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Mobile App Benchmarks: Engagement & Retention

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This report is a collection of data points and commentary about how real mobile apps typically perform in the wild, answering questions such as "What is an industry standard retention rate for Android apps?", "When are people usually most responsive to push notifications?" and other similar topics that might help you understand how your app's performance compares to others.

If you’re working on an Android or iOS app (or you’re advising/investing in mobile app teams), this report will help you quickly understand how your app’s performance compares to the competition. While it is primarily intended for an Africa-based audience, the data is universally useful.

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Mobile App Benchmarks: Engagement & Retention

  1. 1. MEST BENCHMARK REPORT #1 Mobile App Benchmarks: Engagement & Retention Emmanuel K. Quartey
  2. 2. Introduction 3 - 4 Methodology 5 Retention Benchmarks 6 - 21 Push Notification Benchmarks 22 - 29 User Engagement Benchmarks 30 - 40 Work Referenced in This Report 41 About MEST 42 2 CONTENT
  3. 3. What is this? This report is a collection of simple, useful data points and commentary about how real mobile apps typically perform in the wild. Who is it for, and why should you read it? If you’re working on an Android or iOS app (or you’re advising/investing in mobile app teams), this report will help you quickly understand how your app’s performance compares to the competition. While it is primarily intended for an Africa-based audience, the data is universally useful. Why did we create this report? We’ve observed a trend at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology: more of our teams are pitching mobile app-based businesses. When working on these ideas, however, too many product and business decisions are based on little more than gut instinct. What is an industry standard retention rate? When are people usually most responsive to push notifications? Ultimately, how do you know if you’ve made something people love? This report is an attempt to help our entire community begin to answer these questions informed by real data from millions of users. 3 INTRODUCTION
  4. 4. My hope is that these mobile engagement and retention benchmarks will be useful at multiple stages of the company-building process, from deciding on goals, to thinking through a monetization strategy, and everything in- between. Get in touch Want to discuss this report? Have more up-to-date data? Please don’t hesitate to reach out via email at emmanuel@meltwater.org, and via Twitter at @equartey. 4 Warm regards, Emmanuel Quartey General Manager MEST Incubator (Accra) INTRODUCTION
  5. 5. Data Sources This report aggregates published data about mobile engagement and retention from 15 highly respected sources. You’ll find the full list of these sources on page 41. How to Use This Report It’s advisable to think of this report not as a single source of truth, but as a starting point you can consult when looking for a quick answer to a question about mobile app engagement and retention. Each graph is accompanied by detailed info about its data source. Please remember to check the data source to see how applicable the data is to your particular business. Important Things to Keep in Mind Please remember that many factors influence engagement/retention data, including: 1. Geographic location of the users (African and Asian mobile users can behave very differently from U.S. mobile users - see page 31 for an example of this) 2. Sample size of apps and number of users 3. Time range over which the data was collected 4. Methodology used by the primary researchers 5. The type of mobile platform (Android users can behave differently from iOS users) 5 METHODOLOGY
  6. 6. Retention Benchmarks
  7. 7. Usage Retention vs. Install Retention Before we dive in, it’s important to take a second to define two kinds of retention. Usage Retention is a measure of how many of your users are routinely using your app after a certain period of time. Most discussions about retention are about this kind of retention. Install Retention is a measure of how many of your users still have your app installed on their devices after a certain period of time. Make sense? Cool! Let’s hop into the data.
  8. 8. The average Android app loses ~80% of daily active users within 3 days after install Remarkably, about 90% of people who install an app will abandon it within a month. A user decides within 3 days if they’ll stick with a new app. This means that you have under 72 hours to make a strong case to the user that your app should become a daily habit. It is extremely important to prove your value proposition as quickly as possible, for example, through a strong onboarding flow, and through lifecycle push notifications and emails. SOURCE: Andrew Chen, New data shows losing 80% of mobile users is normal Sample size: 125 million users Platform: Android devices Geo: Worldwide Time: Jan to May 2015 8
  9. 9. Here’re the usage retention graphs of Facebook, WhatsApp, and other well- known apps Company User Retention Rate D0 D1 D3 D7 D14 D30 D60 D90 Facebook 100% 90.15% 90.51% 93.78% 97.26% 101.38% 101.62% 98.31% Blackberry Messenger 100% 88.33% 88.38% 90.67% 92.78% 93.41% 88.94% 82.38% WhatsApp 100% 90.57% 89.65% 90.55% 92.97% 90.52% 87.90% 77.26% Instagram 100% 68.48% 64.07% 59.92% 57.77% 55.73% 52.60% 48.38% WeChat 100% 72.28% 67.83% 63.26% 60.19% 56.76% 51.59% 46.03% Snapchat 100% 58.35% 53% 47.95% 45.09% 41.90% 38.14% 32.95% Twitter 100% 59.36% 53.84% 46.46% 42.31% 38.79% 34.53% 31.03% Average (22 Companies) 100% 59.60% 54.50% 48.85% 45.66% 42.57% 38.75% 34.71% SOURCE: The Information, Which Apps Retain Their Users - And Which Apps Don’t Sample size: 75 million users Platform: Android phones Geo: Half from non-China Asia, rest evenly distributed from around the world Time: “From Q1 2015” These are the retention rate figures for some of the most successful mobile apps in the world. How does your app compare? You’ll notice that Facebook’s D30 and D60 retention rates are over 100%. How is this possible? This is the answer from the source: fb pre installed on millions of phones. We compare # active of day X to day 0. When pre installed activates it goes > 100 9
  10. 10. The top 10 Android apps retain ~70% of users 3 days after install D0 D1 D3 D7 D14 D30 D60 D90 Top 10 Apps 100 74.67 71.51 67.39 63.28 59.80 55.10 50.87 Next 50 Apps 100 64.85 60.31 54.13 49.48 44.81 39.60 34.50 Next 100 Apps 100 48.72 42.96 35.93 30.79 25.45 21.25 18.98 Next 5000 Apps 100 34.31 28.54 21.64 17.43 13.62 10.74 8.99 Average 100 29.17 23.42 17.28 13.11 9.55 6.82 3.97 Percentage of active users days after app install The best way to retain a new user is to help them quickly accomplish a goal that’s aligned with the app’s core value proposition. Find the single action that’ll provide immediate value to the user - your user’s Aha! Moment - and ensure that they experience it within 72 hours after install. For a social product, it might be connecting them to their friends. For a blogging platform, it might be getting them to publish a first post. Discover your core activation event and make sure the user performs it. It’s interesting to see that despite having higher retention rates in general, even top tier apps see inevitable retention decline over time. SOURCE: Andrew Chen, New data shows losing 80% of mobile users is normal Sample size: 125 million users Platform: Android devices Geo: Worldwide Time: Jan to May 2015 10
  11. 11. The more times you get a user to open your app, the more likely they are to remain active users SOURCE: Localytics 2016 App Marketing Guide Sample size: Unclear Platform: Unclear Geo: Unclear Time: Sep 2015 While the statement above might seem a little obvious, it’s a reminder to think of creative ways to get your users to open your app multiple times within the first few days after install. With time, opening the app becomes a habit that keeps usage retention high. Automated lifecycle push notifications and emails are great ways to keep users coming back. These messages remind the user that they installed the app, and they help keep the product (and its value prop) top-of-mind. But be creative with these messages. Spammy “We miss you!” notifications are unlikely to succeed. Much better to think in terms of what would be useful to the user. For example, a music app might highlight that a song by the user’s favourite artist is trending. 11
  12. 12. Communication and News apps are the stickiest app categories SOURCE: Flurry Insights, App Engagement: The Matrix Reloaded Sample size: 230,000 apps Platform: Unclear Geo: Unclear Time: Unclear, likely Oct 2012 This graphic shows the typical engagement and retention behaviour you can expect from apps in different categories. This information can help inform your business model: QUADRANT I includes apps that are used intensively and to which consumers are loyal over time… On average, because these apps tend to have stable, growing audiences, they are best positioned to generate advertising revenue or charge a subscription. Consumers perceive these apps to deliver enduring value over time. 12
  13. 13. QUADRANT II is comprised of apps that are used intensively, but for finite periods of time. They are perceived by consumers to deliver value in bursts. Streaming Music, Dating and Social Games best typify this quadrant. Consider for a moment why Dating is a category that appears in this quadrant. For most people, we can assume that finding a long-term “significant other” is the ultimate goal of dating. As a result, the app maker should expect customer churn. While usage may be high during the time when a consumer looks for a suitable partner, once that person is found, usage stops. An implication could be that to maintain a growing audience, apps in this category require heavy, constant acquisition to find consumers who are “in the market” for dating. Ironically, the better the app is at match making, the more churn it should expect. 13 People tend to use music streaming, games & dating apps intensely for a bit, and then get bored
  14. 14. Medical, Retail & Personalization apps can expect low usage and low retention QUADRANT III contains apps that are used infrequently and have high churn. They contain the most “one-and-dones.” Personalization is an example that makes sense for this quadrant, since a consumer uses this app to change her screen saver or select a theme for her operating system. Once this set-up is complete, it’s unlikely that the user will need to re-use this application. Since the app’s value is diminished almost immediately, applications with this kind of usage pattern are best served with premium pricing models; that is, charging the consumer before providing access to the content. 14
  15. 15. Travel, Food & Drink, and Reference apps see infrequent usage but very high retention QUADRANT IV is made up of apps that are used infrequently but deliver very high value when used. Even though they’re used only occasionally, these apps can remain on a consumer’s handset almost indefinitely. For example, consider how useful an airline, hotel or rental car-booking app is to a business traveler. While the app remains unused between business trips, its value spikes as soon as the next business trip needs to be scheduled. IMPORTANT NOTE: This graphic is from late 2012. Considering how much can change in the mobile space in 4 years, it’s best to use this data only as a directional, high level aid. 15
  16. 16. Usage retention rates vary based on the app category Part 1 of 2 SOURCE: Flurry Insights, App Engagement: The Matrix Reloaded Sample size: 230,000 apps Platform: Unclear Geo: Unclear Time: Unclear, likely Oct 2012 It’s important to recognize that this data is from 2012 and almost certainly out of date. It’s provided here to serve as a high level aid to help you compare the relative engagement levels between app categories. 16
  17. 17. Part 2 of 2Usage retention rates vary based on the app category SOURCE: Flurry Insights, App Engagement: The Matrix Reloaded Sample size: 230,000 apps Platform: Unclear Geo: Unclear Time: Unclear, likely Oct 2012 17
  18. 18. On average, users uninstall Android apps after 8 months SOURCE: SimilarWeb, Uninstalls: The Data Behind Deleted Apps Sample size: ~4 million users Platform: Android devices Geo: Worldwide Time: Unclear, maybe Feb 2016 It’s surprising how long users will keep Android apps installed. Develop a strategy for getting lapsed users to re-engage with your app. NOTE: Most smartphones in Africa are low-end Androids with very limited memory. Due to this, It’s likely that install retention rates are much lower in Africa due to users needing to delete apps to free up memory space on their phones. 18
  19. 19. Users tend to keep Android apps installed for a long time, even if they don’t use them SOURCE: SimilarWeb, Uninstalls: The Data Behind Deleted Apps Sample size: ~4 million users Platform: Android devices Geo: Worldwide Time: Unclear, maybe Feb 2016 For example, these graphs show how gamers will stop playing a game within days, but will keep the game installed on their device for many months afterwards. This is fantastic news because it means app makers have a shot at re-engaging inactive users! Once again, it’s important to keep in mind that this data might look very different for Africa, where low-end Androids with tiny memory space force people to frequently delete apps to make way for photos, music, and newer apps. 19
  20. 20. About 10% of users will uninstall an Android app within 3 months of downloading it SOURCE: SimilarWeb, Uninstalls: The Data Behind Deleted Apps Sample size: ~4 million users Platform: Android devices Geo: Worldwide Time: Unclear, maybe Feb 2016 20
  21. 21. App install retention rates vary by app category SOURCE: SimilarWeb, Uninstalls: The Data Behind Deleted Apps Sample size: ~4 million users Platform: Android devices Geo: Worldwide Time: Unclear, maybe Feb 2016 Three app categories enjoy BOTH high install retention rates AND high usage retention rates: ● News & Magazines apps ● Productivity apps ● Communications apps 21
  22. 22. Push Notification Benchmarks
  23. 23. Push notifications can improve mobile app engagement by up to 227% SOURCE: Localytics 2016 App Marketing Guide Sample size: Unclear Platform: Unclear Geo: Unclear Time: Nov 2015 Push notifications have a HUGE impact on user engagement. Study after study has found that users who opt into receiving push notifications are orders of magnitude more engaged than users who have notifications turned off. Push notifications help keep your app top-of-mind for users, and they increase the chances of users re- engaging with your app. Find creative ways to create value for your users with timely, relevant push notifications. 23
  24. 24. Push notifications significantly improve usage retention SOURCE (BOTTOM): Kahuna Mobile Marketing Index SOURCE (TOP): Localytics 2016 App Marketing Guide It’s hard to overstate the extent to which a smart push notification strategy can help an app keep users returning every day. Multiple studies show that when users enable push notifications, usage retention rates get a HUGE boost. 24
  25. 25. Push notification opt-in rates ● Android = 78% ● iOS = 46% Android push notification opt-in rates are almost twice as high as iOS opt-in rates. This can be attributed to the fact that when a user installs an Android app, they’ re automatically opted into all permissions in bulk, including push notification permissions. On iOS, however, users must approve each permission individually. NOTE: Google announced at the Google I/O 2015 event that in upcoming versions of Android, push notifications will work similar to how they currently work on iOS - users will need to approve each permission individually, which will likely result in a decrease in Android opt-in rates. SOURCE: Kahuna Mobile Marketing Index Sample size: Unclear Platform: Android + iOS Geo: Unclear Time: Jan to May 2015 25
  26. 26. Social network apps see low push notification click- through rates of about 13% Regardless of how many users opt into receiving your push notifications, none of that will matter if you can’t get them to tap on those notifications. It turns out that different kinds of apps have a harder time of this than others. This chart shows the various push notification click-through rates observed in different kinds of apps. Increasing your push notification click-through rates by even single-digit percentage points can have a dramatic impact on engagement, retention, and revenue. SOURCE: Andrew Chen, New data on push notifications show up to 40% CTRs Sample size: Unclear Platform: Unclear Geo: Unclear Time: Unclear, likely Sep 2014 26
  27. 27. Push notification engagement rates can vary by app category Part 1 of 2 Even within app categories, there’s a wide performance difference between top tier apps and everyone else. The graphs on this page and the next show the push notification engagement rates for high (10th percentile), medium (50th percentile), and low (90th percentile) performing apps in 16 different categories. SOURCE: Urban Airship Mobile Engagement industry Benchmarks: Notification Response Rates Sample size: 500 million users Platform: Android + iOS Geo: Unclear Time: “All of 2014” 27
  28. 28. Part 2 of 2 28 Push notification engagement rates can vary by app category
  29. 29. To prevent your push notification from getting truncated, keep the text under 45 characters long The iOS banner display shows only the first 60 characters... Android banner display shows only the first 45 characters. “ SOURCE: Kahuna Push 101 - The Beginners Guide to Crafting Perfect Push Notifications If your push notification text exceeds a certain character limit, they’ll be truncated, which might reduce your user’s ability to understand the notification and act on it. Aim to keep your notifications under 45 characters to ensure that they appear exactly as desired on multiple platforms. 29
  30. 30. User Engagement Benchmarks
  31. 31. The vast majority of internet phone use in Africa and Asia is currently happening on web pages, NOT inside apps. SOURCE: Opera Mediaworks State of Mobile Advertising, Q2 2015 Sample size: 1.1 billion+ users Platform: Android + iOS Geo: Worldwide Time: Q2 2015 This is a sobering reminder that the increase in smartphone penetration in Africa is starting from a tiny base. Think carefully before basing your entire business model on a consumer mobile app for an Africa-only audience. 31 Chart by Quartz: The fastest-growing mobile phone markets barely use apps
  32. 32. Social network apps have an average session length of 2.5 mins Average mobile app session length (mins) SOURCE: Localytics, Time in App Increases by 21% Across All Apps Sample size: 1.5 billion devices Platform: Unclear Geo: Unclear Time: Aug 2013 to Aug 2014 Session length is the amount of time a user spends engaging with an app in one sitting, or the amount of time between when an app is launched and when it is dismissed. It can signal the extent to which users are engaged. According to this chart, most people use social networking apps in short bursts (2.5 mins) at a time, and stay engaged with game apps for longer periods of time (6.8 mins) than other apps. What’s the average session length of your app? How does it compare to these benchmarks? 32 Chart by Statista
  33. 33. Users open Social Networking apps about 25 times a month Average monthly app usage frequency SOURCE: Localytics, Time in App Increases by 21% Across All Apps Sample size: 1.5 billion devices Platform: Unclear Geo: Unclear Time: Aug 2013 to Aug 2014 Paired with the previous chart, we can see that people engage in “snacking” behaviour with social networking apps - opening those apps many times a month for a short period each time. 33 Chart by Statista
  34. 34. People are most active in apps in the evening, at around 8 PM SOURCE: Localytics 2016 App Marketing Guide Sample size: Unclear Platform: Unclear Geo: Unclear Time: Feb 2015 34 This information can be useful when deciding when to schedule automated lifecycle push notifications or in- app messages. It’s important to remember that geography and ease of access to the internet likely significantly influences app usage in Africa.
  35. 35. Apps that have the most engagement in the morning ● News apps ● Travel apps ● Weather apps SOURCE: Localytics 2016 App Marketing Guide Sample size: Unclear Platform: Unclear Geo: Unclear Time: Feb 2015 35
  36. 36. Apps that see heavy usage throughout the day ● Business apps ● Finance apps ● Music apps Sample size: Unclear Platform: Unclear Geo: Unclear Time: Feb 2015 36 SOURCE: Localytics 2016 App Marketing Guide
  37. 37. Apps that see heavy usage at night ● Entertainment apps ● Social Networking apps SOURCE: Localytics 2016 App Marketing Guide Sample size: Unclear Platform: Unclear Geo: Unclear Time: Feb 2015 37
  38. 38. People spend the most time in Communication and Social Network apps SOURCE: App Annie, Insights Into App Engagement Q1 2015 Sample size: 1.5 billion devices Platform: Android smartphones Geo: Listed on graphic Time: Q1 2015 Communication and Social networking apps (like WhatsApp and Facebook) consistently top the list of the app categories where users spend the most time. If you’re interested in increasing engagement in your own app, consider introducing ideas and features that are popular in those sorts of apps, eg. 1-on-1 chat. 38
  39. 39. Users in East Asia spend proportionally more time in Game apps than users in the U.S., U.K., and Germany SOURCE: App Annie, Insights Into App Engagement Q1 2015 Sample size: 1.5 billion devices Platform: Android smartphones Geo: Listed on graphic Time: Q1 2015 This is another reminder of the danger of making assumptions about global app usage based on a single geography. User behaviour can differ significantly in different parts of the world. 39
  40. 40. Users launch Communication apps more frequently than other types of Android app SOURCE: App Annie, Insights Into App Engagement Q1 2015 Sample size: 1.5 billion devices Platform: Android smartphones Geo: Listed on graphic Time: Q1 2015 40
  41. 41. 1. App Annie, Insights Into App Engagement Q1 2015 2. Andrew Chen, New data shows losing 80% of mobile users is normal 3. Andrew Chen, New data on push notifications show up to 40% CTRs 4. Flurry Insights, App Engagement: The Matrix Reloaded 5. Kahuna Mobile Marketing Index 6. Kahuna Push 101 - The Beginners Guide to Crafting Perfect Push Notifications 7. Localytics, Time in App Increases by 21% Across All Apps 8. Localytics, 2016 App Marketing Guide 9. Opera Mediaworks, State of Mobile Advertising, Q2 2015 10. Quartz, The fastest-growing mobile phone markets barely use apps 11. The Information, Which Apps Retain Their Users - And Which Apps Don’t 12. SimilarWeb, Uninstalls: The Data Behind Deleted Apps 13. Statista, Monthly mobile app usage frequency, by category 14. Statista, Average mobile app session length, by category 15. Urban Airship Mobile Engagement industry Benchmarks: Notification Response Rates 41 WORK REFERENCED IN THIS REPORT
  42. 42. The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) is an award-winning software development training program and tech startup incubator based in Accra, Ghana. Top talent from Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya spend an intensive 1 year learning software development and business skills while forming teams and working on their businesses. At the end of the program, each team pitches their business, and the most promising teams receive an investment of $50,000 and gain access to the MEST Incubator for further support. For more information about MEST meltwater.org info@meltwater.org +233-(0)30-393-3257 42 ABOUT MEST

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