#20: How Duolingo gets you addicted + Top Product Management Books Recommended
2022 was a stellar year for Duolingo as seen from its 2022 highlights published as part of its Q4 results. The growth in MAUs (Monthly Active Users), DAUs (Daily Active Users) and Paid Subscribers points to the fact that it is not only the acquisition of users but also retention of users that is working well.
Well in-fact, Retention is the name of the game, and today in case study #20 of Productify we explore how Duolingo utilizes:
1.Gamification tactics: Smooth onboarding, Small goals and Social learning,
2.Cognitive science behind Duolingo’s learning model
3. Hooked Model’s application on Duolingo
+ BONUS: At the end of this post, we deep dive into Top 30 Product Management books separated by categories. You would love to see this list! ;)
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But first, what is Duolingo’s retention metric?
Duolingo has a unique approach to measuring success, focusing on "D1 retention," or the percentage of users who return the day after signing up. Starting with a 15% D1 retention rate at launch, Duolingo has since improved to over 50% today by prioritizing this metric.
One factor that contributes to user engagement is the use of gamification principles. Emails and notifications are also powerful tools for driving retention, with Duo's re-engagement email subject line reading "We miss you!".
While the growth team is responsible for driving user acquisition, Duolingo employees across all departments prioritize making the product better through optimization, frequently employing A/B testing.
In fact, 80% of new users come to the platform organically, highlighting the importance of nailing product-market fit before investing in costly promotion tactics.
Now let’s go to the five techniques around loyalty and gamification that have worked really well for Duolingo’s retention metrics:
1. Smooth Onboarding
Small Goals for behavior change
Social angle to learning
Human Psychology’s role
Appling Hooked Model to Duolingo
Gamification: Smooth Onboarding
Every good retention starts with a great onboarding experience!
Duolingo's unique onboarding experience sets it apart from other language learning apps. Instead of a time-consuming sign-up process, Duolingo's onboarding is quick and easy.
Users can choose the language they want to learn and how much time they want to dedicate to learning each day, without needing to sign up. Gamification is also an essential aspect of Duolingo, which makes learning more engaging for users. The app incorporates game design elements throughout the learning experience, such as earning "experience points," "lingots," and competing with friends on the leaderboard.
Duolingo encourages users to stay engaged with notifications, emails, and re-engagement emails to maintain high retention rates. Additionally, 80% of new users come organically to the app, indicating a strong product-market fit without the need for significant advertising.
Gamification: Small goals → Behavior Change
Duolingo’s approach to language learning is unique in that it breaks down the process into small, manageable goals that can be achieved in just 20 minutes a day or less. This approach is based on the idea that setting small goals can modify our behavior by reducing intimidation and making it easier to find time for language learning.
To maintain these goals, Duolingo employs gamification and visualizations of success. The app’s beloved green bird mascot, Duo, provides users with congratulatory messages for every five correct answers in a row, helping to maintain streaks and keep users motivated. Additionally, users can unlock new skills and chapters as they progress, but only if they have reached Level 1 on all previous skills, keeping them focused and minimizing cognitive overload.
Duolingo’s curriculum is divided into skills, levels, and bite-sized chapters, making it easy for users to track their progress and achieve their language learning goals. The app’s unique approach has helped it become one of the most popular language learning apps in the world, with over 500 million downloads to date.