User Retention, Startups and Second Dates

I swear it's all connected. 

Since Feed Me officially launched two weeks ago, we've hit around 10,000 downloads. Our goal is 12,000 in the first month, so we're definitely on track to hit that. 

But now, the challenge is to make sure that those users come back. Will they think of us the next time they're looking for a restaurant? Will they even eat out (or order in) this week? Will they fall in love with the swiping interface and play with the app just for fun?

Essentially, will the app stick for them?

There's the inevitable drop-off with any new app, so when looking at Feed Me's stats for monthly average users versus daily average users (MAUs vs. DAUs), I started thinking about user retention like a second date. 

Maybe you went out once, you have a nice meal, maybe you even kissed goodnight and said you'd meet up next week.

But in these modern-day, Tinder times, you can't really know if the other person is still interested until you're actually out on that second date. 

So how do you make sure that this new love interest comes back? 

Like any app, it's about the user experience. Did they really have a good time? If they left a nasty review on the Google Play Store or App Store, they clearly didn't. They might even tell you in this case what you did wrong. And you'll be able to fix it for your next user/first date. 

But more often, you aren't given a reason – the user just doesn't return. Did you offend them? Did you point out that they talked with their mouth full? Did you wear an awful shirt? Did you talk about Machiavelli the whole evening? (See the Feed Me Big in Japan Bar review in Montreal for clarification.)

Was the food bad? If so, you clearly didn't use the Feed Me app well and should email for instructions, subject line: BAD DATE.

These are the equivalent of the app crashing, being too slow or not having enough categories. Or maybe they didn't like the login system, or they didn't see the categories icon, or the pop-ups stuck around a second too long.

And if the date actually did go well, maybe you later turned off the other person by texting too much. Their day didn't get tons better in the ten minutes since you last asked how it was going. You also don't want to bother users with too many notifications or emails. You do, however, want them to tell all their friends about their date/the app.

So it has to be Casanova-smooth: just enough follow-up, at the right time, with the right amount of cool in the copy.

For Feed Me, that means a newsletter only when there's something to announce, once a week or every two weeks max. It means new food categories only every couple weeks or when there's a festival. And it means revealing new features to improve the user experience (it's like sending flowers), e.g. adding an email login option to what was a Facebook login monopoly, letting users save more than 10 restaurants to their Favourites List and only showing the "Not finding what you're looking for?" popup once – turns out that any more than that was annoying, kind of like constantly asking your date if they're having a good time. 

There's no reason making the person question whether or not they're wasting their time with you more than you have to. That's like saying, "Hey! Maybe the person you really want to date is that other restaurant app."

You're kicking yourself in the shins. 

Maybe that should be the Feed Me marketing/user retention logo: Don't kick yourself in the shins. Or maybe, a more self-motivational mantra: We are worthy of a second date. 

And hopefully a third date, a fourth, a common-law partnership or a marriage, a vow renewal in sun-soaked Aruba or the snow-peaked mountains of Squamish, BC. Because just like some prefer hot dogs and $1 a slice pizza to foie gras and lobster, to each his or her own.

Feed Me should be for everyone. So much for monogamy. I guess we really are the Tinder of restaurants.