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Designing For Success: Targeting 25% Improvement In User Retention For Chrome Extension

Updated: Apr 29

Customer And Competitive Insights Guide Feature Changes For $xM ARR Product


I worked with a browser extension product, Distill Web Monitor, to increase their retention. After extensive research, I created a feature mockup and presented it to their Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) to target a 25% improvement in their user engagement and 10% increase in revenue. Here are the details.

Engaged and happy customers with overlay of logo and user engagement chart.
Engaged and happy customers with overlay of logo and user engagement chart.

If you have any questions or want help to grow your user retention, get in touch.




Project Background And Challenge

Distill Web Monitor is a Chrome browser extension that has been operational for over ten years. Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, the company has 10 to 20 employees and makes $X millions in annual recurring revenue. Consumers and businesses use the browser extension to track changes on websites. Most users use the product on Google Chrome browser.


For example, imagine you want to buy the latest Nvidia GPU to train your local LLM. But the webpage says it is “sold out”. You can use distill to notify you when “sold out” changes to “available”. So you can track the availability of products on e-commerce websites like Amazon. Watch a demo here.


Legal, pharma, or insurance businesses also use Distill.


Most users use it for free, but some pay for extra features.

Testimonial from Founder and CEO.
Testimonial from Founder and CEO.

Distill’s revenue fell after the pandemic. So, I worked with their CxO to find ways to increase revenue. We did not know funnel metrics for our product, so did not know whether the problem was at the top, medium, or bottom of the funnel. More on this funnel here.

Adopted the Top, middle, and bottom-of-funnel stages for a freemium product.
Adopted the Top, middle, and bottom-of-funnel stages for a freemium product.

I’ll break down my work into two steps:

  1. Research and find funnel baseline metrics.

  2. Customer-first thinking to recommend a feature to increase engagement.

I have permission from the client to share their logo and project details. But, I’ll hide the numbers.


Research to Establish Customer Acquisition Funnel

I was in for a huge surprise.


I gathered data about the product and users at each stage of their customer journey. I used these tools:

  • Google Analytics,

  • Chrome Extension App Store Analytics, and 

  • Telemetry data via SQL and Metabase.

Chrome extension analytics showing views, installs, and uninstalls each month.
Chrome extension analytics showing views, installs, and uninstalls each month.

We noticed many users were uninstalling the Chrome extension. This was a problem at the bottom of the funnel. This was a surprise and suggested we focus our energy to fix the ‘leaky bucket’ retention problem.

Retention problem, as confirmed by cohort retention curves.
Retention problem, as confirmed by cohort retention curves.

SaaS products have a retention challenge. Finding new users is one thing, but keeping or upselling to existing users is key for growth.

Funnel from viewing the website, signing-up, using, and upgrading to premium.
Funnel from viewing the website, signing-up, using, and upgrading to premium.

Research Insights Through Customer Interviews

I interviewed 13 users across these segments:

  • New,

  • Old,

  • Free, 

  • Paid, and 

  • Recently churned customers.


This helped us understand reasons users upgrade from free to the premium plan, and reasons they leave the product.


Users usually install the Chrome extension to solve one issue. After solving it, they often forget to use it for other similar problems. So, how can we remind customers to use our product in the right context?


Customer Journey Map From Research

customer journey map visualizing 100,000s of customers through discovery, sign up, upgrade, and product usage stages.
customer journey map visualizing 100,000s of customers through discovery, sign up, upgrade, and product usage stages.

Combining all research insights, I built a customer journey map to understand how users discover our product. I noticed retention was an area for improvement.



Research Competitive Insights And Stakeholder Feedback

Examples from best-performing chrome extensions.
Examples from best-performing chrome extensions.

I shared examples with the CxO about other Chrome extensions as a proxy for user interest and technical feasibility. Many popular browser extensions notify users, which boosts their usage. For example:

  • DeepL pops up in every text box, offering easy text translation.

  • Google Translate pops up on websites in a foreign language, offering easy page translation.

  • Grammarly pops up in every text box, offering easy grammar checks.

  • Honey pops up on e-commerce checkout pages, testing coupons for easy savings.


Designing Feature Mockup Using Research Insights

I combined these 4 research steps to design the feature:

  • Data analysis,

  • Customer interviews, 

  • Competitive research, and,

  • Stakeholder conversations with CxO.

Mock-up of feature recommendation.
Mock-up of feature recommendation.

In designing the feature mockup, I kept a few things in mind:

  • Users get notified only if the product is out of stock; otherwise, they don't.

  • Users can see a call-to-action (CTA) to set up an alert.

  • Users can dismiss the notification for the current page or turn it off completely.


I presented the feature mockup and recommended a gradual release plan to the CxO:

  • Start with a beta release for a small group of customers.

  • Begin by alerting on English language Amazon pages.

  • Inform users about the feature through emails targeted to a user segment.


Estimating Impact At The Bottom Of The Funnel

This feature aimed for a 25% boost in user engagement. It tackled the issue of users forgetting about the product, thus lowering churn.

User engagement is expected to increase by 25% on implementing the feature.
User engagement is expected to increase by 25% on implementing the feature.

Let’s connect the dots between some numbers:

  • 70% of our users stopped using the product after 6 months. A good churn rate is 60% (or 40% retention), and a great one is 30% (or 70% retention). Our churn rate was not up to par.

  • Over 80% of our active customers engaged with our product on at least one eCommerce site.

  • At any given time, 15% of product pages on eCommerce sites are out of stock.

  • Over 63% of eCommerce shoppers face out of stock each year. This is once a year.

  • 40% of the product revenue came from users who joined within the last 24 months.


Using these data points, I predicted a 25% increase in usage of product. This will increase revenue by 10%.

Hooked model of driving user engagement.
Hooked model of driving user engagement.

Nir Eyal’s hooked model explains driving user engagement. We use a similar approach.

  • Trigger: remind users on out-of-stock pages

  • Action: Users create a webpage monitor.

  • Variable reward: Users may or may not get notified about product availability sometime. Don’t know when.

  • Investment: The notification of product availability furthers their investment in using our product.

Consequences from reminders to more revenue.
Consequences from reminders to more revenue.

By reminding users about our product on eCommerce out-of-stock pages, we can boost usage. More usage likely leads users to hit usage limits and upgrade to premium pricing.

This strategy helps users buy what they want while increasing our revenue.

Recommendations

To boost your product's retention, start by understanding what keeps your most active users so active. What attracts them to the product? Track how many new users sign up each month and how many leave.


After grasping the problem's depth and learning from retained customers' examples, find ways to

  • encourage more users to adopt the behaviors of retained users, or

  • find users similar to those you manage to retain.

If you have any questions or want help to grow your user retention, get in touch.




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