"Unlocking Sustainable Growth: Insights from Duolingo and Growth Engineering"


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 10, 2023

3 min read


"Unlocking Sustainable Growth: Insights from Duolingo and Growth Engineering"


In the world of product growth, the key to success lies in identifying and prioritizing the right projects that can lead to sustainable growth. This article combines insights from two sources - "Intro to growth engineering" and "How Duolingo reignited user growth" - to provide actionable advice on growth strategies. By understanding the importance of diversifying growth opportunities, leveraging gamification mechanics, and optimizing user retention, companies can unlock their full growth potential.

Diversifying Growth Opportunities:

To achieve sustainable growth, it is crucial to diversify growth opportunities. Relying on a single area of growth can be risky, as the loss of that area could have a significant impact on overall growth. By selecting a north star metric and measuring acquisition opportunity sizes, companies can identify multiple growth areas. It is advisable to invest in both acquisition and retention opportunities to ensure long-term success. Focusing on one channel, as seen in content marketing, can bring substantial traffic and popularity to a product.

Experimentation and Learning:

One common pitfall when pursuing new opportunities is excessive planning without enough experimentation and learning. Running quick experiments can provide valuable insights and help determine whether an opportunity is worth pursuing. Three main sources of inspiration for experiment ideas are observing other products, analyzing metrics for improvement opportunities, and experiencing the product flow as a user. This approach allows for data-driven decision-making and the prioritization of the most promising growth opportunities.

The Power of Gamification Mechanics:

Duolingo's growth story showcases the power of gamification mechanics in reigniting user growth. By leveraging existing successful mechanics, such as progression systems and achievements, Duolingo identified gamification as a potential area for improvement. The similarity between Duolingo lessons and game levels allowed for the application of progress bars and a finite number of chances for users. However, it is essential to adapt gamification mechanics to cater to the specific needs of the user base. By adopting a more systematic approach, companies can make informed decisions about which mechanics to pursue.

Optimizing User Retention:

Duolingo's journey to reignite user growth emphasized the importance of prioritizing retention over new-user acquisition. By analyzing user segments and retention rates, companies can understand the impact of different metrics on daily active users (DAU). The Current User (CURR) metric proved to be a crucial lever for achieving strategic breakthroughs. This shift in mindset allowed Duolingo to focus on improving the engagement and progress of existing users rather than solely targeting new users. Leaderboards and streaks emerged as effective tools for enhancing retention and motivating users to continue using the product.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Diversify your growth opportunities to reduce risk and increase overall growth potential. Invest in both acquisition and retention strategies.
  • 2. Embrace experimentation and learning. Run quick experiments to gather data and make informed decisions about pursuing growth opportunities.
  • 3. Optimize user retention by prioritizing engagement and progress. Leverage gamification mechanics, such as leaderboards and streaks, to motivate users and increase their likelihood of returning.


By combining insights from growth engineering and Duolingo's growth story, companies can gain valuable knowledge on prioritizing the right projects, leveraging gamification mechanics, and optimizing user retention. Sustainable growth is achievable when companies focus on diversification, experimentation, and user-centric strategies. By implementing the actionable advice provided, companies can unlock their full growth potential and thrive in today's competitive landscape.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)