Category Archives: Retention 101

User Retention Depends on Your App’s Critical Event

This article is an excerpt from the first volume of The Product Analytics Playbook: Mastering Retention. Retention is the one metric that matters for sustainable growth. The Playbook is a comprehensive guide to understanding user retention that provides a novel framework for analyzing retention at every stage of the user journey. You can find other excerpts from the Playbook here.

get the playbook here


The retention metric quantifies how many users return to your application over time; it’s the one metric that matters for sustainable growth of your business.

As Zachary Kinloch, Head of Growth at DoorDash, puts it, “Until you have a strong retention product, there’s no point in focusing elsewhere.”

But it’s important to measure your retention metrics in a way that makes sense for your product. Users are returning to your app, great–but are they getting to the core value that your app offers? Are they doing something meaningful? Or are the majority of your “retained” users simply opening up your app and doing nothing?

If you count users as retained simply because they opened up the app or logged in, you’re not getting any meaningful insight into your product usage.

To make your retention metric meaningful, you first have to understand the concept of a critical event.

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How To Audit Your Analytics

This article is an excerpt from the first volume of The Product Analytics Playbook: Mastering Retention. Retention is the one metric that matters for sustainable growth. The Playbook is a comprehensive guide to understanding user retention that provides a novel framework for analyzing retention at every stage of the user journey. You can find other excerpts from the Playbook here.

get the playbook here


There’s an old carpenter’s saying—“Measure twice, cut once.” If you aren’t careful when you’re building a house, the walls will be crooked. You’ll bump into doorways you cut just a little too narrow, and you’ll notice your ceilings are just a little sloped. It may work for a little while—but then your house will fall down.

If the instruments you use for analytics and retention analysis aren’t calibrated, then your data won’t just be a little crooked—you’re going to get misleading results totally at odds with how people really use your app.

Before you can dive into your retention analytics, you need to do a full-scale audit of all your current metrics, plan out each discrete event you’re going to track, and make sure your analytics goals are aligned with your business objectives.

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When Should You Start Thinking About Retention?

This article is an excerpt from the first volume of The Product Analytics Playbook: Mastering Retention. Retention is the one metric that matters for sustainable growth. The Playbook is a comprehensive guide to understanding user retention that provides a novel framework for analyzing retention at every stage of the user journey. You can find other excerpts from the Playbook here.

get the playbook here


When should you start thinking about retention?

A common misconception about retention is that it only matters after your company is past a certain stage of growth. That’s not true.

Once you have some amount of users coming back to your product on a regular basis, you have enough information to begin optimizing for retention.

The way that you approach your retention may change over time as you grow; what won’t change is the fact that only companies that constantly improve their retention rates can win.

Let’s look at how retention analysis can benefit companies at all stages of growth.

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Onboarding With The IKEA Effect: How To Use UX Friction To Build Retention

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.

1-anger

The problem with this point of view is that it only helps you get more users—it doesn’t help you retain them.

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3 Ways To Measure User Retention

This article is an excerpt from the first volume of The Product Analytics Playbook: Mastering Retention. Retention is the one metric that matters for sustainable growth. The Playbook is a comprehensive guide to understanding user retention that provides a novel framework for analyzing retention at every stage of the user journey.

You can find our first post from the Playbook here.

get the playbook here


Retention impacts every important business metric that you (and your investors) care about—active user count, engagement, customer lifetime value, payback period, and more. A business that retains its users increases its revenue and becomes profitable faster than one that does not. And yet, as we mentioned in our first Playbook post, keeping users engrossed in your app is no small task.

It’s especially daunting when you realize that you’re not just competing with other apps in your space—you’re competing with apathy. You’re competing with inattention. There are too many apps out there for anyone to wait patiently for yours to deliver value.

Even the best apps are going to lose the majority of their users in just a few days, but if you make user retention your team’s primary growth focus, you can totally change the trajectory of your company.

To cut through the static and distractions, you need to quickly deliver an experience that users want to return to again and again. There’s no better tool for doing so than analytics. As the old maxim goes, “what gets measured gets done.”

Let’s start with how we measure our retention.

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Why You Need A Retention Playbook

This article is an excerpt from the first volume of The Product Analytics Playbook: Mastering Retention. Retention is the one metric that matters for sustainable growth. The Playbook is a comprehensive guide to understanding user retention that provides a novel framework for analyzing retention at every stage of the user journey. 

download the playbook here


When it comes to growth, retention is king.

Without good retention, your app’s like a leaky bucket—you can pour in as many users as you like and wind up with nothing.

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A mobile app with good acquisition but bad retention may grow quickly at first, but it will hit a plateau. Then it’s just a matter of time before you’ve churned through all the people in your market—and the slow, painful decline begins.

It’s excruciating to watch happen, and because building a successful app has never been harder, it’s become an all too common result.

Retention is not sexy the way marketing, advertising, and other means of user acquisition are sexy, but even the most clever growth hack will ultimately leave you high and dry if your product can’t retain its users. You’re competing to chart in the App Store and grab the attention of your potential users—and the competition’s never been tougher.

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Tinder and the Dating App Retention Paradox

Tinder is more than the most popular dating app on the market—it’s one of the most powerfully sticky and addictive mobile apps period. Billions of swipes and tens of millions of matches are recorded every single day. Average usage across both male and female users is somewhere around 90 minutes a day.

When it comes to user retention, however, Tinder seems to be caught in a paradox.

Every time Tinder facilitates a successful match and that match leads to a meaningful relationship, they lose two customers.

Ordinarily, apps retain more of their users as they get better. That’s what lets them grow more consistently and build more predictable revenue. For Tinder, it’s the inverse—the better they get at connecting compatible singles, the more users they should lose.

What Tinder shows us is that understanding your retention is more complex than just tracking your active users across the days, weeks, and months that they’re using your app. In Tinder’s case, retention actually has a lot to do with how well users churn.

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