Earlier this month, we reached an exciting milestone here at Amplitude: we’ve now tracked over 1 trillion user actions.
Using some of that user behavior data, we shared a new way to think about retention–bracket retention–for apps that are not daily usage, instead of the industry standard “N Day” calculation.
We also hosted “Best Practices and Lessons Learned from 1 Trillion Events Tracked,” during which Amplitude CEO Spenser Skates shared four additional lessons he learned over the course of four years at Amplitude.
If you missed Spenser’s webinar a couple weeks ago, not to worry. We’ll be recapping those lessons in today’s post.
To view a recording of the webinar, you can also go here.
Your active users probably aren’t growing exponentially. That’s okay. What’s not okay is deluding yourself with the illusion of month-over-month, exponential growth.
When you fudge your growth models, you’re not just deluding yourself and your team. You’re not just giving potential investors the signal that you don’t know what you’re doing.
You’re setting yourself back in the search for a real, repeatable engine of exponential growth.
When Machine Zone’s Mobile Strike hit the App Store and quickly shot into the top grossing games on iOS and Android, it felt like it came out of nowhere. Today, Mobile Strike nets its creators around $700,000 per day and ranks as the #1 top grossing app in six different countries.
Considering how fickle users supposedly are when it comes to mobile game adoption, we can safely write this off as simply an Arnold Schwarzenegger-assisted miracle, right?
But Mobile Strike didn’t come out of nowhere. For months before its official launch, its developers were studying how people reacted to the game and what got them most engaged. They were constantly analyzing and tweaking, testing out different monetization strategies, nailing down its unit economics. And you could have been a guinea pig in this test—but only if you lived in Australia.
You can track a ton of data on how your users interact with your app: how often they come back, what time of day they’re most active, what characteristics make someone more likely to become an active user. But the end-goal is to know not how often your users are active but how they feel and what they want from your app.
Nothing is more important than these two factors:
- Emotion: Does your app reward its users? Does it make people feel good, or does it bore them? Fundamental to building habitual usage is understanding how to trigger user action, and you do that by tapping into their emotions. Looking at users who are already hooked is the best way to understand how.
- Intent: What are people trying to do with your app? There’s only one way for an app to succeed—it must bring people to something they want faster, more efficiently, more affordably, or simply better than they could before. Understand where people want to go and you can better optimize your machine to take them there.
When you understand the real root cause of a habit—both from a practical (the job-to-be-done) and psychological standpoint—then it becomes possible to break it—or bring that value to an exponential number of new users.
Understanding the emotion and intent of your users sounds like a lofty, mythical aim, but it’s really nothing more than a step-by-step process.
Too many companies focus solely on customer acquisition. While it may feel great to see your install count go up, retention is what’s king.
Focus only on boosting your installs, and you’ll waste money acquiring the wrong kind of users.
What you want are users who will stick around, who find value in your product and come back to it time and time again. And you can’t get them solely by focusing your efforts on acquisition.
To understand the value of the different customers you’re bringing in, you need to look at your app install and uninstall metrics in the context of user retention. Find where your retained users are coming from, then double down on those channels.
When your app crashes on a user’s device, you need to know about it. It’s as simple as that. Users who experience severe performance issues aren’t going to write in and let you know—they’re going to leave cryptically bad app store reviews: “Doesn’t work.” “Useless.” “Paid for this app and it did nothing.”
These are the kinds of reviews that impact app downloads, and they can cause serious internal stress if you don’t have the tools to understand why users are having problems and where.
Properly testing your app isn’t as simple as setting up Crashlytics or PagerDuty and sitting back, however. Here are five crucial things to remember to get the most out of your app performance tracking.
The conventional approach to UX says you should always make it as easy as possible for people to use your app. Don’t make people think. Don’t distract them.
Your app is auditioning for your users’ time. You’re competing with a human attention span that’s been reduced to approximately eight seconds. You’re trying to introduce new information to people whose short-term memory can only hold seven thoughts—plus or minus two—at any given time. If you want to retain users, you need to get into their head and get in quickly.
The problem with this point of view is that it only helps you get more users—it doesn’t help you retain them.