What is Key to User Retention? Understanding by Popular Apps

“If you want to go viral, virality must be baked into your product.”

We’ll break this article in few breaks, so you can have a great flow throughout the article. In this article you’ll get to know:

  1. What is Onboarding?
  2. What is “Wow” experience?
  3. What and how to tell during onboarding?
  4. Measure during onboarding
  5. Some App onboarding case-study

Now, you’ve idea, what you’re going to read about in the article, so let’s start the, if you’ve decided to keep reading.

What is this “Onboarding”?

The process of retaining users who use the service for the first time is called onboarding. First-time users do not understand what the service is worth or what it will bring. Therefore, it is important to provide the “best experience” and to understand the value of the service through it in order to retain new users.


“Growth hacking is the process to test and verify the various hypotheses + marketing techniques in a controlled and measured way, and use the successful combination for the company’s growth.”
– MarketoApp

What is “Wow” experience?

For successful onboarding, it is important for users to feel “Wow!” In their first experience. (Also called AHA Moment.) “Wow!” Is the moment when the user feels “This service is amazing!” And “This service is good!”. The key to user retention is to be able to provide the experience of “Wow!” At the same time as making the user understand the value of the service in the first experience. To do this, it is necessary to design an experience called “Wow!” With the feelings of the user.

What and How to tell during onboarding?

Making users understand the value of the service and making them feel “Wow!” Is important for successful onboarding, but the key points are “what to convey” and “how to convey”.

Understand what value a service can provide, why you should use this service in the presence of other services, and what needs you need to convey.

Unless it resonates with your users, I think there is something missing with Onboarding journey.

Therefore, “what to convey” is important. The next important thing is “how to tell”.

Should it be communicated in a dialog-type in-app message, in a tutorial, or should the user actually experience the service?

Also, when should you request login and what kind of process will guide the user? It is important to design them optimally.

Measure the effect of Onboarding

Successful onboarding of new users can be evaluated in two ways: “there is no withdrawal in the onboarding process” and “new users are entrenched by onboarding”. We will introduce each effect measurement method.

Measure the withdrawal rate of Onboarding

By leveraging funnel analysis, you can understand where new users are stumbling onboarding and think about corrections.

For example, let’s say you have an app that follows the onboarding process of “first launch→ member registration→ tutorial on how to use→ TOP page” as shown below.

If you look at this funnel, you can see that you have withdrawn from the “profile information input screen”, so you can think of starting with improving the withdrawal rate here.


Measure new user Retention

By looking at the retention rate of new users, you can understand the degree of retention of new users by onboarding.

There is also data that 71% of new users who downloaded the app will not use the app the next day. It is important to improve onboarding while measuring the effect with retention analysis.

Onboarding Cases in few App

From here, we will introduce example of onboarding in the Linkedin and Pinterest app.

1. Ingenuity for onboarding the LinkedIn app

Place email authentication away from the app at the end of the process

Membership registration by email authentication requires the user to leave the LinkedIn app once and start the email app, but by having the user fill in personal information such as name, password and company name before the process, the user’s withdrawal rate during onboarding is lowered by making people feel like “let’s register because we have entered so much information”.


LinkedIn incorporated features into onboarding process that encourage new users to follow other users and companies that are interested and make them want to use the app again.  

2. An index to measure the retention rate of new users on Pinterest

Pinterest uses indicators such as “1d7s” and “1rc7” to measure the retention rate of new users.

1d7s” is the number of users who have used Pinterest at least once within a week after registering as a new member.

1rc7” means the number of users who repin or 1 pin within one week after registering as a new member. Pinterest uses these metrics to measure new user retention after sign-up to see if onboarding is successful.


As you can see Onboarding experience is very important for any app or SaaS service.

You always need to take care a lot about user experience and it will keep cutting your marketing and acquisition cost.