Chewing on Retention - Mixpanel

Chewing on Retention

Retention is the underdog of Mixpanel reports, often taking backseat to more popular reports such as Segmentation and Funnels. These are are intuitive and amazing, and they’re great places to start. But don’t overlook Retention reports. They are also incredibly powerful, and a fantastic way to measure the frequency with which people return to your app or site to take valuable, meaningful actions.

To give you an idea of how to drive the most value from retention, I’m going to use the example of a fictional dating site. Because I am a sucker for both puns and biannual cleanings, we’ll call our site OkCuspid, which is a dating service that facilitates romantic connections between dental professionals. OkCuspid’s revenue model is much like that of LinkedIn: people are charged a small fee per message sent to a potential love interest. So while their philosophical goal is to find love for people who love teeth, OkCuspid’s business goal is to get users to send multiple messages.

A retention report that shows cohorts that “Create Profile” and then return to “Send a Message” is valuable to every team at OkCuspid. They can filter the retention report by any property sent with the event(s) in question. That lets OkCuspid’s team focus in on retention rates for different genders, age groups, types of accounts, or geographical regions. This lets them answer questions ranging from “Do men send more messages than women”? to “Are users between the ages of 25 and 32 who live in Dubai more engaged than users of the same age in San Francisco, and if so, which ad campaign acquired them in the first place”?.

These insights allow their team to act swiftly to develop the product and reach out to their audience with clarity, specificity, and assurance.

The OKCuspid product team can use this retention report to correlate changes in retention rates with different features they’ve added, or changes they’ve made to the user experience. Perhaps rising retention rates correspond to the addition of emoji in messages; alternatively, a dip in retention might follow the rollout of a new mailbox interface.

Their business development team can use this retention report to see that people who create an account come back to send messages in the first week or two, but their activity trails off in subsequent months. They can use this data to test different pricing schemes (perhaps a free first week of messaging, or cheaper fees per message sent) and measure if the retention rates rose in accordance with these changes.

A retention report is especially powerful for the OKCuspid marketing team. While they do get customers from organic, word-of-mouth referrals, they also do online ad campaigns. Let’s say these campaigns are on Facebook, Twitter, the New York Times website, and, and they all employ utm-embedded links to OkCuspid’s homepage. (Whenever a user comes to your site from a utm- embedded URL, Mixpanel will automatically grab the utm-params and set them as super properties for that visitor, which means they’ll be tied to every event fired by that individual. This is great for seeing later-stage events and tracing them back to their origin.)

The OKCuspid marketing team can filter the retention report by any utm-related property to see exactly how effective their various campaigns are in drawing loyal and engaged customers. This allows them to target their efforts and focus on channels that yield the most recurrent and consistent use of their product.

Retention reports are not only valuable for those in the dental dating industry. They give any company powerful and actionable insights into how their customers engage with their product over time. If you’re a Mixpanel customer and want help getting started, drop our solutions team a line at or check out our video tutorial.

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