Measure retention by first use

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The Retention by First Use dashboard widget measures how early event usage influences retention compared to average retention. This data helps you identify events that contribute to above-average retention so that you know to guide users to those specific areas.


This dashboard widget displays retention for visitors or accounts based on their first visit in your app. This is different from our retention report, which creates cohorts based on when users first interact with a specific event.

Understand the data

The Retention by First Use widget displays a trend line that represents the percentage of active visitors or accounts who generated one of the selected events in their first 30 days (or whatever date range you select), compared to all visitors or accounts who generated any event during that same date range.

An active visitor or account is defined by any activity within the specified frequency interval, either weekly or monthly. No activity during that frequency interval might indicate potential churn. Ideally, the trend line should remain flat, indicating a majority of visitors or accounts staying active and retained over time.

Inclusion criteria

Visitors and accounts who satisfy all of the following criteria are included in the numerator and denominator of the retention calculation:

  • Selected events were generated in the first 30 days after the visitor or account's first visit to your app. This is the first day that the Visitor or Account ID was passed to Pendo.
  • Each visitor or account's first visit is within the specified date range.
  • The visitor or account was active during the specified frequency interval.

Visitors and accounts who don't meet these criteria are excluded from the calculation. This helps maintain accuracy so that those who are too new to have sufficient usage data for a given frequency interval are excluded, preventing undue negative impact on the retention percentage. The number of eligible visitors or accounts might vary for each event at each frequency interval based on these inclusion criteria.

Retention charts and activity over time

A retention chart shows visitor or account activity in relation to their age as a visitor or account, providing a visual representation of user engagement over time. Instead of using calendar date ranges, the chart organizes activity based on frequency intervals, either weekly or monthly. All eligible visitors or accounts start at month zero, and their activities are displayed concurrently. The subsequent months represent the age of the visitor or account, not specific calendar dates.

The frequency interval defines the time period during which visitor or account activity is measured for retention calculation. For instance, if set to weekly, the report assesses any events within a week to determine activity. The report aligns with the account retention date range, which specifies the number of weeks or months from the current day. Weeks begin on Sunday, and months begin on the first.

Control line

The control line in the retention chart shows the overall retention trend for all visitors or accounts included in the widget's specified segment, regardless of event usage. This dotted line runs alongside the solid trend lines for each event.


The control line aligns with the data that's presented in the top row of a retention report in Product > Behavior when All Activity is selected as the source for the specific app. If a selected event falls far behind the control line and isn't producing above-average retention, consider evaluating the usage and adoption of that feature.

Incomplete data in the current period

When measuring a date range that includes the current week or month, the end of the chart always shows a drop-off due to incomplete data. After the current period completes, the data populates as expected.

If you're looking at a custom range from a previous period, the data shows as complete and only displays a drop-off if an actual drop-off occurred.

Interact with the data

Hover over the trend line to see retention data for each event at each frequency interval. This includes the number of visitors or accounts retained versus the number of eligible visitors or accounts. The number of total eligible visitors or accounts in the denominator might change from month to month.

The terms in these tooltips are defined as follows:

  • Eligible account. An account that meets all three inclusion criteria.
  • Eligible visitor. A visitor who meets all three inclusion criteria.
  • Month 0. The first visit for all eligible visitors or accounts.
  • Month X. Where X is a number, the visitor or account age for the visitor or account to remain eligible for retention calculations.


Tip: Consider each interval in the retention chart as a separate cohort. The widget's inclusion focuses on events generated within the first 30 days and a visitor or account's first visit within the specified date range. Each interval represents a cohort, adjusting the date range for eligible first visits relative to the current day. For instance, in a 6-month retention chart, each month (0 to 6) is calculated independently. To be eligible in month 1, a visitor or account needs a first visit at least 1 month ago but no longer than six months ago, ensuring more than one month of activity data. Subsequent intervals follow a similar pattern, excluding visitors or accounts that started within the last two months from month 2 and later calculations due to limited usage data.

Add the widget to the dashboard

  1. Navigate to a dashboard, then select + Add Widget in the top-right corner of the page.
  2. Select Retention by First Use from the list of available widgets.


  3. Update each field to your preference.
    • Name. Display name of the widget as it appears on your dashboard.
    • Event First Use Period. The time frame in which the selected events must be generated after the visitor or account's first visit. The default is the first 30 days. 
    • Cohort Type. Where you choose whether you want to analyze retention for visitors or accounts.
    • Frequency. Where you select either weekly or monthly intervals to measure and group retention data during the retention date range.
    • Retention date range. The time period for displaying visitor or account retention data on the widget. It begins on the first day of the selected week (Sunday) or month (the first).
    • Segment. The users included in the analysis for usage data. Larger segments generally result in less variable data.
    • App. Application queried for event selection and product usage data.
    • Events. The Pages, Features, and Track Events you'd like to view retention data for.
  4. Select Save to add the widget to your dashboard.


For more information on general dashboard and widget functionality, see Dashboards.

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