In the past three posts, I've introduced
readers to Pirate Metrics, and shown how you can boost your acquisition
strategy and activation
numbers with Firebase products.
In this post, we're going to talk about one of the biggest problems majority of
apps face: retention. The hard truth is that most people tend
to only use a few applications every week, abandoning a majority of them after
just a few tries. This might happen even if you did successfully activate a
The goal, for any product, is to become a habit for their users. And, for a
person to pick up new habits, they need the help of triggers. The best products
carefully use external triggers — things like push notifications, E-mailers — at
appropriate times which help building habits.
For years, we have offered powerful tools to help you build these experiences:
Google Cloud Messaging. Cloud Messaging is now
a part of the Firebase suite of SDKs, becoming even more powerful than
The key capability added, thanks to this change, is something we call Firebase
Notifications. By simply adding the required dependency to your application,
you can now send push notifications to your users straight from the Firebase
console. But that's not all: you can target the notification to a required
segment. For example, you can inform those users who have shown an interest in a
particular product that you have a deal running in your E-commerce application.
While quite useful, particularly considering how little you need to do to add
them to your app, sending Push Notifications is a manual process and best
utilized for campaigns. To truly improve your product, you need to first
understand when you tend to lose your users, and build a system that helps you
The first part can be solved using the cohorts from Firebase Analytics.
Cohorts help you visualise your retention by showing you what percentage of
users do you retain over a period of time, broken down by days or weeks. Most of
your users are typically lost in the first couple of days, which is usually an
issue with your activation strategy. However, this decline tends to flatten out.
While you should certainly work on your activation strategy to help improve your
cohort numbers on the first couple of days, you also want to look at some way to
improve the numbers a little later, such as around days 5-7. One fairly
straightforward solution is to build an automated system that sends push
notifications using Firebase Cloud Messaging to these users approximately a week
after they sign up. Using some kind of flag for "last used time", you could also
ensure this notification is only shown to those users who are at risk of being
You could utilize this strategy for things like extending trial periods for
users who haven't used your product enough, giving yourself an extended
opportunity to convert them into paying customers. Deals of any other form
(either for E-commerce products or for in-app products) are other ways.
A carefully crafted strategy could play a critical role in your overall
business. Do be mindful of avoiding a spammy notification system: you'll
probably annoy your users and increase your uninstall count.
There are additional possibilities as well. Firebase Analytics tracks
uninstalled users for you using the automated event "app_remove". As mentioned
in the second
post on acquisition, you can create an audience for users who have fired
this event and retarget them using Adwords.
Also, using Firebase App Indexing in your application would help highlight
content from your service in Google search results for your users. This is
particularly useful during the early phases of the user's time with you when
they haven't quite developed a habit of using your application directly.