Sometimes it feels like we’re on our phones all the time. Checking email first thing in the morning while we’re still bleary eyed, catching up with news on lunch breaks, sitting on the couch at night watching Netflix after a long day’s work.
That feeling isn’t entirely misplaced; studies estimate that the average person checks his or her phone upwards of 150 times a day.
However, all that checking leads to the question: When does that app usage peak? And which apps are we using more than others at certain points during the day?
We put those questions to the test by examining Localytics’ data of thousands of apps. In our research we observed at what points of the day apps experience peak usage. Here’s what we found:
Most apps follow a similar usage pattern – rising in the early morning hours as people start their commute, then leveling off throughout the day. After work, app usage picks up again until it reaches its daily peak at 8 p.m., at which point it starts to decline as people head to bed. Primetime remains the best time to engage with your users. However, not all apps follow this pattern.
Three categories that experience peak usage in the morning are news, travel, and weather apps. Most people check the weather right when they first wake up, followed by the day’s headlines and traffic information. To no one’s surprise travel apps experience peak usage in the morning and evening commutes, as people are trying to find efficient ways to get to and from work or school. For apps that experience heavy early morning usage, a well-timed in-app message in the morning could result in significant engagement with the user.
Other apps show constant usage through the day. Business apps (such as Salesforce) and finance apps show heavy usage throughout the day. Music apps are also used constantly, as people typically listen to music throughout their workday. These apps are less dependent on commuter patterns. Of note, business and finance apps also experience heavy usage throughout the evening, indicating that people are engaging with these apps to stay connected to their work life outside the typical 9-5 hour workday.
Of all the categories examined, entertainment and social networking had above average usage in the late night hours. Entertainment apps in particular show strong usage throughout the night into the early morning hours. Rather than dipping to around 20 percent between 2 a.m.-5 a.m., entertainment apps kept strong around 50 percent usage during these hours. Just one more episode?
While this information may seem to be common sense, there are practical applications for product managers and marketers. Most people fall into a similar routine during the day, which means you can predict when they will be engaging with their apps. This knowledge can be used in several ways:
Along with session length and app launches, time of day is another great insight towards how users are engaging with your app. Understanding typical usage patterns will help drive efficient marketing campaigns, and ultimately create a more pleasant experience for your user.
For this study, Localytics examined US app usage during Jan. 2015. By looking at the total number of sessions in each hour of the day, each hour is given a percentage of the max amount of sessions each day (100 percent would be the hour that the most sessions occurred). All times are offset to UTC, so 8 p.m. usage in the east coast is compared to 8 p.m. usage on the west coast.
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