Smartphones have proliferated so quickly and woven themselves into everyday habits so thoroughly, it is easy to forget that there are levels of mobile use; As with all other stages and platforms in the digital revolution, mobile not only had its early adopters. In this early maturing stage of the market, mobile also has its intense or “power users.”
In a recent survey, SessionM defined these mobilistas as the top third of the market, the 33.3% who are responsible for an astonishing share of the actual usage going on out there. App usage is offering us a fascinating data set showing how content integrates into people’s days and habits and how publishers, be they marketers or media companies, are now engaged in a genuine, ongoing conversation of content and utility with their users. Or they should be.
In SessionM's calculations, this third of the market is responsible for 76% of total time spent in apps. They tended to complete 4 times as many sessions in apps than average and they performed nearly five times as many actions in the apps (71 per month vs 12).
To get the best visibility for new features and upgrades for an app or to have power users engage with app promotions, marketers should avoid Mondays. That is the day they are least likely to engage during the week. But if you want a social bump, wait until Tuesday, when these power users tend to engage in the most social activities in an app. Go figure.
And if you want to look for power users, try Vermont, which was second only to DC as the most likely location for power mobile users, followed by Iowa, Rhode Island and Nebraska. I used to live in three of those five places. I must be the trifecta of app target markets.
If you are trying to understand the likely longevity of your app with users, then SessionM crafted a handy thumbnail guide to how early usage of an app translates into retention. If a user only opens an app once in a ten-day period after installation, then almost 70% of them will not be using the app by the end of its first month on the phone. But if the wise app maker was able to lull the user back into the app even one more time in the early stages, more than half of those users stuck with it.
Number times users visited an app in the first 10 days post-install
Percentage of users still using the app 20 days later
SessionM is a loyalty and rewards platform, so it is not surprising that the logic of the survey leads to the role that incentives and rewards cam play in retention. In fact (wait for it), SessionM found a direct correlation. Apps without some kind of loyalty program produced almost 16 activities per average user per quarter, but more than twice that, or almost 33 activities in apps with some rewards system in place. For power users, the effect was even more pronounced: 126 activities in apps without rewards and 537 for apps with rewards.
Okay, well, maybe rewards are one route to retention, as would be a good use of alerts, a good widget (for Android and windows) or, well, you know, compelling memorable content. Regardless, the research underscores how much power users are eager to engage with apps if you give them a fair excuse and that those first 10 days are critical to long-term stickiness. Which is to say apps are like companions, relationships, buddies. The more we understand about how intimately we relate to devices, the more we glean that the content we offer (and its formats) need to conform to a different media dynamic with users.