Retention & Engagement

Exploring Retention From The Middleman’s Point Of View

9 min read

Prodege is a customer acquisition giant and has quietly become one of the world’s largest non-social, non-search marketing channels. How? With brands like Swagbucks, MyPoints, ShopAtHome, CouponCause, and Shoply. VP of revenue and business development, Lenny Rabin, stopped by Retention Masterclass to talk about how a company with this kind of massive scale approaches retention by creating “Rewarding Moments” for over 120 million registered members worldwide.


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The retention magic of “Rewarding Moments”

Prodege finds itself at an interesting intersection in the consumer journey. “We sit in an interesting space where we are trying to create a rewarding moment for our members who are coming to our site, while at the same time satisfying an acquisition need for our advertising partners. And we’re sort of the middleman in the middle,” says Lenny. For Prodege, this means “we want consumers to have joyous and rewarding experiences when engaging with the brands that they would on a typical day-to-day basis, or when engaging with new brands and new services that they may not be familiar with, to create that positive interaction.”

So how does this emphasis on a great user experience translate to retention? As part of the acquisition team Lenny says, he often experiences “a disconnect between ‘I’m bringing a user to your product or service,’ and ‘It’s on you to retain that user wholesomely.’”

“And what we find [is important] to retain our users is obviously new content all the time and delivering on our promise,” says Lenny. “I think that delivering on the promise is the universal thing that’s really for all marketers.” As the middleman between brands and buyers, Prodege is in a unique position – they can create retention for their own products but have to rely on brands to satisfy customers after the purchase.

What brands are missing about customer retention

“Now, we can affect different tactics to encourage the best retention, but at the end of the day, we’re bringing someone over to your product and it’s really going to be on you to create that rewarding experience, that joyous occasion with that consumer to keep them retained,” says Lenny. As with many aspects of marketing, Lenny says, it’s all about being flexible.

“I think successful campaigns happen when you have an open mind and when you test different strategies and tactics to find the sweet spot for your cost per acquisition, coupled with an acceptable LTV.” He adds, “And I think that when you sort of go in single-mindedly, knowing what works on one channel and believing that that should be easily replicable across all other channels, you’re going to tend to have an issue, both on your CAC and on your LTV. “

Remember, each campaign is unique, and “the key to a successful campaign, is getting under the hood and finding what that [important] KPI is on an individual basis.”

The science of retention for games

Retention is closely tied to LTV and monetization, so it’s imperative that apps think about this holistically. That’s especially true for mobile gaming, where players are not all created equal – at least in terms of spending.

Lenny says, “we don’t talk about CPI.” Instead, he says, “We get under the hood with every advertiser,” and learn about the science of the game and what data tells us about when a user is most likely to spend money, and then we craft offers specifically for that scenario. So, if a game tells Prodege that it’s easier to get to Level 13 – at which point users are already addicted – so they might put a special offer at Level 15.

“We don’t actually message the user to spend money, we just tell them, ‘Play through Level 15 in order to get this award.’ And what we can do by doing that is command a much higher CAC or cost per engagement, and make the award for the user very meaningful,” says Lenny. “So users might be getting paid anywhere between 4,000 and 5,000 Swagbucks, to use our currency terminology, to get to Level 15 — which to the naked eye may sound trivial, may sound simple, may sound easy, but there’s really a lot of thought behind that specific level in the game.”

Delayed gratification for retention

The reality is that before you can retain users you have to acquire them and Prodege works with companies at all stages of development. “We work with some advertisers who are in a startup phase and are needing to show volume of registration or whatnot to get to the next stage, whether that be around the funding, whether that be releasing a new product or service,” says Lenny. “And in that case, we’re obviously gearing our campaigns to drive volume fast.”

When Prodege is in UA marketing mode, the team offers a “high award with a very low engagement point or low barrier to entry to get that user through the door and to achieve that KPI for that advertiser on that day.”

Alternatively, Lenny says, when his team is looking to drive longer-term retention, they delay the reward to keep the customer coming back.

“So delaying the award is really what we found works best and finding what makes the most sense to delay the award, but not too far. So, a 30-day delay is our general rule but sometimes we’ll go to 60,” Lenny says. “Sometimes we’ll use the copy to skew the members to do something that they may not need to in order to get the award. But it just sets the tone in their mind that this is not just about engaging today and leaving, it’s about a longer-term engagement.”

To learn more about the Prodege approach to retention, tune into the entire interview above or read the transcript below.

Show Transcript