I attended a sneak peek of MixPanel’s latest app benchmark report a couple weeks ago. The report offers engagement, retention, and monetization insights from 572 Financial Services, SaaS, eCommerce, and Media/Entertainment apps, with 1.3b unique users, and 50b events, from June 1st through August 31st, 2017. MixPanel is a digital products analytics service I’ve recommended in the past, and is used by companies like Uber, Intuit, Samsung, and Expedia. With over 20k customers running 250k apps, they’ve got a brought data set to pull from, so I was very excited to hear the results of their benchmarking.

Spoiler: user retention and conversion are hard.


Unsurprisingly, SaaS apps – used for business purposes – had higher Daily/Monthly Active User rates, with repeat usage every 1 – 4 days, and an overall average of 13% and a median of 9.4%.

On the consumer side, I was surprised by the strength of Financial Services apps, with 10.5% average and 6.8% median usage, and top-performers in the industry averaging 23%. I asked attendees from the industry, and they said mobile apps are a popular way to check account balances and track budgets, resulting in strong daily and monthly usage and spikes of activity on Sundays.

Overall, MixPanel showed a big spread between top and bottom performers, with apps in the 90th percentile seeing 25% usage, and apps in the 50th percentile seeing 5 – 10%.


The scary reverse-hockey stick chart shows up in this report, too. Retention shows a massive drop one week after install, and continues to gently slope downward through the eighth week.

The median was 30-40% by week one and 10-20% by week six, but even top-performing apps (90th percentile) dropped to 60% one week post-install, and 40% by week six.

What is surprising to me is that the pattern is the same across industries. If not even SaaS apps (which have likely been paid for and are necessary for business purposes) are spared the wrath of massive attrition, perhaps we need new engagement approaches. To begin, we should stop front-loading new user content and initiatives. As I’ve advocated for in the past, new users need longer onboarding periods across a variety of tactics and channels to get them excited about the app, drive exploration, and bring them back in after their initial session.


Here’s where things become surprising – engagement shows a massive drop on weekends, even for eCommerce apps. This surprised me, because of the prevalence of “showrooming”, price-checking, and other assisted-shopping behavior. I recently spoke with members of Gap Inc’s digital team, who said their apps’ usage spikes when customers are in-store, looking for reviews and styling tips, so I’m at a bit of a loss to explain these results. MixPanel didn’t split the report between pure-play eCommerce and brick-and-mortar, so if their sample was mostly pure-plays, that could account for the weekend drop.


The bottom line: conversion is really difficult, unless you’re a Media/Entertainment app, which convert 46% of visits to views. eCommerce apps are averaging only 8% purchase conversion, Financial apps turn 14% of visits into transactions, and SaaS apps only have a 3% subscription rate. On the plus side, it’s not just your apps that are struggling here. On the other side, though, ugh.


Want more? Read the full report here.