What Explains Shifting App Engagement Rates?

Though engagement rates remain low, the mobile marketplace appears to be recovering from a paralyzing app glut.

That’s according to new findings from analytics firm Localytics, which processes around 120 billion data points per month.

After analyzing about 37,000 apps, Localytics found that 23% of people abandon apps after a single use.

This represents a slight improvement from the 25% rate that the firm found in 2015 -- although it still looks bad compared to the 20% rate it found in 2014.

This year, the firm also found that 38% of users return to apps at least 11 times -- up from 34% in 2015.

What explains the changing rates? For one, the market appears to be finally adjusting to a surge in app development in recent years, which drove down engagement rates.

Broken down by operating systems, iOS is witnessing a significant rise in app engagement. In, fact, the percentage of iOS users only opening an app once fell from 26% to 24%, while the percentage of iOS users returning to an app 11 or more times increased from 32% to 36%.



“One potential reason for this could be the advancements made to the overall app experience on iOS devices,” Caitlin O'Connell, a marketing research analyst at Localytics, speculates in the new reports.

“From multitasking to split screen to allowing notifications to be presented in chronological order versus grouping them by app, Apple has had a focus on improving the way consumers engage with their favorite apps,” O'Connell notes.

It's not surprising that some apps are doing better than others. For instance, those with in-app messages now see 46% of their users come back 11 or more times, while apps that do not incorporate an in-app strategy see that number drop to 36%.

In-app messages also have an effect early on in a user’s lifecycle, as only 17% of users will use an app just once if they see an in-app message, while apps not utilizing in-app messages see 26% abandoning the app after one session.

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