Boost User Engagement & Retention with Gamification & Tutorials

A perfect onboarding process equates to happy users who continue to engage, which in turn leads to strong retention rates.

The How vs Why of Onboarding

App stores have been around for almost 10 years and according to Statista reports, smartphone users will grow to around 2.5 billion in 2019. Onboarding screens were essential during the early days of smartphones & app stores. At the time, a Publisher’s primary purpose was to help users understand how their app works. But due to the growth rate of users and apps becoming easier to use, it can be argued that educating users on how an app functions is no longer as essential as explaining the benefit they will receive from the app. Some Publishers have begun shifting towards educating users on the benefits & values when using their app – the why.

Using Gamification in Onboarding

People thrive on a sense of purpose and a need to win. This is why playing games is a human impulse. We are naturally drawn to competing, achieving milestones, and successfully finishing tasks. Most importantly, people love to get recognized and rewarded for their accomplishments. The results of a recent study taken on the mobile onboarding process show tremendous support for gamification as a strategy that Publishers can implement in their product’s onboarding experience. Gamification is the application of typical elements of game playing to other areas of activity (such as a task).

From the study, it’s reported that nearly half (44%) of users stated they download an app for fun. Publishers should cater to that desire and make the onboarding experience itself fun. In addition, 72% suggested that completing onboarding under 60 seconds is key to their engagement and retention. Due to the lack of patience by the user, Publishers should add elements that convince users to stay.

Here are 3 gamification strategies that may help get users to engage and re-engage:

  • Progress Bars
  • Badges & Stickers
  • Interactivity

Progress Bars
People don’t usually like to leave tasks unfinished once they’ve begun. Using a progress bar to display a users’ stage during onboarding is a visual way to encourage them to complete the process. Our experience shows that using task-focused progress bars are much more effective than generic bars. For instance, during account-focused onboarding flows, progress bars should encourage users to create an account. Account setup usually requires more effort from the user, and logging their progress from start to finish keeps them focused and interested.

Badges & Stickers
Users find games attractive and addicting because they elicit a sense of achievement. Publishers can create a similar sense of achievement in their onboarding process by offering in-app rewards such as badges & stickers. Users are naturally attracted to obtaining more rewards. If these rewards are introduced during onboarding, they can be a powerful incentive to make users re-engage with an app, especially if a user starts down the path to a reward during the first interaction. (Publishers can send a Push Pre-Permission when a user receives their first in-app reward to encourage opt-ins for Push Notifications.)

Publishers are more likely to engage new users when they make their onboarding process more interactive. To users, interactivity can help the onboarding process seem more like a collaboration and it can make them feel as if their input really matters. There are many different and creative ways Publishers can integrate interactivity during onboarding. For example, something as simple as clicking on bubbles to select preferences can make an otherwise boring, form-filling process fun. Leveraging the right colors and design elements can make a task feel like a game.

Onboarding Tutorials

The difference between retaining an engaged user and losing a potentially valuable one can be as simple as getting a user through the complete onboarding tutorial process. Studies suggest 20% of users abandon an app within 30 seconds. If we use the “make no assumptions” rule from one of our previous articles on improving activations, it is essential for Publishers to realize that users can never understand the product like those who build it.

An onboarding tutorial is meant to engage the user to educate them on the different facets of the product. For example, Publishers should create a solid onboarding experience by urging the user to engage with different features of their product instead of just viewing them so they don’t feel intimidated by features that seem more complicated. In turn, users receive more value from the product that may have been otherwise lost due to doubt or confusion.

Tutorials, Gamification, or Both?

With Pyze, Publishers can test varying onboarding tutorial versions to ensure highest engagement levels and completion rates. After creating multiple versions of the tutorial users go through, Publishers should A|B Test them to measure which process achieves the desired engagement result while continuing to iterate so that the highest completion and retention rates are obtained.

A Publisher’s key goal during the onboarding process should be to educate users on how to use the app and get the most value from it. By optimizing the onboarding process with A|B testing, the Publisher will be able to deliver a better experience when communicating key functions to their users while simultaneously increasing overall enjoyment of the entire onboarding process.