Are your customers consistently using the features you’ve launched? Those features the team worked so hard to bring to life will not do anyone any good if they’re just collecting virtual dust. Employ these strategies to investigate and monitor the adoption of key features over time.

As you work together with the broader organization to achieve success metrics, such as a certain percentage increase in annual recurring revenue, it’s critical to consider how your product can help your team reach these goals. Pendo CEO Todd Olson describes north star metrics as lagging indicators. “They are important for measuring output and outcomes,”  he explains in his book The Product-Led Organization, “but they don’t allow you to make course corrections between reporting periods. Product teams need to measure and set goals around leading indicators. This means going a level deeper to identify the operational measures within your product that correlate with positive business outcomes.” 

Adoption of key features is an excellent leading indicator to monitor. The principles below will help you to strategically translate this measure into successful product outcomes.

Start with the Problem 

Begin by taking a step back and framing the problem that the overall product and recent launches are trying to solve for your customers. For example, Heap’s mission is to power their customers’ business decisions with truth – in the form of useful data. Companies can easily integrate Heap into a product stack to gain insights into the full customer journey within their products. This provides organizations with transparency into not only macro-level product engagement performance but also a deeper understanding of engagement at the user level. Heap addresses the pain point of not knowing whether users are engaging with and deriving value from the product, including usage of specific features. Without such a product analytics tool, organizations would have to gather this data through direct communications with users or high-level website analytics. 

Articulate the Impact

With the problem statement in focus, you can delve deeper into the impact your product and features will drive for users. In Mind the Gap, Heap’s VP of Engineering David Fullerton articulates that Heap’s product suite enables customers to track key user insights such as the number of trials created, conversion rate, and percentage of accounts with N+ interactions per month. These metrics are valuable guideposts to monitor user journeys and assess performance over time.

Heap was able to analyze its own product usage data and determine that the accounts with at least five users querying data were most likely to continue using Heap. This golden insight provided a powerful leading indicator directly correlated to business outcomes. Furthermore, once communicated more broadly within the organization, teams were able to rally to help their customers reach the milestone of five or more users querying Heap. Such insights empower customers to discover the treasured user behaviors that result in positive business impacts, and align towards guiding users accordingly. 

Analyze and Take Action

Dig into your product usage metrics to understand feature adoption within your customer base. Keep in mind the problem your product is solving and the associated impact on customers’ business outcomes. Which features are best positioned to drive the desired impacts? Do the product metric reports show that these features are currently being used? If not, which features are the ones that are actually used? 

Next, analyze the potential reasons for why the engagement is currently performing in this way. If engagement is low or non-existent for certain features, then there could be a gap in raising awareness about those features. Alternatively, you might observe a different set of features that are performing relatively better. Both scenarios provide great direction for further user research and help inform the go-forward strategy. For example, maybe the most valuable features are actually different from those you were initially investigating. In that case, the strategy would be to divert investments accordingly.

Finally, take action. By framing key user engagement metrics in the context of business outcomes, you can more easily rally the organization to improve performance for your product’s key leading indicator. This, in turn, will contribute towards the positive business outcomes that every team, across departments, is striving for.

About the speaker
Bharat Manglani ZEFR, Senior Product Manager Contributor

Bharat Manglani is a Product Manager at ZEFR, which focuses on powering the age of responsible marketing. He started his career with 10 years as a technology strategy consultant and then pivoted into the technology sector to pursue his passion for managing the end-to-end product lifecycle. In his prior role at HUMAN (formerly White Ops), he managed the customer facing portal which empowers users to mitigate sophisticated fraud across their advertising, marketing and application ecosystems.