What to do to reverse a dropping retention rate

Retention rate stands for users coming back to use your product or not — in this case churn rate. Generally, there are two types of problems with retention:

  • The retention was good but something happened and now it’s bad;
  • The retention wasn’t so good from the beginning and it started to get worse and worse.

These two types of problems may require different approaches to solve them.

Here’s a simple breakdown of how retention rate impacts your bottom line:


How to fix a retention rate that suddenly drops

The main reason for retention going from good to bad usually lies in the recent update of your product. The churn rate always rises after an update that was not so good.

  • Double-check your app and user journey: Maybe the update was raw or something crashed afterward. In my experience, there was a product with great functionality that worked OK, but after a minor update, this functionality became hidden from the main screen. Retention was down immediately because the users couldn’t find what they wanted fast.
  • Check the changes made to your product: If you’ve added a new killer feature or changed the onboarding or monetization model, the problem may lie there.
  • Double-check your re-marketing campaigns: But only if they are heavily tied to users returning to your product.
  • Find benchmarks! For some industries, retention can go down without it being a bad thing. People will tend to return to the Flow app each month, for example, but users playing games can drop it after several months and it may be OK.

Fixing retention that continues to get worse

If the retention was not so good from the beginning and continues to drop, you need to consider if the users are getting what they need. Maybe the value doesn’t match the offer. Sometimes to attract users people are promising way more than the product gives, but such users won’t stay.

Don’t use this strategy. Instead:

  • Talk to your customers: Find out the problem, what the users came for, and what went wrong. Implement the customer feedback loop. It’s crucial to get feedback from your users. It’s also good to answer their questions and implement things they need.
  • Double-check your onboarding process: Including triggered emails, push notifications, etc.

What else to do to improve retention

There is no hidden secret here — to get your retention rate back on track you need to work with your users and find the best solution for YOUR product.

  • Implement a customer feedback loop: It’s crucial to receive feedback and work with it, implementing the features users need. Answer their questions on time to build trust.
  • Provide helpful content: If you have expert content people tend to return to your product even after they stopped using your service.
  • Provide personalized customer experiences: Let your product change along with its users. With Growthflags, for example, we are working on the activation pipeline now, a new triggered email service. We provide useful information when people need it. When the user signs up, we sent the guide to start working with the product. When they create an action, we give them a guide to creating feature flags easier. And so on.
  • Start a customer education program: It may bring additional value to your product.
  • Offer unique services and discounts to attract users' attention once again.

Start with solving one problem at a time

The main idea here is that there is nothing impossible to fix and everyone has the same set of tools in their hands. All you need to do is to go steadily from one tool to another to check which one works for you. The faster you do it, the greater the chance that you’ll find the problem spot and fix it with fewer risks.

Written by Evgeniy Sergeiev. Thanks to Elena Lysiakova for the help.