Why Mobile App Retention Drops and Things You Can Do


Admin - February 17, 2021 - 0 comments

The retention rate of a mobile app is the percentage of the population that uses it more than a few times (a certain number of times or days) after installation. This rate is a special metric that lets you know how much you can achieve with your product, be it an android or iOS app.

Despite being arguably the most important indicator of success for a mobile app, retention rate is often overlooked since most publishers are busy trying and acquiring new app users.

It’s good to see that your mobile app has over 100,000+ downloads in under a week. But this doesn’t account for what really matters if the app keeps losing 95% of users that install it each month.

Mobile App Retention

At some point, you cannot count on an app marketing strategy that brings new users but cannot retain them. Acquisition rate is sure to slow down after some time, and retention is the key to sustainability for a mobile app. That’s true for the Singapore market as well.

In this article, we’ll discuss what mobile app retention actually means, why it may drop, and how you can retain more users keeping the drop-off rate in check.

Mobile App Retention Rate Explained

If you’re someone who moves around the communities of mobile app developers, you might have heard another term alongside retention — churn rate which gives the percentage of users that already stopped using a mobile app. Churn technically represents an event where users either quit using or uninstall an app.

Both retention and churn rates are interlinked in the sense that higher retention rates result in lower churn rates, and the other way around. You can also call retention an inverse of the churn. Churn occurs in two stages such as,

  • Soft churn counts when a user is found to keep an app without opening it for a certain period of time. It’s pretty common among Singapore’s users.
  • Hard churn occurs when a user uninstalls an app from his/her device. It marks the end of a user’s engagement in an app that is uninstalled. A lot of people in Singapore do this too.

Mobile App Retention Benchmarks

One of the key factors to affect the retention rate is the industry it’s built for. On average, mobile apps have a retention rate of 42% over a 30-day period. If the period is extended up to 90 days, the rate goes down to 25%.

It falls anywhere between 27% and 43% across industries over a 30-day period. Developers of some extremely popular apps may see these rates ranging from 32% to 66%. Also, the rate for most mobile app retention goes around 20% over a 90-day period.

Industry Average Retention % (30 Days) Average Retention % (90 Days)
Gaming 27 10
Ecommerce & Retail 37 18
Technology 33 19
Entertainment & Media 43 24
Lifestyle & Travel 36 18

How Do You Calculate the Retention Rate of Your Mobile App?

Knowing the retention of your app allows you to have a practical indication of its existing customer base and overall success. You’ll see a lot of mobile apps on Google Play or App Store having 100,000+ downloads, but those numbers merely satisfy the eyes unless the number of people in Singapore actually using those apps is known.

One very significant basics of mobile app retention strategy is the understanding of the mobile app retention rate and its relation to the benchmark rates across an industry-wide mobile ecosystem.

The easiest way to find the aggregate retention rate for a mobile app is to divide the number of monthly active users by the number of installs.

Is It Enough to Track the Aggregate Retention Rate Only?

There’s little doubt in how this rate helps app developers to have indication of the potential revenues, user behaviors, and growth trends of their apps. Neither acquisition nor downloads are as important as retention when it comes to the feasibility of an app project. However, knowing the rate is barely enough.

Mobile app retention for you might go up following some changes (for the good) to its user interface or overall functionality. Once you start tracking the progress in aggregate; the changes may not seem very considerable.

Cohort analysis is the key here. It involves the tracking of the retention and comparison of those rates by specific periods of time. App developers who need to compare several time periods should do it for a weekly, quarterly, or monthly time frame. You can also choose a custom time frame based on your app which is built for a Singapore audience.

To get the right retention rate for your chosen cohort, you need to divide the number of app users retained by the end of your chosen time period by the number of installs during the start of that period.

Suppose, your app was installed 10,000 times at the advent of your preferred cohort (week, quarter, or month) and 2,200 of those installs are retained through the end of the period. So, the retention rate of your app would be 22%.

Some publishers in Singapore might have bigger targets than others, but you should aim for retaining around one-fourth of the total downloads as active users, which accounts for 25%, in case you wanted to know.

Mobile App Retention Strategies

Most people agree that customer acquisition for mobile apps is difficult. In fact, few people would argue the fact that mobile app retention is more difficult as more than three fourths of users don’t bother about accessing a particular app after using it on a few occasions.

Understanding why an app keeps failing to retain its users is more important than jumping into a detailed strategy. After doing our homework and going through hundreds of case studies – all based in Singapore, we’ve discovered the following five causes of such failures.

  • Lack of compelling value
  • App’s failure to keep up user flow
  • Invasion of users’ privacy
  • Poor UX requiring critical tweaks
  • Customer-centric features and functions

Each of these points has several other points included in them, which we’ll discuss in the following section, so you can learn why the retention rate might drop and what you can do about it.

Avoid These Mobile App Development Mistakes

Whether or not your mobile app is good enough to bring satisfactory results depends mostly on its UX and aesthetics. Here, we’ll point out some mistakes that many app developers in Singapore take for granted and end up building some apps that really don’t stand out.

Value Creation

Without a compelling value delivered through your mobile application, you cannot go very far with your mobile app retention campaign. It’s not mandatory for your android or iOS app to offer more than one use, but the app must have one key value proposition that benefits its target users.

Sadly, we’ve seen many applications with impressive UIs lacking the attention to the following problems.

  • No specialization (nothing that stands out)
  • Too many app features, often not really up to the mark in terms of quality and value
  • Complex or poor onboarding process
  • Too many push notifications

Any of these nagging issues only adds to the less-than-good usability of your mobile app, and absence of any particular value hurts your prospects even more.

User Flow

Assuming that your mobile app doesn’t have the above problems, you still need to find out if it breaks anything that concerns the user flow. A few of such causes are here.

  • Frequent crashing
  • Slow or freezing problems
  • Popups for ratings coming at an inconvenient time
  • Login required without a credible promise for value
  • Intrusive and frequent advertisements

Privacy Concerns

As soon as users complete the onboarding process, they have to give permission to certain actions that the app needs to complete throughout users’ interactions. Virtually, all mobile apps ask for information that users may deem as personal.

Well, that’s not unexpected, and users also accept that when the reasons behind those permissions are clearly explained. However, the idea of providing information, deemed to be too personal or asked upfront without regards to users’ privacy, might not be taken lightly by many.

User Experience (UX)

Some mobile apps for Singapore’s users don’t require users to pass many steps to complete a single task while others take a lot of steps before allowing users to do anything. Doing the latter, you can only expect to fail on mobile app retention because nobody wants to wait too long or do so much to get something done where there are always several others making things easier.

It’s okay to get a little creative with the app UI. But don’t overdo anything for UIs are critical to command users’ attention. Is the UI of your mobile way more ahead of the time? Isn’t it as familiar as something that makes your users feel like getting to use a familiar app.

Customer-Focused Development Cycle

Your effort to bring a mobile app to the target audience doesn’t end after the development. One of the mistakes we’ve seen many developers in Singapore make is that they barely want to regard the comments and feedback of the end users for whom the app has been built.

When you see an application like Facebook or YouTube is updated almost every week, don’t think they do it because they love to do it. An app needs to be updated as many times as required because the sole purpose is to make the app more useful to its end users.

The most important thing here is to know what users are actually thinking and when they start believing they need to look for a better solution.

Are You Spending Enough?

The majority of businesses or marketers that have mobile apps put more emphasis on acquiring more users rather than keeping them engaged or retaining them. In Singapore’s context, more than two thirds of marketers or companies spend around 20% of their budget on mobile app user retention with the rest being invested in user acquisition.

You may get more people to use your mobile app every day, but unfortunately, drop-off starts within a few days after the app is downloaded by users. So, the budget for mobile app retention needs to be increased, or at least, this whole thing needs to be addressed with more attention.

Do you look to hire a reliable agency that can take care of everything, from mobile app development to user retention? Feel free to let us know.

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