Overall retention improves to 38% in 2016 from 34% in 2015


If there is a silver lining amidst the mobile engagement crisis, it’s that some apps have led the charge towards improving the app user experience, and as a result we’re seeing a slight uptick in retention. During 2016, we saw the number of users who returned to an app 11 or more times increase 4% from 2015 to 38%.

Digging a bit deeper, we saw that this improvement was mainly thanks to iOS apps, where user retention improved to 36% during 2016:

Clearly, the emphasis iOS devices put on the user experience is having an impact. From allowing notifications in chronological order to multitasking and split screen, Apple has prioritized improvements to the way that users interact with apps on their devices. As we move into 2017, it will be interesting to see the impact iOS 10 has on retention.

Looking beyond devices, our data team also measured retention based on app size, and found that mid-market growth (medium sized) apps fared best. More specifically, apps that had between 15,000 and 50,000 MAUs saw the strongest year-over-year improvement when it came to retention:

Why the lift for medium sized apps? Most likely, this is due to a stronger emphasis on user engagement. While smaller apps are still figuring out their strategy and larger apps have made it to the big league, mid-sized apps are primed for growth.

If you think about where mid-sized apps are in their lifecycle, they have broken through the App Store clutter and have established themselves enough to not only survive, but prosper. Now their main focus is on strong user engagement and that comes from effective app marketing (onboarding, push notifications, in-app messaging, remarketing, etc.) to help them continue to expand their base and grow into a large app.