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7 Steps to Product Roadmap Success

Learn how to fight feature creep, deliver the right value, and translate vision into action. Let us help you revitalize your product roadmap today, and help make 2021 your year.

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Loyalty & Retention

Customer Retention: Is It Better to Have More New Fans or Repeat Fans?

Chris Minnich  //  July 28, 2022  //  8 min read

As economic uncertainty deepens, customer retention is top-of-mind for brands of all sizes. In times like these, customer retention can come down to how well you understand the emotions, wants, and needs of your New and Repeat Fans (two terms we’ll define below). Both of these customer segments are important, but they offer different value to brands and require distinct retention strategies.

This  post uses data and findings from our 2022 Mobile Engagement Benchmark Report to address the following topics: 

  1. The differences between New and Repeat Fans and the value of both segments.
  2. Is it better to have more New or Repeat Fans?
  3. Customer retention strategies to create and keep Repeat Fans.

The difference between New Fans and Repeat Fans

Before we jump into determining which is better than the other, let’s first define what New and Repeat Fans are.

At Apptentive, our customers capture emotional data through Fan SignalsⓇ, which allows mobile teams to measure expressed sentiment across time and touchpoints, identifying Fans, Risks, and when sentiment has shifted—down to individual customer IDs. Apptentive automatically segments your customers into one of several Fan Signals groups, based on their Love Dialog responses across a span of time.

There are many use cases for Fan Signals, one of which is the ability to identify and target your brand’s New and Repeat Fans.

New Fans are customers who expressed positive emotion for the first time, while Repeat Fans are customers who expressed positive emotion at least twice in a row. The Love Dialog is the simple, powerful starting point for understanding these expressed customer emotions throughout their lifetime. It all starts with a simple question: “Do you love our company?”.

Apptentive Love Dialog

In terms of the Love Dialog, New Fans answered “yes” to the prompt for the first time. While, Repeat Fans answered “yes” at least twice sequentially. The great thing about the Love Dialog is that you are able to see change in emotion over time and then act on emotional shifts. For example, the Love Dialog can be paired with an in-app survey allowing you to ask for feedback from customers that expressed a change in their emotion towards your brand or app.

In 2021, Repeat Fans (30%) outpaced New Fans (27%), which means brands are getting better at prompting consumers with the Love Dialog more than once. In return, consumers are regularly responding with their feedback, sticking around long enough to be prompted multiple times. The regular cadence of asking for and receiving consumer feedback allows brands to create continuous feedback loops and offer better in-app experiences over time.

Graph showing expressed customer sentiment separated out by fans and risks

An average of 14 percent of consumers shifted their emotions in 2021 (shifted to Fan + shifted to Risk). We know that people will not have positive brand experiences all the time, but being able to identify and act on these shifts is a major competitive advantage for your brand.

Graph showing how emotions shifted in 2021

The value of New Fans

New Fans are an important metric for your company to track. When customers shift to Fans, it can validate that you improved your overall customer experience or made a positive change to your in-app experience. The feedback and expressed emotion that New Fans provide is critical to connecting product improvements to positive customer sentiment. These connections can increase confidence in your product roadmap and allow you to focus your team’s effort on projects that directly impact customer retention and happiness. 

On the flip side, Shifted Risks tend to show that you’ve made a negative change to your offerings or that customers have recently had experiences that left them unhappy. Identifying this segment is critical as it creates an opportunity to avert churn, but companies need to quickly take action or risk losing them to a competitor.

Apptentive Fan Signals dashboard showing shift in customer sentiment

The value of Repeat Fans

Repeat Fans are one the biggest assets for brands, as this group has repeatedly expressed positive emotion about your brand or app. Once identified, they can help you in the following ways: 

  • Product roadmap prioritization: Send a special Survey asking your happiest customers to help prioritize features.
  • Demo group participants: Recruit customers into a demo group or invite them to try new features. 
  • Improve ratings and reviews: Send an app store Ratings Prompt to your Repeat Fans, so that you can improve star-ratings and increase positive reviews .

On the other side of the spectrum are the Repeat Risks. These are the customers most likely to churn. Once identified, brands can send a Note containing a special offer to engage with the customer and try to prevent the loss of their business. Brands could also send a survey to better understand how they can provide an improved product, service, or experience for these customers.

Is it better to have more Repeat Fans or New Fans?

At this point, you might be asking yourself, “well, should I want to have more New Fans or Repeat Fans?” The short answer is you want both: all Repeat Fans were once New Fans! The exact numbers and ratios depend on your industry and customer lifecycle but a large segment of Repeat Fans with a growing segment of New Fans represents a healthy app and customer base. 

From a customer acquisition standpoint, it is essential that brands constantly create New Fans. However,  Repeat Fans are the end goal of where you want your customers to be and stay. New Fans are the pipeline for future Repeat Fans and provide incredible value, but creating and retaining Repeat Fans is one of the most important challenges a brand faces. It is inherently better for brands to have more Repeat Fans than New Fans because ideally brands strive to eventually turn every New Fan into a Repeat Fan. 

Why Repeat Fans are so crucial to customer retention

Repeat Fans are where your deeply loyal brand evangelists live. This segment has more brand knowledge, a deeper buy-in, and are more likely to say “yes” to things such as beta testing or focus groups. They are also more likely to provide actionable feedback or be a brand advocate. By utilizing your Repeat Fans in these ways, you can create better products and experiences that, in turn, reduce churn for other customer segments and create more New and Repeat Fans. 

Repeat customers are not necessarily Repeat Fans. However, statistics like it being five times more expensive to acquire a customer than retain a new one highlight the importance and value of retaining your Repeat Fans. 

Repeat Fans are so much more than just a repeat customer because they have repeatedly stated their love for your brand or app on top of all the benefits repeat customers bring.

Customer retention strategies to create and keep Repeat Fans

It is clear that Repeat Fans are an essential part of your brand’s success. But how do you create more Repeat Fans and keep existing ones happy? 

Use relevant messaging and engage customers at the right time and place

We’ve found the best way to engage customers is by targeting them at key mobile moments throughout the customer journey. These moments are tied to events such as the completion of an in-app task or after a customer has made a purchase or watched a video. This means communicating with customers via Notes and Surveys at strategic times so as not to bother them.

In contrast, attempting to engage customers before or during a specific task can be seen as intrusive and leads to higher exit rates and lower response rates. Your customer opened the app with a goal or task in mind—let them accomplish this goal before sending them a message linking to another part of the app or distracting them from the task at hand.

Close the feedback loop and let customers know that you care

The best way to retain your Repeat Fans is to simply let them know they’re valued. After collecting and analyzing your new customer insights, give thanks and acknowledge your customers’ feedback.

If you see feature requests or bug reports, consider working it into your product roadmap. Upon releasing a new update, remind your customers you are listening and let them know the update was made possible only by their continued feedback.

By reminding customers that you care about their voice and input, you’ll adopt and convey a customer-centric mentality that will let your customers know their opinions aren’t only heard, but highly valued. And when customers feel valued and heard, they’re likely to stick around for longer.

Give customers a reason to return to your app

Stale content deters even your biggest Fans from coming back to your app. If you want customers to come back to your app day after day, provide them with something new and original each time they open the app. Regular content updates can be in the form of a flash sale, a daily comic, a stream of user-generated photos, a loyalty or achievement program, or something as simple as resetting activity limits.

As customers come to expect fresh content, they’ll get into a routine of regularly launching your app to see what’s new and exciting. To understand what content will provide the most value, and the best reason to return, step into your customers’ shoes using your newfound insights. What would make you, as a customer, want to revisit the app time and time again?


This post highlighted the importance of listening to your brand’s fans, in particular your Repeat Fans. However, customer retention revolves around giving all of your customers a voice and then acting on their feedback. When you actively engage with and listen to all of your customers, you put your mobile app on a path for long-term improvement and growth.

If you are ready to improve customer retention and activate your app’s biggest Fans, with features like Fan Signals, request an Apptentive demo.


About Chris Minnich

Chris Minnich is a Content Specialist at Apptentive. He enjoys telling stories with written and visual content.
View all posts by Chris Minnich >

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