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Understanding why people uninstall your app

January 31, 2017 | By Peggy Anne Salz, Founder and Lead Analyst—Mobile Groove @peggyanne

Mobile has become the primary vehicle for expanding audience reach, eclipsing desktop browsing and TV viewing as the preferred on-ramp to explore the world of information and content at our fingertips. But mobile apps are where the real consumer engagement happens – provided companies and marketers add real value.

Why People Install
Thanks to research from Google and Ipsos, How people discover, use,  and stay engaged with apps, we have a better idea of the reasons that will convince a consumer to download an app. And, since people aren’t downloading as many apps as they used to – suffering from what mobile analytics attribution company TUNE calls “download fatigue,”  it’s smart for marketers to make a greater effort to understand factors sure to trigger an app install.

Here are three major takeaways about the factors that cause consumers to download an app in the first place:

  • Price points: Drawing from data from a survey of 1,000 smartphone users in the U.S., Google’s report finds that consumers are price-conscious and privacy-focused. The majority (85%) look at price first and content second. Ironically, 50% of respondents have paid for content and 50% have not. Of the consumers that did purchase content offered by an app, it was access to content and features/functionality unavailable on free alternatives that clinched the deal. Consumers were also willing to pay to remove advertising.
  • Privacy concerns: Another deal breaker was privacy. Consumers will not tolerate (or download) apps they feel invade their privacy or compromise their customer data. Apps that eat memory or battery power are also a no-go.
  • Easy does it: Predictably, most consumers (61%) love apps that are easy to use and navigate. Fresh content (34%) and personalized experiences (29%) are also crowd-pleasers.

Why People Uninstall
So now that we have a sense of the features consumers care about most, it is essential to understand why they uninstall more than 3 of every 10 apps globally. We get some of the answers we need in the November 2016 App Unistall Report, a new report from mobile attribution company AppsFlyer. The report provides critical context around app uninstall rates – data that is not provided by app stores.

Drawing from a sample of 20+ million uninstalls of nearly 500 apps globally the report highlights uninstall rates over a 30 day period (September -October 2016) across platform (Android and Apple’s iOS), category and country (U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, U.K., Germany, France, Russia, India, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia). It finds that Android users uninstall apps at a rate that’s more than double the rate among iOS users – an outcome it links to factors such as device space. Faced with the choice between downloading a cool new app, or conserving storage, it appears Android users are quick to click delete. It may also be linked to the fact that Apple devices warn users when they are about to delete an app; no such notification exists on Android.

The report also reveals what Shani Rosenfelder, report author and content marketing lead at AppsFlyer, calls the “insanely high” uninstall rates for app categories on the Android platform such as News (44%), Games (43%) and Travel (33%).

Some of what the report finds is just common sense. For example: Games, which are highly competitive and aggressively promoted using incentivized installs, can see a shorter shelf life and fail to inspire lasting loyalty among an audience demographic that changes taste more often that socks.

Likewise, Travel apps, because they appeal to most consumers during holiday seasons or summer breaks, are not integral to a year-round routine. Unless you travel a lot for your job, it’s hardly out of the question to delete a travel app once it outlives its immediate relevancy. At the other end of the spectrum, Retail apps—ones that consumers reach for often to do their shopping and access deals and discounts—see relatively low uninstall rates (21%).

But common sense can’t fully explain the alarmingly high uninstall rate of 40%  for News & Magazines over a 30-day period. Unfortunately, AppsFlyer doesn’t offer much insight into why this segment is hit so hard. However, we can piece together a convincing list of factors if we remember the reasons Google says people download apps and – more importantly – keep coming back.

High uninstall rates would indicate News & Magazine apps fail to meet our requirement – even demand – for an amazing user experience. Content companies serious about attracting and retaining their users are advised to examine their apps and use analytics to pinpoint where their app is engaging, or annoying, their audience.

Essential issues to consider: Are these apps too difficult to navigate? Is the content stale or irrelevant? Does the app fail to deliver personalized content and experiences? Is the paywall a barrier? Does the app owner collect data without making a convincing case for it? A data-driven approach will provide insights into what flies, or fails – allowing you to allocate resources to address major issues and put less important updates on the back burner.

And a final word about metrics. The AppsFlyer report introduces all app marketers – across all business verticals  – to a new performance metric: uninstall rates.  Marketers must watch and calculate to determine the true lifetime value of their users. Whether that value is measured in brand visibility or monetized through mobile advertising, prudent app marketing and financing takes app uninstall rates – and their differences and similarities globally – seriously.


Peggy Anne Salz is the Content Marketing Strategist and Chief Analyst of Mobile Groove, a top 50 influential technology site providing custom research to the global mobile industry and consulting to tech startups. She is a frequent contributor to Forbes on the topic of mobile marketing, engagement and apps. Her work also regularly appears in a range of publications from Venture Beat to Harvard Business Review. Peggy is a top 30 Mobile Marketing influencer and a nine-time author based in Europe. Follow her @peggyanne.

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