The best time to engage app users is all the time, but engagement rates vary between the sexes

With the global app economy creeping up to become a $6.3 trillion market by 2021, it’s clear that the competition is heating up. App marketers and developers must be aware of their performance targets and be able to plan ahead. That’s why Liftoff today released its 2017 Mobile App Engagement Index, which tracks engagement costs across leading app categories and highlights trends in costs and conversions.

When it comes to mobile app engagement benchmarks, which is the average cost to acquire new users from a paid app install campaign, it seems that the cost of subscriptions is huge compared to engagement rates (see top image). The report remarks:

Expecting to acquire a first-time user to open their wallet is like believing you can buy a ticket and hit the lottery. It happens – but don’t count on it.

The cost to acquire an app user has remained fairly stable across a 12-month period. Although dips in the curve may suggest that marketers could acquire users for less, Liftoff admits that it’s hard to pinpoint the exact costs per app type.

The registration index reveals a seasonal relationship between the cost to acquire a user creating an account on an app, which is particularly relevant to dating and finance apps, and the conversion rate, i.e. the percentage of users completing the action. It shows that conversions are weaker during the summer months.

For eCommerce apps, the 2017 holiday season is shaping up to be similar to last year’s. In 2016, mobile shopping was smashing records during the holidays. However, the latest index reveals that certain months may offer better value when it comes to acquiring shoppers. Indeed, CPAs dropped to 48.2% between May and June. It appears that the summer season may offer micro moment opportunities for shoppers to make purchases.

For in-app purchases, the reverse may be true, although Liftoff says that the data presents a big picture of all app categories. Naturally, the index actually varies more dramatically per app type. Engagement rates are significantly higher during the Christmas holiday season than any other time during the year.

The report also noted some interesting differences between engagement rates among men versus women and engagement costs. For example, men are a better bargain for app developers campaigning for subscribers, whilst women present a better opportunity for purchasing goals.

Taking a closer look at costs and engagements by app type, Liftoff found that men are 43% more likely to register and 45% more likely to make a reservation on a travel app.

Although more women register to use finance apps, they are much more costly to convert. Male users also tend to be more engaged. For booking apps, it seems 2017 presents a prime opportunity with costs dropping and more robust engagement rates.

Liftoff concludes:

Seasonality is still a moving target. While the best/worst seasons for conversions in the physical/online world are well-established, Liftoff’s data suggests that the mobile world has yet to definitively nail down the best and worst times for marketers to drive purchases. Given that there is no consistent trend year-over-year just yet, marketers should pay careful attention to their own stats and follow emerging data trends closely going forward.