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8 activation metrics: how to make sure that the users will stay in your project

User activation is a rather conventional concept that can have multiple meanings. We decided to find out what is activation, and tell you about its basic elements.

Eugene Matveev

February 17, 2016

5 Min Read

User activation is a rather conventional concept that can have multiple meanings (by the way, it's the same as the conversion concept, that everyone is counting differently and all of them are right). We decided to find out what is activation, and tell you about its basic elements.

What is activation?

Activation is called a fairly conventional moment as if the light bulb appears over the head of the visitor: "I know the peculiarity of this service and how it may be useful for me". Such visitor is considered activated, and can be called a user. From this moment, he begins to actually use the service, and not just play around it.

The same moment is sometimes called the aha moment when the user says: "Aha, I got it!"; in the days of the ancient Greeks, the aha-moment was called "Eureka."

At the same time, the activation is often called not the very moment, but the process leading to it: welcome-script, tutorial, first levels, and so on depending on your project.

So activation is both: the process, during which the user plays around the product, and its result.

How long may activation continue as the process?

Often referred to as the activation is the first user session, but this is not quite true. Different projects may require a different amount of time to get through. Are you familiar with the legendary EVE Online game?

It is called perhaps the most difficult game of all time: spaceships, long journeys, the struggle for resources and open economy. Personally, it took me about a week just to get through the tutorial, but it was not yet the activation – in fact, to go out into space and try out the gameplay itself took me another week. Total activation took two weeks; however, I did not become EVE Online active user and gave up the game after a few months, but that's a completely different story.

How to find the moment of activation in my project?

This task might be solved purely analytically. Look how it was solved in Twoodo.

In brief:

  • integrate custom events in the first user session;

  • find those who are already activated, in other words, pays a lot of money and/or login in application often;

  • look at their first session, luckily modern analytical systems such as devtodev, allow you to do it;

  • compare it with the first session of those who wasn't activated;

  • find the points of making a decision.

Subsequently, by the way, these points can be made mandatory and increase activation.

How to measure activation?

There is also no single solution. I only want to offer a few options, and you choose the most appropriate one:

  • 1-day retention is the percentage of users who visited the project the next day after the first visit;

  • rolling 1-day retention is the percentage of users who visited the project the next day after the first visit or later. Rolling retention is a little more flexible and indicative metric, because it leaves the user a chance to visit the project later;

  • N-day retention: as shown by the example of EVE Online, activation is not always limited to one day, so choose period that is needed by the users of your project;

  • N-day rolling retention means the same as above;

  • the percentage of users who have committed the second session (even on the same day or in a month);

  • percentage of conversion into the first payment, because some people think that as long as the user does not pay, he is not activated;

  • ARPU of the first month means the average revenue generated by one active user, even non-paying, in the first month of staying in the project;

  • ARPPU average revenue per paying user; in many respects, it is in the activation period, when the user decides if the project is valuable for him and how much he is willing to pay.

And here is a little task for you: how to measure activation of the taxi service? The answer is in the next section.

How to optimize activation?

At first, let's answer the question posted above. Usually, activation in taxi services is measured as the percentage of people who have committed the second session. If the user liked the first trip, he will make the second one. And it is likely he remains a regular user because we rarely change the taxi services.

How to optimize the activation in this case? We need to make sure that the first session was perfect, and ceteris paribus, try to send new users newer cars and more pleasant drivers. For example, this is what Russian taxi service Wheely does: they give a discount of 500 rubles for the first trip. In most cases, it makes the first trip completely free, and the customer gets satisfied with the high level of service.

Save these articles if you want to learn more about activation:

Anyway, remember that it is the process of acquaintance with the project that affects the moment of activation and all the subsequent metrics, including monetization.

If you want to understand even more issues of activation and to get the examples of its measurement and improvement, I invite you to a free webinar "Activation or Never let your user go", which we will hold together with Aleksandr Shtachenko. In the first part, Aleksandr will talk about the theory while in the second part I will discuss practical issues of activation and bring real cases of its optimization in various projects. The webinar in English will be held on 25th of February, 9:00 - 10:00 AM PST. Welcome!

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