Build it, they will come. But will they come back?

Building a product is easy; in fact anyone can do it. It is to gain traction that is the hard part. Ask any startup entrepreneur and they’ll admit that this is one of the challenges that keep them awake at night. But as quite a number of us has found out, if you build anything (especially if it is cool and cutting-edge tech) people will come to check it out; early adopters, bloggers etc. The challenge then is will they come back?

We tend to focus too much on new user signups and not repeat users; we have forgotten that repeated usage is the traction we are seeking in the first place.When Google announced they now had 10 million users on their Google+ social networking site, someone inquired if “they were 10 million users or 10 million evaluators”

How can a startup boast of having 10,000 users for instance if over 75% of those users never come back to your service in 6 months?

I cannot forget the favor Tech blogger, Loy Okezie did for a project of mine back in 2010. Loy Okezie had personally invited over 200 people through his Gmail contacts to sign up and follow him on Gistcaster. A lot of his friends joined the network and a conversation even started around the site on Twitter. But alas, my Gistcaster didn’t give anyone a reason to come back. We ended up amassing a lot of “registered spectators” and very few repeat users.

On the other hand, a friend introduced me to Zing a cross platform messenger. Trying out Zing was a great experience, they have an elegant UI and Zing worked as advertised. They went further to include a sticky feature: SMS nudge. If your contacts are offline, you can actually send a free SMS nudge to them to enable them come online knowing you are waiting for them on Zing.

Zing successfully created a mechanism to ensure that we sign up for Zing and stay there.

What this means in essence is that it is possible to build “stickability” into your product. Take a long hard critical look at your product and ask yourself, why would anyone come back to use this? Your answer to this question will go a long way in determining your startup’s success.

More startup entrepreneurs, product managers need to start thinking in this line: If I build it, they will come. But will they come back?


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