Sticky Adoption: tools for building a sustained mobile readership, Part 1

This is a 3-part series on tools and tips for “sticky adoption,” or sustaining the audience that uses your employee app. If you like this post, take a peek at Part 2 and Part 3.

Picture this: you’ve got a killer company news post ready to go out on your employee app. You’re an experienced content producer, and you know these stories are full of juicy hooks and interesting factoids. You also know that 95% of your colleagues have downloaded and logged into the app, so there will be eyeballs on the stream. You know you’re going to get a ton of engagement on this; people will be talking about this post for days. You’re pumped. The post is published on Tuesday. You check the post’s engagement report on Thursday and… three people read it. You are distraught – you know this content was really good! You begin questioning life, the universe, existence itself. What gives? As usual, it has everything to do with the medium and not the message. Your post was dead on arrival because no one was looking at the stream to begin with. When you check your user metrics, you see you’ve got an adoption issue – while a lot of people initially downloaded and logged in to the app, they're not returning to the app to read your content. Your user adoption wasn't sticky. What do you do now?

Becoming sticky: getting users to regularly return

In the early days of your employee app, getting your staff to download it and register feels awesome. Big numbers flood in as more and more people sign up thanks to your initial campaign. But this is where most people see their first setback – a majority of first-time users don’t come back. It’s a shocking drop if you don’t expect it, but it’s the nature of mobile – consumer apps lose 80% of their users in the first 3 days after installation. If you’re not continuously providing essential value to the user within the app, they don’t make it part of their routine. Three principles are key to follow when trying to avoid user abandonment of your app:

  1. Create great content that is meant for 'mobile moments.' Keep it short and sweet.
  2. Creatively leverage the mobile-unique features, like push notification and app badging, to remain front-and-center in the user’s mobile experience.
  3. Thread “nonessential” activities – like perusing a company newsletter or taking a survey – with essential information and tasks within the same stream.

The first bullet is something all communicators know: match your content to your medium. We're going to tackel the second and third bullets to show you all the tools available to get that content as many views as possible. In today's post, we’re going to cover the first mobile tool in your bag: the push notification.

Using push notification features effectively

Any time you give someone a new place to look for information, it’s another ‘destination’ that they must voluntarily navigate to and add to their habitual routine. It is hard to break user habits. The beauty of mobile is that it is not simply a ‘destination’ – it has mechanisms to push information to the user when it’s relevant to them personally.

Push nptifications are powerful. Use them often but use them wisely.

You’re familiar with mobile push notifications already. They tell you when your Uber has arrived, when someone sends you a text, etc. As a user, you choose to turn these notifications on for each app, so you’ll need to instruct your users to allow for push notifications from your app. Make sure you communicate that notifications are incredibly valuable to the user, as they no longer need to hunt for what they need to see, as their user data will actively predict what they need to read. Using ONE’s channels, groups, and geolocation data helps ensure that content pushed to a user remains relevant.

One caution: push notifications are an interruption to a user’s flow. Your authors will be tempted to use push notifications for every single thing they write. In order to foster trust with the user, use them judiciously. It’s tempting to put a push notification on every piece of content, but ask yourself: is it beneficial for the users receiving this content to read it right away? Will they be happy or annoyed if this interrupts another activity? Think of a push notification as something to use when you have information that is less urgent/ interesting/ relevant than a phone call, but more urgent/ interesting/ relevant than an email. Overuse of notifications will lead some users to turn them off or stop using the app altogether.

The 'bring the users back' notification targets semi-engaged users to get them back to the app.
Winning the semi-engaged user

In addition to an ability to send a notification for any relevant individual post, Sitrion ONE includes a feature to send a push notification when an active user hasn’t logged in for a set amount of time. The push will tell them how many cards they’ve missed in their stream since they last logged in, letting them know there is additional value they could be getting from the app. We call this the bring-the-user-back notification. This semi-engaged audience is the real sweet spot for increasing your adoption. Since they’ve logged in before, you know they have some interest in your app. For whatever reason – vacation, boredom, broken thumbs – they haven’t been using their phone or app, but it’s likely that displaying additional value will get them to log in and reengage. This audience includes the one-and-done users that most apps lose after launch. It’s critical to cater to them and get them to give the app another look so they see repeated value from it. They are the most likely source for swelling the ranks of your faithful readers.

What's Next?

Push notifications should be reserved for when there is either a task, a high volume of unread information, or an important single piece of information to catch up on. There are lighter-touch engagement options that are more passive, but still grab the user’s attention. But you’ll have to wait until Part 2 to see those.

James Casagrande


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