Interpret a Retention Report

Mixpanel’s Retention allows you to analyze the rate at which their users are re-engaging in certain behaviors over a fixed period of time. This article explains how to interpret a Retention report. Learn about Retention report basics in this article. Learn about how to build a Retention report in this article.


User Buckets

Retention only counts unique users; not totals. In other words, the user buckets will include every unique user that sent that event in that time window, starting and stopping at 0:00 of the beginning day and midnight of the ending day. A customer can only be counted once per bucket, but can be included in more than one bucket.

For example, if you are bucketing based on your "item purchased" event and creating weekly buckets, a customer who purchased at least one item each week will be in every bucket, not just the bucket for their first purchase.

Interpret Retention over Time

The first column Date indicates the day/week/month when the user performed the event for the first time. The People column indicates the number of users that performed the event within the date period from the first column.

Note that a month is defined as 30 days, while two months is defined as 60-89 days, and so on.

Each subsequent column of the report represents one unit of the date period you have selected (either day, week, or month). For example, in the image below, each column represents a 24 hour period of time, because “day” is selected.


The beginning and ending of each date bucket will be different for each user in the user bucket. The limits of the time bucket marked "1" will be between 1 and 2 time periods (in this example 24-48 hours) after the cohorting event was sent. If a customer sends an event at 3pm on Tuesday then bucket "1" for him begins 3pm Wednesday and ends at 2:59pm Thursday.

Color Mapping

Each box within a row is assigned a shade of blue. The shading gets darker the higher the percentage retention. It's important to note that the scale is relative to each cohort, i.e. each row. 

Incomplete Buckets

White boxes indicate that the data is still in flux and not set yet because the time is still ongoing. Hover over a white box to see when the last qualifying date for that bucket will occur.

Types of Retention

Report results vary based on the type of retention you select. View the types of retention in this article. If you select first time retention note that if you chose “Anything” as the follow up event the report is only showing users that came back to perform a specific event. If you select recurring retention, note that your report shows users that performed the same event multiple times. 


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