The secret to a good product? Know how to define and measure retention

A little less than a year ago, with Caroline Besnard, our CPO, we wanted to understand what made our customers proud of the products we build with them.

At BAM, we measure the “product pride” of our customers every week by asking them the following question: “Are you proud of the product developed and designed together?” Our goal is to have at least 80% of customers who are proud of their product, in order to ensure that customer satisfaction does not end with a successful project but is also based on a successful product!

You will say “yes, but it wasn't an article on retention?” In fact, I can do it.

Why is retention THE measure of value creation for users AND our customers?

After several weeks of analyzing what is happening on our projects, we realized that our customers are proud of their product if the product appeals to users and creates value by meeting their needs. So we said “Oh! Finally, customers are proud if the product generates adoption and retention.” And that's good because it's perfectly aligned with our vision of a good product!

So the best way to make our customers proud is to:

  • Design products that meet the needs of our users and the business challenges of our customers using Lean tools? Do we know how to do that?
  • Measuring the success of our products by ensuring that they create retention? And now we were missing something?

We hear about adoption, acquisition, retention, but when we discuss them between Product People, with our customers, we often have trouble putting our finger on the differences between these concepts.

However, to measure something, we must first all agree on what we are going to measure and that involves:

? Know what is behind the concept of retention

? Know how to distinguish it from adoption and acquisition

? Know how to define good measures of these indicators in order to be able to improve the product

What does retention mean?

? Retention is THE measure of use continues of a product or features. Attention, for each product, the definition of what we consider to be use and the time frame where we will measure it will be different.

For example, you open a social network every day but you don't make a reservation on Airbnb every day (unless you go on vacation a lot!).

Measuring retention allows you to know if you are succeeding in creating the value you want to create and therefore that the product meets its objectives. If you have good retention, it means that users come and stay for the long term - and that's key to growing your business.

To put it simply, a user who is retained is a user who comes once and who comes back.

A bit as if our users became binge watchers of our product.


We can measure the retention of a product overall, but the most interesting thing is to measure the retention of the key features of our product, because they are the ones that will bring value to our users by meeting their needs.

For example, the measures you can choose to track retention include:

  • The Rate of use : the% of users who use the product or a feature at a certain frequency
  • The Retention rate : the number of users who use the product at the end of a period vs. the number of users who used it at the beginning of the period
  • The Mean Time to Churn : the time before a user stops using the product

Why measuring adoption and acquisition is good but not enough

First, we're going to redefine adoption and acquisition to highlight why it's different from retention.

? The acquisition Is the fact of gain new users on a product. On mobile, the acquisition generally corresponds to the number of downloads of the product.? You will note that there is no concept of use.

At BAM, we often say that acquisition is a “vanity metrics”: it's important to gain new users, but what matters is to keep them!

However, it is a good way to find out if users find the product, stick to the concept, and if not, whether efforts to acquire new users should be boosted. It's the first step in finding and converting new users (and therefore reaching adoption and retention goals!).

? Adoption of a product and/or features corresponds to the action of using a new feature. Measuring the adoption of features/a product makes it possible to identify that we are on the right track to meet a user need.

There are different types of adoption, and the level of adoption is measured by analyzing the use in relation to time (speed, frequency, etc.).

We define 3 types of adoption:

  • External adoption: new users who use existing features
  • Les Flags : new users who use new features
  • In addition, one may ask, at what speed? (The Faster, the Better)
  • Internal adoption : existing users who use new features

What to remember


Acquisition and adoption allow us to verify that we have an audience and that they are listening to what we have to offer.

But if, for example, when you launched your podcast you listened to 10,000 times, but none of your first listeners came back for the second episode, you would have succeeded in your acquisition and adoption, but without convincing your audience of the quality of your great podcast. The risk is that you could continue to release episodes for a long time, to have listens, without bringing your listeners back.

And if you measured retention, you would quickly realize that something is wrong and that your product may be worth readjusting!

How to make sure you have good measures: example of a Nobel Prize (well almost)

And last but not least, understanding all these concepts is great, but for it to be useful to you, you need to make sure that you define the right metrics for your product.

Nothing better than proof by example, in 4 lines and 3 bullet points, I am sharing with you below the retention framework set up on one of our flagship projects, the application Healico - who won the Digital Innovation Award in the Health Sector (the Prix Galien - it's just like a Nobel Prize) in December 2021 (yes yes).

Healico, what is it?


It is the wound monitoring assistant for health professionals, a mobile application that accompanies them in the evaluation, monitoring of the treatment and evolution of any type of wound by digitizing all this, while adapting to the sustained pace of their daily lives.

Healico adoption and retention metrics

  • For The acquisition : we track the number of account creations
  • It's more engaging than downloading, so it's better!
  • For Adoption : when we release a new feature, we will measure adoption i.e. the number of people who used the feature at least once after a month, for example
  • For the retention : our north star metric is the share of users who will create content in the app at least at a certain frequency
  • A user who is convinced of the added value of the app and that we will really help in his wound follow-up is a user who regularly monitors his wounds with Healico, week after week.

Product Owner ?

Rejoins nos équipes