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How To Increase User Retention in Your App

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User retention is one of the main metrics B2C mobile apps use to gauge if people need the product. Initially, the better a product solves someone’s problem, the more frequently they will use it. Let’s give an example.

Picture this: you have two very similar competing photo editors on iOS in the category “Photo and Video” – A and B. Let’s say you were able to get a million installs for both applications and can use the data to see what the expected daily audience is over a six-month period.

Now, imagine that data shows that photo editor A has an audience of 100,000 users, while photo editor B only has 10,000 users. How can there be such a difference?

The answer is retention. Photo editor A has a retention of 12% at the end of the first month, and 10% at six months. Photo editor B  has 12% and 1%, respectively. Why do the numbers vary if the products are similar in features?

Well, for our example, it comes down to machine learning algorithms used during the photo editing process. Photo editor A uses a superior machine learning algorithm to photo editor B.

This is a typical example of how just one feature, out of many, can make a huge difference when it comes to retention.

At Yepp, we have an entire product marketing team of 30 people working to improve app retention. Every year we test a hundred qualitative hypotheses on product growth. Eventually, 10 or 20 of them perform well and drive the growth of the product. In total, it’s hundreds of A / B tests per year.

In this article, we will share four strategies that we use for measuring and understanding retention.

Personal Interviews With the Most Active Users

First of all, you need to define why people use your app and what value they see in it. The easiest way is paid interviews. Usually, we pay around $100 or provide an Amazon gift card. In return, a user must fill out a mandatory form with a list of questions: age, location, social media links, workplace, music preferences, etc. We also ask people to share their favorite apps. 

All meetings are conducted through Zoom and always with the camera on. We talk about a bit of everything, but direct questions about the product. The goal is to get the user’s perspective on something specific. 

Here Are Some Sample Questions We Ask:

  • How do you like the content in our app?
  • What kind of apps do you use?
  • What can you say about them?
  • When was the last time you shared a meme with someone? Where did you find this meme?
  • What kind of pictures/screenshots are there in your phone gallery?

These Are Examples of Incorrect Questions: 

We recommend organizing 20-30 interviews to understand what users with good retention have in common, and the differences between those who do not stay.

As an extra bonus, you will also gain valuable insights into the market. For example, this is how we learned that our other product iFunny is mainly used by people who are not socially active on the web. They mostly care about collecting memes rather than sharing news and communicating with others.

Increase the Value of Your Product

One of the values of Yepp for users is the ability to build their own collection of memes while sharing and revising it. To strengthen this feature, we study our competitors and create comparison sheets. 

We evaluate multiple aspects of our product using a ten-point scale. By doing this, we can clearly see where our strengths lie and where we can improve. You can see an example of a simple comparison sheet below.

YeppAnother meme editor
Profile usability105
The number of memes85
The quality of memes59
Offline mode010

Build And Track a Customer Journey App

Customer journey maps are a great way to learn more about retention. Examine all new users for a month and see how many of them even reach the valuable feature of the product. That valuable feature is what drives retention. 

For food delivery, this could mean the first successfully delivered order. When dealing with memes, we’re looking for the first time a meme is added to a collection.

Ultimately, you should aim to get 50% of new users to the valuable product features within their first week. If you aren’t hitting those numbers, it may be time to step back and rethink the strategy.

Pack This Feature

Once you know exactly what users want to see out of your product, it’s time to improve the funnel to this feature. The funnel is always divided into two parts: marketing and product strategy. In both cases, the workflow is built the same way:

  1. We calculate an average of how many new users engaged with the offer and received real value from the product. 
  2. We divide users into categories by countries, cities, gender, age, platforms, etc. Here you will see which categories perform well or poorly. 
  3. Then, we write a backlog of hypotheses for each category. In our case, we understand we don’t perform as well with people with interests in anime and manga. Because of this, we are focusing on improving their experience. For example, we figured out that a higher percentage of users that identify as anime fans do not like “aggressive politics.” 
  4. We then take that information and use it to improve our marketing and product funnel. It’s important here to monitor these changes and record the data.
  5. The final step is evaluating the results. If the previous tests worked, we fully implement it into the product and mark the facts on this hypothesis. 

Final Words

Ultimately, working with retention and understanding the benefits is an important factor for any business and product. It’s an ongoing process and one that you will continue to build on. That means updating experiments, tweaking user interviews, and refining other methods you use to gauge user retention.

But, in the long run, the payoff in growth is huge and can provide constant growth for the business or product. 

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