How to Make Your Mobile App Addictive
March 31, 2015

It’s not uncommon if the first thing you do in the morning is grope around the bedside table for your phone. Who can get out of bed without checking the stocks, checking email, checking Facebook. Or even before going to bed at night, the last thing many of us do is check Instagram, fire off a final tweet, or confirm what time boxing class is the next day.

What is it about these apps that have inherently integrated them into our daily lives? There was a time before mobile applications when people didn’t NEED to check mobile apps, but that time occurred simply because they didn’t exist. Now that they do, it can be nearly impossible to imagine what life was like pre-app.

How did the most addicting apps become so…addicting? Yet even more importantly, how can your app become one that users can’t get through the day without?

Plug Into the Routine

The apps that are used the most have everything to do with what their user does in day-to-day life. Think about the ones you use…apps that track exercise and eating, apps that help manage schedules, apps that provide music to help you hum through the day. These are the winners in most people’s lives because they are with the users as they go about their day, and even make it easier for them to do the activities they like. If you can fulfill a need that fits into a user’s daily routine, it’ll be addictive.

Integrate with Other Services

Some standalone apps have good reason to be just the way they are. However the golden handcuffs are fastened when your app can integrate with apps and services your users already love. For example, PayPal is a well known money transfer service, allowing businesses to accept funds and allows friends to send money to each other. All that is needed is an account holder’s email or phone number and poof, money is sent. However the hassle arrives when the payer must look up the phone number or email address of the person they wish to pay. This can be just as much of a hassle as getting up to get and enter the credit card, which can inhibit the transaction from occurring altogether.

Then came along Venmo, a money sending mobile application integrated directly with Facebook. Upon sign up, a user immediately connects to Facebook and accesses the Facebook user’s profile and friends. Once bank account information is initially entered, the user can easily send funds to anyone on their friends list who has also activated the Venmo app. This integration makes it much easier to send money to friends, and removes the barrier of looking up any sort of account information. Because of this Venmo quickly became a go-to app for savvy spenders, and eventually were acquired by PayPal.

 Talk to Your User

Send timely notifications to let your user know you’re there. You’re competing with a heavy amount of noise both from the users app filled phone and with the busy world around. In order to become an app worthy of daily use, your user should be regularly aware of its existence. For example, if they haven’t logged in for a day or two, send a gentle reminder via push notification to remind them to check in. Perhaps you can gain the user’s email address. If so, send updates on what’s going on with your app to keep the user informed – and your app top of mind.

Get Personal

Have your user enter personal information, if it makes sense in the context of your app. From there, personalize their experience. When they log in, greet them with a, “Hello Brent!” or even ask them how their day is going. If you know their time zone you could go even further and say, “Good evening, Brent!” The sweetest sound to any person’s ear is their own name – so use that Psych 101 tidbit to your advantage to get your user hooked on your application.

 Make it Fun

Regardless of if your app is for business or play, most of the time you can still have fun with your user. Gamification is as addicting as sugar, so get your audience engaged in ways that make your app feel more like a game.* Perhaps you can add a host character who guides the user about the app, making it fun and friendly. Or encourage more activity by unlocking new features with continued use. Awarding points or prizes in some way is a great way to make your user feel rewarded – and keep them coming back for more.

*If your app is a game, well, make sure it’s a really fun game.

 Keep an Eye on User Activity

Monitor where your users spend their time. What portions of your app are they using? Which are hardly opened? If you can determine usage you can gain valuable insight into what is working for your app, and build upon the features that intrigue and engage your audience. There are some great tools available that can help you with this, such as Google Mobile Analytics or Flurry Analytics. Just remember that what is taking up valuable data space could possibly better be used otherwise, which can make your app the attractive solution to getting the user through their day.

Connect with Friends

Similar to our point about integrating with other services, if you can connect your app to the user’s community, all the more reason for them to stay engaged with your app. While we know that we talked about dating applications recently, we can’t help but hammer on the issue of how genius it is to connect daters with people who aren’t entirely strangers. In our particular article we talked about Pear Friends, yet there are other dating applications that utilize user’s friends to get better results when providing matches. One such app is called Hinge, the app that helps users meet new people through friends by connecting daters only with people within the parameters of that user’s social circle. It does this by plugging in directly, again, with Facebook. From there the app searches through friends of friends to determine what kind of people may be a good fit. Using this strategy makes it much more addicting for daters, as infused with it is the excitement of learning who friends are friends with, and the added security that matches are not complete strangers.

The success of your app depends on having users. Giving your users a reason to use your app daily gives them reason to talk about it with their friends, thus widening your user base and making you more successful. If you’re ready to get started making that app dream a reality, let us know how we can help you get started.


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