Your team's relationship with metrics: More than just a compass

Don't use metrics just to measure product progress, use them to improve team communication and culture

Hey everyone :)
Welcome to this year's last edition! Hope everyone is safe, healthy and busy (but not too busy).

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, disagreements and ideas on Twitter/LinkedIn

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I've recently been getting questions regarding all sorts of things related to metrics. In this edition I've prepared a brief checklist that will help you pick the right metrics and show you how implement them so they can be used by everyone in your team. By the end of this edition, every single team member will be more empowered to ideate, implement, and communicate features that will push the product forward.


Picking the right metrics

My advice for pre product market fit startups is to pick a primary metric that reflects you are delivering recurring value to your users. Usually these are DAU/MAU if you’re social, Monthly recurring revenue if you're offering a subscription or other form of transaction.

Later we can work backwards to develop a second set of metrics which will help paint a clearer picture. Later stage startups with multiple teams can develop a primary metric for each key moment in your product's lifecycle.

Here's a three step checklist on building your primary metric. Share this process with designers and engineers in your team:

  • Find a metric which shows that you are delivering real value to your users. What's the AHA! moment? This is different for every product. Ex: Uber would have something related to rides. AirBnB would be bookings...

  • Add a timeframe. For early stage products it might be best to pick something closer to your usage interval. Ex: Number of rides PER Week.

  • Avoid absolute numbers. They usually end up creating more questions and confusion. Ex: "We have 1,000 users" means absolutely nothing. How many of them are actively engaged? How many converted? How long have they been around? Are they all from the same cohort?

You're done!

  • The metric you've developed is comparable, we can use it to measure progress.

  • Understandable by anyone

  • Accurately reflects if you're repeatedly delivering value to your users.

We can then supplement it with 1 - 3 secondary metrics that will help you paint a clearer picture. These can be churn, retention, NPS or another ratio in your funnel.

What happens next?

Here's my controversial take: If you are only used to implement features that come from someone else, then you are being vastly underutilized.

Every single team member should be capable of monitoring and understanding user problems, communicating them and measuring their impact. This is where metrics come in, they let everyone own and improve a slice of the user's journey.

The biggest "Product Hack" I've implemented in 2020 was coaxing my team members to come up and own with their ideas. Co-creation means everyone feels empowered to implement and monitor their idea to fruition.

As always, if any questions popped up feel free to reach out. I'd be happy to help!

🌍 Cool links from around the web

The founder's guide to actually understanding users - 9 minute read

Mike does a great job in tying it all together: How to conduct quality user interviews, continuous discovery and the most important ingredients: time and humility.

The crazy year that was 2020 through the lens of the App Store charts - 9 minute read

How has 2020 affected downloads on the Appstore? I saw myself in many of the charts, it's fascinating how the pandemic has been among many things… possibly the largest cultural phenomenon yet.

The ultimate guide to unbundling Reddit

"There are only two ways to make money in business: One is to bundle; the other is to unbundle." Watch Greg Isenberg attempt to bundle a subreddit into a profitable business.

The Best Web Analytics Tool

Great resource to keep handy. Unfortunately all three proposed tools are very quant driven. I'd add some qualitative analytics tools into the mix to supplement. Ex: Windsor.io, HotJar, FullStory…

That's it for this edition 😉 What did you think of the new format? What would you like to see more? less? Hit `Reply` with a specific question on product, growth or anything startup related and i'll be happy to offer my thoughts. 🚀

Wishing you the bestest new year.



Jonathan