9 Tactics- For Building User Retention
User Retention is memory. It is getting the members habitual of using the product. These members are called users at this stage. “Users” means that they are using the products often. For a SaaS company, this means lowering the churn.
For an ecommerce site this means navigating people into becoming repeat buyers. For a content company this means getting people to consume the content on a regular basis.
Growth hackers consider retention to be the most important aspect of the funnel. The reasons for this are innumerable:
- All ingenious growth hacks applied to the product are meaningless if user retention is Leaky buckets don’t retain water if holes are not fixed. If loose ends are not tied, user retention is poor, members leave the product even at the very end of the funnel.
- An activated member is someone who has shown interest in the product. They are most qualified profile to work with. Focusing on retaining them, results in acquiring high quality
- Often retention affects the bottom line more easily. Focus on user retention, rather than getting new visitors, in all the stages of the funnel is imperative, as all funnels work together.
- An increase of the user retention by 20% leads to an automatic overall increase in traffic also by 20%. On the contrary, increasing the traffic alone by 20% is liable to cost more in terms of time and tangible resources, while increasing retention by 20% costs much
- High user retention increases the lifetime value of the customer (LTV), thereby making it possible to try a number of push methods at the top of the funnel, that might not have been possible before. user Retention benefits the funnel holistically, as a
- If the product is built into the weekly routine of the member, then the users talk about it to their friends, take it into the workplace, and help in word-of-mouth promotion of the product. People retained for long periods of time are more likely to evangelize into loyal users of the
There are recommended tactics to enable user retention -
A surface glance at the growth hacker funnel gives the illusion that one should focus on getting traffic first, and then activating members, and thereafter focus on retaining users. In reality this is not the way to work through the funnel. For best results, it is better to put some effort into getting traffic, and then use those visitors to test the rest of the funnel. Thereafter decide upon putting resources into getting more traffic.
For instance, in a growth budget of $4,000, some is spent on the production of a whitepaper for inbound leads (1k), some is spent on Google ads (2k), and some on a contest (1k). And all the growth budget is exhausted in a couple of weeks.
However, in a month or so, realization sets in that traffic acquisition was effective but the activation and retention methods were a total failure. And all the budget was spent, with poor results to show.
A better idea is to try a single tactic, and use only some of the resources to only track the progress of the traffic through the funnel. Using this test traffic, uncover the leaks and fix the obvious holes.
Thereafter, investing more of the resources on traffic, helps the product to be better optimized to capitalize on it. Simply put, it is better to test the funnel, including retention, when the stakes are low, so that when it’s time to accelerate growth, the requisite work has been done, which allows the product to handle it thereon. Early on, stage the traffic in order to master retention.
2. The “Aha” Moment
The promises made to people about the product, attracts them to the product, thereby making them become a potential member for user retention. Idea is to make a promise that saves them X, provides them Y, and makes Z much simpler. That divine moment when a visitor or member realizes the truth of the promise, and sees the obvious benefit of the product, is rightly called the “aha moment”. To achieve a good user retention graph it is imperative to work towards helping a user get to the “aha moment” as quick as humanly possible.
A new visitor is usually open to promises. They are excited about the possibilities of what the promises will deliver to them. If too much time is wasted in time getting them to the “aha moment”, then they will not stay around.
There are some relevant questions that are worth addressing:-
- “Aha moment” for each product differs. It is important to know what is the “aha moment” of a product. What actions a member can take on the product, which indicate their user retention rate.
- If, on an average, it takes two days to get someone to the “aha moment”, then what is the possibility of making it to the “aha moment” in two hours.
- If asked to create an account to see the benefit of the product, what is the way to show them a sandboxed version of the product, that allows them to have an “aha moment” before signing up.
- Which promotional features of the product are a clutter, and do not lead people to an “aha moment”, and thereby lower the chances of them ever getting to the “aha moment”.
- What kind of email can be sent to a new user, which outlines exactly what the “aha moment” is. Is it possible to give them a clear call to action to have that kind of “aha moment”.
Twitter realized that after following a certain number of people, the user retention rate increases drastically. So, Twitter helps users to follow those profiles, as a part of the signup process. Retention is built into their registration flow because they know that speed to “aha moment” matters.
3. Email Action
Engineers and product purists do not often understand the value of email. They assume that email is unwanted, and borders on being a spam. This is not true. People opt-in to receive emails, and they opt-out when they no longer want them. Hence emails are not unwanted. People can make their own decisions about the email as to whether they want it or not. They do not have to preemptively decide on them, thereby handicapping the product in the process.
Email is a useful tactic for retaining users and ignoring it is a disadvantage. Each email is aimed at a specific purpose. Different emails target different aspects of the product and all emails are important. Different types of emails can be sent out –
Drip Campaign Emails
Prewritten emails, sent at preselected intervals, are Drip Campaigns. For instance, a new member might get an email on day 1, day 3, day 7, day 14, and day 21. A Drip campaign is used to introduce the user to the product, share testimonials with them, give the users case studies or other inspirational reasons to use the product, and many other such incentives and information. A user is most impressionable right after they’ve signed up.
A drip campaign embeds the product into people’s minds at this stage when they are most open and impressionable. Every email sent brings the user back into the product and retains them. It is foolish to ignore the power of drip campaigns.
Event Notifications Emails
Emails can also take on the role of event triggers. These are called event notification emails. Facebook uses these event notification emails to its advantage. Every time someone does anything which is remotely related to Facebook, on their social network, then an event notification is sent out to the user.
Facebook, intelligently, forces the user to click through to their website, to get the most out of their emails. They tell the user if a photo they were in, was liked. The user then has to click a call to action to see the photo. This, very ingeniously and smartly, takes the user back to their site, and then the user is sucked back into the Facebook world again.
It is worth reviewing what actions people are taking on the product and if it warrants an email or not.
General Updates Email
General update email is another important email sent out to the user. General update emails update people about new product features, new staff additions, and other kinds of things that are primarily new additions to the product, and make no sense in Drip Campaigns which basically introduce the product.
People love to see the behind-the-scene workings. It helps to establish transparency and a connection with the company, leading to brand loyalty. The emails can be used to give people a behind the scenes view of the company, by showing them photos of the new workspace, of the team next to the company logo, etc. When people feel that they know the brand closely, then they are more likely to be retained by the company.
4. Alerts and Notifications
Smartphones have become personal diaries for people. People access everything through their mobile apps. Mobile apps provide another avenue to get people back to the product. This feature is ‘alerts and notifications” that can be sent to the user to establish connection, and create awareness of the product, and thereby help retain users.
Push notifications, Badges to alert people to new features, and new updates, or any other notification, are all helpful. They are not spam, as some would like to think. People can turn off alerts and notifications within their settings, any time. Sending out relevant updates is important for the business. The people can receive or turn the notification off at their own convenience.
5. Exit Interviews
One of the best ways of interacting with customers and members is through a dialogue. It is a myth that talking to customers directly is difficult and that people are apprehensive of telling the truth or truth may hurt ego.
Recent buzz in the startup world, about customer development, is about the process of talking to customers early. However, another effective way of communication with customers is an Exit Interview. Sometimes users show reluctance, and reject the product. This too can be used to advantage.
It is great opportunity to learn, when people cancel the service, or become inactive for long durations, or generally express their reluctance to being retained. Sending out an email asking them the worst thing about the product which made them cancel or reject the product or service, helps to understand the product flaws. This is an Exit Interview. A direct question and a stoic attitude during an exit interview is most necessary. The
responses of the exit interview help to garner information on the product roadmap, and thereby enable corrections, and thus increase future retention.
Asking the exiting user to fill a full survey form at this point is also helpful. The situation in the form should be well defined. Has the user already walked away, or is in the process, these are both different processes. The user usually doesn’t give more than 10 minutes of their time to such situations. Often the exiting user comes back with a short and quick response if a short, one sentence email is sent to them. It is good to practice caution and wisdom in an exit interview.
An exit interview is also a chance to bring the user back to the product. Offers, like an exclusive discount, option to choose a less expensive package, that is not offered during the signup, can be offered in the exit interview to woo the user back. The exiting user is already lost, hence focusing on wooing them back might turn a tragic end into a happy ending.
6. The Red Carpet
A way to increase user retention is to pamper the most engaged users with a royal, red carpet treatment of some added perks and incentives. Exit interviews are a learning curve and a chance to turn a bad situation into a benefit. However, the royal red carpet offer helps to avoid the bad situation from unfolding. There are many ways of offering the red carpet treatment to the best users-
- Send bonus gift products to the first 100
- Turn the spotlight on the best users by giving the best users a shout out in an email newsletter.
- Maintain a social media list of the best users and their product relevant posts, and recirculate them
- Allow the VIP users to have access to some exclusive content, this makes them feel special.
- Conduct a draw contest amongst only the power users, for a free trip to a relevant conference.
It is imperative to do something periodically, to make the primary users feel appreciated and extra special. This helps prevent the old users from feeling restless and also makes them the center of attention, making them feel unique and important. This leads to the primary users sharing their positive experience on social media networks and other places. Special incentives give the best users a reason to advertise for the product.
7. Increase Value
The value a product provides is the core of the product. Maintaining the content, quality and value of the product always helps to boost user retention.
If someone finds value in the product on day 1, it does not mean that they will continue to find value in it on day 100 too. It is important to stay ahead of the value curve at all times, to maintain and boost user retention. There are some generic ways to provide value to the product –
• Adding Features
Adding some special features to products makes them more attractive and leads to better user retention. If the exit interviews repeatedly point to some feature that is not currently provided, then it is important to add those features. It is important to give people what they actually need or want and thus give them reason to stay as retained users.
• Subtract Features
Sometimes, it is also important to remove some features that have grown irrelevant or redundant, thereby helping to increase product value. Redundant features prevent users from finding out the great and awesome parts about the product. It is not the number of features that make users stay. Users stay around because of the right features that provide them value for the product.
8. Community Building
Community building is very important because good communities help each other grow. Making users feel like they are a part of some family, like the brand community, emotionally gratifies and empowers the users and makes them loyal users of the product or brand.
This is community building. People, when they have a sense of belonging to something, invariably stay. A simple subscription does not make people stay. Easy ways to build a community around the product-
· Customer Support
Good customer support makes all the difference between a life-long loyal customer, and a user who spreads bad publicity about the product. It is important to make the user feel that they belong to a community and thus they are not being bothersome with their support requests. This empowers the user and enables them to freely interact with the company, provides good customer experience, and boosts user retention.
In the scenario wherein documentation is needed, then the product must be supported with accurate and authentic documentation and it must be provided to the user. If the needed documentation, for installation or use of the product, is not available, then the user loses trust and cannot be retained.
· Social Features
A great way to retain users is by providing them an opportunity to connect with other users, within the product community. Other users often help exiting users to stay around, and give the product another chance.
9. Make Them Happy
Pursuit of happiness is what is behind every action. Happiness is the key to everything. And all user retention comes down to happiness. If people are happy they will become habitual users. Unhappy users will leave the product. Focus on making people happy with the product, and user retention, customer loyalty is the automatic result.