How to find standard cohort retention

  • 14 June 2019
  • 2 replies


I'd like to find standard retention (of users who signed up on day 0, how many came back on day 1, 2, 3... etc.) My problem seems to be related to the First App Open event tracked by Mixpanel. In the SIZE column it has the correct number, but the "Then came back and did (App Session)" is much lower than the actual number (see attached screenshot). I know it's off since we actually have returning users as shown in second screenshot. Thank you for any help.

Desired graph (but currently with little retention which must be false):

For reference retention of App Session -> App Session to indicate that the above must be wrong:

2 replies

Userlevel 2

Hi @kasperskov! Before diving in, I think it would be helpful to share what Recurring vs First time retention type are and how they are calculated.

Recurring Retention allows you to specify a single event and see the retention of users coming back to perform this same event over time. If you would like to see the retention of one event, recurring type would be a better fit for this use case.

For First Time Retention type, this allows you to specify one event to create the user bucket you are measuring (Cohortizing event), and another event to measure the retention on (retention event). Based on the definition of First time Retention type, the size is lower since it is being calculated on two different events, First App Open (cohortizing event) -> App Session (retention event). Comparing to the App Session (cohortizing event) -> App Session (retention event) which is being calculated on the same event, and would behave as a recurring retention type since it is based on the same event.

Retention can take sometime to get familiar with. Whenever I get stuck I usually refer to this Deep Dive course on Retention. Neema does an amazing job of breaking down each type of retention and how to retention time buckets are calculated.

Hope this helps!


Hi @john.austin - thank you very much for your answer. I've worked with analytics in other platforms before with much less trouble and am familiar with retention. After having watched the Deep dive course videos it seems as if what I did in the first picture I attached was correct (First Time Retention with 'First App Open' to define my cohorts, and App session as retention). It's exactly how it's explained in the Deep Dive course as well - I suspect that something is wrong / tracked differently in the Mixpanel event called 'First App Open' and that's why it's not working for me. I've asked our dev team to implement our own 'Signup' event to circumvent the potential issue with 'first app open'.

For reference I'm referring specifically to the video called "First Time Retention" at about 1:25.

To clarify what I'm after:

Every user should only appear in a cohort once (on the day of signup).

I'd then like to see how many days/weeks later users from each cohort came back and did anything (app session).

I appreciate your help! Thank you.