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Retaining app users over time continues to be a major challenge for app marketers, according to a new report from mobile app measurement and marketing platform AppsFlyer.

The report said that only 10 percent to 12 percent of users remain active seven days after downloading an app, and a mere 4 percent to 5 percent are still active after 30 days.

AppsFlyer also found that when comparing organic users (those who discover an app from a friend or on their own) and non-organic users (those who are lured by an ad), the former outperformed the latter by 15 percent on iOS and 21 percent on Android.

But there is some good news in the report. Overall retention has improved from a year ago. Android organic users fell 6 percent, but non-organic users were up 4 percent on Android. And on iOS, organic users were up 9 percent and non-organic users were up 25 percent.


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The improvement clearly demonstrates that marketers understand the importance of retention and have
doubled down on their optimization efforts, the report said.

The average number of app opens per daily active user on Android is 3.8 (organic) versus 3.56 (non-organic), and on iOS 4.3 versus 4.

Monetizing users, especially non-organic ones, is tough. Fewer than 2 percent of those who download an app actually make purchases inside the app.

Non-organic Android users are slightly more engaged earlier in the funnel (click-to-install, install-to-engaged rates), but when it comes to purchases, iOS users reign supreme. The chances of an engaged user turning into a buyer are almost 80 percent higher on iOS, while the odds of a user who installed an app becoming a buyer are 55 percent higher.

And lifetime activity is significantly different across shopping and gaming, the report found. The average mobile gamer performs about six in-app events in 90 days, with owners of Android devices outpacing iOS device owners by 20 percent. The average user of a shopping app performs about 18 in-app events in 90 days, with iOS users almost 25 percent more active than Android shoppers across each stage in the funnel.

Regional comparisons show North America leading in purchase activity. North America is the leader in the share of buying users with the best iOS install-to-buyer ratio (2.25 percent) and the second-best ratio on Android (1.3 percent) — among non-organic users.

North American shoppers are also most active in terms of adding products to their in-app shopping cart and making purchases: on iOS with 9.5 “add-to-carts“ and two purchases, and on Android with 7 and 2, respectively.

In the U.S., the report said marketers will find highly engaged app users where they may not expect to. Cities like Salt Lake City, Omaha, Kansas City, Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, Louisville and others in some less-prominent media markets see some of the highest rates of mobile app engagement in the country.

Conversely, some of the largest media markets — like Seattle, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and New York — have populations that are more selective about their app engagement. In fact, the places that Amazon, Google, Apple, Hollywood, and Madison Avenue call home have populations that engage with mobile apps 30 percent less than those in the top “flyover“ cities.

Latin America has the lowest rate of purchase activity in gaming apps, with only about 0.07 in-app lifetime purchases (90 days) per 1 install across iOS and Android. India is not far behind, with only 0.09 IAPs. Latin America also has the lowest install-to-buyer ratio among Android apps (0.41 percent), followed by India (0.84 percent). On iOS, however, Latin America’s share of buying users is higher, at 1.18 percent.

The report measured 5,000 apps that were installed 3.5 billion times.

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