How to engage users with your app

The challenge

You’ve built a mobile app and made sure the right users can find and download it. The next step is to make sure they keep on using it. A recent report on app retention highlights that that only 10—12% of users remain active seven days after downloading an app, and a mere 4—5% are still active after 30 days.1

Your aim

To encourage users to keep coming back, engaging with your app and travelling through your sales funnel.

How to go about it

1. App engagement starts in the app store

The more excited users are excited by the possibilities of your app from the get-go, the more likely they are to stay engaged longer-term.

So, someone’s just landed on your listing page. Why should they be interested in your app? What specific needs does it fulfill? Does it solve a problem they regularly encounter?

Great apps do one thing well: helping users take a specific action speedily and simply. So put that core functionality front and centre by focusing on the benefits rather than the features.

Invite, even incentivise ongoing feedback from users and use this to regularly update your listing (and your app).

Make sure your listing tells the user:

  • How your app works
  • How it benefits them
  • How easy or rewarding it is to get started
  • How simple it is to contact you and how very responsive you are

2. Track beyond the install

With a website, you don’t stop measuring after the first visit. It’s the same for your app.

Once a user has downloaded your app, get an understanding of how they engage with it: what they’re doing, and which of those actions signal long-term value.

Set up tracking

When tracking in-app events driven by your Google Ads campaigns, you can use:

  • Firebase analytics
  • Server-to-server integration with your analytics system for Android and iOS
  • Third-party apps conversion tracking for Android or iOS. If you’re using third-party tracking, make sure that you track all in-app events and not just the events attributed to Google Ads. This avoids reporting discrepancies between Google Ads and your third-party conversion tracking solution.


If you’re promoting an Android app, link Google Ads with Google Play for codeless conversion tracking of installs and in- app purchases.

What to track

In-app events.To get a better picture of the whole user funnel and campaign performance, set up at least three in-app events. Give each a long enough attribution window to account for the expected delay from the ad click to the event.

Conversion value. Use dynamic value tracking so that you can get a more accurate sense of return by accounting for differences in value. Remember, value isn’t always based on transaction; it can also be rules based. For example, you may want to track differences in value by market, or by how quickly users perform a specific action.

3. Use push notifications wisely

Employed shrewdly, push notifications can bring users back. A good push strategy takes into account who your users are, and what relevance the app has to them. Track in-app activities, create segments and target push notifications to send only tailored and relevant reminders or incentives. You can target devices, platforms, users who have performed certain actions, and more.

4. Set up deep links

Increase engagement by thinking about where you’d like to land your users when they tap on your ads. Then, set up deep links to those important parts of your app.

For instance, say you want to improve customer retention for a game app. You’ve identified a group of lapsed paying users. Your ad could offer them bonus credits and deep link them to the store page of your game, where they can spend their credits on powerful speedups.

Use App Links for Android and Universal Links for iOS when enabling deep links for your app. These mean your app is Google-compatible and can take advantage of organic search, search ads, Android, Google Now, and more.

App Indexing lets Google crawl and index apps just like websites. Deep links to your Android app appear in the organic Google Search results so that users can go directly to the relevant content page in your app.


When you enter a deep link Destination URL for your search app engagement ad, click Test App URL to test the link on a mobile device by scanning a QR code. Make sure that it opens up your app at the appropriate screen.

Test Deep Links

5. Drive app engagement with your messaging

Advertising shouldn’t be just about driving downloads — it also has a big role to play in both engagement and re-engagement.

Tailoring the message is key. Speak to your users depending on how familiar they are with your app. If they’ve dropped out, they may need a simple reminder, special bonus or offer to entice them back. Test out things like loyalty rewards, and customise offers based on the value of the interactions and the users you're targeting. Remember, the URL in your ad should deep link into the app, sending users straight to the relevant page.

Here’s an example messaging strategy based on the post-install activities of food app downloaders:

Engage with By saying to them So that you
New Users We've got what you need Remind them you're there to help
Interested Users Save 10% – This Weekend Only Give a reason to come back and buy
Lapsed Paying Users Try some of our new restaurants Get more value from existing customers
High Value Users Order again and your next meal's on us Gain more loyalty from your VIPs

6. Measure, test, and update

Use the vast array of marketing insight Google feedback data provides to understand where and how your users are using your app to:

  • Identify the key performance indicators specific to your app and its audience.
  • Constantly test, improve, adjust, even overhaul
  • Keep your app regularly updated

It’s a great way to show your users you’re committed, and to market new features to keep your users interested and involved.