Retention Rate Secrets to Reduce User Churn

retention rate

Out of all the many mobile industry benchmarks, it’s important to keep player retention rates top of mind. Retention allows marketers to understand when, and perhaps why, a user leaves their game — which gives you the ability to slow the rate down and keep your users around.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of mobile game retention rates and some of the secrets game marketing pros deploy to reduce churn, as well as look at how you can learn from your retention metrics.

What’s The Point of Retention Rate?

Retention rates are a key indicator of game growth and its health. Not only does a game with better retention likely mean players enjoy using it, but good retention also means it can generate revenue quickly. In the meantime, low retention means rapid user churn, lower user reviews, and a lessened likelihood of conversion.

Retention rates are a useful tool for understanding why users disengage from games. Combined with a cohort analysis, retention rates can help marketers pinpoint if there’s an area in your game that causes churn. These are all key reasons why marketers keep an eye on retention along with other key metrics.

What Is a Good Retention Rate?

By what criteria should we compare whether retention is good or bad? Though you might have internal benchmarks for this, GameAnalytics provides industry comparison as a part of their Pro offering.

In the player retention report from 2019, GameAnalytics found out that the top-performing titles have a retention rate of 40% for Day 1, 15% for Day 7, and 6.5% for Day 28. Be mindful that these rates are for the best games — some genres have retention as low as 1.5% by Day 28. And this is by no means a rare occurrence.

It’s also worth noting that benchmarks for retention change depending on your game or app category. Generally, travel apps have vastly different use cases versus a music app, for instance. As such, benchmark retention with a degree of caution.

Should Marketers Focus on Retention?

For most marketers, keeping an eye on retention is vital. But how high of a priority should it be for you? Amongst user acquisition, in-app conversion, and monetization metrics, retention might not be a marketer’s primary issue, especially if you try to apply paid user acquisition as a remedy.

After all, most churn is likely to occur when a user finds they no longer desire to play the game. Players might churn through forgetting, boredom, or (in small part) frustration from a lack of fulfillment of their needs.

As such, marketers need to identify not just where users churn, but why. In such cases where:

  • The game is enjoyable, but users haven’t gotten past the tutorial.
  • New functions are released.
  • Offers for in-game purchases go live.

Paid re-engagement campaigns to boost retention are a great tool. However, if players are switching off because of boredom or lack of ongoing features, you may want to turn to organic methods that require more cross-collaboration within your company, such as making good use of loyalty programs that provide differentiated benefits to VIP players, or elements that grant levels and badges when certain goals are achieved.

With these tools, you can increase long-term interest by allowing players to reenter the game independently without continuous paid marketing actions, reducing the cost as well.

Going Organic to Find Retention Boosts

There’s more in a marketer’s toolbox than you might realize. In addition to advertising, it is important to expand the inflow of organic users through owned channels.

The retention of users who install organically is often higher than that of users who come through paid media. As such, channels like SEO, ASO, and other owned channel management need to be given some attention.

SEO, for example, is often viewed solely as an acquisition strategy. But if you make it a priority to study retention and learn about your long-term users, you might find the keywords that lapsed users may be searching for outside of your app, if they’re looking for an alternative. By creating content that targets such keywords you might be able to get users back by helping them discover features they may have missed.

Collaborate, Communicate, Convert

The real secret to improving retention is that your marketing organization, which is placed at the forefront of dealing with players, needs to play a key role in digesting external feedback from them and effectively conveying that feedback to product teams. This relationship can result in better retention, allowing the metrics related to your success to flourish.

In the process, a marketer’s communication and collaboration skills become core competencies. Understanding different points of view and communicating well is fundamental, especially as marketing and product teams move closer together. None of this happens automatically, and it requires a lot of skill. But ultimately, it is possible to make vast improvements to retention rates by working cross-functionally to get things done.

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