Category Archives: Retention Playbook

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Want to Grow Your Business? Focus on User Retention

Do you care about growth? Growth of your business, growth of your customer base and growth of your revenue? Then you should care about user retention.

Without retention, your product is a leaky bucket; you can invest as much as you can into user acquisition, and yet still have no long term users, which means no sustainable growth and no means to generate revenue.

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product-analytics-playbook

Introducing the Product Analytics Playbook

The beginning of an industry

Over the past few months, we’ve posted several excerpts on the blog from a big project we’ve been working on: a comprehensive playbook for using analytics data to improve user retention. Putting together the playbook has a been a huge undertaking from many people at Amplitude. I don’t think we knew what we were signing up for when we started. After thousands of hours of work, hundreds of analyses, and working with dozens of our customers, we’re excited to finally share it with you.

Today we’re releasing the Product Analytics Playbook, Volume 1: Mastering Retention. Volume 1 is a comprehensive approach to retention across all stages of the user lifecycle. It covers how to build retention into your product. It also covers how to leverage user behavior data to identify opportunities to improve your product. Understanding and improving retention is core to long term product success and the cornerstone of using product analytics to build better products.

get the playbook here

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The Retention Lifecycle Framework: A Process for Improving 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 other excerpts from the Playbook here.

get the playbook here


Google “how to improve user retention” and you’ll come across hundreds if not thousands of tactics and strategies on how to do exactly that. There’s an overwhelming wealth of information on the kinds of marketing and product changes you can experiment with to get the boost in retention that you want.

What’s missing, however, is a systematic framework for improving retention that companies can continuously iterate on, as well as one that will work for companies at any stage of growth. Over the past several months, we came up with framework to accomplish exactly that.

Once you’ve determined your product’s critical event and its usage frequency, you can apply The Retention Lifecycle Framework to your users. (For a refresher on critical events and usage frequency, be sure to check out our previous Retention Playbook excerpts.)

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How Often Should People Use Your App?

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


“Retain or die” is a commonly repeated mantra here at Amplitude and is gathering momentum throughout the tech industry as a whole.

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about what retention is and why it’s important–but before diving into the various strategies and tactics that can improve the metric, we have to first take a step back and think of retention in the context of how users use your product. This comes in two parts.

  1. Understanding your critical event.
  2. Determining your product’s usage interval.

A few weeks ago, we talked about how understanding your product usage starts first with defining your app’s critical event. Your critical event is the one meaningful action you want users to perform in order to be counted as truly “active” or “retained.” This could be submitting an order, sending a message, or starting a new game. The important thing is that this action is at the core of your app’s product experience; it differentiates users who just “show up” from those who actually derive value from your app. (Check out our post on critical events for more details).

Just as important as defining your critical event is determining how often people do it. Today, we’ll be talking about your product’s usage interval, or how often you expect people to use your product, and why it matters for your retention metric.

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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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Playbook 4

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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Playbook 3

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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