NEW DATA: Mobile App Retention Has Made Significant Gains Since 2016

Every six months Localytics publishes benchmark data that showcases trends in app engagement and retention across a number of industries, as well as trends that we see across all apps. Like any benchmark, this data helps our customers and other mobile marketers gauge the performance of their app.

Looking at our overall benchmark data for 2017 as well as industry-specific reports for Retail & eCommerce, Travel & Lifestyle, Media & Entertainment, and Business & Technology, we found a number of positive developments, including a notable improvement in one, two and three-month user retention and a reduction in churn.

Apps are retaining a greater number of users in the long-term

One of the best ways to understand the effectiveness of your app is to measure your monthly retention, or the percent of users who return to the app one month, two months, and three months after the app is downloaded.

Since 2016, average one month, two month and three month retention has increased by 11%, 22% and 28% respectively, which equates to an average increase of 20% across the board. Additionally, monthly churn, or people who do not return to an app, has decreased by an average of 7%. 


We also found that the number of users who returned to an app 14 days after launching that app has increased by 3% since the beginning of 2017, a sign that brands are doing a better job of holding onto their users in the long-run. 

This is a positive sign, and shows that brands are focusing more and more on improving retention rather than just focusing on new customer acquisition. The more that brands invest in their mobile users by creating personalized content and highly-targeted messages, the more invested those users will become in the app and in the brand. 

Daily and weekly app engagement metrics remain positive

Another proxy for understanding how your app is faring is to look at daily and weekly engagement metrics, including app launches, session length and average time in app.

Between 2016 and 2017, we've seen the weekly time in app increase from an average of 28:42 minutes to 30:30 minutes, which equates to an increase of 6.7%. We also saw a 5.5% increase in average monthly time in app between 2016 and 2017. 

  2016 2017 % CHANGE (YOY)
App Launches - Monthly 13.59


Session Length - Monthly (minutes) 4.88 4.63 -5.1%
 Time in App - Monthly (minutes) 66.3  69.98 +5.6% 
 App Launches - Weekly 5.9 6.65  +12.7%
 Session Length - Weekly (minutes)  4.86 4.6 -5.3% 
 Time in App - Weekly (minutes) 28.66 30.56 +6.7% 

Increased app launches can be a good sign that users are engaging with apps and using them more frequently. 

Plenty of room for growth when it comes to iOS and Android push performance 


In the second half of 2017, Android’s push opt-in, in-app open, and in-app conversion rates advanced steadily: each are respectively witnessing 6%, 10%, and 48% increases, however Android push open, conversion, and engagement have decreased by 31%, 18%, and 31% respectively since the second half of 2016. Android apps could do a better job of keeping users engaged by crafting well-targeted, effective push message campaigns, but are seeing great results with their in-app messaging. 

iOS is faring slightly better: its push open rate has increased by 10%, push engagement (the average number of sessions recipients of the message had within the the first week of receiving the message) saw an 18% increase, and in-app open and conversion rates have increased by 20% and 32% respectively. On the other hand, there was a slight decrease in iOS push conversion rates from 0.5% in 2016 to 0.46% in 2017. 

An effective app marketing strategy uses both push and in-app messaging features and advanced segment targeting driven by granular audience data. Compared to 2016, 2017 was a great year for app launches and long-term retention, while push and in-app messaging generally saw positive performance. Short-term retention experienced a bit of a decrease from the first half to the second half of the year, but in the long-run users are more engaged than ever.

To learn more, check out the full report.