How Do You Measure Product Success?

August 23, 2017

Having clear and measurable product goals is the key to defining success and deciding what to build or improve upon next.

When it comes to measuring product success, one could argue that defining which goals the product is trying to achieve is more important than the product itself. For product goals to succeed, team members and stakeholders should be aligned on what success means for your product and rationalize decision-making to optimize the experience around set goals.

So how can you be sure you’re setting the right product goals?

Beware of Vanity Metrics

When defining product success (or failure), vanity metrics like MAU (Monthly Active Users) are thrown around far too often. MAU is often defined as a number of users who have completed at least one event in your app within a 30-day window. The pitfall here is that this can be any event. MAU is an easy metric to quickly rattle off when not further defined, so it can also easily mislead you when measuring the success of your product.

Product goals should instead be centered around a critical event that you want users to complete. 

A strong product goal should be achievable and quantifiable within a given time span and is generally based on three things:

  1. The company’s mission (ex. provide a global online marketplace)
  2. Product features that align with user-validated-needs (ex. instant check out)
  3. Business goals (ex. driving revenue growth)

For example, a critical event for an e-commerce platform could be a new user completing an order within the three days of signing up. Retail giant Home Depot encourages users to order online or via mobile and pick up in store because research has shown that 25% of customers who pick up in store purchase additional items in store.

Or take Uber’s driver-side goal which encourages drivers to complete 25 trips within their first 30 days. Why? Uber understands, through data, that driver attrition rate significantly drops if 25+ trips are made within 30 days.


The Uber driver app and the Uber ride hailing app are products. These products each have an overarching goal, like increasing # of rides per day, and then aligning sub-goals, like decreasing the car arrival time. You can unpack each of these more into sub-goals based on different user types: for example new users, power users, and dormant users. These sub-goals should align with your overarching goal to quantitatively improve the experience over time.

Do product goals ever change?

As your product is refined, your goals and subgoals will need to be refined, too. Your product goal might change after you launch, release a major update, or gather new insights into your user base. Analyzing behaviors of different user segments could help you refine these goals. And when your product goals do change, make sure to clarify this to everyone on the team in order to stay aligned.


    • Define product success via product goals
    • Product goals should be clearly defined, measurable, and actionable over a given time span
    • Communicate product goals across all teams
    • Optimize experience around goal and sub-goals
    • Product goals will change over time

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