How to Increase User Engagement and Retain More Customers

Customer Retention

Whether your company produces an “app” or any online service, you’ll likely have noticed a troubling trend: Most users drop off the map just days after signing up. Depending on your industry and type of app or service, that drop rate might be as high as 80 percent. Why do your customers want to leave so soon after finding you? There are a few possibilities, the most common of which are:

  • Your product sounded like it offered a solution to their problem, but didn’t deliver.
    This means you either have a messaging problem or a product problem, but either way, it could be a big problem!
  • Your product doesn’t deliver enough value.
    You’ll want to conduct an exit survey to see what you might be missing.
  • They can’t figure out how to use your product quickly enough and lose interest.
    This is an easily fixable problem that, once solved, can increase user engagement and improve stickiness.

User engagement and retention require that you’ve solved the first two problems, but solving the last reason for leaving is the first step towards building engagement that lasts.

User Engagement

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User Engagement and Retention Strategies that Work

  • User engagement begins with goals

Whether it’s in business, or in a mobile app, the people who are “engaged” are those who are successfully getting what they need to reach their goals. From your first point of contact, it should be your mission to understand your customer’s primary goal – the biggest problem they need to solve, the greatest benefit they can expect when they do. Exactly what do your prospects want to gain from your product or service? Once you know their pain point and/or desired outcome, you can begin to help them achieve it. You can find out by conducting an entrance survey with clients just signing up. Then use that information to create an experience that meets (and exceeds) their expectations, and most importantly, solves their problem.

  • First impressions are the most important

Statistics across industries and platforms show that most customers who sign up for a service or app use it only once. Even the best sales tactics and content won’t change human nature, but you can increase the number of your engaged users by making a strong first impression. This means the very first screen your first-time user sees has to do a lot of jobs very quickly:

  1. Show users how to use your product (see #3).
  2. Get users excited to start (perhaps by asking them to set goals).
  3. Tell your users where to get help when, or if, they need it (see #3).

Which brings us to…

  • Give users the tools for success

Your users won’t be able to achieve their goals unless they understand how to use your product – which is why simple, intuitive, preferably in-app (or in software) how-to guides are a vitally important resource. How-to content is especially useful in onboarding but has to capture user attention fast and keep it (which isn’t easy). If the learning process is too complicated or takes too much time, retention rates will sink faster than a Hippo in quicksand.

  • Build your user engagement strategy around successes

By naming specific goals from the beginning, you and your user can create progress benchmarks towards their ultimate goals. This can be an overt part of your user experience or a more subtle part of your overall marketing plan, but either way – to create steady engagement, you’ll need to feed it regularly by acknowledging successes. Some companies set up automated messages or emails to deploy when users reach certain goals, but this requires keeping close tabs on your user’s goals, which not all companies are prepared to do.

  • Introduce new features at just the right time

New features, or additional features not introduced at first, can be a powerful way to add value and stay top-of-mind with your user base. But, they can also confuse people or turn them off of your product if they’re introduced too quickly, at the wrong times, or without sufficient explanation. Too often, new features are introduced with poorly-timed email blasts, or even on the FAQ page. Ideally, features should be introduced as the user needs them – ie. they’ve been set up to trigger after certain actions are performed, or after certain goals have been reached according to your user engagement metrics. Then, you’ll want a simple guided how-to that explains how your new feature can help the user do what they’re doing that much easier.

  • Keep adding value

Companies that grow the fastest not only have a great product, they also add value for their customers along the way. Added value could mean product expansions, companion services or additional features, but also can include exclusive instructional content, community forums, tools, webinars, or lively social media interactions. Adding value is, primarily, adding reasons for users to stay with you. It’s all about user experience and user goals.

  • Make each message meaningful

If someone kept insisting on standing in front of you while reading the phone book, what would be your reaction? You’d either tell them to stop (unsubscribe!), leave (cancel!), or take that phone book and hit them with it (assault). Okay, you probably wouldn’t actually beat the person with a phone book, but you’d be tempted, right? Why? Because they’re wasting your time with something that isn’t remotely important to you. Make sure every time you ask for your users’ attentions that you have something useful, interesting, and valuable to offer. Few companies do this, which is why email open rates are so low.

Customer retention and user engagement are not just related – they’re glued together. Inseparable. And the glue itself? We’ll call that “customer success.” It’s our strategy, our values, and our commitment in a nutshell. How can we help you be successful today?

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Chief Strategy Officer at @Inturact. Moderator at @ProductHunt &@GrowthHackers. Co-Founder [email protected] & @SaaSCommunity. Previously: Growth at @InboundOrg.
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