More than 75 percent of new app users fail to return the day after first use, study shows

User retention remains an ongoing challenge for many mobile application developers, which is reflected in a new study from mobile marketing automation platform provider Appboy. 

Appboy's "Spring 2016 Mobile Customer Retention Report," a study that examined the retention rates of over 300 apps globally, indicated more than 75 percent of new users fail to return to an app the day after first use. 

In addition, the report showed the average app's retention rate declines over the first three months of use, reaching an average of 4.1 percent after 90 days. 

"When you consider the rising expense associated with acquiring new app users ... it can be argued that finding ways to retain a larger share of new users is the most significant factor in whether a brand thrives or fails on mobile," Appboy Senior Content Producer Todd Grennan wrote in a blog post

  • On average, fewer than 25 percent of mobile app users will return to an app one day after first using it, and retention drops to 11 percent by the end of the week.

  • During the first week after first use, Android app users showed higher retention rates day by day, declining from a high of 27 percent on Day 1 to 13 percent on Day 7. Comparatively, 23 percent of new iOS app users log a session on Day 1, and 11 percent do so on Day 7.

  • Android apps often have higher retention rates than their iOS counterparts across all app verticals except social and messaging apps, where iOS consistently outperforms Android, and media and entertainment apps, where iOS overtakes Android after Day 7.

  • Mobile gaming represented the strongest vertical for Day 1 retention, and nearly 40 percent of new users returned to a mobile game the day after first use.

Appboy retention rate

Source: Appboy, "Spring 2016 Mobile Customer Retention Report"

Ultimately, Appboy recommended developers prioritize app retention, as understanding an app's retention rate could help developers improve both their customer engagement and retention plans.

"Understanding your app's retention rate and how it stacks up to the benchmark rates seen in your vertical and across the larger mobile ecosystem is an essential part of optimizing your customer engagement and retention strategy. After all, it's hard to get where you have to go if you don't know where you currently are or where you need to be," Appboy wrote in its report. 

Grennan also suggested developers should constantly explore ways to improve app engagement.

"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," he noted. "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."

For more:
- see the report

Related articles:
Report: Users come back to social and messaging apps 2-3 times a day
Fiksu: Cost of getting loyal app users went up 30% in June
Report: 42% of mobile users are coming back to apps at least 11 times

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