You have 24 hours to get their attention.
Most apps have a shelf life of less than a week. An app now has to hit the ground running, build an audience and—hopefully—be useful enough to warrant repeat use.
For developers who have devoted blood and sweat to a project, seven days is a poor return on their investment. The good news is that the number of installs is still going to grow in the next four years, according to IDC. The bad news … the majority of apps have a day to prove their worth.
A report by mobile marketing company Appboy said that less than 25% of people return to an app the day after initial install.
Appboy’s Spring 2016 Mobile Customer Retention Report analyzed data from 300 apps coupled with 300 million user profiles to break down day-to-day retention rates, with the intention being to provide developers or brands with an insight into how likely it would be that people would return. Apps on Appboy’s platform with a monthly active user figure of 5,000 through November 2015 to March 2016 were studied.
The results painted a familiar picture. Reasonable retention rates on the day of download followed by a downward spiral in the first week and flat-lining after less than three months.
App Retention Rates Are Still Low
For the purposes of Appboy’s research, the initial install date was designated as Day N with the report then taking into account the amount of times that a person returned to a particular Android or iOS app after that. Appboy said that install date was not dictated by launch date—not everybody will install an app on the day it becomes available—but rather on the level of activity after it was originally installed.
“Using Day N retention rates, brands can determine how many new users return on a particular day following their first session,” said Appboys’s senior content producer Todd Grennan, in a blog post. “For instance, if 100 customers first use your app on a certain day (Day 0) and 30 of those original 100 return seven days later, that translates to a 30% Day 7 retention rate; similarly, if 20 of the original customers return 30 days later, that’s a 20% Day 30 retention rate.”
According to the report, overall app retention drops to around 11% within a week of install. After 45 days, that number is less than 5% before hitting 4.1% after 90 days.
Mobile operating systems play a role, Appboy said. Retention rates are higher on Android devices with a high of 27% on day one of install that declines to 13% by day seven. In comparison, iOS apps show a 23% session use on the first day and an 11% usage rate by the end of the week. Both operating systems show a gradual drop after that first seven days and are under 10% retention by day 14.
Overall, Android apps have a higher retention rate than iOS apps. The only classes of app where this doesn’t happen is in social and messaging apps and media and entertainment, Appboy said.
Gaming Has The Highest App Retention Rates
As you would expect, some apps are easier to engage with more than once than others.
Mobile games have a 40% retention rate after the first day of install, although that drops to below 20% after seven days. Much of that can be attributed to the playability of a game, which basically means that if the game is engaging, people will keep playing.
Food and beverage apps have a low return rate the day after install and fail to hold a users attention within that week, although Appboy’s research demonstrated a slight spike on day seven which suggested engagement with an app on a weekly basis, the report said.
Media and entertainment apps have a relatively long lifecycle—compared to other app classes—with 25% of users coming back to an app the day after install. These apps maintain return usage rates of over 10% for up to two weeks, before dropping to around 5% after 60 days.
Social and messaging apps have a day one retention rate of almost 33% but fall to around 15% by day seven. In terms of device owners, iOS has the upper hand over Android throughout the lifecycle of a social or messaging app, although both operating systems hit the 8% retention mark after 90 days.
“Sometimes an app just isn’t giving its users what they need to keep engaging. But sometimes a great app just doesn’t take the opportunity to win over new users,” said Grennan. “The longer that a customer goes without engaging, the less likely they are to engage with your app again. And there are so many apps out there—and so many other distractions —that it can be difficult to keep your brand top of mind, especially given that most people spend 80% of their mobile times with their top three apps.”
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