Takeaway #2: Immediately Retain New Users With the 3x3 Rule

In both 2014 and 2015, we found that users who engage with the app early and often are at a much lower risk of churning, to the tune of only 14% of users who complete 11 or more sessions in the first 30 days will churn. 

Digging into the numbers even further, we’ve identify a minimal threshold - or the minimum number of sessions a user must complete - to suggest they have seen value in your app and thus be considered an active user. We call this correlation between app usage within a certain time frame and the likelihood of app success the 3x3 rule.

If the average percent of users who churn is 58%, then we can deduce most people only use an app 1-2 times in the first 30 days. That means, on average, the critical hurdle is three app sessions a month.

But knowing you need users to log 3 sessions may still be not enough. Measuring churn within a 30-day window is the most common benchmark for user churn and retention, but our research found a more critical window to concentrate on when trying to influence retention: the first three days after an app’s download.

Why? Because only 29% of your users will churn if you can encourage them to have three sessions in the first three days after they’ve downloaded your app. Thus, the 3x3 rule. 

This means that there needs to be a concerted focus on the first, second and third app opens for each new user. By creating an experience of value from the first app open, you’re creating early traction that will turn into retention and steer users away from churning. There are many ways to accomplish this, and new ones being created by app publishers every day.