Most people churn on Day 1

You won’t believe it till you see it: 30 to 50% of people churn before they’ve even gotten started. Think about it: how many apps or products have you opened only once, and never really used? Don’t be that product.

Spend as much time activating users as you’ve spent acquiring them in the first place. You can’t build a thriving business on a user base of zombies.


  • Not convinced? Open your phone, and have a look at the entire list of apps that you have installed. How many of them did you only use once? Chances are, you’ll have multiple apps that you downloaded and quickly tried… but never got to the point of it being valuable.
  • Another way to think about it (especially if you are single and dating): for every successful relationship, how many first dates do people go on? Answer: relatively many! The biggest churn in relationships is actually on first dates that never turn into second dates.
  • Now that we know that Day 1 is the point where you lose most people, what should you do? For starters: recognise that the sale isn’t closed until your users are clearly activated and happy. Start tracking where people churn, and start working on fixes there.
  • Some good news: once you start improving Day 1 retention, you’ll typically see that all retention thereafter also increases. Better retention at the start, lifts up the entire retention curve. So it’s really worth it to focus on nailing this. This is the most impactful piece in your entire marketing funnel.

In Practice

Day-1 churn is not something that is unique to any particular market. Mobile apps have it, SaaS products have it… and even our very own Double email list has it! In fact, below is a retention graph of the open rates of the first emails a typical cohort of users receive from us. It shows you the open rate of each email, when people get an email every day.

{{  insert retention graph of Double email course open rates  }}

And you know what’s most surprising about this graph? The fact that we have an open rate of just 65% on the very first email. People leave their email address with the express consent to receive emails from us… and yet already 35% doesn’t open even that very first email. As you can see, churn later on slows down — this is typical of a product with good retention (a product that is valuable to users). The single biggest source of attrition is right when we get started: on Day 1.

Pair with

  • Mobile adoption graph
Retention is the King of Growth