Now that I’ve told you to measure what matters, let’s talk about what that means.
A good place to start is by asking, what does success look like? It varies with every product. Let’s look at a few examples:
An e-commerce site.
When I worked at Become.com, a price comparison engine, we bought traffic from Google and other search engines and then sent that traffic to one of our participating merchants. We defined success as spending less money to acquire the traffic than we received to send the traffic to a merchant. If we could do that over and over again, we were in business.
We obsessed over things like what we paid to acquire traffic, our click through rates out to merchants (where we got paid), and keeping our cost-per-click (to the merchant) competitive while maintaining our margins. This business doesn’t leave a lot of room for error.
From a product standpoint, our success funnel looked something like this:
- Click on a SEM ad.
- View a product page
- Click out to a merchant
We invested heavily in optimizing our search engine marketing strategy. This was the top of the funnel. We also optimized our product pages like nobody’s business. I used to dream about click-through-rates. Our goal was to get you to a merchant as soon as possible.
A community management platform.
At Affinity Circles, where we built white-label community software, we were focused on engagement. We helped university alumni associations engage their members. Our funnel looked something like this:
- Opened an email.
- Visited the site
- Consumed some content
- Commented on content
- Created content.
We tracked each step of the way and worked to move people through the funnel. We also tried to increase the activity at each step along the way. How could we get you to consume more? Comment on more? Create more?
A classic job board.
At my current company, AfterCollege, we help college students find their first job or internship. We define success as simply as, did you get a job through our service? Our funnel looks something like this:
- View a job
- Apply to a job
- Get an interview
- Get hired
And just like in the other examples, we focus on moving people through the steps and sometimes increasing the activity at individual steps.
Applying it to your product.
Okay, now you do it. What behavior, if it happened over and over again, would make your product a success?
Take a page out of Stephen Covey’s book, begin with the end in mind and work your way backwards.
Share what you come up with in the comments below.