Retentioneer is the new Growth Hacker

The rise of the Retentioneer

The new job title of “Retentioneer” is rapidly making its way into silicon valley culture. It’s a recognition that in this never-ending focus on growth at all costs, companies are realizing that their buckets are leaky, and they need to fix retention to have any chance of really growing. Retentioneers are very similar to growth hackers in that they combine technical skills with a deep understanding of marketing.

The term is a combination of “Retention” + “Engineer” = “Retentioneer”.

Rather than just thinking about how to get new users, Retentioneers focus on making things sticky and bring users back over and over and over and over and over again. While growth hackers look at growth as a challenge to find new users, retentioneers look for every situation they can keep one more user who has already visited. The main two questions they ask are:

(1) “How can I increase my chances this user will become sticky?”
(2) “How can I reduce my churn rate?”

They do this with a combination of guile, creativity, disciplined modeling and quantitative measurement. Retentioneers are experts in finding the AHA Moment. They look for that point in a user’s onboarding or first few days in a product when everything clicks. And they work as hard as they can to get every other user clicking that way too.

It often starts with digging into data. Retentioneers have to be comfortable with deep statistical analysis to find out which signals are predictive of who converts. But that is not enough to be a retentioneer. They have to take those learnings and be creative and create onboarding flows and drip email campaigns that drive users crazy — crazy for the product.

Any growth team without a retentioneer is just asking for empty calories. They may growth hack their way to hordes of users who can’t wait to sign up. And then one month later it’s an empty desert again. Growth teams are actively realizing how important this role is, and arming them with the very best resources. Or they sign up for because that works well too.

The stakes are huge because super platforms are giving users access to 100M+ consumers

Every growth hacker knows that if you beg, bribe, and ask enough, you can finally get Apple App Store and Google Play to feature your app. This is wonderful because it drives hundreds of thousands of downloads. And Facebook App Install ads make it easier than ever to buy cheap installs — it’s almost like free users. But too many times those users download your app and don’t even try it. Or they launch it and don’t come back.

The retentioneers on your team can radically change the trajectory of your growth. They know all the ins and outs of bugging the user on day 1, day 2, day 2.5, day 3, day 3.5, day 3.75, day 4, and beyond. They know just how to ask for push notification privileges so you can push the perfect message to everyone. They know when to buzz the phone or send silent notifications too. You might not have realized which times of day are best for push notifications, but if your retentioneer cannot quickly chart this and pick which hours are perfect for your users, you should fire them.

Retentioneers love email. They can help you debate the finer points of MailChimp vs MailGun vs SendGrid vs PostItNow vs BlastOff and make sure your spam rating never dips below 7.3. They know how to A/B test subject lines and content so that your open->click->activate->retain loop is higher than ever. They will even tell you that everyone under the age of 22 doesn’t check email and will build the same retention loops for SMS, Kik, Snapchat, Instagram, and Jott. Haven’t heard of Jott yet? Your retentioneer most certainly has.

If you can’t retarget, you can’t be a retentioneer. Retentioneers know that when a user visits your website and almost makes a purchase for a new foot cream but leaves, that user made a mistake. They can program a suffaocating campaign of ads so that for every site the user visits they will be reminded to come back and get that foot cream…with increasing discounts to entice them back until that foot cream is just about free.

In Summary

Retentioneers bring an entirely new discipline to growth teams. They are more important than growth hackers — because who cares how many people you can bring in if you can’t retain them. They understand activation and retention, and talk about churn so much they actually churn butter. Drip campaigns are their favorites, only topped by a perfectly timed push notification.

A growth team without a retentioneer is just a leaky bucket. So go out and hire your retentioneers today!


Inspiration for this post comes from: