How to Reduce Mobile App Churn Rate

One thing that the massive shift to digital platforms and devices has done is reduce our attention span. Now more than ever, those trying to get their product or service to succeed (such as a mobile app) are forced to cater to this reduced attention span. The need for immediacy when it comes to understanding the benefit or use of something like a mobile app is crucial. Unsurprisingly then, if there’s one feature that all of the world’s most successful mobile apps share, it’s that they bring this benefit to the user quickly and effectively.

If done well, your users will be hooked to your app and keep it installed for as long as it is relevant to them. If done poorly, however, then the user has a much higher propensity of uninstalling it days, hours, or even minutes after installing it. The number of your users who do this make up what’s called mobile app churn rate.

Your mobile app churn rate is one of the most important pieces of data you can have when it comes to understanding how to improve growth figures and find success for your app. It offers you an insight into how many of your potential users are lost – and knowing how to reduce your churn rate is effectively turning these lost users into valuable, long-term customers. Let’s take a closer look at what mobile app churn rate actually means, and how it should influence your direction and growth strategy moving forwards.

App churn rate vs retention rate: what are the differences?

You may have heard both the terms “churn rate” and “retention rate” in the mobile app space before. The two metrics are intricately related, but mean very different things. Retention rate refers to the percentage of your users who returned to your app after downloading it. Your retention rate will be calculated after a certain time period - meaning not all retention rates are directly comparable – that could be 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month. On the other hand, churn rate refers to the percentage of your users who uninstalled your app after downloading it, within a similar predetermined time frame.

Churn rate and retention rate are both crucial metrics when it comes to determining the success of your mobile app. As an app developer, you should always aim for the lowest churn rate possible, and the highest retention rate possible.

Why a low churn rate is crucial for a successful app

It sounds self-explanatory to suggest that having installs that lead to long-term customers as opposed to those that soon contribute to your mobile app churn is beneficial. In reality, there are many different growth strategies that mobile app developers employ. While some decide to go down the route of maximizing the number of installs to drive awareness, our experience here at Pangle has always shown us that focusing on reducing mobile app churn helps develop a good foundation for growth and is highly efficient.

The reason for this is because the cost of acquiring new users is considerably higher than selling to existing ones. In fact, research has shown that you have about a 60-70% chance of selling to an existing customer, but only 5-20% to a new one. Similarly, existing customers spend over 30% more than new ones.

While you undeniably need new customers to breathe new life into your app as it grows, at some point it’s importance will plateau and taper off. At this point, understanding how to retain your existing users and create the best possible app for them is paramount. But how exactly is this done?

How to reduce your mobile churn rate

As mentioned above, there is a set timeframe for determining your mobile churn rate. For a standard app, the vast majority of mobile app churn will occur within the first couple of weeks of user installs. After this period, the chance of a user uninstalling should lessen. At this point, the retention rate of these existing users who have had the app installed for quite some time should be much higher. There are several best practices app developers should follow in order to reduce the amount of mobile churn their app receives, and maximize the value of the customers who have already installed their app.

Step 1: Look at what channels your users are coming from, and analyze how steep the churn rate is for those individual channels

Your users may have found your app from a wide variety of sources. Channels could include any social media posts you made, any in-app advertising campaigns you may be running, directly from the app store, and more. Each channel may have a slightly different churn rate, and this can be put down to several factors, including the type of user that visits those channels, how their expectations from their initial impression of your app matched the actual experience, and more. Some of these factors may be out of your control, but understanding your audience in greater depth from the beginning will help leaps and bounds.

Step 2: See what you can do to the way your app is represented through those channels to reduce mobile churn

Sometimes, the reason for a user uninstalling an app is simply because it is not what they expected it to be. If one of your channels has an irregularly high churn rate in comparison to the rest, see if you are properly representing your app in that space to its users. Are screenshots, videos, and other glimpses into your app accurate to what they will see when they download it, and is your app offering all the functions as described? In some cases, you may want to pivot how you talk about your app to cater to that specific audience.

Step 3: Research the way your app is used. Specifically, you need to understand at what point your users get hooked and decide to keep it installed

If you haven’t done it already, this is one of the most important steps to take when trying to reduce your app’s churn rate. You can do this by comparing the uninstall rate before and after key points in the usage of your app. In a mobile game, this may be completing the first level, while for an eCommerce app, this may be making their first purchase – so on and so forth. If you find that your churn rate dramatically decreases after a certain in-app event, then you know this to be your app’s hook point.

All major app developers understand how people use their app in close detail and leverage this knowledge to their benefit when designing the user experience of the app and making the process for new users as streamlined and user-friendly as possible.

Step 4: See how you can optimize your app to get users who would not normally reach this point there. This can be done by:

Once you know what the hook point of your app is, there are countless ways you can adjust user experience to help get people past this first milestone and become part of your retention count. Consider the following:

  • Sending users more notifications to remind them of your app if they have not opened it for a certain period of time.
  • Try to make your app more engaging in the early stages of its usage in order to get people to your hook point.
  • If possible, consider updating your app to make the hook point more accessible and earlier in the use of the app.
  • Provide a variety of in-app incentives such as additional unlocks, free in-game items, and more.
  • Offer plenty of help & support services to anyone that needs it.
  • Make sure your app is simple and easy to navigate, especially for first-time users.

Step 5: Work with an ad network like Pangle for UA strategies designed with low churn rate in mind

Pangle offer app developers the opportunity to run user acquisition campaigns through in-app advertising that are specifically designed to target high-retention users. These well-rendered and user-friendly ads capture the interest of those best suited to your app and help optimize one of your key and most strategic UA channels. Read and learn more about our in-app advertising strategies here, or find out about our solutions here.

Take your app to the next level with Pangle

Ready to optimize your app and reduce churn rate? Start by adopting some of the strategies mentioned above or, to kickstart your own UA growth engine with in-app advertising, get in touch with us by emailing