Most of entrepreneurs haughtily think that their product is unique, but at the market level, undeniable trends emerge in how people use categorically similar products. It is important for a good growth strategy to understand how your retention and session frequency compares to your peers. Knowing this will highlight your product’s strengths and weaknesses.
Last week, Flurry released an updated benchmark for mobile app retention and session frequency based upon sampling of thousands of applications that can be used to baseline user behavior and focus a growth strategy.
Quadrant 1 - High retention, High usage
According to Flurry data, news and communication apps are the only two app categories that have high retention and weekly usage. Communication is the primary use case for a mobile phone. Though most of us forget, mobile phones were first invented to call people on the go. After communication, news apps fill the second most common use case in allowing users to remain up to date on the world around them.
One of the best growth strategies for communication apps is to utilize a mobile phone’s address book to send out invitations. News apps are typically single-player experiences and usually don’t require registration to use. News apps often grow based upon their market mindshare and user-to-user sharing.
Quadrant 2 - Low retention, High usage
This quadrant is marked by high initial usage and high churn. It is not surprising that social games fall into this quadrant; however, it is surprising that social networking apps lie in this quadrant. Social networking apps are essentially glorified communication platforms. Despite a social networking application’s additional product layers (think Facebook vs. Voxer), it seems that these enhancements do not retain a mobile user better than communication apps in the aggregate.
To grow an app in this quadrant requires a lot of new user thru-put. Companies in this category might build “thrown away” applications to pancake each app on top of each other to find growth. The game in this quadrant is to remain fresh in the mind of the market as stale translates into death. User’s fade away quickly but are eager to switch to the next new thing. Zynga ranks towards the top in implementing this type of growth strategy. Zynga burns through game after game to keep user engagement high.
Quadrant 3 - Low retention, Low usage
In quadrant three, growth is the hardest. The most common user behavior in this quadrant “one then done”. This is a crowded quadrant with popular app categories such as health and fitness, personalization, media apps, and daily deals. Apps in this quadrant typically only need one or two sessions to solve the primary use case. For example, looking up information on a virus or purchasing a daily deal takes only one session. These apps struggle at delivering continuous value to a user.
These apps require loads of thru-put to grow. Since retention is so low, these apps are not afraid of burning a user relationship to keep thru-put high. These apps don’t expect a large level of user loyalty.
Quadrant 4 - High retention, Low usage
Quadrant four applications are utilities. These apps typically lack a social layer and are designed for a single-player experience. User retention is very high because these apps solve a particular problem very, very well. They have a high level of user trust and are known as the go-to destination to solve a specific problem.
Quadrant four applications typically have a flattish growth curve due to a low viral coefficient and a low session frequency. Despite this disadvantage, their growth trajectory is stable and predictable.
User behavior is changing. Mobile app sessions typically reflect a “snacking” behavior. Sessions are short but frequent. On the web, a user is typically engrossed with a full screen with the only distraction being another opened tab (and Facebook). In mobile, it is a two sided coin: a user can lose focus quickly due to external events but are more forgiving in delayed gratification.
Be mindful of how your mobile users behave. They probably desire something very different than your web users.