Almost every other day in Hacker News, I find the announcement about an awesome new web-app that potentially solves a critical problem in my day to day life.

When it comes to the web, we’ve gotten very good about landing pages that clearly communicate values and absolutely frictionless signups that lets me get into the app with the click of a button.

I’ll Sign Up. I Probably Won’t Be Back

I sign up, go through their new user experience, take a look at their snazzy and beautiful interface and then I move on.

Regardless of how many new applications I try, in reality, the actual applications I log into on a daily basis are the ones that are tabbed in my browser:

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Thats right. Aside from Gmail, GCal, ToutApp and Asana, there are literally no other web-apps I log onto. I started to realize this more and more lately as I try out new applications and web properties.

I’ll sign up, I’ll look around, but then I get that sinking feeling as I “zoom out” from that browser window and realize all my other open tabs, my calendar alert for my next meeting or conference call, or better yet, my overflowing Inbox demanding my attention.

This is great. But I’m not coming back to your awesome web-app.

Coming Back = Changing My Daily Habits

Truth is, the caliber of web-apps I come across today all solve really great problems I have, but very few ever cross into the threshold where I change my daily habits of which web applications I’ll re-open after I reboot my computer.

Could it be that web properties are becoming staples in our daily lives much like our de-facto coffee shop, supermarket or butcher?

5 Ways You Can Get Me To Come Back

Relax, all is not lost though.

Over the past year, we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time working on how to make sure a new ToutApp user comes back.

Here are a few things you can do and in fact I wish more awesome web-apps did to make sure that I come back… Because, in all seriousness, I do want to be back, but I probably won’t remember.

#1 – Don’t expect me to come back. Figure out a way to plug into where I already hang out.

This is the most sure fire way of getting me to come back. Just don’t expect me to.

So instead, send me an email a few days later reminding me of the value proposition, teach me something on how I can better solve my problem and gently pull me back in.

#2 – Retarget Me

I’m a huge fan of both ReTargeter and Adroll. Their solution lets you cookie your new users and then re-target them with gentle advertisements across the web to pull them back into your site.

Just be careful with this.

You’ll want to track the lifecycle of the customer and retarget only during the first week or two and then stop — otherwise it just gets annoying.

#3 – Call Me

If you’re a serious B2B business then you should be asking for my phone number during sign up.

If I’m a valuable enough lead to you, then you should actually hire a Happiness Officer to call me and ask me how they can help me solve problem X.

Look, I signed up, I was interested, but I was probably too busy to figure it all out, so help me out will ya?

#4 – Integrate into my life, don’t expect me to integrate with you

Look, you’re great and all. However, unless you’re deeply integrated into my staples (Email, Calendar, Word Processor), I’m probably going to forget about you and more importantly you’re probably never going to be important enough to me.

So if you really want me to come back, integrate into my life and stop expecting me to integrate into yours.

#5 – Be ridiculously badass

Lastly, if you don’t want to do any of the above, you just need to take me from Sign Up all the way to your core “A-HA!” moment right within the first two minutes.

And once you make me feel that “A-HA!” moment you have to be so insanely badass that I’ll have no other choice but to integrate my life into you.

An example of this would be Facebook or Twitter.

In Conclusion

We’ve figured out a lot of things on the web when it comes to conversions and activations. But retention is tough.

Follow the basic ideas above and you may get me to come back to your awesome new web-app.

But just to be clear, unless you’re ridiculously badass, I probably won’t stay for long even if I do. Thats why SaaS businesses are hard, but when you get it right they are incredibly lucrative.