Andy Carvell APS Berlin

The third AGS Summit in Berlin returned the last month and was virtually followed by over 500 people despite the Covid-19 crisis. The event saw experts that delivered insightful topics from companies like Babbel, Zalando and SEGA as well as featuring 3 great panels with 8 presentations and 3 fireside chats. Phiture’s own Andy Carvell, Co-Founder delivered a 10-minute Master Mobile App Retention session which explained the difference between retention and engagement and the significance of using both. Make sure to check out his presentation slides below!

Andy kicked off his session explaining the basics of retention and the concept of active users, outlining the flow whereby new users activate successfully and remain active users in the next period, while some new users will fail to activate and become dormant, along with some users who were active in previous time periods. Dormant users may be re-activate –  either as a result of deliberate reactivation efforts or organically – and become active users again.  Retention efforts, therefore, boil down to activating new users successfully, keeping active users as engaged as possible so that they remain active and re-activating as many dormant users as possible.

Growth Accounting and Retention Measurement

3 types of active usersThe importance of visualizing the status of new user acquisition, activation, engagement within your app, as well as understanding how many users are churning, during a specific time frame, is crucial. A significant element of retention is the retention curve. The ultimate goal of this is to eventually see the curve leveling out after a certain period.  A growth accounting view is very helpful for this.

Factors that influence retention

Andy also showed how to read a ‘retention curve’, which shows an aggregated view of how many users are sticking around in the app.  Andy suggests segmenting the retention curve by many different variables, such as acquisition source and feature usage, to develop more insight into how these factors affect user retention.

Influencing Engagement and Retention

key levers for influencing engagement + retentionAndy presented the key levers for influencing Engagement + Retention and advised the audience to look into activation first since it usually presents the biggest experiment surface and the most upside for increasing retention. He then broke out some specific approaches for increasing the engagement of active users.  If the purpose is to bring people back into the app more often or to increase their engagement in particular areas on the app, push notifications, in-app messages and emails may be implemented during the lifecycle marketing and activity notification phases. Although levers such as Community engagement and support are often overlooked, the significance of making users feel like they are a part of a bigger community or simply feeling supported by the developer can go a long way to improving retention.

Later on in the session, the concept of ‘natural usage frequency’ was explained, along with the importance of understanding the reasonable expectation of how often users would interact with an app. With this in mind, it is worth looking at how often the ‘power users’ and casual users interact with the app each month and pick something in-between these two extremes as a good target frequency for the average user. 

evernote appAnalytics tracking for each step in key funnels (especially onboarding) is essential, Andy says. By doing so, you will see just how many users are completing each step and can identify the key drop-offs to tackle and hopefully improve. Andy used the example of Evernote, which has an onboarding process that forces users to actually try out all of the key features as part of the tutorial.  Although this approach may increase friction, it will ultimately increase retention as users understand the app and its value proposition within their first session, which is the ultimate goal of onboarding. 

churn prediction & prevention modellingAndy gave some advice on how you can tackle and understand which users are going to churn. He presented the approach to see the absence of actions, the key actions that users are taking and if behaviors are changing so that users are engaging with the product less.  Tracking and identifying these changes provides the key to taking preventative measures before the user churns.

Andy’s final remark was that running experiments is critical to mastering mobile app retention. This often requires tackling organizational fear from internal stakeholders by explaining the methodology, using as much data to support your approach and, ultimately, communicating results and learnings so that people in your organization get comfortable with improving retention.

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