Measuring Product Success: Unleashing the Power of Customer Value Metrics

Sep 27, 2023

Organizations strive to deliver maximum value to their customers. Product professionals, in particular, are constantly seeking ways to maximize the value of their offerings. However, estimating, tracking, measuring, and steering value can be a daunting task. Many organizations still rely on project-based development approaches, mistakenly assuming that project management frameworks are interchangeable with product management frameworks. This often leads to falling into the "Build Trap," where success is measured in terms of outputs rather than outcomes.

Product-led companies, on the other hand, optimize for outcomes. They align their product strategy with specific goals, actively track and manage product performance, and use the right product analytics and value metrics to measure success. In this article, we will explore the three tiers of value metrics that can help you effectively measure and improve the success of your digital products.

Tier 3: Vanity Metrics

Vanity metrics are often referred to as the "feel-good" metrics that can boost a product team's ego. These metrics include the quantity of social media followers, the number of views of a promotional video, or the popularity of a product's user-discussion space. While these metrics may create a sense of accomplishment, they provide little actionable insight into the actual value your product delivers to customers.

For example, imagine your product has a chat area where users can engage in discussions. It may seem impressive if this chat area receives a high number of comments and views. However, this engagement does not necessarily indicate how well your product is resonating with customers or its potential success in the market. The chat area might be attracting users who are more interested in general discussions rather than the specific value your product offers. These vanity metrics can be misleading and divert your attention from the true measures of success.

To avoid falling into the vanity metrics trap, it is essential to focus on metrics that provide concrete data about revenue, customer retention, acquisition, and the size of your user base.

Tier 2: Proxy Metrics

Proxy metrics are indicators that can suggest something about your product's potential success, but they do not directly represent evidence of how your product will resonate with users. These metrics are useful when you are in the early stages of product development and do not yet have a product on the market.

For instance, you might collect data on the level of user engagement and interest in your product surveys, the number of prospects who take action showing interest in your product (such as downloading a document), or the ideas for features generated by prospects or customers. While these metrics can provide valuable insights into user preferences and potential market demand, they do not guarantee product success.

To derive meaningful insights from proxy metrics, it is crucial to analyze the data in conjunction with other factors such as past feedback, market performance, and the overall product strategy. These metrics should not be the primary focus but rather serve as supporting indicators.

Tier 1: Business and Customer Metrics

The most valuable metrics for measuring product success are the business and customer-oriented metrics. These metrics provide direct data about how your product performs in the market and how it contributes to your business goals. They are the true indicators of your team's success in executing the product strategy.

When defining tier 1 metrics, it is essential to align them with your business needs, goals, and target market. These metrics should capture concrete data such as revenue, customer retention, acquisition, and user satisfaction. Some examples of tier 1 metrics include:

  1. Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR): This metric measures the predictable revenue generated by your product on a monthly basis. It provides insights into the financial health and growth potential of your business.

  2. Average Revenue Per User (ARPU): ARPU calculates the average revenue generated by each user. It helps you understand the value your product delivers to individual customers and can guide pricing and monetization strategies.

  3. Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): CLTV measures the total revenue generated by a customer over their entire relationship with your business. It helps you assess the long-term value of your user base and informs decisions related to customer acquisition and retention.

  4. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): CAC quantifies the cost of acquiring new customers. By comparing it with the CLTV, you can determine the effectiveness of your customer acquisition strategies and optimize your marketing efforts.

  5. Active User Percentage: This metric measures the percentage of users who actively engage with your product within a specific time frame. It gives you insights into user engagement and the overall health of your user base.

  6. Churn Rate: Churn rate calculates the percentage of customers who stop using your product over a given period. It is a crucial metric for measuring customer retention and identifying factors that lead to user attrition.

  7. Acquisition Rate: Acquisition rate measures the rate at which your product acquires new customers. It helps evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing and sales efforts and informs growth strategies.

  8. Client Retention Rate: Client retention rate calculates the percentage of customers who continue using your product over a specific period. It reflects customer loyalty and satisfaction with your product.

By focusing on these tier 1 metrics, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your product's performance, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to drive success.


Measuring the success of your digital products requires moving beyond vanity metrics and proxy metrics and focusing on the tier 1 metrics that truly reflect the value your product delivers to customers and your business. By aligning these metrics with your product strategy and business goals, you can gain valuable insights into user behavior, optimize your product offerings, and make informed decisions to drive growth and profitability.

Remember that measuring product success is an ongoing process. Continuously track and analyze the relevant metrics, adapt your strategies based on the insights gained, and stay responsive to changing user needs and market conditions. By harnessing the power of customer value metrics, you can unlock the full potential of your digital products and achieve long-term success in the competitive business landscape. Check out our Product Strategy & Leadership course to learn more!

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