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In the World of Apps: Retention is Up But Frequency is Down




What’s the oldest app on your phone or tablet that you still use on a regular basis? Which app do you access most often?

According to Flurry, you probably chose two different apps because retention rate and frequency rate don’t usually go together.

Flurry created this chaotic chart which shows average app usage by category. Look it over and then we’ll discuss:

The top right corner, Quadrant 1, are the rare apps we use frequently and over a long period of time. Communication apps are accessed an average of 8.8 times a week. News gets a 5.2.

Moving over the to left, we see Social Networking which comes in just slightly under News with a 5.1 but the retention rate drops down to 34% after 90 days. In other words, when we love it, we love it but we get bored easily and move on. The same is true of social games, streaming music and dating apps (perhaps they simply found Mr. Right!).

On the lower level, we find those apps that are accessed only now and then. This might seem like a bad spot to be in, but the right side of the chart (Quadrant IV) isn’t so bad. These apps have loyal customers who keep coming back for more. Weather, Travel, Navigation, Food & Drink — these are apps we use on very specific occasions. On those occasions, they’re very important (don’t want to get lost or miss my flight) but the rest of the month, they’re useless.

The worst Quadrant on the chart is III. These apps aren’t accessed very often and they don’t last long before they’re deleted. We’re talking Deals, Retail, Fitness, and Medical among others.

Visit Less, Stay Longer

Flurry says that the 90-day retention rate has increased from 25% (in 2009) to 35% (2012). This is likely due to the fact that the overall quality of apps have improved and people are now addicted to them!

At the same time, frequency of use has dropped big time, from 6.7 to 3.7. This is probably due to the fact that there are many more choices in the market, so we’re dividing out attention across a larger number of apps.

When it comes to monetization, here’s how it breaks down. App categories across the top are used frequently, so they’re perfect for ads. Down the left side are the quick burn-outs, so these apps should charge an up-front fee. These are also the people you want to hit with upgrade options that hit before the boredom does.

As far as the lower right goes, that’s a tricky one. Customer loyalty is nice but since they don’t view it often, ads probably won’t work. If brand recognition is what your after, these apps will do the trick.