How did seasonality affect apps in 2017?
Senior Content Manager
Posted Feb 26, 2018
Marketers can be prone to thinking about seasonal trends as a given.
At certain times of the year, they might assume that performance will either improve, or drop, depending on current events, holidays, or even on patterns of weather.
But no marketer should ever lapse into expected behavior, not unless they have data to back it up.
So here we’ve excerpted some data from our mobile benchmarks report to provide you with a little preview of our wider discoveries. We want to show you how certain verticals actually vary depending on the time of year.
Before we begin, here’s a quick bit on our methodology: our data is the same as was sourced for our benchmarks - essentially, a combination of apps that Adjust tracks, collected and anonymized across 2017. Presented here is data on the first day after install for three verticals: E-commerce, Business (a combination of categories Business and Finance) and Travel, per user. We track two metrics – sessions and events – to understand how users behave in every month of the year; whether they use the app, and how many actions each user takes inside of the app itself.
Let’s kick-off with a look at E-Commerce.
E-commerce: When do people stop to shop?
Whether it’s Black Friday, Singles’ Day, or Christmas, there are plenty of events that result in heavier use of E-commerce applications. These events, tied with targeted marketing campaigns, should mean a boost in the number of events in the months of November and December. Let’s see what we found.
However, our dataset also threw up a surprise - July saw the most events triggered of all, most likely started from the beginning of back-to-school sales. June and August are also high periods of shopping.
When it comes to sessions, we don’t see too much deviation throughout the year. Q1 saw a little more than the rest of the year, but (as we mentioned in our benchmark report) sessions and retention don’t seem to have much bearing on E-commerce’s overall performance.
Let’s talk about the sheer number of events we’ve accumulated. In general, E-commerce apps are skewed upward. For any other app, 25 events per user, per day is exceedingly high. So what’s the reason for this phenomenon?
It’s due to the nature of how marketers set them up. App opens, app launches, and app starts are all variations of the same event, but they are all tracked by E-commerce businesses, usually in combination with app launches from campaigns that direct users to specific product pages. Essentially, almost every action in an E-commerce app is tracked as a unique event, which then results in higher numbers vs. other verticals. So, any retargeting campaigns which brings a user back, any conversion, and almost any action in between, are tracked by E-commerce apps, something other verticals may not do.
Business and Finance: A sign of the times?
Whether it be financial planning, budgeting, or reports on the financial market - there are a few obvious expectant rises with Business apps, but that’s not the whole story. We might expect to see a rise in January as users determine to become more financially responsible in the New Year. We might also see high usage during taxation season, which for US and UK users sits around April. We might also see an uptick at the end of each quarter, as quarterly numbers are released by major public companies - in fact, news would probably have the biggest effect on Business and Finance versus the other two in this study. So what rings true?
When it comes to sessions, there’s generally little variance in the number of app opens across the year. We see a slight rise in December, but in general numbers sit just below two sessions per user, per day.
As for events, there’s much more fluctuation. On the first day of installs, users trigger between four and six events per day, except in Q4, where numbers almost halve to two per day.
We also see a slight improvement in performance at the end of each quarter, and also a lot more use of apps between May and June. So far, Summer 2017 has seen more worldwide use of apps then later in the year, at least according to our dataset.
Travel apps: When’s high season?
Out of the gate, one would expect summer to see the highest rate of both sessions and events, as users plan their holidays and utilize various transportation apps to get around.
And here, the trend bears truth. June, July and August all see slightly higher events and sessions than the preceding months.
That said, January has the most number of events, per user, on day after install. Perhaps the middle of winter has users dreaming of their summer vacations already. December sees little such influence, suggesting users aren’t using Travel apps as much in winter for a specific purpose.
If there are more trends you’d like to discover, our full benchmark report contains much more information on the topic. You can download it on this page, and in the benchmarks you’ll receive our insights based on a full year of data along with a host of graphs, charts and more.