Image by Jordan McQueen

How The Product Is The Best Chance For User Conversion & Retention

A practical example of correcting product mistakes and saving money on the way.

Entrepreneurs often reach out to me for advise on how to improve user conversion and engagement, so they can grow their platforms. There’re a lot of websites on the internet that talk about this topic, but to me, it always begins with the product. I always begin by asking people to take a zoomed-out look at their apps, and also pay attention to what customers do with it, and how they use it. This is because many mistakes can be spotted by just asking for an opinion from someone who could even be a total stranger to your product.

The product is actually the best chance you’ve got to convert, captivate and retain users, from mere visitors to completely addicted users.

Case Study: Signup Process

I’ll show you how this can dramatically impact your product for the better, by giving you an example of how a tiny change we made to our signup process yielded in far-better-than-expected results:

Prior to September 24th, 2014, users who signed up on HeyHey had to fill in a form of a total of 7 fields: 6 mandatory and 1 optional.

  1. First Name
  2. Last Name
  3. Username (*)
  4. Email (*)
  5. Password (*)
  6. Preferred Language (one came preselected)
  7. Profile Picture

At the time, the conversion rate, meaning the % of people that successfully completed the process from opening the app to creating an account, was 13%.

It’s no surprise to find out that a signup form this long would yield in such bad results. What’s interesting is to find out how much you can improve it.

So after taking a look at this, we decided to make the process simpler and less tedious. We separated the signup form in two parts. One mandatory and one optional. The mandatory form had only 3 fields:

  1. Username
  2. Email
  3. Password

The second (optional) form had the other 4 fields:

  1. First Name
  2. Last Name
  3. Preferred Language (one came preselected)
  4. Profile Picture

We figured that 3 of the 7 fields needed to be strictly mandatory, while the rest could be filled later in the app. After filling the 3-field form, users would tap on Done, and the optional form would appear. (Note that we used a Done button instead of a Next, since the process is really done by the end of form 1). When the optional form shows up, there’s a clear Skip button that users can tap to jump right to the app.

Whether the user completed the second form, skipped it or closed the app, the account had already been created by the end of the first form.


One month after the update was released, we found out that conversion rate had increased to a whopping 50%! In this case, we are taking into account the whole signup process, i.e.: the % of people who complete the signup process (not just account creation), either skipping the optional form or filling it out.

This definitely reassured us that providing a smooth, fast and simple process increased the effectiveness of our efforts. And this was a small change!

Wrap Up

On December of 2014, we deployed an aggressive marketing campaign that garnered HeyHey many users. Had we deployed it before the new signup, we would have seen a 13% of this effort turn into new users acquired. Instead, we made the necessary changes so the product did the work for us, and yielded better results.

You should always question features and other things before making a considerable investment in user acquisition. In our case, we dramatically incremented the ROI of our campaign.

Now, I know there’re some of you who’d ask: “How much is enough improvement?” And the answer I have to that is: I don’t know.

How much you improve will depend in many factors, which combined, make each project unique in the numbers it should take for reference. There’s some literature that shows industry-average rates for conversion and retention, and although it’s useful to know this, it’s better to pay attention to what’s good to your business and aim for constant improvement.

In our case, we never expected such good results. We only knew that we could do much better with our sign up.

Now, can it be further improved after such good results? Of course! For signups, you could offer a try out of your service before the user has to signup. Maybe you could add a few pictures showing how the product improves people’s lives. The point is, every aspect of the product should be revised once in a while so you can deliver a better experience over time.

Thanks for reading all the way through.

If you have any questions or/and comments, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter.

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