What is a Retention Rate?

Ruben Buijs

Founder & Digital Consultant

Written on Aug 10, 2023

2 minutes

Product Management

Retention Rate is a crucial metric used in product management to measure the percentage of customers who continue to use a product over a specific period. It provides insights into customer loyalty and the ability of a product to retain its user base. Calculated as a percentage, retention rate helps businesses understand the effectiveness of their strategies in retaining customers and driving growth.


Let's say you have a mobile app that offers a subscription service. In the first month, you have 1,000 users. After three months, you find that 700 users are still actively using the app. To calculate the retention rate, divide the number of users who continue to use the app (700) by the initial number of users (1,000), which gives you a retention rate of 70%.


Retention rate is a vital metric for product managers as it provides valuable insights into customer satisfaction and loyalty. A high retention rate indicates that customers find value in a product and are more likely to continue using it, leading to increased revenue and growth. By monitoring retention rate, product managers can identify areas for improvement, refine their strategies, and address any issues that may be causing customer churn.

How to Use Retention Rate

To effectively use retention rate in product management, follow these steps:

  1. Define the time period: Determine the specific time frame that aligns with your product's lifecycle or business goals. It could be monthly, quarterly, or annually.

  2. Identify the user cohort: Select a group of customers who started using your product within the defined time period. This cohort will be used to calculate the retention rate.

  3. Calculate the retention rate: Divide the number of customers who continue using the product by the initial number of customers in the cohort. Multiply the result by 100 to obtain the retention rate percentage.

  4. Analyze the results: Monitor the retention rate over time and compare it with previous periods or industry benchmarks. Identify trends, patterns, or sudden drops that may require further investigation.

Useful Tips

Here are some useful tips for effectively utilizing retention rate:

  • Segment your user base: Analyze retention rates by different customer segments, such as demographics or usage patterns. This helps identify which segments have higher or lower retention rates, allowing you to tailor strategies accordingly.

  • Address pain points: Identify and address any pain points or issues that may be causing customers to churn. Solicit feedback, conduct surveys, and actively listen to customer concerns to improve your product and enhance customer satisfaction.

  • Focus on onboarding: A smooth and engaging onboarding process can significantly impact retention. Provide clear instructions, tutorials, and support to help users understand and fully utilize your product's features from the start.

  • Offer incentives and rewards: Implement loyalty programs, discounts, or special offers to reward and incentivize customers for their continued use of your product. This can strengthen customer loyalty and increase retention rates.


Retention rate is a measure of the percentage of customers or users who continue to use a product or service over a specific period of time.
Retention rate is important because it helps businesses understand the loyalty of their customers and the effectiveness of their product or service. Higher retention rates often lead to increased revenue and long-term success.
Retention rate is calculated by dividing the number of customers or users at the end of a period by the number of customers or users at the start of that period, and then multiplying the result by 100 to get a percentage.
A good retention rate varies depending on the industry and type of product or service. Generally, a higher retention rate is desirable, and a rate above 70% is often considered good.
Several factors can affect retention rate, including the quality of the product or service, customer satisfaction, customer support, competition, pricing, and overall user experience.
To improve retention rate, you can focus on enhancing the customer experience, providing excellent customer support, addressing any product or service issues promptly, offering incentives or rewards for loyalty, and regularly communicating with your customers.
Customer churn rate is the opposite of retention rate. It represents the percentage of customers or users who stop using a product or service over a specific period of time.
Customer churn rate and retention rate are closely related. They are two sides of the same coin. Retention rate measures how many customers you keep, while churn rate measures how many customers you lose.
To reduce customer churn, you can focus on improving customer satisfaction, addressing customer concerns and complaints, personalizing the customer experience, offering loyalty programs, and regularly engaging with your customers.
Yes, retention rate can vary for different customer segments. It is important to analyze and understand the retention rates of different segments to tailor your strategies and offerings accordingly.

Article by

Ruben Buijs

Ruben is the founder of ProductLift. I employ a decade of consulting experience from Ernst & Young to maximize clients' ROI on new Tech developments. I now help companies build better products

Table of contents

  1. Examples
  2. Importance
  3. How to Use Retention Rate
  4. Useful Tips
  5. Related Terms

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