Retain Users By Educating Them About App Features

The Opportunity

Not all apps are created equal. Unless app users know about your app features, they won’t understand how it stands apart from the rest. Though many apps are downloaded, only a couple dozen get used on a daily basis. In fact, 70 percent of apps are launched once before they’re deleted. There is an easy way to show app users why your app should be a daily habit —by educating them on the features. And why not? You’ve already spent money and time creating those features.

What is a Feature Education Message?

Any message that showcases and provides some information about a feature can be considered a feature education message. Make these message types part of your app messaging strategy to ensure user retention and feature adoption.

Educate your users at almost any time. Though, this type of messaging is very effective during onboarding or as part of a welcome message. You’re able to incite user engagement that keeps them coming back for more. For dormant users, feature education messages can give them a compelling reason to retry your app.

Example of mobile coffee promotion

Let’s Get Started

Develop a list of your app’s features and rank the features based on popularity (usage) and value. Highlight the most popular and differentiated features in your push notifications during onboarding by using deep links to take users to those app screens.

Capture app user behaviors with tags. Use conditional logic to build segments targeting users, e.g. using tags to promote new features to those users. For cross-feature promotional messages, use a combination of a push notification and in-app messages with deep linking to specific app screens to reach the majority of your audience with a relevant experience.

Extra Tips

  • Start with the basics. Throwing a lot of information at your app user may give off the impression that your app is too complicated to use. At the same time, many users need directions and a reiteration of instructions for app features.
  • Send in-app messages with deep linking to features in the app. An in-app message will appear as a banner-style message at the bottom or top of the screen when the user launches the app.
  • A message center is a great marketing channel for persistent messages and instructional content such as video tutorials and “getting started” guides. To grab the attention of a user — possibly one who has been dormant — send a push notification that sends them to the message center.


  • Purpose: Re-engage users with an app update or enhancements
  • Message: “You asked for it, we delivered! Our app update lets you create and share playlists via Facebook.”
  • User Benefits: Understands benefits of new feature
  • Brand Benefits: Reactivate lapsed users, educate current users
  • Purpose: Educate new users on a feature
  • Message: “Let us be your personal shopper — save your search for next time and come back to our top recommendations!”
  • User Benefits: Product recommendations based on interest
  • Brand Benefits: Build brand loyalty, expand feature usage
  • Purpose: Educate app users on a feature
  • Message: “Order from your phone, pick up at the store.”
  • User Benefits: Convenience with quick and easy checkout
  • Brand Benefits: Broadening brand appeal to mobile-minded audience and increasing conversions
Example of mobile retention promotion

Customer Example: NZZ

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (or NZZ) is the Swiss newspaper of record and one of the oldest newspapers still published. In addition to its print- and web-based content, the company offers a mobile app. The app provides cutting-edge stories on topics such as finance, sports, science and international news.

For NZZ, a mobile presence with push messaging is top priority. By educating their app users on the app’s profile feature, where they can choose their news preferences, the app is able to deliver the latest and most relevant news stories to users through push notifications. NZZ experienced two big wins by educating their app users: a 56 percent increase in time spent in-app after a push notification and a decrease in push notification opt-outs.

How to Measure

A beneficial way of measuring ROI is tracking user activities and key conversions and tying them back to a mobile engagement campaign. Use custom events to set up ROI-based measurement that showcases revenue impact of messaging within the reporting area of our web-based UI. A few examples of ROI measurement are:

  • A retail app might record an event each time a user clicks on an interactive button that goes to a product page in the app. (Did app revenue increase in response to a “Sale” notification?)
  • A makeup app could record an event each time a user goes to the message center to watch a how-to video.
  • A news app might record an event each time a user uses the sharing feature on social media.

Tech Requirements

Urban Airship SDK version 6.0+ for iOS and SDK version 5.0+ for Android/Amazon

Tech Help

Access a simple tutorial that will walk you through our marketer-friendly web-based UI to set up your first feature education retention message.

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