My Favorite Duolingo Retention Tactic

Source: growth.design case study


The following is a true story:

Me: “I’m going to pick back up the Chinese I used to know very well”

*uses Duolingo every day for a few weeks*

*stops using it*

*goes several days without using it*

*gets a novel notification*

The first time I got a notification like this on Duolingo, I spat out my coffee and I wasn’t even drinking any:

Was Duolingo really sending me a push notification telling me that they will… stop sending push notifications?

But this notification actually had the opposite effect on me. It made me want to come back to the app to continue studying Chinese.

As growth.design explains, there are three benefits to an app filtering its own notifications (vs forcing users to do this on their own):

  1. Users feel less annoyed overall (honestly, I was surprised to see this as I had never seen it before in another app)
  2. It minimizes the risk of users turning push notifications off forever (I can’t think of many times I’ve completely turned off push notifications, and returned to reactivate them at a later time).
  3. It gives the app a chance to resurrect the user later at a better time (maybe the app has found that Sunday afternoons are a very common time for usage so it is better to try resurrecting then).

This reminds me of the paradox of power: the harder you push (pun intended) the more one will resist.

So props to Duolingo because:

  1. it is the only app I’ve seen that does this and
  2. user retention is so important to them yet they dare to implement it!

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