If you care about growth then you should care about retention.
Retention is a measure of how many people return to your product over time. Without healthy user retention, your product is a leaky bucket. People sign up, check it out, then leave and you never see them again.
You can pour as much time and money as you like into marketing and ads and still wind up with no long-term users. No long-term users mean no sustainable growth.
Focusing on user acquisition is important when you are starting out, but building sustainable, long-term growth comes down to user retention.
Making retention one of your primary growth metrics can change the trajectory of your company from one that loses users over time, to one that sustains true growth.
Step 1 | Behavioural Analytics
Behavioural data helps you understand where the biggest problems are in your user journey. This helps you understand which kinds of improvement will have the most impact first. Things I look for include:
- How well your onboarding process forms a habit around the product after a user signs up.
- The levels of engagement and how different groups transition between them over time.
- Where and how people disengage with your product and what you are doing about it.
Step 2 | Voice-of-customer Research
Behavioural analytics are great for understanding what people do but they tell us nothing about why they do it. To understand the why, you must listen to people.
This means setting up and conducting 1-on-1 customer interviews with people who use your product. The goal is to understand your ideal users better than anyone else. This means talking to them about their life, not your product.
Step 3 | Product Experimentation
Once you have enough qualitative and quantitative data to build an understanding of what better means to your users. The nexts step is experiment with product changes. The goal is to start with incremental changes that take the least amount of time to implement and have the largest impact.
- If you’ve never run product experiments before, I walk through what tools to use and how to set them up to run your first experiment.
- I explain the difference between client-side A/B testing and server-side A/B testing and what role they each play in product experimentation.
- I also explain how to stackrank your ideas so that you don’t waste time building experiments that have little to no effect.
- Experiments are great but they will slow you down so I also cover when not to run an experiment and what to do instead.
”Josh was wonderfully thoughtful about the tradeoffs (newbees vs power users) and did many user tests to single out problem areas in the old design and to test out the mockups of the new design.”
– Daniel Reeves, Co-founder of Beeminder
“Overall, it was fantastic working with you. The two big differences between working with you and working with most developers area) You care about your work. Having worked with remote developers a couple times, I’m so used to having to bug-hunt for them, make sure all the features discussed are there, etc. I really appreciated not having to do that with you.b) You’re self-sufficient. Related to the first, I felt confident that, if I left you on your own, the work would get done well. You solve the problems that come up, without my help.Overall, it was great working with you. If it’s alright with you, I’d certainly like to continue working with you in the future.”
– Trevor Klee, Founder of 21st Night
“We are delighted with the results. Josh was a delight to work with; always cooperative, creative, responsive and technically excellent at his job – went above and beyond. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him to anyone.”
Hey, I’m Josh 👋
I’m a product strategist and I help SaaS companies grow by improving their user retention metrics.
I’ve spent 2 years working as a UX designer and 5 years working as a software engineer. This combination of skill sets helps me think about products from a perspective that’s both technical and creative.
My job involves helping product managers pay attention to the right numbers, ask the right questions and invest in the best opportunities to retain as many users as they can each month.