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Why Do Users Disown Your Mobile App? – Know the Math & Science

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Why Do Users Disown Your Mobile App? – Know the Math & Science

Failure to retain mobile app users is a chance missed to create a rich, durable, and compelling relation with your customers. A compelling brand story and quality of your products or service are immaterial if your app flunks to retain the audience.

After development of the mobile app, you must figure out customer acquisition, engagement and retention metrics. Primary importance is to analyze user retention rate and understand how well it stacks up to your performance benchmark across the larger mobile ecosystem. After all, if you do not know where you stand, deciding where you want to lead or where you intend to be will be very much difficult.

A user lifecycle has different components; out of which, retention plays a major role in success metrics of a mobile app. For sure, user retention is a direct factor when we are computing the lifetime customer value (LTV) of the users acquired. Nonetheless, retention is probably one of the best metrics to judge the average quality and user experience of your mobile app.

Are You Losing Mobile App Users?

You like a specific restaurant serving cuisine for a limited period. After a point, you are bored to visit the same place and eat the same cuisine, a similar thing happens with mobile apps. People are in search of new apps. They download the app if they like, use it and eventually they start using it less, resulting in a massive number of uninstalls. It definitely worries you as an app maker, because you are selling good products, regularly monitoring technical glitches, improving performance with proper updates and resolving inadequacies. Still, you are losing users…

Do you know, an average app loses 78% of its users in the first three days? You start losing users from the moment your app is released by the store. The thing is user retention is paramount for app publishers, it is the basic problem, and everyone talks about it. However, there happens to be no clear consensus on a common definition/what retention actually means and the perfect method to calculate it.

Consequently, there are lot many methods using which you can compute the metrics of user retention and each showing different results forcing you to compare apples to oranges. To make it easier for you, here is a list of main retention computation methods. Use it according to your needs and achieve your analytical goals.

Computation Methods to Calculate User Retention

Defining retention: Before understanding the user retention metrics, we need to define retention first. “Retention means users returning to the app for at least 1x times within 30 days”.

A good retention rate: The average mobile app retention rate across all industries is 20% for 28 Days.

Usually, the app retention metrics can be calculated using the universal formula:

Types of User Retention

  • Full Retention: This method is extremely restrictive and so not used on large scale, but it is important to get an idea of the level of app engagement. What/which proportion of users come back every single day to the app until Day D+N. Remember for better results consider only the number of users retained by figuring out only those users coming back to the app every single day from Day 0 to Day 28.

  • Classic Retention: This method is easiest to compute analytically and widely used to get a general idea of overall user retention by the app. It is calculated based on which/what users come back to the app on Day + N. In this method, only the number of users coming back on Day 28 is considered retained, irrelevant to how often they come back.

  • Rolling Retention: As per the definition, this method is used by flurry as a default retention calculation method allowing app publishers to get an idea of the churn rate of their app. It equals to percentage minus churn. You can calculate rolling retention by considering the number of users coming back to the app on Day + N and on any day after that. Usually, users coming back on Day 28 or any day after that are considered retained.

   NOTE: Comparing same metrics across different methods will rate the retention rates in decreasing order. Logically, the Day 28 Full Retention will always be lower than the Day 28 Classic Retention, which always is inferior to the Day 28 Rolling Retention.

Play the Game: Retain Mobile App Users Wisely and Strategically

Most of the app publishers are looking at long-term growth and this is the reason many of them focus on the inflection points where things climb dramatically. However, myriad of small features and app optimization, typically ensure user count and retention of the mobile app.

Retaining mobile app users is a struggle in itself and research has already proved that for an average app getting new users to return on the second day after installing and using it on the first day is a complicated job. Statistics speak, less than 25% users installing the app on the first day are likely to return the second day for logging the second session. Day N retention rate is trending downward over three months after the first use of the app, reaching 4.1% on day 90. Some ways that will help you improve user retention rate are

  • App Onboarding: Churn rate of your app will drastically increase if users fail to understand the value of your app, its functions, and its usability. The solid on-boarding strategy has helped many app publishers to dramatically increase the user retention rate of their mobile apps.

  • In-App Messaging: Try using in-app messaging, which notifies users when users are still in your app based on some action taken. This makes your app highly relevant to the end-users offering a seamless and engaging user experience. This will help you increase your user retention rate by about three times.

  • Push Notifications: If you want to engage users outside of your app, try using push notifications. Usually, push notifications are sent right onto the user’s home screen, but the stakes are high to do it right. Compelling messages, personalized for each user and combining it with the latest and greatest push notifications technology will surely help you increase mobile app user retention rate.

  • App Individualisation: Users are delighted when they get a personalized app experience that is tailored to meet their preferences, location and in-app behavior. Remember, individualized push messages and in-app messages play an important role in user retention compared to broadcast messages.

  • Predictive Insights: If you really want to save, your users try analytic and understand the users with high probability to churn. Predictive insights help you to design and run highly personalized marketing and messaging campaigns to retain and re-engage users.

  • Rebranding & Remarketing: Studies show that more than 50% users opt out of push messaging making it harder for app publishers to continue retaining users. To retain such users try sending a highly compelling reminder in a highly effective way to re-engage your lost users. If possible, send these messages via email, text messages, search advertisements, and social channels. Tapping data insights to understand lapsed mobile app users and knowing their interests, behavior, preferences, and expectations helps you in strategizing your mobile app rebranding and remarketing theory.

  • Omni-Channel Experience: One of the major mistakes committed by most of the app publishers is not integrating their mobile app in all of their marketing channels. Mobile apps siloed from the rest of the marketing channels fail to offer the true brand experience to the users. Promoting and infusing your mobile app with all your marketing channels will not only help you offer them a seamless brand experience but also help in retaining users.

  • Retention Begins and Ends with Data: Users can be retained, strategies can be made and insights can be gained if data is used appropriately and efficiently. This means using mobile engagement platform that will empower you to understand how well you are retaining users and how fruitful your mobile app user retention campaigns are. Right data insights will help you either scale up or scale down in user interactions, eventually scaling high in overall user retention.


If you want to succeed and grow your mobile app in the already mobile dominated domain you need to gear up. Make retention a key success metrics and a performance indicator of a successful app alongside user acquisition and engagement. Remember, “Acquisition is secondary, Retention is primary” if you do not have good retention, your future acquisition has a very less long-term value. No use of pouring more water into a leaky bucket, so focus more on app user retention and your user acquisition rate will automatically rise.

Now you have ways to measure the app user retention rate and suggestions that will help you increase it, all you need is a plan. So plan it, execute it and tell us how you did it.

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