Retaining a user is a lot cheaper than acquiring an active user. Retaining a user doesn’t cost advertising dollars, and doesn’t require expensive sales reps. These are people who have already decided to invest in your signup form, have already partially bought into your product vision, and have already invested a degree of effort into learning your product and how it could work for them.
Once you have a good activation rate, focusing on retention is critical to make your app sustainable. If your retention numbers suck (which is a relative term depending on your app type) there are a few quick hacks you can set up that will dramatically increase retention.
Here are 6 hacks that every growing startup should be doing to keep users coming back.
- Weekly Digest Emails Of App Activity
Providing users an option to receive a weekly digest email is an awesome way to pull them back to your app. Have some form of analytics within your app? Users love to see their stats, because everyone loves analytics & metrics, especially about themselves!
Sending a weekly email containing the number of times their profile was viewed this week, responses to their posts, their total invoicing amount, average ticket response times, campaign performance… etc. There are a number of cool and fun metrics you could be sent to users depending on what your app does.
Until your engineering team can set up something transactional and personalized within your app, run a single weeks blast with a digest of activity within your app globally (if possible). Make sure to do at least one A/B test, so that you can inform the engineering team on the best content for the email.
- Activity Notifications From Within The App
If you don’t have transactional emails, or push notifications, for significant real-time activity within your email, you should add them now. But first, read this warning:
Big No to too many notifications!
Ensure you add proper controls to user’s accounts very clearly, and add a link to adjust these settings in every email, ideally with one click. No one likes clicking on ‘Unsubscribe from these emails’ link that requires you to log in. If a user wants to stop receiving emails, let them. They’ll like you for it a lot more than the frustration caused by not easily being able to stop them.
The important thing about these emails is that they need to be interesting. A user should be intrigued by these emails enough to click and find out more, prompting them to come back into your app.
Make sure you’ve set up event tracking on these emails so that you can track how they affect your retention rates
A commonly overlooked issue is that users who activate, and then immediately fall off because they just aren’t getting the real value from your app. Your activation process probably includes an intensive email course, perhaps 6 emails over 7 days explaining how the app works, plus a call from your support team, plus in-app wizards to get a guided setup.
But your retention
onboarding emails are a little different. They might be 6 emails over 6 weeks, each email explaining the benefits of different features in the app through case studies and videos.
A series of onboarding emails can be set up in advance, delivered automatically, and dynamically change content based on the activity your user has performed in the app.
- Product Update Newsletters
You might be blogging about each significant feature, but are you also sending those out in newsletters? Well, you should be!
Divide your list into 3 segments – Active, inactive, and prospects. Prospects are users in your list, perhaps through a blog, but not yet signed up. We won't cover that here. Your active and inactive users will need to be told about new features in a different way – for active users, they’re already engaged and have more investment into the product, so you can give them the details and really dig into the feature.
For inactive users, you’ll want to keep it brief and stick to the top-line benefits of the feature – why does this feature significantly change the app from before? Why is it worth coming back and checking it out again?
Product update newsletters are a chance to show your app is going places, you innovate fast and your staying current.
- Add A Basic Loyalty Program
Adding loyalty programs can be hard. And expensive. Expensive to implement or expensive in software fees. But we’re looking for quick hacks, so where are the quick wins with a loyalty scheme?
Basic points of course. And points mean prizes!
A loyalty scheme can be as simple as awarding a number of points (or any virtual currency) for certain actions. Completing a level. Creating a new post. Adding a comment. Uploading a design. Voting on an idea. Whatever the actions are within your app, you can award points for them.
With a simple points allocation and an even simpler league table, you could easily use this data in digest emails, activity emails, and weekly or monthly newsletters. The most loyal users receive free upgrades and whether you call it gamification or a loyalty program, remember to keep it SIMPLE. A lot of startups invest too many resources into huge, complex, and silly loyalty schemes, with childish badges and annoying pop-ups each time you get a new one. Don’t be that guy. And make sure your loyalty program allows points to be exchanged for something cool.
- Automated Emails For Inactive Users
Similar to automated onboarding emails, you should also set up automated behavior emails when a user has been inactive. These should be a series of emails, allowing you to use different copy and tactics depending on how long the user has been inactive.
These might be the ‘gentle reminder’ emails, perhaps after 7 days of inactivity (or whatever seems appropriate for your app). But what about at 2 weeks? A month?
After a while, you should start being a lot more personal and inviting the user to offer qualitative feedback while also hopefully getting them re-invested into the product again.
Once you’re activating users, your next challenge is going to be retention. Retention
is the place where huge ROIs can be made on time and effort – a simple automated email campaign for inactive users might bring back your inactive users. The same results would require a significant increase in your advertising spend!