Increase User Retention Lean Style

Increase User Retention Lean Style

I just finished the eBook Running Lean from Ash Maurya and really enjoyed every one of the 278 pages on my Kindle when I bought it from AppSumo. It’s more like a Startup Bible that I never had when I started a year ago. Sure I read blogposts and lots of examples from Dave McClure, Nivi Babak, Eric Ries and Sean Ellis I have seen before but Ash Maury puts them all in perspective and gives a timeframe to place these experts in a point-in-time of your startup.

Some of the tips I missed during our startup I will do now, even though I am officially out of that phase and we screwed up the whole Lean Philosophy but just building for the last year what we were missing as founders in previous businesses. Doing some exploration and clients interviews do really help, even though we crossed the point of no return for this project with the end of our beta soon.

Retention before Referral

Maurya talks about the referral options that most products have. We have very little ‘tweet the love’ kind of buttons in the tool. You do not have to “Like” us on Facebook. We know that if you love the product, you will tweet about it anyway. But we need to have a product worth spreading first before building these entire social gadgets inside it.

A/B testing and website personalization is not that sexy even if you made 60 million for Obama, it’s actually pretty boring. But what is usually less boring are the results you get from positive tests and the impact on the revenue these tests have. So this is why most of our colleagues are sharing lots of user cases since that is usually a bit sexier.

Key Performance Indicators

With almost a thousand beta testers we are very happy to get a lot of feedback on where people see the unique features of Convert Insights and we figure out how to position it. We revised a lot of features but after this book Running Lean I see its now time to focus on getting more engaged users. There are still a set of users that are not using the possibilities the application could offer. So we have defined five key performance indicators in our tool and modeling our help and dashboard to these KPI’s and now starts email marketing around them as well.

Five KPI’s for Convert Insights

We selected five points that new users should be able to do by themselves without using the support desk. We build a funnel in time to see if our changes have a positive impact on each step so we can measure improvements in it. Our five points are:

  1. Logged in after got there sign-up confirmation
  2. Added a project
  3. Installed the code on the website
  4. Set-up a test
  5. Made a funnel

We also have funnels for referral to sign-up and will have funnels that monitor sign-up to convert in payments and cohort graphs for future monitoring of clients. But let’s stick with the current changes.

Our dashboard is now monitoring the five KPI’s and we build dynamics changing items on the dashboard that relate to the stage users are in. Since installing the code and making the project were problem areas for Convert Insights the changes saw a direct increase in double digit percentages on each of the first three KPI conversions from January to mid-February.

Using Email Marketing for Retention

We now have to get people back into the system even though they maybe used it before (but dropped out) and get people motivated again to give us a try again. So we use these five KPI’s again in our email marketing. Making five extra custom fields in our email marketing tool to monitor is they passed each KPI. Building campaigns that trigger based on the combination of each KPI and use repetition in time to send updates on these features. I am not sure if all email tools can do this, but ours connects with an API to our application to send back these KPI checks.

We just start building and writing all the campaigns so I cannot share the results with you yet. But I think it’s a very important tool to keep contact with all the people registered during our beta and check if they want to try again, and if not ask them if we can have an interview about their experience. All in the good spirit of my new found knowledge from Running Lean.


Love to hear your ideas on getting retention up… use the comments below.

Originally published March 23, 2011 - Updated September 27, 2018
Dennis van der Heijden
Co-founder and CEO of, Dennis is a passionate community builder and out of the box thinker. He spends his time innovating to make Convert Experiences better. Learn about his journey as an entrepreneur and leader on the SaaS Club podcast.
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