Increasing retention for social games

Retention is a tough topic. Every consumer app startup is concerned with it but no one really knows how to move it. Executing on retention can be brutal. You can try hundreds of different tricks, changes, tweaks, and pivots and still not see the needle move. It’s also a really important piece of data. For free consumer apps, your retention is a key factor in your customer lifetime value. Retention is one of the hardest and important metrics to move in a startup.

As Nabeel Hyatt points out, most people cannot move the needle on retention unless something is fundamentally wrong.

… in general you will not make retention go up materially post launch. I have seen virality increase materially, engagement go up, monetization improve, but rarely do you see retention really pop after launch.

Retention is a really hard problem.

At MinoMonsters, we’ve also struggled with retention. Our initial alpha product was a leaky bucket, shedding over 95% of new users within the first few minutes of play. Since then, we been ruthless about improving retention. Through strategic product changes, we’ve been able to raise our Day 1 retention to over 50%, where we sit today. The process has taken over a year and we’ve learned a lot along the way. Here are some of the things we did that helped.

There are also some tactics you can use to increase retention. These aren’t silver bullets, but they apply to a broader set of consumer apps.

And lastly, there are some things that are guaranteed to hurt retention.

We’ve used these strategies and tactics over the last year to 10x our Day 1 and Day 7 Retention. If you’d like to start moving the needle on retention today, here’s the best place to start.

Retention is a complex topic and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. We increased retention through focus, hard work, and bold changes to our product.

This post was originally published on Quora.

Thanks to Nabeel Hyatt for reading a draft of this.


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