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Published December 12, 2023
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As product managers, we play a key role in the success of our products and services.

User retention is a caliber that measures our success. It shows whether we are satisfying our customers, or if more work needs to be done.

Unfortunately, user retention isn’t always straightforward to measure. Due to the nature of each industry, platform, and user goal.

In this article, we’ll define, measure, and dive into user retention to paint a clear picture of what your platform should focus on for your platform.

What is user retention?

Simply put, user retention is the measure of how many users come back to use a product or service over a period of time.

User retention is an indicator of how valuable a user perceives a product, the “stickiness” of features, and how much engagement a platform receives.

It is measured as a percentage, with higher percentages being indicative of successful engagement.

As product managers, it’s important to track user retention to understand the success of our products and services in engaging customers.

Measuring user retention can help businesses identify areas of improvement and determine whether or not they are achieving their goals. We can use this data to compare our products and services against competitors and see how well we are doing.

Pssst… Take a peek: 6 User Onboarding Metrics You Need to Keep An Eye On

What’s the difference between user retention and user churn?

User retention is the measure of how many users are returning to use a product or service over a period of time.

User churn is the opposite. Churn is how many users have stopped using a product or service over a given period.

While user retention is an indication of customer satisfaction and loyalty. User churn is a sign that your product is not meeting expectations.

Visual description of the difference between user retention and user churn

Methods for measuring user retention

You can approach measuring user retention in several different ways. Your user retention will depend on your own product functionality and features. However, there are two factors to consider:

  1. Time: What time frame you will use to measure user retention.

Remember, some platforms will automatically have more active usage, as users open and engage with your platform every day. For example, a weather app.

Other platforms are more situational. For example, Airbnb might have a high user retention rate thanks to its loyal customer base. But users only interact with the app a couple of times a year when it’s time for a vacation.

In this case, using time as a retention variable will work for the weather app, but not for Airbnb. This is because weather apps are used daily, retention is only affected by the app’s performance, not circumstances.

  1. Product Behavior: Define what you will use to measure retention. Will it be users interacting with a certain app feature, subscribing to the platform, or filling out a survey?

Be sure to merge the goal of the user with your platform’s value propositions to see if it reflects in the measured action.

Once you have the timeframe (retention period) and action (platform behavior) defined, choose the best approach to measure user retention.

Here are some helpful metrics to help you get started:

User retention over a given period

If you use time as a value, you can measure the amount of active users in a given timeframe compared to the previous.

The formula is the following:

User Retention: (Active users over time / Number of active users in the previous period) x 100

formula based on time for user retention

Use case: This is especially helpful to analyze if new features or measures have a significant impact on retention.

This number will give you a sense of how successful your product is at engaging customers and keeping them coming back.

User retention measured through product behavior

To measure the user retention rate by product, calculate the following:

User retention by product adoption: active users for a feature/ total number of user logins during a time period, and multiply by 100.

user retention forumla by product

The metric will show which features have the most retention and value for users. Remember to take into account user segments and cohorts, as this will impact the results.

What is a good user retention rate?

Retention rates vary from one industry to another. It depends on the nature of the product sold.

For example, user retention rates for news platforms are around 11%, while business platforms are closer to 5% in the first 30 days.

Search for your industry’s retention rate to understand what to expect. Then, continuously measure and compare monthly to see if user retention is improving over time.

Why focusing on user retention is important

User retention exposes the strength or weakness of your current product and onboarding flow.

It helps teams understand what works, needs improvement, or should be removed based on hard metrics.

Due to its tangible metrics, product, development, and the marketing teams can continuously align and optimize the user experience to increase retention.

Tacking user retention helps to:

By keeping track of your user’s behavior and lifetime patterns, you can continuously make product and marketing decisions that increase user retention.

How to increase user retention

Good user retention is achieved when the product and onboarding process work synergetically to enhance the user experience and make them come back for more.

A high retention rate is achieved because the platform fulfills the user’s goals, and is seamless and educational. The user knows how to use the platforms, perceives the value, and engages with features.

To deliver that value to your users, you need a full onboarding ecosystem. Product Fruits offers you the tools, flows, and resources to secure user retention.

No coding is required. Simply add an invisible and customizable layer atop your platform and convert users from day one.

Talk to our user onboarding specialists to learn more.

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About the author

Tamryn Mounier
Tamryn is a B2B SaaS content wizard, with over five years of experience working internationally with companies of all sizes. She's passionate about understanding how technology is transforming businesses, and how it shapes the roles needed to support this growth. When she's not working, you'll find her outdoors busy surfing, running, hiking, or climbing.

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