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The four pillars of retention

Bee7's John Rankin wants you to read to the end

The four pillars of retention

John Rankin is Managing Director of Bee7 Limited.

They say that in real estate, success comes down to three things: location, location, location.

With mobile games, success is driven by: retention, retention, retention.

Being born out of Outfit7, the global entertainment company that created the Talking Tom and Friends franchise, we at Bee7 know from experience that retention is an absolutely vital metric.

Ultimately, focusing on retention can play a huge role in creating a successful game.

Unlike many other metrics, retention gives you a much more accurate picture of whether or not users actually like your game - and also importantly whether you are likely to make a profit from it.

You could be featured on the App Store, written about in global media and have UA campaigns that generate gazillions of downloads but, if users aren't coming back to play your game on a regular basis, they clearly aren't enjoying it!

Bee7's expertise is built on billions of Talking Tom downloads

Similarly, you can't monetize from an install or a user who opens your game once and then never again.

When you have users opening, using and returning to your game, you're more likely to monetize. It's also cheaper and easier to keep your existing users engaged than acquiring new ones.

So what can you do to maximise your chances of retaining your hard earned users?

There are four areas you need to focus on to lay the foundations for retention.

  • Bee7 makes it easier for developers to engage and retain loyal users. The solution, a native gameplay reward system, supports video and drives cross promotion, retention and ongoing engagement with players. All of which open up new opportunities for game makers to sustain monetization.
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  • 1 On-boarding

    First impressions count, particularly in mobile games. If a user has a bad first experience, you can bet they won't return.

    • Your app's on-boarding process must be engaging, simple and intuitive for users.
    • The logo, app store description, screen shots and videos must accurately reflect your gameplay.
    • The game's look and feel needs to help engage users - for example if loading screens or menus are ugly, it will put users off.
    • A tutorial must simply and very clearly explain the core gameplay features and controls without being too long.

    Finally, you need to get the balance right in the early gameplay stages. If it's too easy or too difficult, you are seriously diminishing your chances of hooking a user in on your game mechanic and keeping them as players.

    But, do this well and you're on the path to long term retention.

  • 2 Rewarding Gameplay

    Outfit7 has taught us that rewarding positive gameplay behaviour has been a particularly effective way of boosting retention and engagement.

    Making a reward system part of your game mechanics - whether special bonuses or in-game currency for watching an ad or trying a new game - is a proven method to not only increase retention, but also creates new avenues for sustained monetization.

    Our research shows this method increases retention by an average of 30 per cent*, with 50% of users on day 7 still sticking around to play on day 21**.

    Goes without saying that this is key to monetization because users will keep coming back to collect their rewards, play your title and hopefully spend.

    • * source: Bee7 Network: Nov 2014
    • ** source: Bee7 Network: January 2015

  • 3 Videos

    Users who have seen a video for your game prior to install are 130 per cent more likely to play regular sessions.

    Video is an excellent way for potential users to see how your game will look and feel on their device, before playing it. It manages their expectations and helps you give a good first impression.

    Make sure you have a video demo of your game in the app store and consider including video ads in your user acquisition strategy. They should certainly be included in your advertising testing stages.

    Finally, offering players in-game rewards or bonuses for watching videos can be an extremely effective tool to boost retention and monetize.

    Users will continue to play your game and watch videos to discover games that also appeal, and rewarded for returning. And advertisers will get the benefits of video by acquiring high value users.

  • 4 Notifications

    Push notifications and other app notifications, are a simple tool to remind users about your game and encourage them back. But they must be carefully considered.

    Don't just use generic notifications such as 'come back, we miss you' if a user hasn't played in a while.

    Analyse your players' behaviour including session lengths, time of day and how they are progressing in the game. This allows you to re engage users at the most appropriate time.

    Successful games go that step further, and provide highly personalised and detailed notifications.

    For example, if a user is having trouble at a stage of the game, give them a notification with tips or even power-ups to help them progress. When you do a significant update, reward a lapsed player with a gift that relates to the update to make them curious to return and feel loyal for doing so.

  • 5 Conclusion

    As with all things, the key for success is getting the fundamentals right.

    If you keep these pillars in mind when developing your game as well as making sure your game is fun to play, you've got the foundations for a game that will retain users.

    • John Rankin is Managing Director of Bee7 Limited. Bee7 makes it easier for developers to engage and retain loyal users. The solution, a native gameplay reward system, supports video and drives cross promotion, retention and ongoing engagement with players. All of which open up new opportunities for game makers to sustain monetization.
    • Created by multinational entertainment company and game developer Outfit7 to help other developers overcome the challenges of making profitable games, Bee7 uses the same technology that helped propel Outfit7 from a startup to achieve in excess of 2.8 billion downloads and 250 million MAU.

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