Cohort Community Event

PLG Clinic: The Engagement Edition

Picture this: In a world where products compete fiercely for your attention, only a few genuinely engage and become part of your routine. What's their secret? Join Growth Advisor Sara Gattoni as she helps the Parabol team tackle this very question in front of a live audience.

The Case Study

The Product: Parabol is a product that helps teams run retros and sprints.

The ICP: Parabol's ideal customer profiles are scrum masters, agile teams, and engineering leads.

The Challenge: Parabol has a free plan and two paid plans. Most of their users on the free plan uses Parabol to run retros - which happen every two weeks. But is that enough to build a habit and start paying for Parabol?

The Case Study

Engagement Analysis

Finding patterns in user journeys is naturally complex, and only more so with products that require adoption across teams and not just individuals.

Growth Advisor Sara Gattoni recommended these steps to uncover what might be causing user drop-off and how to bring them back into your product:

1. Get specific about your product's job to be done. And don't mistake the natural frequency of usage to be the same thing as the natural frequency of the job to be done. You may optimize for the wrong goal.

2. Identify exactly when a user hits each three key moment: setup, aha, and habit-building moments. Keep this simple and minimal.

3. Work backwards to from habit to setup to improve the user journey. What are the prerequisite for each stage.

4. Habit moments should align with your retention metric.

5. Look at product data to identify the biggest drop off points that lead up to each of these key moments. These represent your biggest opportunities (or problems to fix).

6. Separate new vs current user journeys. You can define new users as people who have not reached the setup moment, and give them a different experience to help them reach setup.

Working backwards to improve engagement

Identify steps and requirements for a user to reach each key moment. Then work backward from the user's habit moment, aha, and then setup. Make sure your habit moment is aligned with a retention metric, and look for big drop-offs within the user's journey.

Parabol's habit moment: run two qualified meetings. This habit moment works because it fulfills two key requirements:

  1. User invited 1+ teammates and successfully used the product together
  2. User used Parabol in a recurring event like a retro or sprint planning


Map out each step of the key moment that a user needs to take in order for them to fully reach a habit moment.

Working backwards to improve engagement

Finding the opportunity (or drop-off)

When going through the product, it became clear that most of the burden was on getting users to the setup moment. There were at quite a few steps that users had to accomplish in order to reach the aha moment of running their first retro with at least one other teammate (aka run one qualified meeting).

Knowing most of the drop-off happened during the setup moment, Sara dove in deeper to look at each step and identify areas to improve.

The first requirement to create an account was easy, especially using authentication through Google.

Finding the opportunity (or drop-off)

Minimize the number of asks in the setup journey

Getting to the second requirement in the setup moment was more challenging, which meant delays getting to the aha moment or users even giving up along the way. A few ideas that Sara had to improve this part were:

  • Ask to invite teammates during this part of the process
  • Ask for access to their calendar to show up in retro invites
  • Schedule a retro and add teammates to the invite
Minimize the number of asks in the setup journey

Focus on getting users to complete key requirements

Put the focus on key requirements. In this case, users needed to start a retro with at least one teammate in order to reach Parabol's aha moment. After creating an account and starting a meeting, the main CTA appears to be to start a meeting with the option to invite teammates a little hidden in the top right corner.

Focus on getting users to complete key requirements

Final takeaways from Sara

Engagement is a huge topic, and hard to cover in a short 30-minute session. The focus in this session with Parabol was on setup and activation because it was a complex journey where the team was likely seeing a lot of drop-off. For other teams struggling with different parts of the engagement journey, here are a few things to think about:

  • How might we add new use cases? (💡Kick off a project with a SWOT analysis?, 💡interact with users in known moments example quarter planning, quarter review, 💡send user stories to users via a blog with dedicated content)
  • How might we increase depth of feature use (# of features that users use within the prod)?
  • How might we increase frequency of feature product use (days/weeks features used)?
  • How might we increase intensity of every feature use (times within a period features used)?

What is a good activation rate?

Ever wonder how well your product is getting users through the setup moment? The Amplitude dev team benchmarked activation rates and found the following results. (Check out more benchmarks by industry, company size, and region here.)


Day 1 activation rate benchmark


Day 7 activation rate benchmark


Day 14 activation rate benchmark

The People

Sara Gattoni
Sara Gattoni

Sara is a Growth PM at SmallPDF. She started her journey in mathematics. After receiving her PhD, Sara eventually went from being a data scientist to a product manager. She currently runs experiments and leads acquisition and engagement initiatives at SmallPDF.

Sara is also a Growth Advisor helping high-growth tech companies better understand their own metrics and analytics practices.

Alicia Cressall
Alicia Cressall

Alicia is a product designer at Parabol. Her passion is designing digital experiences, specializing in systems that put users first. Design is Alicia's outlet to be both creative and logical, making things that are cool while being completely nerdy behind the scenes.

In previous roles, she has enjoyed building user research practices, tackling front-end systems, and mentoring junior designers. Alicia lives and works in Ontario, Canada.

Bruce Tian
Bruce Tian

Bruce is a Data Engineer at Parabol. Before joining Parabol, he worked at Amazon for 7 years, building a delivery platform for Amazon's advertising business. He is a geek on productivity enhancement and lifehacking. Bruce lives in Seattle, WA now but would like to travel around the world.

See you at our next session! 💡

PLG Clinic is a four-week program designed to help growth teams get hands-on coaching and experience with their strategy and experiments. Expert coaches will join and lead sessions, working with a volunteer to show how they would analyze and optimize a live use case.