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The 2018 Mobile Benchmark Report


Every six months Localytics publishes benchmark statistics on mobile app engagement. Here we have compiled our 2017 H2 benchmarks and insights into one easy to read report.

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The 2018 Mobile Benchmark Report


Every six months Localytics publishes benchmark statistics on mobile app engagement. Here we have compiled our 2017 H2 benchmarks and insights into one easy to read report.


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 the second half of 2017, we found a number of positive developments, including a notable improvement in one, two and three-month user retention and a reduction in churn. 

Industry-specific reports for Retail & eCommerce, Travel & Lifestyle, Media & Entertainment, and Business & Technology point to additional progress in push engagement, time in app, and app launches.

Let's start by exploring some of the wins that the mobile space has experienced overall in the past few years.

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Overall


Mobile App Retention Has Made Significant Gains Since 2016

Overall


Mobile App Retention Has Made Significant Gains Since 2016

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%. 

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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 28:40 minutes to 30:34 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 15.12 +11.2%
Session Length - Monthly (minutes) 4:53 4:38 -5.1%
 Time in App - Monthly (minutes) 66:18  69:59 +5.6% 
 App Launches - Weekly 5.9 6.65  +12.7%
 Session Length - Weekly (minutes)  4:52 4:36 -5.3% 
 Time in App - Weekly (minutes) 28:40 30:34 +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

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Android’s push opt-in, in-app open, and in-app conversion rates are advancing 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.

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Business & Technology


App Engagement and Retention Continue to Climb

Business & Technology


App Engagement and Retention Continue to Climb

Business evolves at a rapid pace as technology changes our perception of what is possible. Here we explore trends in app categories such as utilities, technology, education, productivity and business-to-business communication.

Business & Technology apps are seeing a 14% increase in weekly launches since the second half of 2016

Users are spending more time in these apps (+5% monthly and +12% weekly), which can be attributed to the significant 10% increase in monthly app launches and 14% increase in weekly app launches for the second half of 2017.

  2H 2016 1H 2017 1H 2017 % CHANGE (YOY)
App Launches - Monthly 13.23 13.27 14.52 +9.75%
Session Length - Monthly (minutes) 3:55 3:35 3:44 -4.59%
 Time in App - Monthly (minutes) 51:50   47:38 54:18  +4.77% 
 App Launches - Weekly 5.83  6.18  6.62   +13.55%
 Session Length - Weekly (minutes)  3:49 3:31  3:46  -1.31% 
 Time in App - Weekly (minutes) 22:16  21:46  24:58  +12.08% 

App launches are a good indicator of this industry's performance, as the more upfront value textbooks, financial advice, or planning tools provide, the more frequently users will turn to them. Of course, consumers spend far less time in these apps than they do in content-heavy Media and Entertainment apps (3:44 minutes vs 6:35 minutes), but that's to be expected. It's still encouraging to see average session lengths for Business and Technology apps have remained fairly steady since the second half of 2016.

App loyalty has gained momentum

To complement the good news that we've seen from other industries, Business and Technology app retention rates reached their highest point in years in the second half of 2017.

Retention measures the percent of users who return to an app one month, two months, and three months after the app is downloaded. Churn is the opposite; it measures the percentage of people who do not return to an app one month, two months, and three months after download. 

1-month, 2-month, and 3-month retention rates for Business and Technology apps have respectively increased by 24%, 29%, and 35% since H2 2016, while churn rates have dropped by 12%, 9%, and 9%. 

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Business and Technology app owners have been doing a great job of keeping users engaged by sending better quality, targeted in-app and push messages. Anything less will cause churn to creep back up and app users will find value elsewhere. 

iOS push open rates have shot up 57% and push conversions increased by 7%

A few metrics, such as push opt-in, engagement, and open and conversion rates, can give us an idea of how well app owners are specifically offering this value. 

We found that Android opt-in rates are seeing a 30% increase year over year, while iOS opt-ins have remained flat. 

Opt-In rates are important, as users who opt-in see an 88% increase in engagement and nearly 3x higher retention rate compared to those who disable push. Android and iOS push engagement (which is measured as the average number of sessions recipients of the message had within the the first week of receiving the message) have both increased by 7% and 19% respectively since the second half of 2016, while iOS push open rates have seen a 57% increase and iOS conversions have seen a 7% increase.


Business and Technology apps in-app conversion performance has hit some bumps in the past year, where we see that the Android in-app conversion rate has dropped from 3.7% to 0.76%, and iOS in-app conversion rates from 4.3% to 2.19%. In-app open rates have fared better, but could still stand improvement: Android remained flat but iOS decreased by 29%.

The era of the productivity app has arrived and businesses are beginning to realize the utility and educational power behind developing their own mobile applications. This is a tremendous opportunity for them to develop better relationships with their customers and evolve beyond seeing consumers as a crowd, instead forming deeply personal relationships with them. Perception has always been crucial, but these days it can be swayed at the drop of a hat.

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Media & Entertainment


Push Engagement at an All-Time High

Media & Entertainment


Push Engagement at an All-Time High

According to eMarketer, U.S. adults spent around 12 hours and seven minutes a day consuming media across all channels and devices in 2017, of which nearly three hours were spent in mobile apps.  With the rise of audio books, streaming services, and online news sites, it’s no surprise that mobile users consistently turn to their devices for media and entertainment content.

To see just how much consumers dig their media and entertainment apps, let's examine our most recent Benchmarks.

Time in app is trending upwards

An increase in media and entertainment app launches brings the average monthly time in app to one hour, 49 minutes, an increase of 6% since the second half of 2016. Average weekly time in app has also increased by 18%. 

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Time spent in these apps is normally higher than in other app categories because the content demands prolonged attention. Streaming a sports game, listening to music, or reading the news are time-intensive activities, whereas activities in apps under a category such as retail are completed more quickly (i.e. buying an item off Amazon or eBay).

There has been a 25% increase in weekly app launches since the second half of 2016, which explains the significant jump in time in app. Great onboarding strategies, improved personalization (meeting users’ needs and expectations), and high quality push campaigns are likely reasons.

Improved engagement means higher retention

Similar to our other benchmarks, user retention in this category saw an upward trend in the second half of 2017. The percentage of users who continued using the app one, two, and three months after their first session has increased by 25%, 33%, and 52% respectively since the second half of 2016.

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When it comes to entertainment and media, mobile users are looking for apps that they can rely on long-term. An app is the perfect companion to a newspaper subscription, which may explain why retention is trending upwards. Electronic media remains an essential aspect of consumers’ lives and loyalty to favorite news sources is on the rise.

Push engagement soaring, iOS opt-in rates showing a decline, and in-app conversions are on the rise

iOS push engagement (defined as the average number of sessions recipients of the message had within the first week of receiving the message) has increased by a whopping 77% since 2016, whereas Android push engagement has increased by an impressive 14%.

  2016 H2 2017 H1 2017 H2 % change (YoY)
iOS Push Engagement 2.17 2.88 2.47 +14% 
Android Push Engagement 2.31 3.35 4.09 +77% 

 Android’s push opt-in rate remains at a fairly steady level, but the same cannot be said about iOS. Because of strict guidelines and iOS users’ preferences when it comes to push notifications, iOS opt-in rate is decreasing. There is a good chance that Apple users are choosing apps that allow for a more personalized experience.

Finally, both iOS and Android in-app conversion rates are seeing an increase of 35% and 41% respectively since H2 2016. It is likely that marketers are implementing more effective messaging strategies (targeting and content) to achieve higher conversion. Many apps are also taking advantage of mobile wallets, a feature that appeals to anyone using Apple or Google Pay to make mobile purchases.

Media and entertainment apps are dominating the mobile space - push engagement, retention, and time in-app each saw significant increases. As mobile entertainment demand rises, it is simply logical that engagement will continue to rise with it.

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Travel & Lifestyle


Customer Churn Rates Saw a Record Low in 2017

Travel & Lifestyle


Customer Churn Rates Saw a Record Low in 2017

Last year, two out of five consumers who made a digital travel purchase did so on a mobile device, according to eMarketer. U.S. mobile travel sales totaled $75.85 billion in 2017, 16.7% higher than in 2016. The travel industry has been making large strides in the mobile space and an increasing amount of consumers are growing accustomed to booking and managing travel on their devices.

We also saw this upward trend play out in our most recent Travel Benchmark Report. Users of travel apps have traditionally shown exceptional app loyalty, and the second half of 2017 was no different.

3-Month churn at its lowest point in two years

Churn measures the percentage of people who do not return to an app one month, two months, and three months after downloading it, whereas retention measures the percentage of users who return to an app after the app is downloaded. 

In the last six months of 2017, we found that Travel apps churned 70% of their users and retained 30% after three months. This is a noticeable increase/decrease on both fronts since the second half of 2016, when travel and lifestyle apps churned 75% of mobile users, and retained only 25%, after three months.

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Travel and lifestyle apps have relatively low churn partly due to their nature, e.g. purchasing airline tickets, booking hotels, and tracking steps– all actions that require repeat visits and strict brand differentiation.

Churn rates for the second half of 2017 were also much lower than rates we saw in 2015 (70% in 2017 versus 82% in Q4 2015).

  2015 Q4 2016 H1 2016 H2 2017 H1 2017 H2
Churn - Month +1 64% 65% 59% 57% 55%
Churn - Month +2 76% 75% 69% 67% 64%
Churn - Month +3 82% 79% 75% 72% 70%

Since 2015 one, two, and three-month churn has decreased by 9, 12, and 12 percentage points respectively. This is a great sign for travel and lifestyle apps, as lower churn numbers indicate that brands are doing a better job of understanding what their users want and delivering more personalized content, keeping them engaged and coming back for more. While the rates have lowered, 70% of users still churn after three months, indicating that users are still not as satisfied as they could be.

Examining launches, session lengths, and time in app reveals a slight decline in these metrics.

  2016 H1 2016 H2 2017 H1 2017 H2
Weekly App Launches 5.55 5.58 5.92 5.48
Weekly Session Length (minutes) 3:27 3:40 3:25 3:13
Weekly Time in App (minutes) 19:09 20:26 20:16 17:39

This should not be cause for alarm, since retention is improving at such a fast rate. It is likely that users are simply becoming more comfortable with the app and are able to accomplish what they need in less time and fewer sessions.

Push notification open and conversion rates steadily climbing

Travel and lifestyle apps are showing solid improvement in push notification performance. iOS push open rates increased from 2.67% in H2 2016 to 3.49% in the second half of 2017, while Android push open rates increased modestly from 7.3% to 7.33%. Additionally, Android push conversion rates increased from 0.39% in the first half of  2017 to 1.05% in the second half of the year. iOS overall push engagement (defined as the average number of sessions recipients of the message had within the first week of receiving the message) also jumped from 1.87 to 1.91.

In-app messages are also seeing better performance, with iOS conversion rates increasing dramatically from 1.4% to 5.35%, even though open rates dipped from 11% to 8.24%. Higher conversion is likely due to better in-app message targeting, engagement, and improved mobile payment methods.

On the other hand, Android and iOS push opt-in rates have been decreasing over time. We found that the average Android push opt-in rate had dropped from 80% in the first half of 2016 to 64% in the second half of 2017. iOS opt-in rates also saw a decrease from 49% to 40%.

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This is a realistic trend, since as time goes on users become more hesitant to accept push notifications from every app, and instead focus on the apps that send valuable, personalized messages.  

Forecasts claim that by 2021 mobile will account for nearly 50% of all digital travel sales (approximately $100 billion), so there is enormous potential for travel and lifestyle brands to forge meaningful connections with their particularly loyal users. Keeping your app top of mind, achieving better conversion, and facilitating even higher retention can be accomplished by implementing some of the strategies mentioned in our Travel app mobile marketing playbook.

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Retail & eCommerce


3-Month Mobile User Retention Increased Nearly 10% Since 2015

Retail & eCommerce


3-Month Mobile User Retention Increased Nearly 10% Since 2015

2017 was a tough year for retailers, with unprecedented levels of store closures and growing threats from Amazon. But, retailers also had an impressive second half of the year. They saw record sales during Black Friday weekend, with consumers dropping more than $11 billion. And, mobile shopping hit a new high in 2017, with Cyber Monday heralded as mobile’s first $2 billion day ever.

This impressive second half of 2017 also played out in our recently published Retail App Benchmark report. These benchmark reports include stats around user engagement and retention, as well as the average performance of push notifications and in-app messaging campaigns.

Retention's steady incline

Retention measures the percentage of users who return to an app one month, two months, and three months after the app is downloaded. Churn is the opposite; it measures the percentage of people who do not return to an app one month, two months, and three months after downloading it.

In the last six months of 2017, retail apps saw three-month user retention increase to 25%, up from 21% in the first half of 2017. Additionally, the percentage of retail app users who churned after three months dropped to 75%, down from 79% in the first half of the year.

Certainly this level of churn is still high and concerning, but it’s far lower than when we measured churn for retail apps in 2015.

Comparing the benchmarks for retail and ecommerce over the years shows that 3-month retention has increased from eighteen percent in 2015 to twenty-five percent in 2017. Even though this increase is modest, it suggests that marketers are getting better at sending more personalized push notifications that entice users to launch an app.

  2015 Q4 2016 H1 2016 H2 2017 H1 2017 H2
Retention - Month +1 37% 36% 41% 39% 41%
Retention - Month +2 24% 25% 29% 27% 30%
Retention - Month +3 18% 20% 24% 21% 25%

These numbers also suggest that mobile app teams are making apps “stickier” with better UX and features. Something that supports this is the data we collected that shows how often, and how long, people engage with retail apps.

While engagement metrics are down over the years, this is not necessarily a bad thing...

  2015 Q4 2016 H1 2016 H2 2017 H1 2017 H2
Monthly App Launches 17.5 11.4 10.92 10.88 10.24
Monthly Session Length (minutes) 2:51 3:23 3:31 3:17 3:13
Monthly Time in App (minutes) 51:01 38:39 38:28 35:42 32:52

These lower numbers may indicate that users are becoming more “app savvy” and can find and buy products in-app much faster.

Decrease in push opt-ins and increase in clicks on in-app messages

In the benchmark report, we also examined push notification opt-in rates for retail apps on both Android and iOS devices. Between the first and second half of 2017, we didn’t see a major change in push notification opt-in rates on Android devices (88% vs 87%), but iOS opt-in rates dropped from 47% to 42% during that same time period.

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Additionally, we found that Android push notification open rates and conversion rates for retail apps on Android devices decreased slightly in the second half of 2017, but that the engagement rate for those notifications (average number of sessions recipients had within the first week of receiving the message) actually increased to 2.45%, up from 2% in the first half of the year. We saw similar behavior on iOS devices, though the increase in engagement was a bit smaller, going from 2.31% to 2.45%.

Lastly, we looked at the same data for in-app messages and saw a sharp increase on Android in-app conversion rates for retail apps - increasing from 10.17% percent in the first half of 2017 to 12.59% in the second half. While open rates for in-app messages on iOS devices increased during this timeframe, conversion rates came in slightly lower at 5.93%, down from 6.64% in the first half of the year.

Overall, it’s clear that retail apps have come a long way in the last year. While there is still a lot of work to do to deliver the level of personalization that consumers want, it’s clear that retailers are making progress. 

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Final Thoughts


Final Thoughts


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 continue to be engaged. 

Comparing industry benchmarks is the best way to understand how your app is performing against the market. Be sure to check the resources section on our website for more stats!