Beat Churn, Join Communities: The Data Behind Users Who Don’t Churn

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Remember Kony 2012? Rebecca Black? Jimmy McMillan? Ello?

These people/businesses/movements all have one thing in common: they were brief sensations that swept the nation, and were subsequently completely forgotten. We’re a fickle culture, and while grabbing our attention may be easy, maintaining it, gaining “staying power” is much more difficult.

This is similarly reflected in app usage: a study done by Quettra found that the average Android app loses about 80% of its daily users within the first three days, and about 90% by the first month. Getting 5 seconds of fame clearly isn’t the problem for apps; it’s keeping it.

A study done by Amplitude examined the myriad factors that contribute to churn, and found that higher retention is directly correlated with joining a community. Of users who joined communities, only 28% churned by day three (compared to the depressing 80% who churn otherwise).

This finding is absolutely crucial for product managers and marketers alike to consider. It means that once you have a user, if you can successfully get them to interact with other people using your app, then you are almost twice as likely to retain the customer. In fact, of users who don’t join communities, the churn rate is 87% by day three– that’s scarily close to a 100% loss of users.

Getting Users More Involved In Communities

1.First, we need to recognize that users love generating content. NPR and CNN have both done a great job at encouraging users to upload their own stories, photos, and footage, and both outlets will often use this user content. This both validates the user, and gives the news sources on-the-ground looks at what is going on.

A key part of offering a venue for user generated content, though, is ensuring that it is easy and intuitive for the customer to upload their content. With mobile apps, this means utilizing the camera, location services, or any other mobile-specific features that make uploading easier.

2. Second, introduce moderators to interact with the community. This is particularly important for help communities, because you can respond to users’ problems in a friendly, colloquial zone. As we’ve previously written, Apple does a phenomenal job with help communities (part of their overall superior customer care package). Moderators should encourage new users, respond to queries, and help spark conversation and interaction. Don’t become a big brother; become a friend.

3. Welcome new users. Communities can feel insular and difficult to break into. But as we know, getting users into a community as quickly as possible is paramount to reducing churn. Angela Connor, WRAL’s managing editor/user-generated content and author of 18 Rules of Community Engagement, encourages her community users to create their own welcome packages: “I am working hard to be supportive of newcomers. I even have a group called the Welcome Wagon that reaches out to newbies. They’ve created [a] tutorial for newcomers that I had nothing to do with, and they are awesome.”

It’s hardly surprising that users who are part of a community are likely to stay part of that community, and therefore part of your app. Users want to engage, and they want their engagements to be recognized. Just look at the various apps that are wholly focused on user-generated content, like Storify. And especially with election season upon us, user generated content is more powerful than ever. Fox News, for example, created an election map highlighting tweets and Instagram photos.

It’s time to utilize this knowledge so that your app becomes more than just a passing fad.

Published May 26, 2016
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