Measuring the Impact of Crowdsourcing Features on Mobile App User Engagement and Retention: A Randomized Field Experiment

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The most commonly cited issues with mobile apps are low user engagement and retention levels. In this paper, we use a randomized control trial to test the efficacy of crowdsourcing on enhancing user engagement and retention in the context of mobile gaming apps. We examine two specific crowdsourcing features: the ability to submit content and the ability to access crowdsourced content. We find that the content submission significantly increases engagement and retention by reducing users’ hazard of ending a session by approximately 11% relative to the baseline and reducing the hazard of abandoning the game app by 14%. In contrast, giving users the ability to access crowdsourced content has no significant effect on engagement but has a positive effect on retention by reducing the hazard of abandoning the game app by 13%. Surprisingly, we find that the interaction effect of these two crowdsourced features is negative on user engagement. Individually, the submission feature manifests itself via empowering users to control their product use experience, whereas the access feature’s positive effect on retention is mediated by diversity and novelty of content. However, the two effects are not complementary. It turns out when these two features are given together, the empowerment enabled by one’s own submission is crowded out by others’ submissions, and this dominates the diversity benefit. Crowdsourcing features have heterogeneous impact on different user segments, with heavy users and users of longer tenure being more affected by the crowdsourcing features.

This paper was accepted by Anandhi Bharadwaj, information systems.

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