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Retention Test Ideas

Retention can be hard work and a lot of hand cranking, here are some of the most successful retention programmes used across my career.

Retention is often one of the more difficult elements of Marketing, Growth or Product.

Typically you are reliant on extra work or building bespoke tools or flows.

Growth loops are more common now and with the recent lockdown, retention is going to be essential for all existing businesses. I’ve said on recent panels and livestreamed events, retention will be the new growth for many companies.

Retention can be broken down into the traditional
(1) repeat usage,
(2) repeat purchases.

Or into the more modern approach

(1) re-engage (when the user has gone quiet, consider comparing against their L (usage plotted over time) or apply on a smile graph)
(2) reactivation (reactivating the user when gone inactive)
(3) reacquire which is the hardest as the user has decided not to use you and you will have to pay another fee to bring them back to you.

Retention used to be the overlooked part of Marketing teams, many Marketing and Product Departments rely on the email (CRM) teams taking the lead in the lifecycle emails. 

Repeat users would either use the brand or received enough comms (email, social media, SMS you name the channel) until they brought and used you again. 

In the over-communicated world we live in, there just are too many channels, this blast (or spray and pray) approach just won’t work.

Ideas To Consider 

Having a look back through more recent retention work and the best performing retention programmes, here are the best from my twenty years across Marketing, Product and Growth. 

A word to the wise, the majority of these were hand-cranked, yes there is very rarely the silver bullet. So roll up the selves. 

Personal Concierge Service 

Personal doesn’t mean edit the name and URL it means getting to understand the user, their objective and crafting outreach to let the customer know you are wanting to help their cause, you want to speak to them personally and you will be available to them when it is convenient to them. 

The personal concierge service is time-consuming but you are not looking to roll this out to 100% of users, you are looking at a quality cohort of 5 – 10% of users. This can be earlier in their journey or when their usage (or spending) spike drops. A red rope service is always an option if you have the staff who are great at what they do and can speak and create action plans for users. It is important to note in 2020 and beyond many people actively dislike the phone call or look to have live chat or even look to turn it into the dreaded zoom call, if your staff are comfortable these are all options.

If you are lean with staff or cannot leverage customer support or customer service, have one dedicated day you can assign for member(s) of the team to offer this. 

If you know how to spot early usage patterns and quality signals vs quantity signals you will really easily be able to identify the people to reach out to first. 

Bespoke Personal Tips

Everyone loves a nudge, behavioural science and economics have always said how important personal tips, nudges and recommendations are. When you are close to the product, it is easy to think the product is simple to use. In fact, as I have said previously, products have to be easy to learn, easy to use, easy to share, if your users are not all technology advanced or are time-limited it is important you make the product as easy to learn and as personal to their use case so they can use it more or use the product more effectively. 

Something that many teams won’t consider is looking at the users, how many other users or their network they have brought with them and helping users to understand their network makeup and recommending to bring them specifically to the product. Close friends, close family, colleagues, promoting in groups/promoting on social media and then broadening to friends of friends are all ways you can help shape and guide users 

A Thank You

Trivialization Effect is one of the more under-used behavioural economics out there, a thank you is something we as humans are primed for and look for validation or verification from external sources, brands and products can also leverage this if you have a connection with the brand. 

A thank you has taken many shapes in recent years (from an emoji reaction on Slack or Microsoft Teams, to a gif in email or a thumbs up in response to an email) but sending a thank you great examples include email, a handwritten card or letter or a personal push / SMS can do wonders for your product and WOM recommendation. 

These thank-yous have to be more than a generic thank you or a gif, it has to show you understand them individually and appreciate their efforts. Take it out of the CRM flow and look to review their actions or purchases. 

Gifs can now be edited to scale, personalised designs have never been easier or creating video has never been as cheap or editable at scale. 

Looking at users product usage or purchase habits does not have to be creepy, it can be something like picking out a review they have previously written, some feedback they have offered or a recurring gift they send. 

Be mindful of sending a good time and encourage them to have a conversation with you one to one (over that communication channel) vs taking it to social media. 

Leaderboard (Competition)

Leaderboards are like polls they are great for engagement and great for passive for use. Using the product or connected product is the goal however passively caring about how they are doing and being able to benchmark against someone they didn’t know they could be competing with is a sure-fire away to receive an increase in usage and interaction. Being top of the leaderboard or top x % always leads to social sharing or private sharing across chat apps like iMessage and WhatsApp, look to understand what makes everyone win vs attempting to make it number 1 spot is the only winner. 

Encourage lighter competition and fun. Don’t always force competition if you are asking the user to spend more, push more or take a big action.

The leaderboard email trigger hooked in users and became the most opened email we sent out, your logic has to be smart and knowing when not to send an email.

Something to keep in mind for leaderboards is to ensure if you drive to a landing page you should prompt the user to know they can take their next action in the header or show notifications otherwise you are will a passive user or forget the purpose of why you would like the user to come back to your site.

Remind Me

Very rarely is it convenient for both parties online, what I mean by this is if someone contacts you it is rarely convenient for you to stop what you are doing and take that action they require.

One of my favourite tests was rolling out a remind me feature, it was a calendar based remind me service. A little detail, the calendar is still the best way to nudge someone and remind them of the action they need to take, why you might ask… gmail (50%+ of my email users) nudges users by sending a push into your calendar, sends you one to two emails before the event and stays sticker than any other notification. It can also nudge more than one person at once. Simple, straight forward and is very low cost and low friction and is normal behaviour. Getting the right time will be a test but something you will help you.

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