How To Select Product Metrics For Different Purposes - Product Science Journal #26

Some key principles for great product leadership that I try to follow include: be candid and humble, make time for reflection, and continuously adapt and improve. Read these articles for deeper context.

How To Select Product Metrics For Different Purposes - Product Science Journal #26

Hey there!

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about how product leaders can identify and evangelize the right metrics to set them and their teams up for high-growth. My core beliefs around it - that each product team should have one and only one north star metric, that product teams should pick a metric that most closely and quickly measures the growth of the user's received value, and that teams should  measure their success on both learnings and progress towards moving that metric - have so far withheld several years of new arguments and evidence and content around data-driven product development.

But oh boy is there a lot of new, rich content out there about metrics. A search on engagement and retention metrics surfaces lots of new evidence and stories to guide today's new product development. I read through some of this recently looking for the best articles to guide my team and my clients as we pick our north star metrics, set up data analytics to track and report on them, and work to set expectations within and outside of our team on what values we might expect from them.

Here are some of my favorites and my thoughts on what to take away from them. If you've got other favorites, please reply and send them my way!

Let's geek out together,


How to Increase Growth Through Retention Analysis


This is a great detailed article that tells you a lot about the types of retention analysis that are common in the tech industry. It gets my inner math geek very excited. That said, I don't agree that on the engagement vs retention plot you can universally say you want the upper right quadrant, which is labeled addiction. The term is only relevant for B2C, I'd argue, and I far prefer utility and value delivered over engagement for the sake of engagement. For everyone's long-term health, please make sure your product passes Nir Eyal's Regret Test before you aim towards that quadrant.

The Only Product Metric that Matters by Josh Elman

Mind the Product

So the truth is, I’ve shared this one before. But it remains my favorite article about selecting a metric for your product team to focus on. It’s based on a talk given by Josh Elman at Mind the Product. Josh has worked at Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and is now a VC at Greylock, so he has a lot of experience influencing his perspective. He argues that benchmarks aren’t very useful - what’s a good number in one situation may be poor in another. You have to dive into to understand the core action and core value that your users are seeking, and then identify if you are measuring that.

Building a Business is Hard Work, Make Sure You Are Getting Credit

Better Everyday

There is a difference between what metrics you should you pick as your north star metric for high-growth product development, and what metrics investors and business leaders will ask about and expect to see. So as product leaders, it's our job to evangelize the product metrics that we want people to focus on, and explain how focusing on these metrics will set up the product love that we need to drive growth in the other metrics. Rob Go, CoFounder at Next View VC, explains this very well in this piece.

Join Me for an Upcoming Workshop to Learn Exactly How I Pick North Star Metrics

At my workshops, we walk through my step-by-step process for designing and executing great product research, building a high-growth hypothesis, picking a north star metric, and working with team members and decision makers throughout your organization. Early-Bird Tickets are still available to join me June 13 & 14th in NYC

Other Recent Articles and Podcasts

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Irma Mesa for the Elevatd Life podcast, where we discussed my journey from chemical engineering to product as well as what I like to do outside of work - I share some details I've not shared in an interview before!Also, I'm amazed to say we're 12 episodes into The Product Science Podcast, and it continues to be a true pleasure for me. If you've been listening, I'd love to hear from you about what you've liked so far and what you'd like to see more of!Recent episodes have included:The Melissa Perri Hypothesis: Escaping the Build Trap Requires Transforming Product Management Processes From Top to BottomThe Laura Klein Hypothesis: The Illusion of Certainty Is a ProblemThe Daniel Elizalde Hypothesis: IoT Product Leaders Create Products That People Trust

Brought to you by H2R Product Science

Our team at H2R Product Science partners with startup founders and product leaders to share The Product Science Principles and the accompanying framework, the Product Science Method, which I've developed over my time in tech startups. Through our coaching and consulting work, we help our clients figure out which product growth opportunities they should pursue and build the product management skill to deliver on their goals.Reach out if you'd like to explore working together.

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