The Retention report in Mixpanel is designed to create a normalized, actionable metric to assess user engagement over a specified period of time. Users are broken into buckets based on when they first completed an action, and then subsequent buckets based on when they came back and performed either the same action or a different action.
Retention calculations are based on unique users, not total event count.
You can select either the Retention or Frequency icon at the top left of the query builder. Each of these reports uses the same methods of calculation but allows you to specify which event and property combination performed is creating the user buckets and measuring your user retention.
Access the Retention Report
To view the Retention report select Retention from the Analysis section of Mixpanel.
Select up to two events to see the user retention of performing those events. You can either choose one event to see the retention of users coming back to perform this same event over time, or choose two different events.
When choosing two different events, select one event to create the user bucket you are measuring, and another event to measure the retention on. You also have the option to choose “anything” as the event. This is useful for tracking users who performed a specific event (such as sign-up), and how often they came back to do some other action on your site.
Frequency allows you to specify an event and see how often a user performed that same event in the future. Whereas the above retention calculations will return the number of users who performed an event, frequency will actually calculate the number of times each user who came back performed the event. This allows you to see how "active" your users are over the course of a given time period.
Using the frequency report will allow you to see how many hours in a day, days in a week, or days in a month your retained users are performing a specific event. As with the other reports, you also have the option to choose “Anything” to see generally how often users are performing events.
Power User Curve
The Frequency report shows cumulative numbers in the report by default, but you can choose to select NON-CUMULATIVE from the top of the report chart. Non-cumulative numbers will give you a Power User Curve of your users’ frequency retention over time. For example, a user will count in the 1 hour, 2 hour, 3 hour, 4 hour and 5 hour columns if the user completes an event each hour in a cumulative frequency report broken down by day. With non-cumulative frequency, this user would only count in the 5 hour columns in a frequency report broken down by day.