From Metrics that Matter to Products that Matter
Editor’s note: As a follow up to the article from Ashley Sefferman that was written for the 280 Group blog last month, this month we’ve invited Roger Snyder from 280 Group to discuss how to turn the data these metrics provide into real insights to better manage your product strategy.
In last month’s article, we learned about 25 different mobile product metrics that can help you better understand customer activity and engagement, conversion and retention, and revenue sources.
These metrics provide valuable information about how your product is really being used by your customers, but how do you develop a strategic perspective on the overall health and progress of your product, and more importantly, what actions should you take from what you learn? We’ll cover that and more in today’s post.
Start from a Strategic, Customer-Centric Perspective
In our product management training and consulting practice, we always begin by coaching product managers to start from a strategic perspective. This strategic perspective should include two dimensions: your customers’ needs and satisfaction, and your business goals.
Start first with the real value you are delivering to your customers.
What problem are you solving for them, or what kind of entertainment are you providing them? The ultimate success of your application or service depends on satisfying, even delighting your customers. So, when looking at these metrics, it shouldn’t be just about your product’s performance or health, it should be about whether your customer is satisfied or not. It’s a subtle difference, but the perspective shift is crucial—when you view these metrics with the ultimate goal of increasing customer satisfaction, you will naturally gain the healthy consequence of improved business success, and a more useful product.
For example, when considering session length, the simple view is that longer is better, because the customer is more engaged with your application. But if your customer is frustrated with a challenging user experience, this increased time may actually be leading to lower customer satisfaction. So, in this case, you should consider what parts of your user experience should be short, reflecting an easy, intuitive user experience, and what parts should be long, where the customer is enjoying the experience, or being productive. To properly understand the real customer value associated with session length, you need to create a more detailed metric that scores lower when admin or setup tasks take a long time, yet scores higher for the productive or rewarding parts of the user experience.
No less important are your business goals.
Are you trying to increase your user base, or increase revenue? Is your revenue coming from advertising, in-app purchases, a monthly subscription, or some combination of these? The mobile metrics here are more obvious, yet it’s still important to include them explicitly in your dashboard, so that you are always keeping your eye on achieving your business goals.
Look at the Big Picture
Now that you’ve got a strategic perspective, you also need to consider the larger context of your application. While mobile product metrics are a powerful source of information, the savvy product manager can learn even more by combining these metrics with other sources of market and competitive research.
Here are two examples to show how this works.
First, let’s consider the world of casual gaming.
This is a very competitive market, where you need to look for every possible source of competitive edge. To start, as you consider key mobile metrics like in-app purchase revenue, session length (the good kind), and daily active users (DAU), you should first use competitive and market data to establish benchmarks to compare against. For your particular gaming experience, and your target market segments, what are aggressive but achievable goals to set, based on what similar games are achieving?
Next, look at other market data to consider other goals you’d like to achieve. If your game appeals to subway riders, look for market data on the average time a rider spends on the subway per day, and how much of that time they spend gaming. Can you add features to your game that make the game more interesting during these times of day, then measure whether your usage in these prime times increases as a result of these new features? But since you know that the average time is, say, 20 minutes, you then know that when you get close to reaching this maximum time, you’ve done your best—and that it’s time to look for other occasions for use to further increase overall usage. If you haven’t done your research about what’s a reasonable goal, you’ll never know if you’ve “gotten there.”
Second, consider how to put mobile metrics to work when you are coming from the other direction.
You must uncover an unmet need in your market research or “voice of the customer” research.
For example, have you noticed the recent rise in usage and advertising in cash-sharing apps like VenMo and Zelle? If you offer a financial services app, and your own customer research shows that this is becoming an unmet need, or market research identifies a significant segment of your market interested in this feature, you can turn to your mobile metrics for even more insight.
In this case, you could look at session interval, time-in-app, and perhaps task flows, to see if your users are using your app to look up an account balance, switching out of your app to perform a cash transfer using another app, then returning to your app. Is time-in-app dropping, along with a rise in more, shorter session intervals?
This could show that users are using your application in conjunction with another one to complete the real task they want to perform.
To learn more, you could use a feature of the Apptentive tools to ask your customers directly whether they want better integration of your app with these cash-sharing apps, or perhaps even see this feature added to your application. Combining “traditional” market research, mobile product metrics, and direct customer interaction tools like Apptentive brings together a much more powerful set of insights to guide your product plans.
Now It’s Your Turn!
Hopefully you’ve learned a little more about the power of mobile metrics, and how to incorporate them into the processes you use to develop your product strategy and planning efforts.
Here’s a suggested recipe to put them into practice for your business:
- Start from a strategic perspective—what are your business goals, and what are the key sources of customer benefits that you want to deliver?
- For these goals and benefits, build a dashboard of no more than 6-10 key mobile product metrics that will help you track whether you are achieving your business goals, and delivering key customer benefits. Remember that some metrics, like session length, may need a deeper consideration to make sure you’re truly understanding what the metric is telling you about customer satisfaction.
- Don’t forget to combine mobile product metrics with other sources of market research and competitive analysis to get the bigger picture. It’s in this combination that new insights can come to light, turning data into actionable strategic decisions.
- Lastly, don’t go it alone. As product managers, you do need to be on top of many facets of your product and business, but you don’t have to be an expert at everything. Get help from data scientists, market researchers, and analytics experts to put all of this together. If you can be articulate about #1, the whole team can help you build the full view.
I hope you find these thoughts helpful and are able to put them into practice for your own products! For more great insights and best practices, visit 280 Group’s product management blog and download our free product management resource collection.