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What is user retention? Measure, analyze & improve it (2024)

This article provides an overview of user retention, helping you to understand what it is, how to measure it, analyze it, and take action to improve it.

January 9, 2024
Team Blitzllama

In the competitive market, retaining users is a common challenge faced by product owners and managers. The problem is clear: users often engage briefly before moving on, impacting a product's success. 

Understanding the frustration of high churn rates, the question arises: How can one measure, analyze, and ultimately enhance user retention? 

This article provides actionable insights for product owners and managers, offering a practical guide to navigate the intricacies of user retention, ensuring sustained engagement and long-term success for the products.

What is user retention?

User retention refers to the ability of a product to keep users engaged and active over time. It is a crucial metric for product owners and managers, indicating the success of retaining customers. 

A table showing how poor user retention can be a silent killer for the product

High user retention implies satisfied and loyal users. To achieve this, products must offer consistent value and a positive user experience. 

Active communication, regular updates, and addressing user feedback contribute to better retention. Monitoring user behavior and analyzing feedback helps identify areas for improvement. 

Ultimately, focusing on user retention fosters long-term customer relationships, boosts product sustainability, and enhances overall business success for product owners and managers.

Now that we understand the fundamental concept of user retention, let's explore how it differs from user churn and how these metrics impact the overall health of a product.

User retention vs User churn

User retention and user churn are two sides of the same coin. While user retention focuses on keeping users engaged, user churn, on the other hand, represents the rate at which users discontinue their usage of a product. 

Understanding the interplay between these two metrics is crucial for product owners and managers seeking to optimize their strategies:


User Retention

User Churn


Percentage of users who continue using the product.

Percentage of users who stop using the product.


Indicates product satisfaction and long-term value.

Highlights potential issues or dissatisfaction.

Impact on Growth

Higher retention contributes to growth and sustainability.

High churn may hinder growth and profitability.

Actionable Insights

Analyze user feedback, enhance features, and provide personalized experiences.

Identify pain points, improve onboarding, and address customer concerns.

To delve deeper into user retention and its significance, let's first distinguish it from customer retention and explore its unique implications.

What is meant by customer retention?

Customer retention refers to the strategy of keeping existing customers engaged and satisfied to encourage repeat business. It involves building strong relationships with customers, ensuring their needs are met, and surpassing expectations. 

Active efforts, like personalized communication and loyalty programs, play a crucial role. Retaining customers is cost-effective, as acquiring new ones can be more expensive. 

Product owners and managers should prioritize customer satisfaction, as loyal customers not only contribute to consistent revenue but also serve as brand advocates. 

By understanding customer preferences and addressing concerns promptly, businesses can enhance retention, fostering a loyal customer base and sustaining long-term success.

Now that we've clarified the concept of customer retention, let's draw a clear line between customer retention and user retention to discern their specific impacts on a product or service.

Customer retention vs User retention

Customer retention and user retention are critical aspects for product owners and managers. The following are the key differences between the two:


Customer Retention

User Retention

Primary Focus

Paying customers

Entire user base


Sustain revenue streams

Enhance overall user engagement


Revenue, repeat purchases

Active users, session frequency


Personalized support, offers

In-app notifications, updates


Loyalty programs, discounts

Gamification, exclusive features


Meeting specific needs

Catering to diverse user interests


Revenue-driven strategy

Growth-oriented approach

Customer retention refers to keeping paying customers engaged and satisfied, ensuring they continue to choose and use the product. On the other hand, user retention focuses on maintaining the overall user base, including both paying and non-paying users, by keeping them active and involved.

Balancing both customer and user retention strategies is crucial for long-term success, ensuring sustained revenue while fostering a growing and engaged user community.

Having explored the distinctions between user and customer retention, let's nw delve into the overarching importance of user retention for businesses.

Why is user retention important?

User retention is a critical metric for product owners and managers as it directly impacts a product's long-term success. A high user retention rate signifies satisfied and engaged users, leading to increased revenue, brand loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth. Following are the reasons why it’s super important:

1) Maximizing revenue potential

User retention is a crucial factor for product owners and managers aiming to maximize revenue potential. Acquiring new users involves significant costs, from marketing expenses to onboarding efforts. 

By retaining existing users, you capitalize on the initial investment, ensuring a steady income stream. Loyal users are more likely to explore additional features, make repeat purchases, and contribute to the overall growth of your product.

2) Enhancing customer lifetime value

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is a key metric for product success. Higher user retention directly correlates with an increased CLV. When users stay engaged over an extended period, they generate more value for your product. 

By continuously meeting their needs and expectations, you build lasting relationships that translate into sustained revenue. Focusing on user retention strategies allows product owners to cultivate a customer base that consistently contributes to the bottom line.

3) Strengthening brand loyalty

Brand loyalty is a cornerstone of long-term success, and user retention plays a pivotal role in its development. When users consistently find value in your product, they become loyal advocates. 

Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend your product to others, creating a positive feedback loop. Building a loyal user base not only fosters a positive brand image but also shields your product from competitors. Strong brand loyalty acts as a barrier, preventing users from easily switching to alternatives.

4) Gaining valuable user feedback

User retention facilitates an ongoing dialogue with your audience, providing valuable insights for product improvement. Loyal users are invested in your product's success and are more likely to provide constructive feedback. 

Analyzing user behavior over time allows you to identify pain points, understand preferences, and implement necessary adjustments. This constant feedback loop ensures that your product evolves in line with user expectations, enhancing its competitiveness in the market.

5) Mitigating churn risks

Churn poses a significant threat to the sustained success of any product. User retention strategies act as a defense against churn, reducing the risk of losing valuable customers. 

Proactively addressing user concerns, providing exceptional customer support, and consistently delivering value are key components of successful retention efforts. By identifying and addressing potential reasons for churn early on, product owners can implement preventive measures, ensuring a more stable and resilient user base.

Now that we understand the significance of user retention, let's break down the three phases of user retention and how they contribute to a product's overall success.

What are the three phases of user retention

User retention unfolds in three distinct phases: onboarding, activation, and habit formation. Navigating through these phases strategically is essential for product owners and managers aiming to build a sustainable user base and ensure continued success:

Three phases of user retention

1) Onboarding

Onboarding marks the initial phase of user retention, setting the tone for a user's journey with a product. Successful onboarding ensures users understand a product's value proposition and encourages them to explore its features.

Clear value communication: During onboarding, clearly communicate the product's value and benefits. Users should instantly grasp how the product addresses their needs or solves a problem.

User-friendly setup: Simplify the onboarding process, minimizing friction. A user-friendly setup ensures that users can quickly start using the product without feeling overwhelmed.

Guided tours and tutorials: Provide guided tours or tutorials to familiarize users with key features. Interactive walkthroughs can significantly enhance the onboarding experience, ensuring users grasp the product's functionalities.

Personalized welcome messages: Personalized welcome messages create a sense of connection. Tailor these messages based on user preferences or actions, making users feel valued from the outset.

Progress tracking: Implement progress tracking indicators to show users how far they've come in the onboarding process. This provides a sense of accomplishment and encourages users to continue exploring the product.

2) Activation

Activation is the phase where users transition from initial sign-up to actively engaging with the core features of the product. Achieving a high activation rate is crucial for long-term retention.

Feature highlighting: Emphasize the core features that provide immediate value. Highlighting these features early on ensures users recognize the product's utility, increasing the likelihood of activation.

Personalized recommendations: Offer personalized recommendations based on user behavior and preferences. This enhances user engagement by guiding them toward features that align with their interests.

Interactive onboarding tasks: Incorporate interactive onboarding tasks that encourage users to perform key actions. This hands-on approach reinforces the value of the product and helps users become familiar with its functionalities.

Feedback loops: Implement feedback mechanisms to understand user sentiments. Positive feedback can be reinforced, while negative feedback provides insights for improvements, fostering a positive user experience.

Gamification elements: Introduce gamification elements to make the activation process more enjoyable. Progress bars, badges, or other rewards can motivate users to explore the product further.

3) Habit formation

Habit formation is the phase where a product becomes an integral part of a user's routine, ensuring sustained engagement and long-term retention.

Regular communication: Establish regular communication channels to keep users informed about updates, new features, or relevant content. This ongoing engagement reinforces the product's value over time.

Personalized content delivery: Deliver personalized content that caters to individual preferences. Tailoring content enhances user relevance, increasing the likelihood of users incorporating the product into their daily routines.

Incentive programs: Introduce incentive programs to reward users for consistent engagement. Loyalty programs, exclusive access, or discounts can motivate users to maintain their habit of using the product.

Continuous improvement: Continuously evolve the product based on user feedback and changing needs. A product that adapts to user preferences ensures its relevance, fostering sustained usage.

Community building: Foster a sense of community among users. Encourage interactions, discussions, and user-generated content. A strong community reinforces the social aspect of using the product, making it more likely to become a habit.

To quantify and measure the effectiveness of user retention strategies, it's crucial to understand the concept of the user retention rate. Let's explore this metric in detail.

What is the user retention rate?

User retention rate measures the percentage of users who continue using a product over a specified time. It gauges customer loyalty and satisfaction. A product with a high retention rate is one that appeals to consumers. 

To calculate, divide the number of retained users by the total users at the start, then multiply by 100. A rising retention rate suggests a successful product strategy. Monitoring this metric is crucial for product owners and managers to identify areas for improvement. 

By analyzing user behavior, adapting features, and addressing concerns, businesses can enhance user experience and boost retention. Regularly tracking and optimizing the user retention rate is essential for sustained product success.

Now that we know what the user retention rate is, let's move on to the practical aspect of calculating it and understanding what constitutes a good user retention rate.

How to calculate user retention rate?

While there are multiple ways to calculate user retention rates, for now, we will focus on a simple method to calculate monthly user retention.Understanding this calculation in detail is essential for product owners and managers to assess the success of their user retention strategies accurately:

Step 1: Define the time period

Begin by clearly defining the time period for which you want to calculate the user retention rate. Common intervals include daily, weekly, or monthly. For instance, if you're assessing monthly retention, you'll consider users who started using your product in a particular month.

Step 2: Identify the starting user count

Determine the number of users at the beginning of the chosen time period. This is your initial user count and serves as the baseline for tracking retention. For instance, if you start with 1,000 users in January, that's your starting point.

Step 3: Track retained users

Next, identify the number of users who continue to engage with your product during subsequent time periods. This could be the number of users still active after a week, a month, or any chosen interval. For example, if 800 out of the initial 1,000 users are still using the product by the end of February, you have retained 80% of your users.

Step 4: Calculate user retention rate

The user retention rate formula is simple and involves dividing the number of retained users by the initial user count, then multiplying by 100 to get a percentage. 

The formula is: Retention Rate = (Number of Retained Users / Initial User Count) × 100

Using the previous example, the calculation would be (800 / 1000) × 100 = 80%

Step 5: Assess results and set benchmarks

Once you've calculated the user retention rate, interpret the results in the context of your product and industry standards. A high retention rate indicates strong user loyalty, while a low rate may signal issues that need attention. Establish benchmarks based on your product's lifecycle and industry norms to better understand the significance of your retention rate.

Step 6: Monitor changes over time

Regularly track and compare user retention rates over different periods to identify trends. A consistent decline may indicate underlying problems with the product or user experience, prompting you to take corrective measures. Conversely, improvements in retention rates may validate the success of implemented strategies.

Step 7: Utilize feedback for optimization

User feedback is a valuable resource for optimizing your product and improving user retention. Analyze feedback from both retained and lost users to identify areas for enhancement. Implement changes based on this feedback to boost user satisfaction and retention.

Determining what qualifies as a good user retention rate is in the next part. Let's delve into the benchmarks and standards that define a healthy user retention rate.

What is a good user retention rate?

The average user retention rate hovers between 25-90%. It's crucial for product owners and managers to benchmark their retention against industry standards while considering the unique demands of their specific niche. 

Following are the user retention rates based on the industries:

Consumer social: 25% - 45%

For consumer social platforms, a user retention rate of around 25% is considered good, indicating a healthy level of engagement. However, hitting the 45% mark is even better, signaling a great user retention rate. Product teams should aim to create experiences that captivate users and keep them coming back for more.

Consumer transactional: 30% - 50%

In the domain of consumer transactional products, a good user retention rate hovers around 30%. This suggests that the product effectively retains users who engage in transactional activities. Pushing towards a 50% retention rate is a great achievement, indicating strong user loyalty and satisfaction.

Consumer SaaS: 40% - 70%

For Consumer Software as a Service (SaaS), a good user retention rate is around 40%, reflecting consistent user interest and value. Surpassing this benchmark to reach a 70% retention rate is considered great. Product teams in this space should focus on delivering a seamless and valuable experience to keep users actively using the software.

SMB/Mid-market SaaS: 60% - 80%

In the Small and Medium-sized Business (SMB) or mid-market SaaS category, a good user retention rate is around 60%. This level suggests that the product is meeting the needs of businesses at a satisfactory level. Achieving an 80% retention rate is considered great, demonstrating a high level of customer satisfaction and product relevance.

Enterprise SaaS: 70% - 90%

For Enterprise SaaS products, where the stakes are higher, a good user retention rate is around 70%. This indicates that the product is successfully serving the needs of larger organizations. Reaching a 90% retention rate is considered great in this category, showcasing a high level of trust and value provided to enterprise clients.

With a clear understanding of what constitutes a good user retention rate, let's shift our focus to actionable strategies for improving and optimizing user retention.

How to improve user retention rate?

Improving user retention involves a combination of customer-centric strategies, product enhancements, and effective communication. Product owners and managers can implement the following 8 best practices to enhance user satisfaction and increase retention rates:

Improve user retention

1) Developing a user retention strategy

User retention is crucial for the sustained success of any product. To ensure lasting engagement, start by crafting a comprehensive user retention strategy. Identify key metrics, analyze user behavior, and understand the reasons behind churn. Armed with this data, develop targeted initiatives to address pain points and enhance user satisfaction.

2) Implementing user onboarding best practices

First impressions matter. Streamline your onboarding process to help users quickly grasp your product's value. Provide clear instructions, interactive tutorials, and minimize steps needed for initial setup. A seamless onboarding experience sets the tone for a positive user journey and reduces the risk of users abandoning your product early on.

3) Creating engaging and valuable user experiences

Users stay when they find value. Continuously refine and enhance your product to meet evolving user needs. Regularly update features, fix bugs promptly, and seek user feedback for improvement. Ensure your interface is intuitive and aesthetically pleasing. An engaging user experience not only retains existing users but also attracts new ones through positive word-of-mouth.

4) Building strong customer relationships

Forge lasting connections by actively engaging with your user base. Leverage social media, email, and in-app communication to keep users informed about updates, upcoming features, and industry trends. Respond promptly to user inquiries and feedback, demonstrating a commitment to their satisfaction. Building a sense of community fosters loyalty and encourages users to stick around.

5) Personalizing user experiences

Tailor your product experience to individual user preferences. Leverage data analytics to understand user behavior and deliver personalized content, recommendations, and notifications. Personalization makes users feel seen and valued, increasing the likelihood of continued usage. Whether it's customizing settings or suggesting relevant features, personalization enhances the overall user journey.

6) Using gamification to motivate users

Inject an element of fun into your product through gamification. Design challenges, milestones, and rewards that align with your users' goals. Gamified elements create a sense of achievement and progress, motivating users to stay engaged. Leaderboards, badges, and virtual rewards can turn routine tasks into exciting experiences, fostering a positive connection with your product.

7) Offering loyalty programs and incentives

Reward users for their loyalty and ongoing engagement. Implement loyalty programs that provide exclusive perks, discounts, or early access to new features. Incentives not only encourage existing users to remain loyal but also attract new users intrigued by the added value. Regularly communicate the benefits of loyalty programs to ensure users are aware of the rewards awaiting them.

8) Providing excellent customer support

Exceptional customer support is a cornerstone of user retention. Ensure that users can easily access help and receive timely assistance when needed. Implement chat support, FAQ sections, and robust help documentation. Address user issues promptly and empathetically, turning potential frustrations into positive experiences. Users are more likely to stay if they know they can rely on responsive and helpful customer support.

To facilitate the process of improving user retention, let's explore some of the best tools available to track, measure, and optimize user retention rates effectively.

Best user retention tools to track, measure, and improve user retention rate

Utilizing the right tools is essential for effectively tracking, measuring, and improving user retention rates. Following are the best user retention tools based on their use cases:

1) Blitzllama


Blitzllama stands out as a robust user retention tool, providing product owners and managers with a comprehensive suite to track, measure, and enhance user retention rates. It allows easy monitoring of user behavior, enabling quick identification of patterns with the help of AI analysis that may indicate potential drop-offs. With personalized engagement features, Blitzllama empowers businesses to tailor communication, fostering a stronger connection with users and reducing churn.

2) Hotjar


Hotjar proves to be an invaluable asset for product owners and managers aiming to understand user behavior. This tool's heatmaps visually represent user interactions, offering insights into what elements of a product capture attention or cause frustration. Armed with this information, product teams can strategically optimize user interfaces to enhance the overall user experience. Hotjar's feedback and survey features further aid in collecting direct user input, providing actionable data to drive improvements that directly impact user retention.

3) CleverTap


CleverTap excels in user retention measurement by offering advanced analytics and segmentation capabilities. Product owners and managers can delve into detailed user cohorts, understanding the distinct behaviors of different segments. With personalized messaging options, CleverTap enables targeted communication, ensuring users receive content tailored to their preferences and needs. Through A/B testing features, businesses can experiment with different strategies to optimize engagement and boost overall user retention rates.

4) HubSpot


HubSpot emerges as a versatile tool for product owners and managers seeking an all-encompassing solution for customer relationship management. With its user-friendly interface, HubSpot allows easy tracking of user interactions throughout the entire customer journey. Marketing automation features enable timely and relevant communication, keeping users engaged and informed. The integrated analytics provide a holistic view of user engagement, enabling data-driven decisions to enhance overall user retention.


In conclusion, user retention is the lifeblood of any successful product. Measure it diligently, analyze the data wisely, and take decisive actions to improve. Engage users actively, respond to feedback promptly, and constantly refine your offering. 

Remember, the key lies not just in acquiring users but in keeping them satisfied and loyal. As product owners and managers, your focus on user retention ensures sustained success and growth. Utilize the metrics as a compass, steering your strategy toward long-term relationships. 

It's not just about numbers; it's about creating a user experience that resonates, ensuring your product remains an indispensable part of their digital journey.