Managing User Churn

Most developers know that creating a mobile app and publishing it in an app store is only the beginning of an exciting and sometimes difficult road to success. There are many factors to observe to make sure everything is going in the right direction and optimize if it isn’t. 

You need to monitor the performance of your user acquisition tactics and monetization strategies, identify your most profitable users, devote attention to attribution and lifetime value (LTV), as well as develop smart marketing campaigns. In addition to all of these, there is another metric that you should always keep an eye on – user churn.


What is user churn?

User churn can be viewed as the polar opposite of user retention. If the user retention rate gives you an idea of how many users remain loyal to your app, then the user churn rate shows you how many are abandoning it. 

This metric is expressed in percentages and represents the portion of your user base that uninstalls your app over a specific period. Since it is the opposite of retention, it can be calculated as such. For instance, if your app’s retention rate is 25%, this means that its churn rate is 75%. The basic formula for measuring retention and calculating churn is to take the number of users lost and divide it by the total number of users acquired during the specified period.

Why should you care so much about churn rates? First of all, understanding them can help you adjust your strategies and stop your users from leaving. Secondly, it’s much cheaper to create a strategy for keeping an existing user than acquiring a new one. Third, it’s a lot easier to sell to an existing customer than to a prospect – you already have the attention of your existing users. Finally, improving your retention rates (i.e. reducing churn) has two to four times more impact on growth than user acquisition.

You should keep in mind that there is a difference between churn rate and churn yield. The first should be kept low while the latter as high as possible. For those who are seeing the term “churn yield” for the first time, it is the ad revenue generated for an app publisher for each user churned. Let that sink in…

Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels

How to manage user churn?

The global uninstall rate for apps after 30 days is 28%. What’s worse, about 21% of users only launch an app only once before deleting it. Retaining users is a challenge for so many publishers, which begs the question:

what can you do to avoid becoming a part of these brutal statistics? 

Here are some ideas:

The second method is to offer something of value that people will want to buy so they could continue using the app or just enjoy it more. This strategy is called in-app purchases (IAPs) and users can buy virtual coins, more lives or chances to use the app, customizations, new characters, levels, and more. 

1. Analyze and pinpoint reasons

The first step to dealing with user churn is to identify the reasons why users are abandoning your app. It may have to do with app type and demographics – meaning you’re not advertising to the right audience. People may also be discouraged by the high prices of your in-app purchases or the premium version of your app. 

Your onboarding experience or user interface may be lacking in some important segments or your app may not have enough interesting features. Perhaps there are competitors with similar yet better products drawing your users away from you.


Whatever the reason, you need to measure and analyze everything so you can put a stop to it. It is necessary to track all in-app events such as the number of launches, purchases, registrations, level completion, social sharing, etc. Your users aren’t homogeneous, so dividing them into cohorts will help you design the right strategies for each group.

Soomla can assist you in this, as well as giving you detailed information about the churn rate of advertisers and networks, allowing you to make appropriate decisions. This comes in hand when weighing between churn and revenue generated from a specific channel.

2. Collect feedback

Having precise information isn’t just the result of careful analysis and monitoring. Any self-respecting app developer will go to their users and listen to them, not just their praises but the gripes as well. 

The most efficient channels for reaching out to them include app store reviews, social media, in-app messaging, and email surveys. Through these channels you can ask them meaningful questions and learn about the problems from their perspective. This will not only give you valuable insights into what you can improve but will also show them you care about their opinion.

3. Employ techniques to eliminate churn

I’ve already listed the possible reasons why your users may be abandoning your app. Once you’ve ascertained which of them are the culprits in your case, it’s time to start clearing them up. 

Let’s start with onboarding. It’s important to keep it as simple as possible and focus on the app’s main features so that users can start using the app more quickly.

You also don’t want your users to forget they’ve installed the app in the first place. To avoid this, utilize automated push notifications and they will come back in no time. Both Android and Apple support them, and users can respond directly or take immediate action by pressing buttons in them. Moreover, push notifications can be adjusted to each user.

Speaking of individual users, your marketing efforts should also be personalized or tailored to different groups. For example, you can send an in-app message or email to your new users, welcoming them to your app or offering something like a coupon. Also, make sure to serve the right ads to the right users. Discovering who your users are can be achieved with the help of an analytics platform. Such a solution can divide users into cohorts and even identify the lucrative and elusive ad whales – users who generate the most ad revenue in your app.

Anything that can improve user experience and satisfaction should be one of the main focuses. This means eliminating anything that negatively affects it, such as too many or irrelevant ads and notifications, poor design, crashes and errors, slowing down the device, and the like.

4. Conduct A/B testing

Whatever changes you decide to make in your app, make sure to always A/B test everything. This means testing when changing even the slightest detail like the interval of sending push notifications, ad positioning, or colors in the app’s home screen. These changes may seem small to you but can affect your churn rates significantly. 

After enough users have gone through the experiment, you’ll be able to tell with statistical confidence if your app performed better before or after you made the change. There are platforms specialized in performing A/B testing, such as Apptimize, Taplytics, Appsee, Optimizely, and others.


Never stop learning

Keeping user churn rates under control and optimal churn yields isn’t difficult if you have the will and knowledge. Soomla can provide you with the latter – unbiased and detailed data to make informed decisions in your app and make sure those pesky churn rates stay low. The rest is up to you.

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