Match Group shares key strategies behind improving user retention and reducing churn for its app portfolio.
There’s an art to reducing churn, but there’s also a science. In this series, we’re asking leaders in the industry to share their insights on the art of user retention and the science of meeting the demands of a growing audience.
App Annie sat down with two experts in user retention at Match Group: Sushil Sharma, SVP of Product, Analytics and Design, and Ram Reddi, Director of Mobile Product. Together they are responsible for developing product features that power some of the world’s leading dating apps. Here they share strategies to keep users coming back again and again.
App Annie (AA): What is one thing an app developer can implement that could have the biggest impact on improving retention?
Sushil Sharma (SS): An app developer should strive to build features that users will love and want to use every day, and then make sure to surface that feature prominently at launch.
To optimize retention, the biggest thing an app developer can do is design push notifications that bring the user back to the app. At Match, when someone shows interest in a profile or when it’s time to rate their matches, the user receives a notification.
AA: Let’s say you’ve determined where in your app users start dropping off. What are some common scenarios where you notice churn?
Ram Reddi (RR): We’ve seen that a lot of users drop off during our onboarding flow — this is the time when we gather specific information from users in order to bring them the best possible matches. At the same time, we also need to make sure that new profiles in the search pool include elements like photos, user information, and details about what they’re seeking in a match. It’s a lot of information to get through in a short amount of time.
To counteract churn, we analyze each step of the onboarding process screen by screen to identify key drop-off points. Then we iterate and test to find ways to lower drop-off rates. It’s part science and part art to balance user friction and a good dating experience.
AA: What kind of things do you A/B test to prevent churn and increase retention?
SS: We thoroughly test every major feature and change. Testing helps us roll out only the features that users love, and it gives us a deeper understanding of user behavior.
Some of the areas where we find ourselves constantly testing are onboarding and checkout flows, app navigation, profile setup, search features and push notifications. We keep tweaking to keep improving.
OkCupid, Tinder and Match represent a few of the apps in Match Group's portfolio.
AA: How do you segment users in your app? Which buckets have you created for different kinds of users?
RR: On a very high level our users are segmented into two groups: subscribers and registered users. Then we break down subscribers into new subscribers and re-subscribers. We look at these two core segments by breaking them into much smaller chunks based on how often they visit the app after install — one day later, two weeks later, one month later, etc. Registered users are broken down into new registrations and existing registrations.
Segmenting makes it easier to develop features that address specific user needs at every point in their Match app experience. We’re able to look at the entire user acquisition process as a whole.
AA: For your app, what is a “loyal” user? Is there a metric you use to determine who is loyal? How do you segment them?
SS: As a dating product, we want users to find a match as soon as possible — and stop using us. A “loyal” user for us, even though short-lived, is one who rates their dating matches, and responds to interest from prospective dates in a timely way.
We segment loyal users based on their site activity and subscription status; it’s the same way we categorize a new user.
AA: How do you benchmark your retention and churn rates? Are there specific external tools, resources or methods you use?
RR: We use App Annie Intelligence to measure how we stack against our competition in terms of downloads, engagement and new releases. Then we hold internal meetings to discuss this data and drive actionable steps for our product.
We monitor downloads, engagement and app releases of our competitors on a biweekly basis. App Annie makes that remarkably easy.
AA: Could you share an example where you “fixed” a retention issue or improved engagement rates?
RR: We recently tested a location feature in certain areas around the US. Our goal was to provide a new way of discovering nearby users that meet your dating interests. We were able to improve engagement by at least 20% for the users that were trying this feature.
AA: What are some strategies you think we’ll see emerging in the next year for keeping retention high?
RR: Artificial intelligence and location-aware notifications. Pokémon GO is a good example of a high retention product that has completely brand new hooks.
AA: What technology do you wish existed that could help track or improve retention? Is there anything coming in the immediate future, or is it the stuff of dreams?
SS: The magical technology of predicting the churn date before the actual date, that’s my dream.
RR: In the meantime, while we wait for Sushil’s dream to come true, we are building models to watch and predict retention curves at the cohort level.
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Sushil Sharma, SVP, Product: Sushil Sharma currently serves as head of product across Match.com and Match Affinity brands, where he oversees product, design and analytics. Sushil has held various management and technology roles at Zynga, Sears and Travelocity, where he worked on game monetization, mobile and technology. He holds a master’s degree in computer science from University of Texas, Arlington, and an MBA from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business.
Ram Reddi, Director, Mobile: Ramanand Reddi has over nine years of product management experience across gaming, ecommerce, SaaS and dating. He leads the mobile product team, which oversees all initiatives on iOS, Android and mobile web across Match.com and Match Affinity brands. He previously spent four years in gaming working for Zynga and Storm8, overseeing new product initiatives and portfolio management. Primary focus areas include product development, consumer retention, growth hacking, monetization and tech development.
September 20, 2016Customer Stories