The mechanics of growth with ex-Gmail product manager Itamar Gilad
Exponential growth is what most startups are searching for, and something most entrepreneurs never experience.
Itamar Gilad has spent seven years at Google managing products at Youtube and Gmail and have in both cases experienced what most entrepreneurs are dreaming about: seeing growth in the hundreds of millions of users that genuinely love your product (you’re probably one of them).
This is not an in-depth post on growth, so if you feel you got the basics covered, I suggest you book a private lesson with Itamar. But if that’s not you, please continue reading.
The one metric that matters
The first things Itamar suggests is that you pick one metric to grow.
One of the biggest mistakes companies does, is not choosing exactly what to grow. You have to find the one metric that matter.
Facebook uses MAU’s, Gmail has WAU’s, Whatsapp measures “sent messages”, Airbnb “nights booked”, etc. Find your own metric, and choose it wisely. But make sure that the metric you’re measuring is connected to how much value you’re providing to the users.
1st, 2nd and 3rd tier metrics
When you’ve found the one metric that matter to you and learned how to properly measure it, you should try to discover your KPI’s and your proxy metrics.
The KPI’s (2nd tier metric) include measuring CLV, MRR, CTR, etc. The 3rd tier metric is tougher because it’s very company specific.
As you probably can imagine, it’s a bit tough to ask a team of developers: improve monthly active users, you need to figure out what smaller things are driving growth for your product?
All successful companies have these pivotal moments when they discover a proxy metric that ends up driving much more growth than they anticipated.
- Facebook’s example is that they found that if a user got 7 friends within the first 10 days of signing up to Facebook, they would become MAU’s.
- Airbnb’s example was when they discovered that profiles with nice pictures ware rented much more often than those without good pictures. They started providing professional photographers the users could pay for, and growth skyrocketed.
The only way to find these magic elements is by deep diving into your product, into what you call a discovery phase, and when you find your product market fit, you hopefully know the most effective triggers to your growth.
Find and start your growth engine
So how does this loop of positive feedback from your users look like? And how do you start your growth engine?
First, you got (1.) retention: People that goes through your acquisition funnel, becoming active users and coming back for more. This means that people are finding value in your product.
Then you got (2.) referrals: People that like your product so much that they’ll recommend it to other people in their network. This, word of mouth, is very powerful.
The third one is (3.) revenue: Everything from subscriptions to in-product purchases, etc. That you can sell to your users. The important factor here is that each user generates more revenue than what it costs to get that person through the acquisition funnel.
The only good way to start this engine and get it to run fast is by producing a product that instantly gives value to your users.
A fourth part of the virtues loop is something very few companies manage to really utilize, which is (4.) learning: While the engine is running, you use data from your users and your qualitative insights to learn how people go through the funnel, and how to optimize it to make more people slide through your funnel in a better way.
Template for growth
- Choose one metric that matters to you and your team — let it be your north star.
- Identify proxy metrics and build a growth model
- Picture right growth engines (like above: retention+referrals+revenue)
- Optimize for your OMTM with research and experiments
- Focus on (demonstrable) value to user
REMEMBER: This was a brief rundown of Itamar’s talk, full talk here.
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