Blog How to win back churned users and grow y...

How to win back churned users and grow your app

At its core, the role of an app marketer is to acquire new users and retain them over time. Retaining users can seem difficult. Globally, 74% of app users churn the day after an app install, and only 6% are still active 30 days post-install. Churn in marketing is unavoidable, however, that doesn’t mean churned users are lost forever. By tracking reattribution patterns, for example, we uncover a lot of information about re-engagement. Today, we’re taking a look at churn rates, returning user rates, reattribution share, and tips for how to bring your own app’s churn rate down.

Do users return after long periods of inactivity?

While the average app churn rate Day 7 post-install is 87%, and the average app churn rate for Day 30 post-install is 94%, yes, some users across all app verticals do return to an app after a period of inactivity. Some may have deleted an app and reinstalled it, while others may have simply not used the app for a while and then re-opened it. Popular examples of apps with high rates of returning churned users include dating apps, travel apps, and food delivery apps.

App churn graph revealing the average app churn rate.

In a previous Adjust study looking at churn data, we discovered that the number of users who returned after a two-month pause was equivalent to 17% of new installs in that period. After three months, an estimated 11% of churned users returned, and later, at six months, 4%. Looking more closely at verticals, we also identified that e-commerce had the highest returning user rate, an impressive 18% after three months of inactivity.

Why looking at reattribution can help your churn efforts

Another way to analyze how many churned users are returning is to look beyond direct churn metrics and to your reattribution rate, or share.

Reminder: What is reattribution?

Reattribution is the attribution of an app install/opening or a re-install by a user who has not used the app in a while but has returned via a retargeting campaign.

By examining the average app churn rate, you can craft a strategy that works to lower it. This will involve analyzing the journey of new users and those who have been reattributed, as you can look at the different ways those cohorts behave and the specific moments when they churn—or don't churn.

You can also link these reattributed cohorts to the specific campaigns and channels that drove them to unlock insight on where the most valuable returning users are being found. Are they the same channels as first-time users, or are different patterns identifiable?

Studying reattributed cohorts helps marketers to see:

  • If reattributed users perform differently than first-time attributions
  • How different re-engagement campaigns bring back different cohorts
  • Which campaigns or actions are most effective in bringing users back
  • The points at which reattributed users churn and how this relates or differs to first-time attributions.

Therefore, if marketers wish to improve their churn rates, one of the things we recommend is that they monitor reattribution share and reattributed user behavior as part of a holistic strategy that promotes retention and LTV.

Understanding when and why users churn and when and what brings them back will be critical to your entire UA approach. It’s best that marketers set a reattribution rate goal (number of reattributions relative to one new attribution), in line with the budget allocated to retargeting campaigns. This will be highly contextual but Adjust data does reveal industry benchmarks to use as a starting point.

Examining reattribution by app verticals

Recent Adjust data revealed the app verticals e-commerce and food & drink tied for the highest reattribution rate at  38%. Travel followed at 15%, fintech at 10%, and lifestyle at 9%.

Reattribution rate by app vertical

Retargeting and reattribution

Retargeting campaigns are essential to re-engage users who have churned. Is your app’s reattribution rate in line with strategic expectations, or industry benchmarks? If not, check out the article How retargeting can give your user base a second life for retargeting and user re-engagement best practices.

How to reduce app churn rate: Four tips

Let’s look beyond bringing back users who have churned and investigate how to reduce app churn rates in the first place. A high churn rate—one that is above the industry average—can be indicative of an app’s poor user journey and user experience.

To re-engage users with an app, use the following strategies to see if you can improve your monthly and annual churn rates.

1. Revisit your app’s onboarding process

Like it or not, your onboarding process is one of the most crucial factors affecting your app’s churn rate. During the onboarding process, users should understand how to easily navigate through your app, the benefits of it, and the purpose of your app. And the entire onboarding should be short and intuitive.

There are always user touchpoints in the app journey that marketers can test, and your onboarding process should not be exempt from examination.

You can use A/B testing to optimize the following in your onboarding process:

  • CTAs
  • Creatives
  • The number of onboarding screens
  • Navigation tour vs. no tour
  • At which point to put the sign-up screen

For a deeper dive, check out How to build a successful app onboarding.

2. Focus on that negative churn rate

Net negative churn occurs when the total additional revenue accrued from existing users is greater than the revenue lost from users who have churned or downgraded their subscriptions (in the case of subscription apps).

While particularly important for mobile apps focusing on their subscription churn rate, negative churn should be a focus for all apps, as in-app purchases (IAPs) make up 48.2% of mobile app earnings. Therefore, your customer churn rate matters greatly to most apps’ overall revenue.

If you focus on better offerings, such as improving what users can do with your in-app currency or letting them pay to unlock a level or purchase a hint, then users will spend more and interact more with your app. Not only will you see an increase in user engagement, but in your app’s negative churn rate.

3. Don’t forget, retention matters too

Rather than taking the mindset of churn vs. retention, consider these terms interdependent—like yin and yang, if you will. By improving your app’s retention rate, you will inversely improve its churn rate. A good retention strategy secures your app’s long-term sustainability, lifetime value (LTV), and (you guessed it) reduces your churn rate.

To improve your retention rate, focus on things like in-app messaging, deep linking, and user segmentation for greater personalization. Check out our guide on user retention for a thorough explanation, complete with retention benchmarks, best practices, and examples.

Churn vs. retention

While your app’s churn rate and retention rate both speak to your app’s success in user engagement, your strategy for reducing churn and increasing retention won’t necessarily be the same one.

Churn rate: The percentage of users that leave an app in a given time period.

Retention rate: The percentage of users who still use an app after a certain number of days.

In short, the churn rate of your app is the inverse of its retention rate. E.g., If your Day 30 retention rate is 6%, then your churn rate would be 94%.

User retention guide

4. Monitor the entire user journey

It’s paramount to have a complete overview of the user journey of your app to identify and optimize points of churn.

With your current marketing analytics tech stack, can you:

  • See which channels are bringing in users with the highest LTV?
  • Understand which campaigns and creatives drive the best users?
  • Automate audience segmentation and create custom audiences?
  • Build your own attribution logic specific to your app’s user journey?
  • Measure the entire user journey?

If you answered “No” to any of the above, there are likely gaps in your overview of the user journey. Without these insights, you lack visibility into aspects that may heavily impact your app’s churn rate.

For a holistic view of the user journey, partner with a mobile measurement partner (MMP) like Adjust. In doing so, you’ll gain the insights you need to improve your churn metrics and the agility you need to remain competitive in the app marketing space.

Convinced you’re ready for an end-to-end mobile measurement solution? Request your personalized Adjust demo now to see how our measurement and analytics suite can revolutionize your app growth.

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