Glossary
Retention rate
Retention rate
Retention rates measure the percentage of users who continue to come back and use an app or service over a specified time.

What is retention rate?

Retention rate in mobile marketing refers to the percentage of users who continue to use an app or service over a specified period of time. It is a key metric for measuring the success of a mobile marketing campaign, as it indicates how well the app or service is able to retain its user base. A high retention rate suggests that users find the app or service valuable and continue to use it on a regular basis, while a low retention rate may indicate that users are not finding the app or service useful and are not returning to it. Mobile marketers often focus on increasing retention rates by improving the user experience, offering new features and functionality, and providing incentives for continued use.

Retention rate vs. LTV

Retention rate and lifetime value (LTV) are two critical metrics in mobile marketing that are often used to measure the success of a campaign. While both are important, they are distinct and different from one another.

Lifetime value (LTV) measures the total value a customer will bring to a business over the course of their relationship with the company. It considers factors such as how much payment a customer is expected to make for the company's products or services, the length of time they are expected to remain a customer, and the customer's profitability to the business. As a result, LTV is an important metric for companies to consider when deciding how much to invest in customer acquisition and retention efforts. While LTV measures the overall value of a customer to a business, retention rate measures the ability of an app or service to keep its users engaged and coming back over time.

Why are retention rates important?

Retention rates are a critical metric for mobile marketers to track and understand. Here are a few reasons why retention rates are important in mobile marketing:

Retention rates indicate the value of an app or service to its users. If users continue to use an app or service over time, it suggests that they find it valuable and are getting something out of it. On the other hand, if retention rates are low, it may indicate that users need help finding the app or service useful and are not returning to it.

Retention rates can also help identify areas for improvement. By analyzing retention rates over time, mobile marketers can identify trends and patterns that may be impacting the ability of an app or service to retain its user base. This can help identify areas for improvement, such as fixing bugs, adding new features, or improving the user experience.

Finally, retention rates can impact the cost of customer acquisition. Retaining an existing customer costs about 1/5 of the budget to acquire a new customer. Therefore, by focusing on improving retention rates, mobile marketers can potentially reduce the overall cost of customer acquisition.

How can you calculate retention rates?

There are some different ways to calculate retention rates, but the most common method is to divide the number of users who continue to use an app or service over a specified period of time by the total number of users at the beginning of that period. The result is then expressed as a percentage.

Retention rate = (Number of users at the end of period / Number of users at the start of period) x 100

For example, if an app has 100 users at the start of a week and 75 of those users continue to use the app at the end of the week, the weekly retention rate would be 75%. 

Another way to calculate retention rate is to use a cohort analysis, which looks at the retention rates of different groups of users (cohorts) over time. For example, a cohort analysis might compare the retention rates of users who installed the app in January to those who installed the app in February. This can help identify trends and patterns in retention rates and potential factors that may impact retention.

How can mobile marketers improve their app’s retention rate?

Here are a few ways that mobile marketers can improve their app's retention rate:

  1. Improve the user experience: A positive user experience is key to retaining users. This includes factors such as the app's design, functionality, and overall ease of use. By continually optimizing and improving the user experience, mobile marketers can increase retention rates.
  2. Offer relevant and valuable content: Users are more likely to return to an app or service if they find its content or functionality to be relevant and valuable. Mobile marketers can improve retention rates by regularly updating their apps with new and relevant content and features.
  3. Use push notifications and in-app messaging: Push notifications, and in-app messaging can be used to remind users to return to the app and provide them with updates and information that may be of interest. However, it's important to use these tools sparingly and ensure that the messages being sent are relevant and valuable to the user.
  4. Provide incentives for continued use: Mobile marketers can also use incentives to encourage users to continue using the app. Some examples of an incentive can be reward programs, loyalty programs, or exclusive offers.
  5. Analyze and optimize retention rates: By analyzing retention rates over time, mobile marketers can identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement. This can involve conducting user research, A/B testing different app features, and design elements, and using data and analytics to inform optimization efforts.

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