The numbers are bleak. 20% of apps are only used once, and if an app is only opened once in 7 days, there is a 60% chance that it will never be opened again.
So while attracting users to your app is a great start, getting them to be engaged users who are loyal to the app is the holy grail.
We wanted to find out if there was a magical combination to drive all kinds of numbers through the roof and we might have stumbled on to an open secret.
Let’s dive right into the green goo lagoon.
A – The most popular global Apple App Store category is games.
B – The most popular activity on smartphones in the United States is messaging.
Take a look at a snapshot of the top apps of 10 different countries below and these statistics are even more skewed.
C – The top free apps are consistently social messaging apps such as Whatsapp, Line, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat. Games are even more heavily featured in the top grossing apps list.
The Localytics App Stickiness Index is a way for brands and developers to benchmark their app’s engagement and loyalty values against industry aggregates. It defines a “sticky” app as one whose function, content, design, and marketing drive repeat usage, critical to achieving conversion and monetization goals.
It measures an app’s engagement and retention power by sifting out the power users and loyal users who drive the app. Power users refer to the percentage of people who open an app more than 10 times a month while loyal users are the percentage of people who return to an app within 3 months of their first session.
Engagement for messenger apps are the highest, comparable to social apps and both mobile messaging and game apps clearly have always held the highest retention rates.
App Annie noted that downloads of the top 10 messaging apps increased by 53% in 2014, spurred by the likes of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Line and WeChat. It also hails a strong year for “super casual” games, sparked by the huge success of Flappy Bird before it was removed from app stores in February.
If both categories are inherently sticky why hasn’t anyone thought of combining them? After all gaming communities are known to be incredibly close knit and communicating with each other gives gamers an edge and encourages deeper engagement.
Well it turns out that the heavyweights of the social messaging space have already jumped onto the bandwagon.
The term “gamification” refers to the act of leveraging gaming elements to drive user engagement and retention, the very same measurements for stickiness. By incorporating game mechanics from achievements, rewards, quests, bonuses, collecting and progression to competitions, brands provide an exciting and fun experience that motivates them to return and continue to engage day after day.
The promised land is not limited to gaming apps, but any app can be gamified to amplify its stickiness.
So lets delve into more details of how gamification is driving the social messaging space with the diversification of offerings, leading to amazing success.
With 70 million monthly unique users, Tango is aiming for stickiness by helping games developers make, distribute and promote games that live within (and outside) the Tango app.
Line’s app topped the non-game chart for revenues in App Annie’s combined chart for Google Play and the App Store in 2014, ahead of Pandora Radio, Line Play, Zoosk and Skype.
The Japanese company has a predominantly Asian base, with “a huge user base” in Latin America and Spain, and is still figuring out how to cater its game delivery to other non-Asian markets.
The model was pioneered about two years ago by Kakao in Korea, which scored its first major success with a color-matching game called Anipang that helped the Korean company turn its first profit in seven years.
TenCent has a research and development team that specializes in producing games — and an extensive history in the gaming industry, being known for its online multiplayer games on its Web portal QQ Games.
Bought by Japan’s Rakuten for $900 million, they rolled out games for iOS and Android users in five initial markets — Belarus, Malaysia, Israel, Singapore and the Ukraine.
– The biggest fish in the tank with more than 600 million active users is avoiding the trend.
Whatsapp CEO Jan Koum famously keeps a note taped to his desk that reads, “No Ads! No Games! No Gimmicks!” and intends to maintain a pure messaging experience.
While messaging apps are diversifying its services in its evolution to become more like a social platform and not just a chat app, games are appearing to be the easiest way for messaging apps to thrive though M-commerce.
These social messaging apps are trying to build an ecosystem to meet communications, social sharing and gaming needs. The eventual conversion and monetization results are hugely impressive.
Games may be all fun and well, but there is a sobering statistic. Games also suffer from high levels of “app burnout”.
According to Localytics, this occurs when the proportion of power users is significantly greater than loyal users, in which users frequently access apps for a short period before losing interest and reach an ‘engagement ceiling’.
Are gamified apps looking to keep their users even more engaged for a longer time with messaging?
The gaming startup connects gamers in a real-world scavenger hunt initially used SMS as an external function but their users preferred to have an in-app experience once they shifted away from being a web application. We think a messaging layer would be so much fun for engaging with team members within this app!
The addictive swipe game for the dating app also has a chat function that is being used as an alternative to iMessage or Whatsapp by some users. This keeps users in the app for added engagement and a lower abandonment rate.
is categorized as a social network on the app store, but also incorporates location based dating app elements and is very much an instant messaging app!
Clearly, gaming and messaging are the salt and pepper of the app world, with the whole experience offering much more than the sum of its parts.
It feels overwhelming, but not every app can do everything at once and be really good at all of them.
You don’t have to go so far as to spend millions to acquire a messaging app to improve stickiness.
We clearly believe in developers taking control of their own future by providing amazing app experiences for their users.
Now it’s up to you to cook up a hybrid that incorporates these elements for a Michelin star worthy app recipe.
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