Audience Engagement Digital Innovation
4 mins read

Unlocking the secrets of the dreaded app uninstall

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Letting an app languish on your phone is like a slap in the face to developers. But it’s nothing compared to the ultimate offense: the dreaded uninstall. Yet, as new research suggests, that’s an all-too-common occurrence among today’s fussy mobile users.

In fact, after sampling 110 million installs earlier this year, AppsFlyer found that 28% of apps are booted from people’s phones within 30 days of being uploaded.

Overall, developing countries have the highest uninstall rate, while developed countries have the lowest. Indeed, about 30% separates Vietnam (which has the highest rate of any country) compared to the United States (which has the lowest).

What explains the divide?

Mostly, it’s a matter of storage, AppsFlyer finds. That’s because the average size of storage on a phone in developing countries is smaller than that of phones in developed countries, according to the mobile marketing analytics and attribution platform.

Key Findings

What is the global uninstall rate?
The overall app uninstall rate after 30 days is 28%. That means that almost 3 out of 10 apps installed end up being uninstalled within 30 days of a download. Clearly, uninstalls are a major problem as users don’t think twice about deleting apps from their device.

What does the rate look like in different markets?

App uninstall rate by country

The data shows that, overall, developing countries have the highest uninstall rate while developed countries have the lowest.

How does the uninstall rate differ by category?

App uninstall rate by vertical

It appears that entertainment apps fall short when it comes to meeting user expectations. In this category, where streaming of video content is common, powerful infrastructure is required to ensure smooth sailing. When it doesn’t, and this still happens often, users get frustrated. Also, many entertainment apps need to regularly update content to keep users coming back for more. This requires significant resources and could also lead to abandonment when content is insufficient.

Travel apps have the second “best” uninstall rate. Because travel is seasonal and bookings rather rare, users often install an app, book their flight or hotel, and then uninstall the app at least until the next time they need to travel.

How long after downloading an app do users uninstall it?

App uninstall curve
The data shows that, as expected, the uninstall rate curve flattens over time. Clearly, the main problem is on day 1 and then also during week 1.

Taking Action

Measure it! Clearly, uninstall is a significant problem and apps must measure their uninstall rate, understand exactly when, why and from which sources uninstallers came from to minimize it. Setting up uninstall tracking is quick so it is definitely worthwhile.

Remember first impression is everything. Because the uninstall rate is the highest on the first day, it is absolutely critical to nail the onboarding process. Make it seamless and engaging else you risk losing your acquired users at the blink of an eye. To reduce the uninstall rate between day 1 and 7, make sure your first interactions are designed to generate a strong, lasting connection with the user.

Deliver on what you promise. Overpromising in an attempt to get a download can backfire, leading to frustration and potentially damage your brand’s image in the eyes of the user beyond repair.

Inform your users about your app before download. Use video ads, playable ads if relevant, and a highly descriptive app store page which includes video/s and images users.

Keep your app top-of-mind. To prevent uninstalls, try to encourage ongoing engagement from the get go. Use all available channels – push, email, retargeting, social – to continuously keep the app top of mind. Make sure the user experience is optimal: do not overexpose your users, time re-engagement carefully, and make sure you have deep linking in place to deliver a seamless journey.

Don’t give up on uninstallers. We see many users re-install apps. That means you have a second chance to make a better, long-lasting impression. But remember this: getting users who deleted your app to use it again will take more than just a standard promotion. Offer them a significant discount or another high value incentive.

Define In-App KPI milestones to understand where users drop off. Understand the relationship between usage and in-app funnel progression (e.g. in gaming: tutorial completion, registration, level 5 success, level 10 success, in-app purchase. In e-commerce: category, product, add-to-cart, purchase). It is particularly important to know at which point an active user suddenly becomes inactive so you can encourage them to continue using your app by offering a special promotion, a discount, etc. And on an aggregated level, if you’re seeing a significant drop after a certain stage in your funnel, you probably need to change something in the app itself.

Listen to your users. Be part of any conversation about your app on social networks, app stores (through ratings and reviews), and communities. Make sure you tackle any negative feedback – both personally to the user in question and within the app itself – to learn from your mistakes and correct them.

Have a fantastic app! Although this is mainly aimed for product managers rather than marketers, the best way to reduce an app’s uninstall rate… is to have a truly great app. This may seem obvious but if your app does not deliver on all fronts then all the marketing data in the world won’t help.