Increasing User Retention Rates with Trading Apps

9 min read

Trading products and services need to retain their users in a competitive market dynamic, where the user is always being presented with new alternatives.

This concept is called ‘stickiness’, and it requires more than just a ‘quality’, ‘high-performance’ product.

Of course, what stickiness means specifically to each business will vary from industry to industry. But in general, when talking about software development, we can think of it as a property that arises when certain software applications succeed in ticking the following two boxes. 

  • The application is easy on the eye and ease-to-use (ergonomic UI design)
  • The application incentivizes actions from the users that are in line with the business’s goals. 

Now, you may have previously thought that just having a trading app is enough to create stickiness, but in today’s competitive landscape, it should be regarded as the bare minimum. And it certainly offers no guarantee that users won’t bounce before even installing it or delete it after a few days of testing it out.  

In fact, research suggests that most apps lose 77% of their daily active users in just three days. This is a sobering statistic for anyone engaged in software development, but it gets worse when looking specifically at the stickiness characteristics of financial services applications. 

According to Statista, financial services apps exhibit lower retention rates than news, business, and shopping applications, coming in at just 4.6% 30 days after the application was initially installed.  

Online brokerage/exchange stickiness explored

Let’s see how the above two points on our stickiness checklist apply to trading applications.

The first point has to do with the UX/UI of the trading platform in question. But it’s not just limited to that, it also relates to the look and feel of other areas of the app that may not relate directly to trading but are crucial for the overall experience of the user.  

In online trading this has to do with how the app integrates with the venue’s back-office systems, allowing users to create, manage, and fund their trading accounts directly from within the app in a seamless manner. 

The second point is more complex. It connects to how the app encourages users to spend more time on it and to be more engaged with what’s going on in the underlying markets available for trading, which translates directly to increased trading activity and thus increased volumes for the venues in question. When a trading app becomes a regular part of the daily routine of its users it can be said to have ticked the second stickiness box. 

Finally, though more to do with the way a business’s marketing funnels are constructed, it’s also important to ensure that the experience of registering for a trading account in the first place is as simple and frictionless as possible (and ideally performable directly from the app itself). This includes everything from the creation of login credentials to allowing users to perform KYC/AML and perform funding actions.  

Case study: Online FX trading as a stickiness

Many FX/CFD brokerages have been offering trading services in some shape or form since the early 2000’s. This means they have seen several versions of the internet (pre-/post-Web 2.0, transition from desktop to mobile) as well as several different generations of traders (from boomers and Gen-X to Millennials and Gen-Z). 

For these reasons, it’s common to find brokers whose systems have evolved separately over the years and that have been integrated into an organizational whole in an inefficient way. 

Quite often, marketing, back office, and trading platforms were disparate applications. Client areas and trading platforms were often developed by different teams or provided by specialized third parties.  

The same goes for back office CRM systems, which can integrate poorly with client-facing platforms from other providers, introducing friction in communication between departments, but also in the efficiency and timeliness of sales/retention initiatives, as well as the overall intelligence of the organization as a whole with regards to how it utilizes the incoming data it has available to it.   

Why all-in 1 is the way 2 go?

If you’re not already convinced of the value of having your trading app be an all-in-one, one-stop-shop, for your trading services, then perhaps the following retention-enhancing benefits of such an approach will inspire you to reconsider. 

Endless scrolling 

This might be the most popular trick used by various industries. Statistics show that bounce rates can drop to almost zero when you add endless scrolling. It might be a newsfeed or an image feed—it all depends on your app’s specifics. In trading apps, a scrolling, asset specific newsfeed can introduce this dynamic, as well as any in-house or third-party analysis that can be provided to the user via the app. 

Push notifications 

Push notifications are often regarded as annoying but when used correctly, they can boost retention rates. In fact, they have been shown to increase reaction rates by 400%

To make them suitable for traders, they have to be relevant and personalized. For example: “Hey, we noticed *insert an event here*, which you might find beneficial.” Event-triggered push notifications are always a good idea, assuming that the business has the ability to gather relevant data and act on it in a timely fashion, this can be an extremely valuable (and largely automatable) way of increasing engagement. 

Keep in mind that it’s just as easy to lose your audience today as it is to put something in front of them. When it comes to push notifications, it’s not about quantity but about quality. Don’t spam your users or you’ll lose them. 

In-app messages  

As you’ve probably already gathered, we’re huge fans of statistics, and according to research, in-app messages lead to retention rates of 61% to 74%

The idea isn’t to urge people to use an app but to keep them in the loop about what is happening in areas that are of interest to them and likely to lead to a beneficial action for the venue in question.  

This can include updates and relevant info based on given criteria (location, demographics, etc.) within the app that makes the experience tailored to each user.  

A more modern approach to In-app messaging is to incorporate it via a chat assistant. As A.I technologies improve this is becoming increasingly feasible even for smaller venues. For example, our virtual assistant Devexa shows real-time quotes, charts, and fundamentals or relevance to each user directly within the app. Our clients have found that it’s also great for boosting affiliate/referral programs.  


Mobile gaming is one of the trends projected to generate up to 152.50 billion dollars by the end of 2022. It has been shown time and again to be one of the most effective ways to engender stickiness across verticals. Implementing a gaming element in your trading platform app can lead to higher retention rates. 

For example, we’ve gamified our trading apps with trading contests and rebates, which also proved to be efficient in attracting new users. Even brokers operating in stricter jurisdictions can employ gamification tactics to create stickiness, without them having to be directly related to real-money trading activities. 

For example, gamification can be used in demo trading to get users to learn how to use the platform, or to perform certain actions for the first time, such as entering a limit order or setting a stop-loss. 

To sum up 

In today’s increasingly competitive market, there’s a thin line between retaining users and letting them slip between the cracks. Inefficient onboarding process? Annoying blanket push notifications? Clunky navigation between trading and account management? All of these can lead to users migrating to rival services.  

But done right, it can lead to incredible efficiencies that allow smaller teams to compete with established brands, turning your brokerage from a carbon copy into an innovative world-beater. 

To find out more about how trading apps can revolutionize your business’s retention efforts, please contact us. We’ll be happy to help.