How to measure product retention

A typical usage graph for a new feature. Usage peaks, then trails off

Retention tells you how valuable a feature is to your users

Feature retention is usually measured through cohort analysis. At its most basic, cohort analysis is a behavioral analysis tool for observing how groups of people (“cohorts”) experience something, usually over time.

A cohort analysis chart from Mixpanel for Pivotal Tracker’s Analytics feature

How to read cohort analysis (retention) charts

Cohort analysis charts can look intimidating at first, but once you understand them, you know exactly what to look for.

How to look at a row in a cohort analysis chart

Use cohort analysis to define the value of a feature

The best measure of a feature’s success is found in it’s “long tail” retention. This tells you about the continued use of the feature over time. For practical purposes, this means looking several days, weeks, or whenever you see usage “evening out” around a specific percentage.

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Product designer for Trimble. Formerly Product Manager and designer for @pivotaltracker, and product designer for @victorops

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Drew McKinney

Drew McKinney

Product designer for Trimble. Formerly Product Manager and designer for @pivotaltracker, and product designer for @victorops