According to a study by Manifest, about 32% of people check their mobile apps on their phones between 1 and 10 times a day. Interestingly, there is more than one app that we interact with. From Instagram to Facebook, from PUBG to Clash of Clans, there are different types of apps on our smartphones. On average, a person has ten different apps on their smartphone. The reason behind this is that we don't get stuck with just one app because we get bored easily and we can easily move to other apps with just a few flicks of our fingers.
On average, a person has ten different apps on his or her smartphone. The reason behind this is that we don't stay on just one app because we get bored easily and we can easily move to other apps with just a few flicks of our fingers. As you know, people are desperate for mobile apps, so the next big thing is to understand the elements that can make an app so addictive that users stick with it for a long time.
If you're planning your app, you need to understand the factors that can help you make your app addictive enough so that you can attract the most users and reap significant rewards.
Why The Most Addictive Apps Are Impossible To Put Down?
First of all, most mobile games are very easy to play at first, and this is certainly true of all the top gaming apps. As players navigate the first few levels, their dopamine systems have ample opportunity to be stimulated as they are rewarded for their success, which ensures that people get their thrill hormones quickly from the gates.
This gives players a great sense of accomplishment and makes them want to keep playing to achieve the same feeling.
Also, users are congratulated and given positive feedback every time they complete a level or a simple action. For example, Candy Crush Saga, currently #1 on the charts, is known for its high regard for players. After successfully passing a level, the narrator gives positive encouragement such as "Yum!", "Divine!" , "You're great!"
As the player becomes more familiar with the game mechanics, the difficulty increases. As the difficulty increases, two things happen. First, the ego is engaged and the player begins to take pride in completing the most difficult levels. Second, research shows that dopamine stimulation is highest in those who perform best in the game and face the most challenging levels - primarily because of the increased sense of accomplishment that comes with higher difficulty. Therefore, the better you are at the game, the more addictive you are.
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Social media apps allow psychopathic traits such as anxiety, narcissism, voyeurism, paranoia and antisocial tendencies to take root. Social media companies are built on the idea of capturing the user's attention for as long as possible and as often as possible. This user attention is then sold to advertisers for revenue. Since most social media platforms are free, they rely heavily on the revenue generated by advertisers to make a profit (Haynes, 2019). Therefore, social media applications must be designed in such a way that users remain engrossed in their screens. To this end, social media platforms utilize a number of design techniques and exploit some basic psychological and neurological principles to turn vulnerable users into addicts or addicts. Dopamine, a neurochemical produced in various parts of the brain, is one of the main reasons why users become addicted to cell phones and social media apps.
Nir Eyal (2014) proposed the Hook model, a four-stage process that companies use to build habit-forming products. Mobile app companies also use these four stages - triggers, actions, variable rewards, and investments - to get users hooked on their mobile apps. While triggers drive user behavior and can be thought of as "spark plugs," actions are "behaviors that anticipate rewards" (Eyal, 2014). Dopamine levels spike when the brain expects a reward, and investment occurs when users invest time, energy, money, or social capital into a service, with variable rewards used to create a feeling of desire. These four stages of the hook model can also be used to understand the design features that get users hooked on mobile apps.
How to create addictive apps with behavior design?
To design addictive apps, we first need to understand Fogg's behavioral model, which is based on the idea that for anything to be done, a person must satisfy 3 things.
- Motivation. They must want to do it.
- Ability. They must be able to do it.
- Trigger. They must be prompted to do so.
Motivation is the user's internal desires and emotions (usually negative, such as loneliness or boredom), where the cue (trigger) is a call to action directed at them.
Ability is the ease of taking action. The easier the task is to complete, or the more motivated a person is to complete the task, the more likely they are to take action.
Reward and Investment
In a famous experiment, BF Skinner (a scientist from Harvard in the 1930s) placed a rat in a box with a lever that released food pellets as it was pulled.
Initially, the rat accidentally hit the lever and got a surprise. But over time, it learned to go straight to the lever after being placed in the box.
The key point? We must reward our users for taking something that makes them want to do it again.
This was the theory of Fogg's student Nir Eyal, who combined the lessons from Skinner's experiments with Fogg's behavioral model - and added another important additional element to deepen the connection: investment.
The idea is that the more users invest in an app or device, the more likely they are to incorporate it into their daily lives.
According to Eyal's research, the best way to get users to invest more is to allow them to personalize or customize their experience. He puts it all together in his book, How to Build Habit-forming Products.
8 app marketing techs used to keep your app users coming back
Research shows that 77% of users abandon an app after only 72 hours of downloading it. That means you have a short time to prove the value of your app to users before uninstalling it.
The best way to get them on board is to reward them for downloading something from your app in the first place. If you perform this action quickly, they are more likely to immediately integrate your app into their daily lives.
For game apps like Candy Crush Saga, this means making sure users have fun the first time they play. For applications like Venmo, this means helping users quickly send money to their friends and showing them other situations where they can use it in the near future:.
Keep it simple, stupid" is very good advice when designing the user interface and engine of a mobile application. Don't scare users with a lot of menu items, buttons and content when they first experience the product.
No matter the age of your target audience, your app should be simple enough for a 9 year old to understand. The more "work" a person has to do to get what they want or need, the more likely they are to avoid repeating the action (in our case - using the app again). So don't make your users "work".
Part of what makes Facebook so addictive (and what has made it a top app for years) is that it can counter several negative emotions that people have at the same time.
For example, it gives you a way to connect with others when you're feeling lonely, even if they're not around. Your news feed can also help eliminate boredom by providing you with a constant stream of content to consume.
Even LinkedIn does this, but for a different emotion - they help you connect with other professionals and make you feel successful and important.
Remember, your users may be downloading your app to take away their negative emotions. Design with that in mind!
We all want to reach the maximum in the shortest possible time. No wonder, why everyone seems to be in a race against time. So, when it comes to applications, you need to give users the opportunity to do a lot of things in small doses. By adding micro-sessions, you'll give users plenty of time to rejuvenate for the next time. If you look at some successful games, they allow users to get the most out of a quick session phase.
Tinder is one such application that allows you to find a date anywhere, anytime. Swipe left and you'll instantly find matches that are addictive.
Personalization is nothing new in the online world. When you ask people to provide you with their personal information when they sign up for your product or service, you can at least use that information to contact the user by name. But that's just basic personalization.
Mobile games are further personalized by tailoring the game to each user's behavior and abilities.
You may have noticed that when you start playing a new game, you can easily complete a new level in a matter of minutes. This is no accident: the completion of these initial stages gives game developers the opportunity to collect data about your in-app behavior, which they can use to personalize the difficulty of the game based on your skills.
For each user, they make the game difficult enough that it feels challenging, but not so difficult as to be frustrating. This strategy keeps players interested in the game and motivates them to complete in-app purchases so they can move on to new levels and achieve new goals.
Reward on expected user behavior
Building app retention doesn't mean you just track active users on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. It means finding the behaviors that keep most long-term users interested in your app, as well as understanding the behaviors that lead short-term users to abandon your app.
The best way to measure and identify these key retention behaviors is to use an analytics platform such as Amplitude to segment users into groups defined by their behavior. You can create user categories based on specific actions that users complete in your app. For each similar group, analyze how engagement and retention correlate with each other and how the results compare to your app's average user.
Send push notifications in context
In mobile games, push notifications alert users that their weapon upgrades or income or buildings are ready and waiting for them. It's time to log in and take action!
Using the information you already know about your users, you can apply the same principles in your app to notify users of things they are really interested in. Used in this way (rather than promoting general discounts and general messages) notifications can range from annoying distractions to welcome value-add.
Infinite scrolling adds to the addictiveness of your app, much like bottomless mimosas at your favorite brunch spot. Just like a constant stream of your favorite drinks makes it easy to stay longer at a restaurant, a constant stream of content your users love will do the same for your app.
That's why Facebook introduced News Feed years ago. It made exiting the app more difficult because there was always more content to consume. However, just like bottomless mimosas only keep diners in the restaurant if they enjoy drinking them, unlimited content feeds only work if your users actually like the content.
This is where most addictive apps also combine this feature with an algorithm.
A good example - remember when Instagram announced that your messages were no longer in chronological order? As it turns out, there was a good reason for doing this - namely because they knew it would help users see more of the content they liked, which would keep them in the app longer.
So, whatever your app does, think about how you can provide a constant stream of content for people to download it. It will make your app more addictive, especially when it comes to content discovery.
The best mobile games use common mental models to create engaging experiences. These experiences entice players to return for more.
The three most common app stickiness features we've discussed are
- Personalized experiences based on user behavior data
- Leveraging loss aversion to increase user loyalty
- Gamified rewards to increase conversion rates
Mobile games have been hugely successful by cultivating a deep understanding of human behavior and psychology that is constantly influenced by massive amounts of user data. It's time for apps beyond games to start applying these same principles to increase user engagement and in-app purchases.
FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out is one of the best tools to get users to open the app again and again and make it addictive. PUBG, Snapchat and Clash of Clans are some of the best examples of addictive apps that I can cite here. In Jedi, your team and friends can continue to play the game even when the user is not present so they can get better rankings and achievements. Then in Snapchat, you have the opportunity to view your friend's snapshots. So no one wants to miss any updates, especially from their friends.