We know that retention rates vary across app categories—as do strategies. While we talk a lot about what’s normal and what works for games, and travel, and even health and wellness apps? But what about apps that provide therapy? I talked to Sean Rones, Founder and CEO of LifeCouple, for my latest Retention Masterclass to learn more about how his app approaches retention.

Sean describes LifeCouple as FitBit for relationships. By creating a unique user journey that employs gamification to keep users coming back, LifeCouple has built retention into the heart of its product.

“What we’ve tried to do is create a measurable way to grow or to address relationship challenges; we call them growth opportunities,” says Sean.

Walking me through an example, Sean says, “So, let’s use partner A — partner A gets an ad, they go into the app, they answer 17 questions and then we can see where their trust, intimacy, communication, conflict and overall relationship score is. We then ask partner A if they would like to create a partner B opportunity and if the answer is yes, and they’re ready to tango, they can in fact invite their partner. Partner B goes on, does the same and then the app intelligently, behind the scenes, knows opportunities in those key areas to in fact create content, tools and activities that gamify and promote good relationship hygiene.”

And that’s just the beginning. “We know what I call their MRI – marital relationship indexes,” Sean says. This information is at the heart of LifeCouple’s retention and messaging strategies.

Using email and text, LifeCouple can deliver personalized messaging and content directly to users that help them explore what they need to move their MRI to a higher level and do it in a fun, engaging, and measurable way.  

“So it is not like your traditional therapy where it’s a glorified Kindle you read and then you go on your very merry way,” Sean says. Rather, LifeCouple creates vital messaging that drives users back to the app. From reminders to complete tasks or stay focused.

How LifeCouple provides personalization

We all know personalization is the de rigeur for an excellent user experience, but creating a truly personalized journey involves a lot of heavy lifting. For many, automation is the key to scalable personalization, but Sean tells me that bots just don’t work for LifeCouple because they’re, ironically, too impersonal.

“We know the answer to those 17 questions and we have a good understanding of where you’re at with, let’s take, for example, communication.” Sean says “So, knowing that you have a communication challenge and knowing that you have two willing partners, what we can do then is create bootcamp or series of communication, videos, or even activities and give it to you in a way that you feel like it’s a customized program based upon your own personal challenges regarding communication.” This gives users a way to address the areas in their relationships where they may be having challenges “in a way where it’s not what I call generic.”

But it’s not possible to deliver a truly one-on-one experience for everyone without the help of some level of automation, even if that’s the perception you hope to achieve. So how does LifeCouple do it?

“What we do is we’ve got what we call journeys,” says Sean. Customers are segmented based on the copious data LifeCouple has on them and their particular challenges. Emails are generated and then sent based on where each individual is in their journey.

“An example would be we know a couple has financial issues, the last thing we want to do is tell them that they should go to a really nice restaurant and they should let their hair down. Maybe that’s one of the reasons they’re having challenges because partner A is saying we can’t afford a nice restaurant and partner B is saying, well, I don’t care, we should just go into greater debt.”

The tech behind the story

Creating a personalized experience without making users feel like they’re talking to bots takes the right technology. And in LifeCouple’s case, the team turned to CleverTap.

“When we’re using CleverTap, we can, in fact, be really, really granular…but we can also get the analytics that we’re looking for.” LifeCouple says its tech stack allows it to understand when people are coming into the app, and see where users are leaving the app. Sean says this allows “us to see what areas do we need to start building out and iterating so that we can, in fact, get our DAU up.”

Success isn’t just about having a ton of data – it’s about being able to put it to good use and deliver the kind of experience your users expect. And when you put UX at the heart of everything you do, retention follows.

Learn more about how LifeCouple approaches retention, listen to the full interview.