North Star Metric Jam Sessions
So you found your product's North Star Metric, but how does that translate into growth? Ana Oarga and Raz Burciu tackle this very question in this North Star Metric jam session - the Growth Experiment edition. Get a step-by-step walkthrough to identify your next growth experiment that ties back to your North Star.
“Growth experiments are targeted activities that help (in)validate a hypothesis. They are great for finding high-performing solutions while course-correcting from human bias that could lead the group in the wrong direction.”
The Goal: Run experiments that directly influence those vital input metrics that roll up to your North Star. Think of it as giving the compass (your North Star metric) the right nudge, consistently.
The Problem: Teams are drowning in to-dos. And not every shiny experiment aligns with your broader goal. Teams need a better way to filter out distractions and steer clear of work that doesn't amplify the North Star.
The Hypothesis: Before you dive into the pool of experimentation, know where you're diving and why. A clear, actionable hypothesis gives teams direction. The better our hypothesis, the more precise our experiments, and the clearer our path to nudging that North Star in the right direction.
Step-by-step to go from hypothesis to experiment
Ever felt your growth experiments don't align with larger outcomes? You're not alone in this. It's not merely about executing tests. Start with a grounded hypothesis based on user needs. This guide will help you ensure that your experiments not only run but also drive genuine product progress. Let's explore this step by step.
Identify the problem and key metric
Start by choosing the problem you're currently dealing with in the product and the metric you want to move.
The Just Mad team presented a case study using an audiobook app where 80% of users cancelled their subscription within the free trial period. The metric the product team wanted to move was improving the conversion rate between free trial to paid users.
Map the user journey to get to the desired outcome
Map out the user journey from the key starting event to the desired outcome. Track steps that users deliberately need to take, and keep an eye on key steps that link to critical moments like setup, aha, and habit building in your product.
In the audiobook app example, the team only has seven days to prove to a user that they want to start paying for the app.
Generate insights to start refining the hypothesis
Insights can come from a number of different sources. The team's experience will always be a valuable resource. Other places to look as your team builds this insights-muscle are:
- Behavioral data - what do users who hit your desired outcome do? What are the paths they take to get there? And what is the frequency of use from these users? What are the habits they build to achieve this level of frequency?
- Competitor insights - what are your competitors offering and testing in their product's experience? How are they making their product stickier and offering more value?
- User research - what are users saying they like about the product? What problems are they solving that keeps them coming back?
Write out your hypothesis (hopefully with fewer assumptions)
Now that you've invested in gathering evidence, you're in a stronger place to come up with a hypothesis on why the problem in your product exists.
In the audiobook app example, the team is seeing a big drop off in free trial users, with only 20% of them converting into paying users. The team's hypothesis is 80% of free trial users don't have enough time to click with the app's value proposition so they walk away rather than pay.
Generate insights to start refining the hypothesis
And now the fun part, coming up with the experiment. Most teams actually start here and this is where they get into trouble - they start testing ideas without taking the time to define the problem and build a specific, actionable hypothesis.
In the audiobook app example, the team put more meat behind their experiment by thinking through:
- Helping free trial users stay engaged long enough to reach their aha moment in the app.
- The original success metric of improving free trial to paid subscription conversion rates.
- Any trade-offs they may encounter to think through whether the team needs to put up guardrail metrics. In this experiment, because the team is adding more steps in the onboarding experience, they expect to see a bigger gap in time between sign up to the user's first event in the app.
Final Takeaways from Ana and Raz
Following a structured process for your experiments will help you build strong habits that will lead to a stronger culture of experimentation within the team.
One area that teams will naturally struggle with is how to prioritize their experiments. Once you get to this point, build out a prioritization matrix that breaks down experiments by probability of success and lift. The key is to have a mix of risky and conservative experiments to ensure you're seeing stable growth while you look for new growth vectors. More details and a sample prioritization matrix can be viewed here.
Just Mad's co-founder, Ana, is all about creativity, diversity, innovative ideas and striking, bright colours. After 5 years of working in the tech field across corporate, agency, and start-up environments for both B2B and B2C businesses, she has gathered extensive knowledge at the intersection of design, product development and business. Great with numbers and people, Ana believes that value is measured in revenue, conversions and happy users. As a certified UX specialist and Design Sprint facilitator, Ana helps companies deliver tangible results for their customers and bring digital products to market and beyond.
Just Mad's co-founder, Raz, revolves around the phrase “What if?”. With over 7 years of experience in the product design field, his work resides at the crossroads of business, creative direction and innovation. He believes that the worst place to be stuck in is your own comfort zone. As a certified UX specialist and Design Sprint facilitator, he helps companies accelerate the innovation process and scales forward thinking businesses.
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