App Marketers Focus on Engagement, Retention - eMarketer

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App Marketers Focus on Engagement, Retention

App engagement significantly decreases 24 hours after initial install

October 16, 2015

Smartphone users typically have a plethora of apps installed on their devices, but use only a select few daily. This lack of engagement leaves marketers fighting for screen real estate and the constant challenge of app discovery.

Average Number of Apps Used per Day According to US Smartphone Owners, Aug 2015 (% of respondents)

An August 2015 Millward Brown Digital survey revealed that 43% of US smartphone owners used four to six apps on an average day. Comparing that to the number of apps they have installed—about 40 to 70—app usage is fairly small.

And that low usage rate is just for apps users keep. The same study found that 72% of smartphone owners deleted an app because they rarely used it. Other causes of deletion were because the app was draining the device’s battery, as well as a need to free up memory on their smartphone.

Looking to combat deletion and lack of usage, many app marketers have been turning to app retention, a metric used to gauge how valuable an app is to consumers.

A separate July 2015 study by mobile analytics and attribution platform Appsflyer explored why engagement— and more importantly re-engagement—was critical for app marketers. The survey looked at over 450 million installs across ecommerce, travel and utility apps from May to July of this year. The retention rate was calculated as the unique number of users who were active on days one, seven and 30, out of the total number of unique users who first launched the app in the selected timeframe.

While retention rates do vary by operating system, it is not by much. Almost a third of both Android and iOS users relaunched the app after a day, showing that engagement significantly decreased just 24 hours after the initial install. By day 30, only 3.3% of Android users and 3.2% of iOS were still engrossed with the app.

Average Retention Rates for Mobile App Installs Worldwide, by OS and Timeframe*, May-July 2015

The study also looked at how important organic app acquisition was. In fact, retention rates on Android devices after 30 days were 156% greater for organic app installs than for paid app installs.

Smartphone users are clearly interacting with apps, specifically those they find organically. However, as the app marketplace continues to saturate, marketers must find new and different ways to stand out.


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