User retention: how to keep app users active in the holiday season

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Ekaterina Makulova
User retention: how to keep app users active in the holiday season

Table of Content:

  1. The do’s to keep your app users active this season
  2. The don’ts for your holidays' app business strategy

Holidays are coming soon and it’s the time of year when an app’s engagement rate either skyrockets or drops significantly depending on the functionalities they offer.

During the holidays people are sure to travel, listen to music, take photos, and share happy moments on their social media feed. They spend less time on business apps and switch their focus from learning to entertainment and fun.

Are there ways to keep app users active during the holidays? We’ve asked experts from leading apps Udemy, Runtastic, and Ultimate Guitar how to beat seasonality, or at least use it to your advantage. Without further ado, let’s begin with the do's & don’ts for the holiday season.

The do’s to keep your app users active this season

✅ Get your app into the holidays' vibe

It’s no secret that season-oriented design supported by a tailored offer is an efficient way to bring users back to your app or game. But when it comes to the App Store and Google Play which app page elements should you update to get your app into the holidays' vibe? Ilia Kukharev from the AppFollow team shared several tips for your holidays-time ASO:

Ilia Kukharev
Head of ASO at AppFollow

“Update your app icon, screenshots, title, subtitle, and even the description with topics that come into play around this time of year. It will show your users that you are in tune with their holidays' mood and ensure the highest possible conversion rate. Push yourself creatively and work on a special preview video to promote your app during the holidays time.”

App screenshots update
Asana Rebel updated their app screenshots taking yoga outdoors

✅ Holidays are a perfect time to experiment. Both for you and your app users

Besides fun and entertainment, holidays are also the time of year when people try new activities, take up new hobbies, and find the time to learn new skills. But what is the best way to engage these curious people? Luckily we had an amazing opportunity to talk with Anton Krokhmaluyk and we asked him how the Ultimate Guitar team drives up engagement on their app:

Anton Krokhmalyuk
CMO at Ultimate Guitar

“Use the low season for experiments — offer your audience new scenarios and formats of interaction with the product. Ultimate Guitar is an app that allows people to learn how to play the guitar from scratch. Since holidays are the time when people spend a lot of time on hobbies, proposing a lesson plan for the holidays months and the rest of the year can be a great motivation to sign up with our app.

If your audience has unique goals for the vacation period, reflect the solutions you offer in the form of graphic assets and copywriting. This will help to increase the conversion rate. For example, the message “The best way to learn how to play the guitar” can be transformed during the winter vacation into “Learn to play the guitar over the winter.”

✅ Make sure your app is easy to use on the go. Even when offline

While spending time outdoors enjoying the holidays, many mobile users limit their online activity to sharing the best moments on social media. Here’s what Paula Hatch says about the most common ways Udemy users interact with the app during the vacation time and how they help them make the most of it:


Paula Hatch
Principal Product Manager and Dublin Site  Lead at Udemy

“Udemy users are passionate about learning and know that learning new skills enables them to build the lives they imagine. But sometimes it's hard to find the time for learning. During the holiday period many of our users have a little more downtime to reflect on their career paths, to make a change, to take control of their future, or simply to learn something new just for fun. Courses on Udemy vary in length, so they can choose to learn in short bursts while lounging around on vacation, or to really dig into a course for much deeper knowledge. The Udemy app allows people to download courses so they can learn in offline or bad reception scenarios like a road trip, on a flight, or at the beach.”

✅ Creating challenges which are suited to the season is a clear winner!

Inviting users to participate in contests proved to be the most successful tactic for encouraging them to be active on your app during vacations. Let’s see how it works for Runtastic, the GPS running app for iOS and Android:

 Advanced issues found

Christinne Cuyugan
User Acquisition & CRM Manager at


“Getting fit & active during the holiday period is very important to a lot of our users, therefore it's the best time of the year for us to reach them effectively. As a lot of other companies and apps probably have a peak during this season as well, we focus on one thing: relevance.

For example, we create challenges suited to the season in which users can participate. We publish content on our blog and newsfeed channels to give tips, such as 'running in the heat'. Our Adidas Runners groups, which users can join for free in the app, organize special events and training sessions. These highly relevant updates then help us decide when it's best to inform & send targeted communications to our users. Because in the end, it's really not the number of messages or campaigns, but rather the quality and timing of them.”

The don’ts for your holidays' app business strategy

❌ Don’t send push notifications and other friendly reminders

When seeing interactions with the app decreasing in the holiday months, many app owners and marketing teams hurry to refresh their users’ memories and send a push notification or a “friendly” reminder via email or other available channels.

Pushing out generic messages won’t arouse your users’ curiosity. Instead, it will encourage them to turn off notifications for your app or unsubscribe from your email list. Something you will certainly regret when it comes to your next big release.

❌ Don’t update the UX and UI of your business app

Holidays may seem like a good time to update your UX and UI design, but not if you have a business app. After the vacation, it will take users some time to get back in tune with your app as they knew it, let alone becoming familiar with a new layout.

❌ Don’t overdo advertising

If your app category is off-peak during the holidays it’s not a good reason to throw away your advertising budget. This tactic won’t help you significantly increase user engagement but will remove some zeroes from your next marketing campaign.

❌ Don’t Panic

Remember holidays don't last forever. If your users are currently distracted by other wintertime activities, in the spring they will surely get back to mobile devices and be eager to discover what’s new in their favorite apps. For now, enjoy the vibe and get ready to surprise your app fans with new features and creative marketing campaigns!


Want to know how your competitors’ apps perform during the holidays months? Check out our conversion rate benchmark page to compare your results with apps in your category.

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