There are no surprises when we turn towards the fact that there are almost 2.7 billion Smartphone users in the world today and 90% of these Millennials spend time on their Smartphones using Apps. No wonder last year there were 205 billion App downloads (a 15% increase from 2017). Studies suggest that mobile Apps are expected to generate $189 billion in revenue by 2020.
As dynamic and rewarding this market is, sad truth remains that marketers suffer huge losses in mobile marketing due to the number of users churning every now and then. An average person has somewhere between 60-90 Apps in their phones out of which 2/3rd of Apps aren’t used every month.
“71% of App users uninstall an App within the first 90 days of installing it. 75% Apps are only used once after being downloaded and never again.”
In fact, as per industry standards, there is just 20% retention rate for an App in the first 72 hours of installation, which implies that 8 out of 10 people uninstall an App at some point in the first 3 days of downloading it.
It’s a big challenge to reach out to these churned users and even more so to show them the value of your App and make them use it more frequently. App uninstalls are a huge problem for mobile marketers along others. If retaining these users is an expensive task, acquiring new ones is even costlier.
Considering the fact that it takes immense efforts in designing and launching an App, not being able to track these uninstalls means all efforts gone in vain. Let’s go through some of the ways with which you can track about to churn users or already uninstalled Apps.
1. Daily Pings
Daily pings are one of the most effective tools that can help App marketers to track App uninstalls. In this process, a service is created that functions with a unique user ID, device token and timestamp as parameters to track an App uninstall. Here is how to obtain these three parameters:
- User ID is the unique ID generated for every individual user’s device.
- The device token is received from APNS after registering for push notifications.
- The timestamp denotes the present time at which the service is called as well as the last seen for the user using the device.
This service is called when the user launches their app i.e. brings it to the foreground from a suspended/dormant background state.
App marketers can set this mechanism for individual devices where they send the ping to the server at regular intervals or once everyday to see if the App is still present on the user’s device. However, it means hogging the memory on user’s device and eating up their data.
In iOS devices, Apps can run in the background but to send a ping to the user, it needs to be backed by a strong use case. Otherwise this process can do more damage than good, leading to App uninstalls and defying the whole purpose of the process.
This might be an effective way of determining App uninstalls but it has its limitations too:
- Users today have smart task managers that can kill your service or even stop it from running completely if they realize that it doesn’t affect the core offering.
- As the service sends data to the device continuously in form of pings, users might find it an issue as it may eat into their data plans.
- Many low-end devices that function on low memory usually gives priority to Apps on forefront and could cut off services running in the background, disabling such pings.
2. Silent Pushes
Silent pushes are one of the most common methods of discovering uninstalled Apps for both Android and iOS devices. These remote notifications neither appear as content-based notifications on the user’s device nor do they make any sounds or show an alert on the App icon. Their sole purpose is to refresh an App’s content in the background and track if it is still present on the user’s device or not.
Silent push notifications need necessary support from the App in the background just as any other push notification to go through to the user’s device. It calls on a service and fetches required data without disturbing the user. Here’s how the process of sending a silent push works:
- A request to APNS (App push notification server) is made to send the silent push notification.
- It goes out as a response in form of a status code in the header named as ‘status.’
- If the status code received is 410, it implies that the user failed to receive the silent notification.
A user might fail to receive a silent notification either because he/she has disabled the push notifications or has uninstalled the App altogether. Silent push notifications are capable of triggering a response in case a user has de-registered and the App is no longer present in his/her mobile device.
Silent Push for Android and iOS devices
To track an App uninstall, a silent push notification sends an empty message to the user’s device through Google Cloud Messaging (GCM). The device thereafter triggers a package manager and returns a false flag. This notifies the server that the App has been uninstalled through a ‘not registered’ error message. In case of iOS devices, the APN service uses device tokens to signify if an App is inactive on a given device. App developers use these inactive device tokens to identify an uninstalled user.
Process of sending silent push notifications for Android devices:
- Send silent push notification to Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) server.
- Avoid silent notification from popping up on user’s device by emptying its payload.
- Hereafter, GCM server will send the message query to the device.
- The GCM client will receive the message thereon and send the query to product manager for the broadcast receivers.
- The message will then return as a false flag.
- Here, GCM client will inform the GCM server that the App has been uninstalled.
- GCM will then send a ‘not registered’ error message to imply the same.
Process of sending silent push notifications for iOS devices:
- Send a blank push notification to APNs while keeping the payload empty.
- APN feedback service will hereon allow the marker to discover inactive device tokens.
- App developers can poll the APN feedback service to detect the invalid devices.
- After getting detected, all these users are marked as churned.
How to Effectively Combine Daily Pings & Silent Pushes
Silent push notifications and daily pings are both powerful tools for detecting uninstalled Apps, but to achieve best results the ideal strategy is to combine the both. This is because the numbers derived from both the activities can be misleading for the marketers.
For instance, in case of daily pings where the service is only called when the user opens the App, an App of different nature might confuse the marketer. This owes to the fact that Apps that don’t serve a daily purpose might not be opened everyday but could still be efficiently used by the user. In case of silent pushes too, a 410 status code could imply an App uninstall but could also mean that the user has just disabled push notifications, confusing the marketer again.
Daily ping service is capable of maintaining a list of all active users. For example: all the users that have a timestamp prior to 3 months are marked as inactive or ones who have uninstalled the App. This list can be updated every month for users that are active but their last seen timestamp is older than 3 months.
In case of silent push notifications after the status code has returned as 410, marketers can further fetch and update the data of users using token device with last seen earlier than expected in the active field.
Thus, the combination of these two tools does the trick to come up with the perfect estimation of the users that might have uninstalled an App.
With 2.8 million apps available for download on Google Play Store and 2.2 million on Apple store, there is no denying that the competition is fierce. Marketers have to lay down all their cards in order to retain as many App users as possible and reduce their expenses on customer acquisition.
Monitoring app retention and uninstall rate will let you refine your App marketing strategy based on the insights of triggers that frequently lead to App uninstalls. There can be many reasons why users uninstall an app and by monitoring the uninstalls many of these reasons can be identified well in advance and applied to other users to prevent/reduce mobile app uninstalls.
An automation platform like Gamooga has the ability to reach millions of devices and track App uninstalls on a daily basis. We send proactive silent push notifications to detect active users and our powerful analytics lets you get to the bottom of reasons that might have lead to an App uninstall. Get a demo with our team today to boost the effectiveness of your mobile marketing.