Keeping your users and customers is just as important as winning them in the first place. In this article, we explore how you can build the right user retention strategy that engages your user base and maximises your digital product’s revenue. 

Every digital product has to deal with churn. This is when customers cancel their subscriptions and users abandon the app or uninstall it altogether. It’s an inevitable part of the product life cycle but it’s also a balance you have to get right if you want your product and your business to grow. 

The more value your app provides to your users, the fewer people will abandon it and the more revenue you’ll create. The longer you can hold onto your users, the faster, more sustainably, and more cost-effectively you’ll grow. 

To do that, you have to balance your user acquisition strategy with a strong focus on user retention from day one. This requires a deep understanding of your users and what it is they want to achieve. Only by having this understanding can you deliver delightful moments that provide lasting value and keep users coming back to your app. 

Mastering User Retention

The Leaky Bucket 

Let’s imagine your app is a bucket. Your users and the potential revenue they create are the water. If your bucket is full of holes, then you’re losing water all the time. 

In the same way, if your digital product is full of frustrating moments or broken features then you’re losing out on both potential and actual revenue all the time. For example, if you start the year with 1000 customers and your monthly churn is 5%, then you’ll need to win 460 new customers in the year just to keep your user base level. 

Many businesses approach this problem as a user acquisition challenge. They focus all their efforts on turning up the tap and filling the bucket with more water. The problem with focusing only on acquiring new users is that you ignore the underlying problems with your product that are causing you to lose money. 

If you don’t address these problems then not only are you leaving money on the table, you’re letting your budget go to waste. After all, it’s five times as expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. 

When you fix the holes in your leaky bucket, your product experience improves, your users stick around for longer, and your budget for acquiring new users goes far further. To achieve this, you need the right combination of expert user experience design informed by the right Product Strategy.

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Choosing What to Measure 

Often the best place to start with your user retention strategy is choosing what to measure. Having the right metrics in place from day one gives you a valuable baseline to build off as you grow. It shows you straight away what’s working and what isn’t and where you should focus your efforts if you want to improve engagement and drive long-lasting user retention. 

Understanding Your Users’ Key Actions 

To do this, you first have to consider the critical events that your users need to take in order to achieve their desired outcomes. This describes the key action or actions that you want your users to take. For a hospitality app, this could be booking a place to stay. For a fitness app, it could be the number of workouts recorded. 

The best way to figure out your key actions and critical events is by mapping out the user journey and the actions taken throughout. You’re then able to pinpoint the key moments that are tied to the value your users get from your app. 

User Experience Retention 

Once you have the analytics in place to measure your user retention, you can begin developing hypotheses around how you can improve them. These improvements can be broken down into three key areas: onboarding, personalisation, and continuous iteration. 

Below, we explore the role each one has to play in increasing engagement and retention to improve your product’s return on technology investment. 

Onboarding: Create the Right First Impression

First impressions count. User onboarding is all about making sure that your target audience understands the value of your digital product straight away so that they can experience it for themselves as quickly as possible. 

Without onboarding, you run the risk of confusing your users by dropping them straight into an app they don’t fully understand. The right onboarding experience will introduce your product and its value proposition in a clear and concise way. It also often guides users through their first key action in a more handheld way. 

We worked with healthtech start-up OpenAir Med to help patients to proactively manage their respiratory illnesses. To help them do that, we designed an onboarding experience that guides users through setting up and pairing their IoT-connected lung capacity reader. This enables them to quickly begin recording the data and gain access to the health insights they need much faster. 

Personalisation: Deliver a Relevant and Engaging Experience

77% of users prioritise companies that provide a personalised experience. The more personal and relevant an experience is, the more useful and engaging it feels for users. The more engaging your product is, the longer they’ll continue to use it. 

The best way to achieve this is by segmenting your users based on their primary goals or key demographic characteristics like location or age. Asking this upfront lets you design the experience around these characteristics. You can create different user flows that help different subsets of your users achieve their goals. 

We helped fitness influencer Belle Hutt launch the number one live-streaming personal training app in the App Store. The in-app personalisation and accompanying workout recommendation engine keep users engaged with the content that’s most relevant to their fitness goals.

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Continuous Iteration: Enhance Your Digital Product 

Perhaps the most important aspect of keeping your users around is refining and iterating your digital product over time. You must continue delivering value to match users’ changing needs and continually exceed their expectations. You can broadcast these changes through different channels like push notifications to keep users engaged and interested in your app. 

We worked with scale-up LandTech to streamline the process of acquiring land. We began by mapping out the user journey and all the manual tasks involved throughout. We then worked with LandTech’s in-house team to augment their team with a fully-fledged product team of product managers, developers, designers, QA and testers. This allowed them to iterate much faster and over 20% of LandTech’s customers now rely on the mobile app to manage their site assessments. 


UX design plays an essential role in keeping users active and engaged. If you want to start filling the holes in your leaky bucket you need where the holes are. Our Product Strategy service, combined with our UX design team, can help you understand where users are dropping off and how you can deliver delightful moments that help them achieve their goals and keep them engaged. 

We’ve worked with entrepreneurs, SMBs, and enterprises to help them build successful digital products that provide a return on technology and help them to achieve their business goals. Get in touch with us today for a consultation on how we can work with you to achieve yours.