Establishing Clear User Retention Goals
Joe Donenfeld
Joe Donenfeld

Establishing Clear User Retention Goals

Joe Donenfeld, Senior Growth Manager

When it comes to the success of your app, user retention outweighs every other success metric by far. Your core users (those who use your app at least 30 times per month) will bring in 85% of your total revenue, but most apps lose the majority of their users within three days of the initial download.

So how do you keep people coming back for more? And how many users does your app need to retain to be successful?

It doesn’t have to be a guessing game. There are practical steps you can take to gain and retain high-value users. So let’s talk about establishing and implementing an effective user retention strategy.

Finding your North Star

To start, think about where you want to go: your ideal user retention rate. If you don’t already have a number in mind, look at where you are now. What’s your current retention rate? Contrast that with your revenue goals for the app, and close the gap: how many high-value users will you need to retain in order to bring that in?

It can also be useful to research your competitors and compare your metrics against theirs. What’s possible, and what success have others seen?

If you’ll be working with advertisers, ask yourself if there are any retention rate benchmarks your potential partners will be looking for. Once you’ve taken all of this into account and have an ideal user retention rate, you have what our friends at Amplitude call a “North Star” metric. This is a key metric that guides your team’s plans, unites everyone under a common goal, and serves as a way to measure the success of your app. Having this is the first part of putting together a great user retention strategy.

Building the Path Forward

The second part is implementation: How are you going to get there?

Before plotting your path forward, start with the right data. Take a look at your new user rate compared to your retained users rate. Attribution data can be helpful here, too. Using tracking tools like Appsflyer, Adjust, and Branch helps you find your higher quality users and gives you an outline for finding more like them.

It’s also important to holistically assess all app users’ behavior: Why are some users spending most of their time on certain features while ignoring others? What features are driving higher engagement? Surveys and interviews will also give you data about user behavior, and lend insight into how to better integrate your product into their daily routine.

Now think about the root of the issue: is this a growth issue or a product issue? The answer will give you one of two paths forward.

Getting to the Root of Growth Issues

If it’s a growth issue, there are a few important questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is my target audience?
    Are you reaching your key demographic and making a compelling case for using your app?
  2. Am I offering something that sets me apart?
    Mobile app advertising is oversaturated. If you’re getting lost in the crowd, it may be time to look at alternatives like targeted influencer marketing. And if influencer marketing doesn’t sound like your thing, you should know that it’s more than weight loss teas. There are companies out there using cutting-edge methods to target potential users and get the word out. Linqia, for example, has an AI driver approach.
  3. Am I alienating the users I have?
    There is such a thing as over-communication. Are you smothering your current users with pop-ups and messages, making their experience unpleasant and driving them away?

Once you get a sense for where users are falling through the cracks, implementing sophisticated messaging and push notification systems can encourage users to navigate towards high-value actions and subsequently increase retention.

Does your product need tweaking?

If you think it’s a product issue, run through this list:

  1. Am I taking everything into account to correctly diagnose my retention problem?
    Using analytics tools like Amplitude, Looker, or Appsee can help you identify where your retention problem is coming from. But they only tell you what’s happening, not why. Once you draw conclusions from the data, it’s important to include interview and survey feedback from customers in your assessment to validate the problem and provide a guidepost to the solution.
  2. Is my UX the best it can be?
    Is your app making a good impression on new users and drawing them in? Have you lost users because you phased out a beloved feature, making their experience disappointing? (When considering bringing something back, make sure you first look at how valuable those lost users were in the first place.)
  3. Can you improve your customer service?
    Customer experience (CX) will soon overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. If you treat your customers well, they’ll see yours as a relationship worth keeping.

There’s no shortcut, but there is a path forward.

Looking at the data and asking the right questions is key to developing an implementation plan that moves you closer to retention goals. While there’s no perfect target, having a user retention goal will guide your team’s efforts, keeping things moving in a positive direction.

It’s about more than just a sick app. Prolific Interactive partners with you to build a viable path forward that prioritizes retention and long-term success.