When people stop using a product it’s important that I understand if it’s because they couldn’t use the product, if they didn’t like it, or if I’m dealing with happy churn. 

One way to gather this data is to survey people when you cancel their account. The trouble with exit surveys is they don’t account for people who can’t use your app for whatever reason. There’s also little to no chance of changing someone’s mind once they have decided to cancel.

I’ve found that it’s better to sending out an email after people stop performing the core action for a period of time. They’re still using the app so they’re more likely to respond, but they’re heading out the door so it’s important to understand why. Don’t send it too soon because you will just spam people on holiday. However, leave it too late and you probably won’t get a response.

You want to know if there is a predominant reason people leave so that you can do something about it.

In most cases, you already have a decent sense of why people leave. Feedback is more confirmatory than anything else. Gather your teams best guesses and send them to people as a multiple-choice questionnaire. 

It typically boils down to your thing not working, you sending them too much spam, it being too expensive or them finding something better. 

If people leave because they couldn’t use your app, then you have an engineering problem. You should have alerts and error logs that show you this well before people start leaving. Sending emails to this group is your last line of defence. You should be able to detect problems like this well before they are ready to leave. 


Other questions to ask yourself to improve your retention…

  1. Does your product make a clear promise?
  2. Do you know how often people have the problem you help them solve?
  3. Do you know what your product’s core action is?
  4. How many people continue to use your product six months after they sign up?
  5. Have you segmented your retention curve by the different types of users in your app?
  6. Do you know where the single biggest dropoff is in your current onboarding experience?
  7. Have you mapped out the number of times each person performed your core action last month?
  8. Have you spoken to five of your most and least engaged users?