Measuring User Engagement Experiences to Drive Product-Led Growth
Part of the concept behind product-led growth is to understand where users are finding value in your product and to drive user engagement upwards. But before you start pointing people in all kinds of different directions, you need to get an overall picture of how people are engaging with your app and where potential points of friction exist.
Measuring user engagement at different points of the user journey can help you create a product adoption experience that focuses on creating value for the customer, thus pushing them through the time-to-conversion funnel a lot quicker.
If you don’t know where to get started, this post is for you.
While I do hope you stick around and read this post, sometimes we’re all in a rush, so here’s the quick TLDR:
- High user engagement = high value = high profitability (and we all like money)
- There’s no magic bullet, discuss with your team what engagement means to you.
- Positive vs negative engagement metrics – track both!
- Build positive UX based on interaction design that creates less friction.
- Don’t underestimate the power of content and customer education.
- Always be learning – talk to you users about what their outcomes are and build better products.
What Is User Engagement?
User engagement is the degree to which users interact with your product, and can act as an indicator of the value they find in it. The more someone spends time within your application, the more opportunities you have to retain them for a longer time period, drive growth, and make them a fan of your brand.
Measuring User Engagement
Measuring user engagement is important as it gives teams insight into the potential profitability of the product. However, what you track will vary and depend on the nature of the product itself.
For example if you run a blog or a news site, you might choose to track the following:
- Number of views per page
- Bounce rate
- Time on page
Meanwhile, for a SaaS product you might be looking at the following:
- MAUs (monthly active users)
- Retention rate
- Average session duration
The first thing you need to do as a team is to decide what engagement means to you, and then derive what ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ engagement looks like.
Within those types of engagements, you then need to also address the customer journey.
That is, what positive or negative indicators can be derived based on how far into the funnel users might be, coupled with their particular user persona. Once you have this all mapped out, you can start devising a set of customer engagement strategies.
What Is Positive User Engagement?
Positive engagement is those actions that drive growth. Again, depending on the nature of your product you could be looking at key actions such as:
- Inviting additional users
- Adding/importing information
- Creating new items
- Creating integrations with third-party applications
These indicate that your user base is actively engaging and expanding their use with your product, thus making way for possible expansion and upgrades.
What Is Negative User Engagement?
Negative engagement are actions which could possibly indicate the user is losing interest in your product, such as:
- Deleting users
- Downgrading their plan
- Removing information
- Silencing notifications
It’s important to keep track of these negative engagement patterns as it could help you prevent churn.
💡 Of course, a caveat here: deleting things isn’t necessarily a ‘bad’ thing to do either, so you should take all metrics and analytics within their own context. If you do feel there might be something wrong, this is the perfect opportunity for your customer success team to reach out and offer help!
Identifying your Power Users and Power Features
Once you have identified your product’s positive and negative drivers, you can start identifying power users and power features.
A power user is, in other words, your ideal customer. This is a highly engaged customer that helps drive growth forward, is reaching their ideal goals and outcomes, and challenges you to build a better product by always giving you feedback.
A power feature is a feature that creates immediate value for the customer. This is the “aha moment” they’re looking for that connects their usage of your product with the outcome they’re trying to achieve.
In order for a user to become a power user, you need to really understand what problem they are trying to solve by using your product. The perfect time to identify this is during onboarding, where you can ask key questions like what their current role is, how they found you, and what they hope to achieve:
This will also help you drive their journey not just to the outcome they are trying to achieve, but to those power features that will help them reach that outcome.
By asking the right questions upfront, you can reduce any friction they might have when onboarding. This way you can cater to a very specific journey that will help them reach their end goals, solve their problems, and help them find immediate value in your product.
Improving User Engagement Through UX
The easier you can make the process of allowing the user to get to what they’re trying to achieve, the quicker you can raise positive user engagement metrics.
Having a solid and clean UX can make all the difference. The less friction people have meeting their outcomes and completing key steps, the faster they will find value and stick around.
Good UX isn’t just about making things pretty tough, it’s about making things functional. If you can identify potential points of friction during the customer journey, you can always make improvements to turn those potential negative engagement drivers into positive engagement drivers.
Design heuristics help you identify how to solve a problem quickly and with maximum efficiency, keeping interactions usable throughout.
If your product isn’t usable, forget about having any power users or power features, you’ll just have friction points throughout your entire product.
A few top tips when looking at interaction design to ensure product-led growth:
- Avoid technical jargon – Part of making an application a success is making sure that both primary and secondary users are able to understand how things work. What the user is trying to achieve should match the product’s interface. Nobody using your product should be looking up terminology! If that’s the case, things are too complicated already.
- User control and freedom – Have you ever clicked around too much and then ran into an error? I call it happy trigger fingers. When a user finds themselves at an impasse or clicking an incorrect button, let them back out of it with ease.
- Consistency and standards – I find this to be super important when writing copy. You shouldn’t have multiple words that mean the same thing. Keep things consistent (think ‘delete’, ‘remove’ and ‘trash’).
- Error prevention – Nothing grinds my gears more than an error message that says ‘an error has occurred’. Be sure to provide the user with actual information about what went wrong and how to get help if needed.
- Recognition rather than recall. To maximize usability, reduce the load on memory and recall. Avoid hiding important actions behind menus, and instead present options in a visible way so users don’t have to remember where they are.
- Flexibility and efficiency of use. Accommodate both new and advanced users, but tailor the experience. Provide ways of speeding up workflows, and accelerating users familiar with the system, while guiding those less familiar.
By employing some of these simple interaction design guidelines, you can start pushing user engagement towards growth and prevent churn.
Let’s be honest, nobody likes to use an app that looks poorly structured, takes time to figure out how to use, and has errors all over the place with no guidance as to how to fix them (is it a feature or a bug?).
Improving User Engagement Through Product Experiences
One of the core tenants of a great product is that it caters to users at different points of their product adoption journey.
Speaking of which:
It’s no secret that no two users are alike. You may have users that have never seen your application before, or you may have users that have and are re-onboarding with a new team. Likewise, you may have users that aren’t even primary users, but still hold a lot of weight in whether or not the application will be adopted.
This may sound a bit daunting, but the good news is you can employ different strategies based on different needs.
It’s important to remember that onboarding is not a linear process. Many companies think of onboarding as the first time a user sees their application, but that’s not true.
Onboarding is a continuous process, and even those that are familiar with your product can benefit from a solid onboarding workflow that caters to their own level of knowledge and maturity with your product.
It’s definitely not as complicated as it sounds though!
One way to achieve this is to ask up front what they’re aiming to achieve, what their current role is, and whether or not they want some assisted guidance or want a little bit of extra help along the way.
The more you learn about how different types of users interact and learn how to use your application, the more specific you can make those experiences to get them to see the value in your product faster.
In-App Product Experiences
One way of delighting customers and making sure they’re set up for success is to have a proactive approach rather than a reactive one when they run into a potential issue. In other words, don’t wait for them to contact you, rather offer the help upfront.
If you track potential points of friction, redirect the user to a safe place and explain what happened and offer a workaround.
Here’s an example:
You have a user that is trying to interact with an area of the app they do not have access to. Instead of simply blocking them without explanation, offer a product experience that explains why they are blocked, and how to contact their admin to get a role change.
Immediate upgrade right there 👏
Gamifying User Engagement
Adding gamification to your product is an excellent way of increasing user engagement.
And no, I don’t mean by awarding badges. It’s not 1999.
Instead focus on providing rewards when a user hits certain activation points (i.e., when those ‘power features’ are interacted with.)
This ‘levelling up’ of skills adds a touch of ownership and accomplishment that releases dopamine in the brain, encouraging the user to continue their experience and unlock more rewards as they go.
Userpilot’s customer Kontentino actually increased their new user activation by 10% in their first month using this – pretty cool huh!
Improving User Engagement through Education
I’m a huge believer in the importance of customer education.
Having the right content to support a user’s journey can help shorten their onboarding time and provide quicker time-to-conversion. Having different types of content can also be of great value, not just for current users that are showing interest in your platform, but can also serve as a lead magnet for potential users in the future.
Contextual In-App Help
In order to set up your customers for success, help should be offered where they are – in your product.
Add to your customer’s in-app experience with documentation that is relevant to their needs instead of just presenting a boring user manual that is difficult to sort through.
If I’m reading about setting up integrations, I don’t really want to read about how to create a gif, do I? Context matters!
Most importantly, make sure help is actually easy to find. There is nothing more frustrating than having to look through various layers of links and pages just to find that much needed ‘contact us’ button – sometimes only to find you’ve emailed the wrong team.
To help with that, Userpilot offers an in-app Resource Center – where you can link both interactive experiences, videos and help-docs:
Treat Education as a Product
Education is not static – customers grow and mature the more they use your product, so it’s important to cater to the development of their knowledge with your platform. This puts you in a position to learn and grow from their needs to continuously provide them with material they can use to become better at what they do through the use of your product.
Don’t ever think that because documentation has been written that it is ‘done.’ No product is ever ‘done’ – so why would your help docs be?
In order to add a layer of strategy to your help offering consider the following:
- Don’t just offer information on ‘how’ to do something, but ‘why’ to do something (how x feature helps a user achieve their outcome.)
- Do you really need a how-to on every single interaction?
- Ask yourself, what problem is this piece of content solving for my customer?
- People learn in different ways. Some like to read, some like to watch videos, others like to learn on their own. Is your app prepared to cater to these different styles of learning?
Improving User Engagement Through Feedback
In order to solve the right problems and build a product that creates high engagement and value – ask the people you’re building things for how you can improve things for them.
Building a great product always begins with an assumption – those assumptions are then invalidated by the feedback you collect in order to build an even better version of what you had in mind.
Keep the lines of communication open and encourage your customers to give you feedback about their experience. You can target them in-app, via surveys, emails, or my all-time favorite, through a customer call. Find out what drives them to engage with your product and improve that experience for them!
When asking questions it’s important to phrase the question in a way that focuses on what the user is trying to achieve, not what the product is trying to achieve. That is, focus on how best the product can help your customer, not how your customer can help the product.
These questions could be open-ended (where the user enters free text about their own experience) or closed-ended (based on a scale of some sort).
Here are a few product/UX questions you could ask to elicit feedback from customers:
- Is there anything you feel our product could do better?
- How satisfied are you with the performance/stability of our product? (scale)
- We are looking to solve [problem x] – how would solving this problem with our product be helpful for you?
- How would you rate the usefulness of our product? (scale)
- How does this design make you feel? (multiple choice + text field)
- How easy was it to complete task x? (scale)
How Userpilot Helps With User Engagement Experiences
I’m sure at this point you’re wondering if any of this is realistically achievable. You might even be thinking this sounds amazing, but you have little to no resources to start making changes.
Good news is, we’re here to help.
- If you’re currently stuck with a linear onboarding process with little support to different user journeys, you can quickly create a multi-purpose onboarding experience with no added development resources needed
- Identify potential points of friction by triggering a number of different types of engaging experiences in your product
- Experiment quickly by swapping out old and outdated in-app information for fresh experiences for rapid testing
- Provide on-demand support at scale for self-serve customers via in-app flows and walkthroughs
- Show off use-cases and best practices for new and existing customers
- Aid in delivery of customer education via a custom-built Resource Center.
- Run product research and have a continuous product validation process by running microsurveys
You can achieve all of this (and more) with no-code required, no additional resources, whenever you need it.