Looking for a new app is like channel surfing to me. I download a half dozen in one sitting, give them each five minutes to wow me, if they don’t, then X — they’re gone. I did this last night on my quest to find an app that will organize all the thoughts I have about a book I’m trying to write. Not one of the apps I downloaded made the cut.
According to a study by Localytics, 22% of downloaded apps are only used once before being totally abandoned. These numbers include both paid and free apps (I’m assuming, since it doesn’t differentiate between the two). I would guess that the paid app retention percentage would be higher simply because we’ve plunked down cash so we want to make it work. If you look only at free apps, I would bet that 22% abandon rate would double.
The good news is that this abandon rate is down from where it was two years ago. In 2010, the rate was 26%. The better news is that an increasing number of people are sticking with their favorite app. In the past three years, the percentage of apps that were used more than 11 times (the top number in the survey) went from 26% to 31% then to 34% in 2012.
The results are even better if you have an Android app. Last year, only 23% of users stuck with their favorite apps. Now, they’re on par with iPhone users with a 11+ retention rate of 34%. That tells me that Android apps have grown both in number and quality over the last year.
But let’s get back to the 22% of apps that have been tossed on the trash pile after only one use. (I’m suddenly struck by an image of a garbage scowl hauling away a mountain of colorful icons!)
I asked Raj Aggarwal, CEO and co-founder of Localytics, why so many apps are being summarily abandoned and here’s what he had to say;
Twenty-two percent of apps are only used once because marketers aren’t engaging their users enough with personal and relevant communications. They need to create compelling experiences based on users’ behaviors and preferences that will drive engagement and, ultimately, trigger loyalty. The key to doing so lies in personalizing the app experience and using tactics such as in-app messaging, push notifications and A/B testing can bring engagement and monetization one large step closer.
I’d like to add my own thought: the app should work the way it’s supposed to with minimal instruction.
I’ve abandoned an app that was once a favorite because the upgrade was so complex, I’d need ten hours of training to create a single document. I’m not trying to build a space ship here. I just want to create an outline of information.
The best advice I have for app developers is something I learned from Tim Gunn of Project Runway. Keep it simple and make it work.
For more information on app retention and usage, peruse this simple-to-read, yet fact-filled infographic from Localytics.