Introducing activity segments: new insight into user retention

By Marc Richards, Product Manager

One of the biggest (and most costly) mistakes app development teams make is forgetting about retention. Yes, it’s important to grow your user base, but what’s the point in spending time and money to acquire a new user if they churn the next day?

Today, mobile is a sophisticated, full-fledged industry which means competition is increasing (Apple’s App store adds more than 1,000 apps a day) and app abandonment is alarmingly high (losing up to 80% of your user base is shockingly, considered normal).

The bottom line is: you cannot build a successful mobile business unless you pay attention to retention. The first step to doing that is understanding how engaged your current users are. That’s why on Answers’ second birthday, we’re announcing activity segments, a deeper look at your active app users, and the ones at risk of abandoning your app.

Time is precious as an indie dev, and Answers gives me high level user metrics with no extra work on my part. Now I know when retention is a problem in my apps.

A powerful, intuitive snapshot of user engagement

It’s hard to acquire new app users, so it’s natural to want to know if they are actually sticking around and converting into loyal users. Answers activity segments show how active your users are, over the course of a week. Based on session data, Answers groups users into buckets, ranging from inactive users (people who have not launched your app in more than a week) all the way to high activity users (people who have used your app almost every single day in the past 7 days). We even give you a breakdown of new and resurrected users.

Most importantly, we reveal how users are flowing from one activity state to another (e.g., how their engagement level changes week over week in an easy-to-read graph). This will help you answer questions like:

  • Are my high activity users increasing or decreasing from week to week?
  • What percent of low activity users are new users?
  • How many people moved from the medium activity bucket to the high activity bucket in the last week?
  • How many users did we re-engage and rescue from their inactive state?

This information will be invaluable in helping you prioritize your app marketing campaigns and gauging their success.

It's great that we can quickly see user retention and spend time on action instead of digging for data.

Uncover behaviors that correlate with healthy users

Once you have awareness into your user engagement levels, the next step is to uncover what distinguishes an active user from a user who is at risk of churning. It’s vital to identify the behavioral benchmarks of your healthy users so you can proactively nudge more people towards these “good” loyalty-boosting behaviors.

Answers activity segments will show you vital behavioral information like how many sessions your highly active users have, and how much time they spend in-app, compared to the other segments. Use this data to run smarter app marketing campaigns. For example, if you see that high activity users have longer session lengths, encourage other users to spend more time in your app – perhaps by prompting them to try a new feature.

Plus, if you have Answers Events enabled, we’ll automatically track which events are more (or less) common among users in each segment. If something seems out of the ordinary, we’ll bring it to your attention so you can investigate or take action as necessary. For example, if you notice that high activity users tend to share app content at a much higher cadence, consider adding more social sharing features and brainstorm ways to motivate more people to share.

Answers provides a powerful picture of user retention across all of our apps. It allows us to see how many users we were able to resurrect due to specific feature updates or push notifications, so we can focus on app improvements that make the greatest impact.

Quickly recognize and reduce retention problems

Answers activity segments shed new light on user engagement, so you can see how many people are regularly interacting with your app and how many are at risk of never coming back. This is your wake-up call to recognize and reduce retention problems before it’s too late. Now, you’ll know right away if your number of inactive app users spikes, giving you time to reprioritize resources to combat churn and entice existing users back to your app.

More exciting things on the horizon

We built Answers activity segments to help you see how engaged your current users are, so you can nurture and retain them. But, this is just the beginning. We’re continuing to identify and develop ways to make your app data even more actionable. As always, we can’t wait to hear what you think about Answers activity segments!