Retention & Engagement

Product is the New Marketing

8 min read

TikTok isn’t addictive because it has a better tech stack than you do. Facebook doesn’t have billions of users because it sends smarter push notifications. Clash of Clans isn’t still the top-grossing app on the App Store because it onboards correctly. Sometimes retention — and success in general — comes down to having a great product. That’s why we turned to Vishal Anand, Chief Product Officer at CleverTap, in the latest episode of Retention Masterclass.


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The importance of your user interface

When it comes to creating a great product, a stellar user experience is at the heart of it all. But how do you know you’ve got a great user experience? Vishal says “a good experience is one that satisfies the end users’ needs quickly and effectively. And, it may be a complicated app, it may be an app doing one thing and one thing really well. But it always, always starts with a great user interface.”

This feels like commonsense advice – after all, if someone can’t use your app they’re bound to churn. Of course, all too often publishers put their own needs before the users’. First and foremost, your app needs to solve the user’s problem and do it effectively and efficiently.

Keeping a close eye on user behavior

But the only way to know what’s working and what’s not is to keep a close eye on user behavior and let the data guide you. “Post going live, you need to have a strong analytics platform where you can start to measure behavior for a segment or a cohort of users,” says Vishal “Where do they spend time? How long do they spend time? Where do they struggle? Where are the drop offs?” These are all things you want to know so you can optimize the journey accordingly and fix any pain points that are leading to users dropping off.

Vishal is also a proponent of the minimum viable product (MVP) approach. “So, in this day and age especially, right, there’s no need to boil the ocean. Like you can get a lot of valuable insights with a nicely targeted group of users where you can test your theories before you even go live or go wide with it,” he says. Whether you turn to you own network, find test panels, or even pay people on Craigslist to test the app, there are a lot of easy ways to get test data.

“The barrier to achieve that is right now so low that it’s kind of foolish to go in the market without having that insight,” says Vishal. Ultimately, you want to use this data to balance out how quickly you can provide value to the customer with how quickly they provide value to you.

Experiment with the basics

Vishal also points out that there are still many app companies out there who aren’t even addressing the basics – starting in the app store. “You see that the app icon or the app description or the app images don’t sort of entice,” he says. The graphics don’t detail the value that the user can get out of it, or tell enough about the product to convince a user to download. “So, starting there, you should experiment,” says Vishal. “Does this icon work better? Or does this description work better than the other?”

Start at the beginning and move along the user journey, testing everything and optimizing accordingly. If you live by the mantra of “test everything,” your app will be better for it. Cut out extraneous steps and make sure users can perform the main functions with as little friction as possible and you’ll be on your way to sucess.

“There are very few apps that can define a new interaction model,” says Vishal. “A good combination of these universally designed apps train the user to achieve results faster, and you should take advantage of it. A lot of products don’t do that. They try to reinvent the wheel or they’ll have a unique interaction pattern which takes a while to sort of get used to. Even in user interface, like, you know, people use color combinations that don’t work or call-to-action buttons that don’t tell you what will happen next.”

The power of push notifications

When it comes to retention, perfecting your re-engagement strategy is also key. And there’s nothing like a push notification to get users thinking about and interacting with your app again. But you have to get it right.

Vishal says that not only do you need to make sure your messages are personalized, but you also need to keep track of how many you’ve sent. To learn more about how CleverTap uses data to inform product decisions tune in to the entire interview above or read the transcript below.

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