App retention is becoming more challenging but apps with push notification have lower abandonment rates, according to a new study from Localytics.

The study from the Boston-based app marketing and analytics company focused on mobile app loyalty and abandonment focused on two key metrics: user retention (users than return to an app 11 or more times) and user abandonment (the percentage of users that abandon an app after just one session).

Internationally, Localytics reported a decline in user retention for 2015, from 39 per cent in 2014 to 34 per cent in 2015. Conversely, user abandonment rates spiked to 25 per cent, up from 20 per cent in 2014. Digging further into the numbers, Localytics found a marked difference between the figures for the U.S. and the rest of the world, particularly China.

In the U.S., retention actually grew by three points year over year to 42 per cent, while the abandonment rate stayed steady at 19 per cent.

“This can likely be attributed to continued improvements around app development, as well as better strategies to engage users with tools like push messaging and active efforts to re-engage lost users through email and remarketing,” said Dave Hoch, a business analyst with Localytics, in a blog post.

Conversely, in China, which has always lagged the U.S. in these metrics, retention dropped from 27 per cent to 18 per cent, while abandonment hit 37 per cent. The report says the rapid adoption of 4G networks in China is leading users to abandon older, under-performing apps, WeChat’s growing popularity is cannibalizing other apps and Chinese users spend less times in apps, so they’re likely looking for different things than U.S. users.

app rentention


Overall, for marketers looking to drive greater app retention it appears push notifications may be one way to go. In the U.S., 56 per cent of apps with push notifications enabled at their retention rate hit 56 per cent, while the figure was 37 per cent for those without push notifications. Push enablement also drove higher retention rates in the Chinese market.

“While it’s fair to think that users who are enabling push messages are more likely to be loyal just based on the fact that they enabled push, it’s a good sign that focusing on encouraging push notifications opt-ins, combined with personalized push techniques such as Facebook remarketing, will help marketers continue to improve user retention for their apps,” wrote Hoch.

The report recommends marketers continue to focus on the onboarding experience, optimizing for global audiences and encouraging push notification opt-in.

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