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Growth hacking: Leading indicators of engaged users (richardprice.io)
33 points by RichardPrice 1605 days ago | hide | past | web | 20 comments | favorite



All of these examples concern social networking products... I would curious to hear more from B2B online services. Tell us more about Salesforce, Atlassian, Zoho, Box...


I believe for enterprise/B2B services sales guys are the "growth hackers" and I believe for them it must be how many million dollar checks you can get over quater/year. However, I'd love to hear from anyone with enterprise sales experience on this topic.


Based on my experience of enterprise s/w sales for about 6-7 years, the answer depends on the ticket size of the deal and service delivery model. If it is SaaS based ($1-$10K p.a) then a lot of what applies to Dropbox applies to your b2b product too. At $15-20K or above you need to have inside sales reps who smile and dial. You start breaking even at this point. when you hit $500K deal sizes its time to bring in the rainmakers. Happy to chat more if you need specific help. buzz me at adass at filepicker.io


WOW. Great article...NOT. All of those "Growth hackers" indicators are just normal activity indicator.

"Someone sign up on my service and does something on my service that's expected of them to do?" BOOM! Leading indicator... No shit Sherlock...

As a marketer I'm getting tired to this buzz word shit around growth hacker...


It's harder than you are suggesting to find a leading indicator of future engagement. You want to find a metric that is relatively foundational, and is going to produce engagement across a variety of dimensions later on (visit frequency, tendency to pay, tendency to add content, tendency to invite others etc).

For instance, when signing up to Facebook, there is a bunch of stuff they want you to do: add friends, invite people, add content like photos, and come back on day 1, day 2, and so on. It turns out that it's the first activity that is more predictive of future engagement than the others, and specifically 7 friends in 10 days is an important threshold. You can't figure that out from your intuition alone, and you definitely can't get the values of # of friends in # of days just by consulting your intuition, or your sense of what's obvious.

At the same time Chamath from Facebook was keen to point out that there was nothing mystical about what the growth team at Facebook did. He said the best way of describing what they did on the growth team is that they:

- Measured things

- Tested things

- Tried things

His main take-away was that one should be extremely rigorous and analytical when thinking about what drives engagement, and not rely on your gut, or company lore.


one should be extremely rigorous and analytical when thinking about what drives engagement, and not rely on your gut, or company lore.

Except the end result is usually the exact same.

A wildly inaccurate model for the sole purpose of impressing advertisers|investors|stakeholders with fancy, meaningless charts.

The conclusions you can draw from these models are either utterly obvious, or false. I'm looking forward to hear about a single example of the opposite.


Every company at the conference was an example of the effectiveness of growth teams. Facebook, LinkedIn, Zynga, Twitter and so on have all found that being rigorous about optimizing their growth models has increased growth and engagement.

They were also at pains to mention that you cannot A/B test your way to a great product. You need deep insight and intuition to build a great product. But once you have a great product, you can help it grow faster by being rigorous about optimizing the drivers of growth.


  "If, on a graph, the plotted data does not match the 
   initial hypothesis, make the line fatter."
   -- J. Meals
Or, to repeat myself, yes, it's rather easy to come up with these models and tweak them to sell your team|book|conference|etc.

I'm still waiting for an example where such a model predicted something non-obvious.


An amusing quote, but I don't think Zuckerberg, Dorsey, Pincus, and the CEOs of the other companies are all being deceived by fatter lines on a graph!


Well, since you seem reluctant to provide an example, I'll try it with a question:

Did Myspace have growth hackers?


Reluctant to provide an example? In my comment above I said that all the companies at the conference were examples of effective growth teams.

I suggest that we respectfully agree to disagree.


Except I didn't ask for "effective growth teams" but for instances of successful "growth hacking" (where the conclusions were not utterly obvious to begin with).


Taken at face value, Dropbox's indicator is particularly interesting:

> ChenLi Wang, who runs the growth team at Facebook [sic: Dropbox?], said that the leading indicator of an engaged Dropbox user is when they put at least one file in one Dropbox folder on one device.

Basically - the leading indicator is any use at all. The other business' all had, relatively, a much higher threshold.

This is probably because Dropbox is immediately useful and stupid-easy to use.

Of course, it's hard to take this at face value since we don't know how everyone is defining an engaged user (and each definition isn't directly comparable to the other services' definitions).


Thanks for the typo correction re. Dropbox - fixed.


I was curious: when optimizing a leading indicator, what sort of effect does that have on said leading indicator?

Presumably there can be a correlation-not-causation effect, and optimizing said indicator wouldn't have as much as an effect on engaged users as it did on the indicator itself. Does anyone know of a situation where they had an increase in the leading indicator but none in engaged users? Might the relationship change over time?


It's a good question. You need to find a leading indicator that really is causal of engagement, and not just tangentially correlated with it.

Chamath stressed how critical it is to both minimize the time it takes to deliver a user their first 'Aha' moment, and then to continue to deliver those moments as regularly as possible. Presumably how many friends you have is causal, to some degree, of those 'Aha' moments - I expect that many of the 'Aha' moments on FB are to do with seeing cool content from your friends.

Nabeel also mentioned that it's also important to have various KPI metrics that you are aware of. His view was that there should be one over-arching operational metric that is broadly predictive of future engagement, and that the growth team should focus on that, but that, for any given tactic that you try out, you should be aware of its effect on a number of KPIs.


I thought this was going to be 'leading indicators of enraged users'... which would be a pretty interesting thing to get analytics on to identify user pain.

Erratic mouse movements, page refreshes, etc ;)


It would actually be good to be able to get leading indicators of enraged users too!


What do people use for onboarding?


The great thing about "user engagement" is it means whatever you want it to!




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