What Is User Engagement: [+7 Ways To Improve It)

Sakshi Gupta
February 17, 2024
10 mins


You know how important user engagement is for your app or website, to measure how it’s performing. Between acquisition and user churn, lies user engagement which is just as important as the other two. 

There’s a reason that Paypal’s rewards program is used by 25 million consumers and furthers user engagement for them. A moat? We would bet so. 

An engaged user is one who sticks around, opens your app frequently, participates, and essentially falls in love with your product. High user engagement leads to higher conversion rates, more word-of-mouth promotion, and a successful business. But increasing customer engagement is challenging and requires a strategic approach. 

This is your guide to understand what user engagement really means, how to measure it, and most importantly, the proven strategies to keep your users HOOKED. 

What is User Engagement?

User engagement refers to the active interaction that users have with your product or service. Engaged users log in often, stay longer, click more, share content, provide feedback, and make purchases. They're hooked and keep coming back. 

Why is User Engagement Important?

Measuring user engagement helps businesses understand customer behavior and see how much value their product provides people over the long run. Engaged users are your loyal customers and biggest advocates. User engagement, simply put, is the opposite of churn rate. 

Successfully engaged users represent an average 23% premium in share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth compared to average customers.

Need more convincing? Read on: 

  • Increased referrals and word-of-mouth: Engaged users tell their friends about your product, spreading awareness and new signups. This will ultimately lead to higher conversions and revenue. 
  • Higher customer lifetime value: Engaged customers stick around longer and spend more. They’re also more likely to move into higher buying levels of your product or service over time. 
  • Valuable feedback: Engaged users care enough to provide helpful reviews and suggestions for improvement.
  • Brand loyalty: Engaged users become dedicated to your brand and less likely to switch to competitors.

There are many ways to measure user engagement like session length, retention rates, and referral numbers. Tools like Nudge can also help boost engagement through interactive elements like challenges, polls, and hyper casual games. Focusing on user experience and building real connections will keep your users engaged for the long run.

Benefits of High User Engagement

 Some benefits of high engagement include:

  • Higher user retention and lower churn: Engaged users don’t quickly abandon your product. They keep coming back, so you’ll see higher retention rates and less churn.
  • Higher customer lifetime value (CLTV): Engaged customers tend to make more purchases over the lifetime of their relationship with your brand. So their customer lifetime value is higher.
  • Data for personalization: The more engaged your users are, the more data you have about their behaviors and preferences. You can then personalize their experience to keep them engaged. It’s a virtuous cycle.
  • More feature usage: Highly engaged users take full advantage of all your product’s features. They explore more of what you offer.

Different Types of User Engagement

There are three main types of user engagement: active, passive, and proactive.

1) Active Engagement

Active engagement refers to when users are directly interacting with your product. Things like:

  • Using the core features of your app
  • Clicking buttons
  • Filling out forms
  • Sharing
  • Making purchases

To increase active engagement, focus on:

  • Building a great user experience
  • Optimizing key flows and user journeys
  • Sending personalized in-app messages to prompt users to take action
  • Offering incentives like coupons or loyalty programs

2) Passive Engagement

Passive engagement is when users consume content or spend time on your platform without direct interaction. For example:

  • Reading blog posts or articles
  • Watching videos
  • Scrolling through social media feeds

To boost passive engagement, try:

  • Publishing high-quality, valuable content
  • Optimizing content for search engines
  • Using eye-catching images, videos and multimedia
  • Curating content from other sources your audience will enjoy

3) Proactive Engagement

Proactive engagement is when users go out of their way to engage with your brand. This includes:

  • Sharing your content on social media
  • Leaving reviews and testimonials
  • Referring friends
  • Participating in loyalty or referral programs

To encourage proactive engagement, focus on:

  • Delivering amazing experiences worth sharing
  • Making it easy for users to share and refer others
  • Offering incentives and rewards for referrals and social shares
  • Building a sense of community and brand advocacy around your product

Main Challenges of User Engagement

The biggest challenges to increasing user engagement are:

  1. Keeping users interested: With so many apps and platforms competing for attention, it’s difficult to keep users engaged with your product long-term. Using gamification tactics like challenges, streaks, and rewards can motivate users to keep coming back.
  2. Understanding your users: You need to really know your target audience and what makes them tick. Conduct user research, analyze behavior patterns, and get feedback directly from users. 
  3. Poor user experience: Glitches, lags, errors and poor UX will drive users away quickly. Continually test and optimize your product to ensure the best possible experience for your audience.

Keeping engagement high requires diligent work to overcome these challenges, A/B test, and gain a deep understanding of your users. With the right strategies and tools like Nudge, increasing long-term customer engagement is possible.

User Engagement Metrics and How to Measure Them 

To effectively measure and improve your app’s engagement, focus on a few key metrics: 

1) Session Length

How long are your users spending in your app per session? The longer they stay, the more engaged they are. Aim for an average of 3 to 5 minutes per session. Offer incentives for users to keep tapping, swiping and clicking to extend time spent in-app.

Session Length = amount of time between the first and last action taken by a user inside the app 

2) Bounce rates

The percentage of users who leave your site/app after viewing only one page. Lower bounce rates mean users are exploring more of your content. 

Bounce Rate = Single Page Sessions ÷ Total Sessions

3) Conversions

The percentage of users who take a desired action, like making a purchase or signing up for a free trial. Higher conversions indicate you're providing value.

Conversion Rate = Number of customers who signed up/ purchased ÷ Total users

4) Feature Usage

The percentage of users utilizing key features or functions. Higher usage of important features means you're building things people want.  

Feature Usage = Number of feature users ÷ Number of active users 

5) NPS 

Net Promoter Score shows how likely users are to recommend Your product to others. Higher NPS means higher engagement and loyalty.

NPS = Total % of promoters – total % of detractors


Daily and monthly active user rates help determine how often people engage with your product. Higher, consistent rates signal strong engagement.

7) User Stickiness 

User stickiness refers to how engaged users are with your product. In other words, how "sticky" is your product—do users keep coming back? 

User Stickiness: DAU ÷ MAU

8) Retention

Retention rate is the percentage of users who install your app and come back to use it again.  Aim for at least 30% of new users returning the next day, 60% the next week and 80% the next month. Improve your onboarding experience, send re-engagement campaigns and give people reasons to make your app a habit.

Retention Rate = Number of active users in a time period ÷ Number of new users at the start of that time period 

9) Transactions

For ecommerce apps, monitor how many purchases users make and how much they spend. Reward your most loyal customers and provide offers to turn one-time buyers into repeat customers.

Focusing on these key metrics and optimizing your app experience around them is the best way to build long-term engagement. Continually test and refine your approach using in-app messaging, challenges and leaderboards, and PiP videos. With the right mix, you'll have users hooked on your app in no time. 

How metrics could differ for different apps

User engagement looks different for every app and website. The key is to define what engagement means for your specific app or website and set goals around the key behaviors you want to drive. Then determine the metrics that best capture those behaviors and optimize to keep users engaged.

  • For an ecommerce app, it may consist of metrics like time spent browsing products, cart abandonment rate, and completed purchases. 
  • For a fintech app, it could be the number of transactions, bill payments made, or  accounts opened. 
  • On a media site, engagement may be measured by time spent reading articles, number of articles read, social shares, and comments.
  • For a health tech app, it could encompass workout logs completed, meals tracked, steps counted, and pounds lost.

While the methods vary, the goal is the same: build an experience so compelling that users can't help but engage with your product. Measure what matters for your business and your users, then improve to keep them coming back.

Best Ways to Improve User Engagement and User Stickiness

Think of it this way. We know why it’s better to bet on the jockey, not the horse. Point in case: your horse is the product itself, and the jockey are these strategies. To increase stickiness and user engagement, bet on these: 

1) Optimize the user onboarding flow 

You are probably killing user engagement with cluttered onboarding. Improve your onboarding flow to quickly show users the value of your product. Explain your key value prop upfront so users immediately see the benefits. 

Welcome new users by name and highlight key features tailored to their needs. Guide them to content, tools or resources they’ll find most useful based on their profile. Using Nudge, you can use checklists, walkthroughs, and onboarding tours to streamline the process. 

2) Offer incentives

91% of consumers said they would be more likely to shop with brands who recognize and provide relevant offers and recommendations, and 83% are willing to share their data to make this work. (Source: Accenture)

You need to give users a reason to return, using something like a point system, streaks, badges or rewards. Rewards could be in the form of coupons, scratch cards, or discount codes. Nudge helps you tie these rewards back to a leaderboard, or multi-challenge system. You can also offer tiered rewards where the more a user engages, the bigger the reward.

For example, offer bonus points or prizes for logging in 7 days in a row or completing a set of actions.

3) Use in-app messages

In-app messages nudge users to re-engage with your app. Send targeted messages based on user behavior or location in the app. For example:

  • Congratulate users when they reach a milestone or accomplish something significant. This positive reinforcement will keep them coming back.
  • Gently remind inactive users to re-engage with your app. A friendly nudge can go a long way.
  • Share new feature announcements or product updates. Let your users know what's new and improved.
  • Offer time-limited promotions or discounts. Exclusive offers make users feel valued and spur them into action.

Nudge them, don’t push them away. :) 

4) Improve usability 

Focus on usability by simplifying your interface and ensuring a smooth user flow. Make buttons, links and icons easy to find and tap. Nudge helps you drive feature adoption and usability using spotlights, coachmarks, etc. 

  • Remove clutter and streamline your site or app. Focus on the essential features and make them prominent. Minimize distractions so users can find what they need quickly.
  • Limit the number of menus, tabs, and links users have to click through. Think about the smallest route to just get the job done. 
  • Use familiar interaction patterns that people already know, like dropdowns, sliders, and swipe gestures. This helps reduce the learning curve and makes your product feel easy to use right away.

The goal is to reduce bad friction and cognitive load.  

5) Kill your darlings 

“ A lot many companies just throw around discounts, and features toward the users- in their drive to increase AOV, or repeat usage. What they don’t realize is that not all users are alike. 

Your main goal should be to build a product that users love. 

The key here is to understand users before trying to engage them. ” 

~ Gaurav Rawat, Chief Product Officer (Nudge)  

Goodbyes are hard, but well they’re important. 

As a product person, you’ve probably grown attached to certain parts of your work. However, user engagement should be the top priority. Be willing to remove or replace any feature that isn’t resonating with your audience, no matter how much you personally like it.

This declutters the user experience. Make ongoing improvements based on user feedback to show you value them.

6) Gamify the experience

Turn engagement into a game by incorporating points, levels, badges, streaks and leaderboards. 

Badges and Achievements

Reward users with badges, or points when they accomplish certain actions like:

  • Signing up
  • Completing their profile
  • Inviting friends
  • Reaching a total time spent on your platform


A leaderboard shows users how they rank compared to others in the community based on points, badges, time spent, etc. You can have leaderboards for:

  • Overall top users
  • Most active users
  • Users with the most referrals

Challenges and Quests

Run challenges, quests or contests that require users to complete a series of actions to win a prize or status. For example, you can challenge users to get 5 friends to sign up in a week to win a gift card. This gives users a concrete short-term goal to work toward that boosts engagement and retention.

Essentially? Keep it groovy. 

7) Measure and optimize

Track key metrics like session length, retention rate, and churn rate. See how people are engaging and look for drop-off points. Make changes to improve the overall experience and optimize for these particular drop-off points. Small tweaks can have a big impact on habit formation and loyalty.

Focus on Increasing your User Engagement with Nudge

Nudge is an in-app experience platform that helps increase user engagement through interactive features like PiP videos, in-app messages, challenges, and more.

1) Using PiP Videos

Picture-in-picture or PiP videos allow users to continue browsing your app while watching a video. You can use this to promote a certain feature, ongoing sale, etc. 

2) Sending Targeted In-App Messages

In-app messages are notifications sent to users within your app. Nudge enables you to create messages tailored to specific user actions or segments. You can announce new features, share tips, run polls, and more. Timely messages keep your app top of mind and drive re-engagement.

3) Gamifying with Challenges and Rewards

Challenges, quests and reward systems activate your users' reward centers, releasing dopamine to keep them coming back. Nudge lets you easily build challenges, set rewards like points or badges, and create streaks to motivate users and boost long term loyalty.

4) Measuring and Improving

Nudge provides engagement metrics and analytics to help you track how users interact with your app over time. See stats like average session duration, retention, and churn to gain insight into experiences that resonate most. Then make data-driven decisions to optimize your app and achieve higher engagement.

Keep experimenting, get creative, and don't be afraid to try new things. Small changes can lead to big results. With the right mix of nudges, motivation, and rewards, you can boost your user engagement!

Sakshi Gupta
February 17, 2024