Mobile Apps – the Engagement, the Retention and the Ugly

Let’s be honest, nobody quite knows the secrets to perfect mobile app development just yet; we’re not sure how many active users defines an app as ‘successful’ and many developers certainly aren’t aware of the best ways to reach success with their mobile application. However, there is plenty of data out there, and many important figures in the app industry are putting their heads together to figure out just exactly what it takes to create a truly successful mobile app. Below, we’ve listed some important factors to take into consideration when marketing your app, and it’s what we like to call The Engagement, The Retention and The Ugly.

The Engagement

With engagement, you’re typically trying to rope in your users for as long as possible. As the name suggests, how ‘engaging’ your app is can usually help you predict your app user engagement, and there are plenty of ways to make your app feel more engaging for the end

On average, according to Swrve, your app users would typically spend around 13 separate sessions in your app within a month; that equals to opening up your app and using it 13 times each calendar month. With some categories, especially mobile games, users can reach upwards of 100 sessions per month.

The majority of apps typically have their users spend time on them at least 7 times a month, so if you have anything lower than that it’s clear that your application just isn’t engaging enough.

Session length can also be quite important, as it tells you a story of how engaged your users are within your app at any given time. Of course, if you have a utility app that serves one simple function, such as an alarm clock, your average session time will be considerably smaller than, say, a mobile game.

Typically, around 5 minutes seems to be the average session length for apps across all categories.

The Retention

Retention is all about encouraging users to stay around for longer; you can’t just get 1 million downloads and then call it quits because most of your app users may leave, and at that point your revenue slowly starts to run dry. This is where retention comes in, and it’s an incredibly important strategy to work on.

According to a report by Swrve, on average, around 26% of app users return to a new downloaded app within 24-48 hours of originally downloading it. Further down the line, just 13% of users come back to the app within the next 7 days of their first introduction to the application.

Whilst these are the averages, well performing apps seem to be able to pull as much as 60% day 1 retention, and 40% day 7 retention. If you’re not reaching a retention rate somewhere between the average apps and the top performers, you should probably put some more effort into keeping hold of your users.

The Ugly

So, now that you understand the important roles engagement and retention play in determining the success of your app, you should be able to better identify the ‘ugly’ parts of your application that are preventing your app from being successful.

For example, if your engagement rate is lower than the typical average, perhaps it’s because your app just doesn’t have enough content in it to keep users interested. There are many ways to solve this problem, and sometimes it simply involves moving any advertisements to a more suitable place, or fixing any display issues or bugs that are causing your app users to leave your app early.

As for retention, sometimes it can be as simple as reminding your users that your app exists. Many smartphone owners have dozens of apps on their phone, and as harsh as this may seem, it can be easy for them to completely forget about you.

Luckily this can be fixed by using various app user retention strategies such as app notifications, email and social media.

To sum it all up, if your retention and engagement rates are performing lower than the typical average, then there’s most likely something ugly about your app that needs to be fixed. Correlating both engagement and retention data can help you to understand what could be wrong with your app, and hopefully lead you to a solution.

Remember that some app categories may perform differently than others, so it’s best to use common sense when matching up against analytics like these.

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