your app design

Consider implementing game design elements into your app’s user experience. This means you incorporate elements like points, badges, leaderboards, challenges, or rewards into your app’s usual workflows to create a more dynamic and interactive user experience. 

How does all this help increase user engagement?

Gamification transforms routine tasks and interactions into enjoyable and rewarding experiences. It’s known that humans are naturally driven by a desire for mastery, achievement, and recognition. Gamification leverages these intrinsic motivations by providing clear goals, feedback, and tangible rewards for completing tasks or reaching milestones within the app.

For example, we covered in detail how Fintech apps use gamification – where something mundane as making a transaction, paying bills, or upskilling in financial literacy can be made like a ‘game’.

Gamification also helps in conditioning a certain desired user behavior. By offering immediate rewards and positive reinforcement for completing tasks or following desired actions, users are more likely to repeat those behaviors in the future.

The best example of gamification is the popular language learning app like Duolingo. It utilizes a leveling system to track users' progress and proficiency in a language. As users complete lessons and quizzes, they earn experience points (XP) and advance through different levels. Each level represents an increase in proficiency, motivating users to continue practicing and unlocking higher levels. It has designed a comprehensive game of earning XP across leaderboards, daily challenges, and level systems.

duolingo's gamification

8. Reward engaged users for nurturing loyalty

"A loyal customer doesn't consider alternatives. He won't mind paying a premium for his valued loyalty. A repeat customer will consider options."

– Unknown, Source: HR News

The above unknown quote truly summarizes and distinguishes a loyal versus repeat customer. When you reward engaged users, you're essentially recognizing and appreciating their loyalty. You’re nurturing to turn them from being ‘repeat customers’ to ‘loyal customers’.

A common example of this strategy is airlines providing you with flying miles which you use to get discounted tickets or rewards for future flights. Here, the airline provider is ensuring you keep using their service for your flights by helping you reduce costs or giving incentives.

But why is a customer more likely to choose their service?

Here, users understand that their engagement is being noticed and rewarded, which encourages them to continue engaging with your application in the same manner. This reinforcement creates a cycle where users are motivated to consistently interact with your product to earn rewards, thereby increasing overall engagement levels.

Rewards for engagement can also serve as a form of social proof. It showcases to other users the benefits of active engagement with your application. It encourages new users to also engage with your product in hopes of receiving similar rewards.

For example, loyalty programs are a popular tactic used by restaurants to bring back customers. Chick-fil-A One is one of the leading fast food chains in the US which offers a tired membership offer to engage existing loyal customers. The more purchases you make with the brand, you earn points to climb through the tiers to get more rewards defined under each. They also provide ‘birthday rewards’ – thus, encouraging users to spend their special days with the brand’s products.

chick-fil-A's rewards and membership

Nudge helps you implement such reward systems in the form of coins and coupons – learn more. You can incentivize users to perform specific actions on your app in the form of coins or coupons without additional coding. It’s easy to get started, test loyalty program workflows, and measure results in a single platform.

Nudge rewards-  coins and coupons

9. Actively collect and respond to user feedback

When your user feels heard, they trust your brand’s seriousness of being a legit business. Much better if you actively seek feedback – as this demonstrates that your priority is meeting user needs and preferences. This exercise helps you identify what is working and which aspects of your product require improvement so that you can align resources accordingly.

Users feel empowered to contribute feedback and they develop a sense of ownership and investment in the product. When users see that their input is valued and acted upon, they're more likely to continue engaging with your product and providing valuable feedback in the future. You can further engage your users in a dialogue through feedback channels. Continued feedback collection and action cultivate a sense of community and collaboration.

“Customer engagement for me really starts with creating a real sense of community. Wherever that might sit: social, a purpose built community, or your website. If you want customers to engage with your content then they need to feel like they own it and contributed to it.”

Emma Foote, Chief Customer Advocate at Advocitude 

For example, ApnaKlub uses Nudge’s user feedback collection and analysis features post purchase made by the customer. This helps them track important user engagement metrics like Net Promoter Score and improve their user experience accordingly.

apnaklub's in app surveys

Surveys or questionnaires via in-app forms are effective ways to ask for user feedback without disrupting their existing flow. Otherwise, you can seek feedback via social media listening, ratings on app stores, and reviews or app marketplaces. Monitor these reviews regularly to gauge user sentiment, identify recurring issues, and gather suggestions for improvement.

Using Nudge, you can implement user engagement strategies while also collecting feedback for each to understand its impact.

10. Embrace multi-channel customer engagement

Not all users prefer the same communication channel. Some may prefer receiving updates via email, while others may prefer interacting through social media or messaging apps. If your brand is present on multiple platforms, you also offer more channels for users to connect with you. By offering a variety of channels, you can tailor your communication to match user preferences, tone, and style, thus, increasing the likelihood of engagement.

multi-channel customer engagement

Another benefit of being multi-channel is how you can remain consistent across them in terms of your brand presence. This means, that if your user is following you on Twitter, and if they happen to check out your brand’s profile on Threads, they will see the same brand style, voice, and engagement. Thus, you reinforce your brand identity and create a unified experience for users, regardless of where they encounter your brand. 

These days businesses also use social media for customer support thanks to their messaging and business management features. Apart from this, ensure you offer multiple channels for customer support, such as live chat, email, and phone support. This ensures that users can easily reach out for assistance whenever they encounter issues or have questions.

For example, here Demodesk is using Facebook mobile app to share a post about its latest blog on live versus recorded demo videos. Here, it is targeting users who already are aware of demo videos and are looking to make a choice. 

demodesk's promotion on facebook

When the user clicks the link, it takes them to a detailed blog post, which further includes a prompt to subscribe to their newsletter to target email-preferring audiences. It also puts an ad of its free product demo guide for users who prefer eBooks. Here, Demodesk is leveraging social media, email, downloadables, and other internal links to engage casual Facebook page followers into customers.

demodesk's free product demo guide

As you can see, being multi-channel helps you engage and stay available for not just existing users, but also potential customers. You can take a step further to aggregate and analyze data across these channels to identify new marketing opportunities and insights into user preferences.

11. Monitor and improve areas of low engagement

Once you’ve used the above-mentioned ten strategies to improve user engagement, it is time to figure out what is not working for your app and realign efforts on what is working.

For monitoring, you can use user experience software like Nudge which helps you set up user engagement flows and monitor them for measuring effectiveness.

By closely analyzing user engagement data, you can pinpoint specific features, pages, or functionalities that experience low interaction rates. These areas often indicate pain points or friction in the user experience, such as confusing navigation, slow loading times, or irrelevant content. Once you identify these low engagement and the pain point reasoning behind them, you can work on implementing the above ten user engagement strategies.

For example, let’s say you have a feature that is often overlooked by a user, but it can help them achieve their goals. You can send an in-app message based on their interaction on the app, and also an option to enter a guided tour to learn more about the feature. Interactive guides, tooltips, and walkthroughs can effectively onboard users and increase their confidence in using your product, leading to higher engagement levels.

Apart from this, you will also encounter technical issues within the app which could be hindering your user’s journey. Monitor app performance closely and address any technical issues promptly to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted user experience. You must also consider adopting preventive maintenance strategies.

12. Conduct A/B testing to optimize user experience

A/B testing is an effective way to determine which user experience workflows have the maximum impact on the target metrics that your business wishes to achieve. 

It enables you to experiment with different workflow design elements such as layout variations, CTA copy, or number of steps. You can showcase different user flows to different user cohorts to understand the impact on KPIs. By analyzing user interactions with each version, you can determine which user journey flow resonates best with your audience and encourages higher engagement.

Consider using a user experience platform like Nudge to help you carry out A/B tests for flows. Since there is no code involved, you can create multiple variations of user flows and measure their effectiveness on the analytics dashboard. Such approaches help you save development time and costs, while also providing faster results.

When experimenting, consider the impact of changes – don’t just go about randomly tweaking designs.

“A mistake that some companies make is to start moving a bunch of levers around without clear planning upfront for what they're trying to optimize — and what will be impacted by those changes.”

Dan Siroker, A/B Testing: The Most Powerful Way to Turn Clicks Into Customers

For example, A/B testing allows you to test different wording, colors, sizes, and placements of CTAs to determine which combination drives the highest engagement and conversion rates. You have a ‘control’ CTA [A] – and this is compared with its variations [B] to finalize a CTA that is most impactful for conversions.

a/b testing to drive user engagement

Looking to get started with implementing user engagement strategies?

Each strategy mentioned here for improving user engagement can be implemented using a single platform – i.e., Nudge. You can create custom user experience workflows across various concepts like gamification, user onboarding, in-app messages, and more. 

Simply design, test, measure, and iterate on your user engagement strategies — book a demo with our team to learn more.

Sakshi Gupta
April 4, 2024