ironSource sat down with Florian Gleissner, Marketing Manager at Admiral Media, an award winning performance marketing and growth agency, and Tobias Boerner, co-founder of Lovoo, Fastic, and Appic, to get their insight into creating habit forming apps.  

An app has become a habit for a user when they open the app or use the app without thinking about it, such as checking WhatsApp or Facebook while waiting for the train. The most important KPI to measure habitual use is the app open average - how many times the user opens the app, gets into the app, and stays in the app.

If you're looking to improve this metric and create a habit forming app, Florian and Tobias suggest optimizing your strategy in three phases - onboarding, activation and retention. Read on to learn tips and best practices for each phase.

1. Onboarding phase

"The app onboarding experience is critical to retention and to the long term engagement because it's the first interaction with the user." - Tobias Boerner

What not to do during onboarding

"There are definitely some no gos [for onboarding]. For example, if you have too detailed personal questions or onboarding with 20 questions, you will definitely have a high drop off rate." - Florian Gleissner

What to test during the onboarding phase 

"It's a very classical A/B testing approach. If you start with the first app screen, that's the perfect way to also start your A/B testing. What is the communication? What is the button text? What is the button color?" - Tobias Boerner

Examples of great onboarding experiences

"I'm a big fan of the whole approach of Duolingo. They're a role model when it comes to gamification." - Tobias Boerner

2. Activation phase

"You should think about what is the main thing customers do on day zero so that you can really focus and optimize one thing." - Tobias Boerner

What to test during the activation phase 

"I think one of the most important tests is the time when to send push notifications." - Florian Gleissner

"The goal of push notifications is to bring users back into the app. You have to have nice text with a little funny thing or motivation." Florian Gleissner

Most important step during activation phase

"If you don't communicate or set your first communication after ten days, that's senseless and you will definitely have lost a lot of users." - Florian Gleissner

3. Retention phase

"The main goal of the retention phase is to make users brand ambassadors - to make sure they love the app, that they use the app in the long term." - Florian Gleissner

Why and how to create user surveys

"Don't start with very hard and complicated question because then you have a really hard drop off. You have to prepare the users to really deep dive in. Start with the name and where they're from." - Florian Gleissner

What not to do during the retention phase

"I think more smaller, faster iterations and also quick roll backs is the right approach for increasing retention." - Tobias Boerner

Let's put these tips to good use

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