Given the COVID-driven market changes, keeping an eye on how users are engaging with your product is more crucial than ever. Doing so can help you answer critical questions, such as which features are driving the most value, where users are getting stuck, and how frequently customers are interacting with your application. The answers to all of these are invaluable for crafting an effective product strategy for these difficult times and beyond.

One metric that encompasses multiple measures of user engagement is the product engagement score or PES. By tracking this number, you can quickly identify positive changes and potential areas of concern when it comes to user activity within your application.

What is the product engagement score?

PES is the average of three factors that reflect users’ level of interaction with your product. The first is adoption, or the percentage of users or accounts using key features in your product, represented by any or all of your Core Events. The second is stickiness, which is the 30 day rolling average of the percentage of monthly active users who return either daily (DAU/MAU) or weekly (WAU/MAU). The third is growth, calculated as your user or account growth rate for the chosen time period, compounded to the annual growth rate.

How do I calculate my PES?

Calculating your product engagement score is actually pretty easy. Once you know your adoption, stickiness, and growth values, simply enter them into this formula: (Adoption + Stickiness + Growth) / 3.

Boosting your PES

Since PES is an amalgamation of adoption, stickiness, and growth, tactics that increase one of these factors (or even all three) will have a positive impact on your score. Here are three product strategies that can drive improvements in your product engagement score.

1. Identify high-value features and where/when your users are interacting with them

This is all about uncovering those “a-ha” moments that lead to delighted, engaged users who keep coming back. Of course, this is easier said than done. The first step to success in this endeavor is to implement robust product analytics. If you don’t have access to accurate product data, you’ll never be able to determine which features are associated with positive user outcomes. In fact, you’ll be completely in the dark when it comes to your most (and least) popular features.

Additionally, you must invest in truly understanding your customers, both within and outside of the context of your product. Is what your users are saying about your product matching up with how they’re actually using your product? Both quantitative data and qualitative feedback are incredibly valuable here. Talk to your customers and learn about their most pressing pain points. Ask them for suggestions, feedback, and feature ideas. You don’t have to say yes to every request, but every request will give you a little more information on how users perceive your product.

Recommended resources

Building a 360 Customer View Through Digital and Physical Channels” by Pouya Jamshidiat

To build a comprehensive understanding of your customer, you need to bring in data from both digital and physical sources. One or the other just isn’t enough to identify your product’s real value-drivers.

How to become a data-driven product manager

In this e-book, ten product leaders from various industries share what being data-driven means to them, and how they’ve developed their analytical skills over the course of their careers.

2. Make your product part of your users’ workflow

Isn’t the dream of every product team to build something their users can’t live without? Even if that dream is unlikely to become a reality, you can at least drive toward frequent usage and product “stickiness.” The more your users rely on your product to complete their daily tasks, the more likely they’ll be to engage with it on a regular basis (in an ideal world, daily).

This means your application needs to offer consistent value to your users. Product features need to align with actual user needs, and the overall experience must be seamless and intuitive. If your users can’t find the functionality they’re looking for, they’ll get frustrated and stop coming back. Make sure you consistently guide your users to high-value features and offer helpful in-app tips to lead them to the desired result.

It’s also important to dig into which areas need the most attention. In terms of growth, are you struggling to add new users, or keep the ones you have? By understanding whether growth is more challenged by a lack of users trying your product or increased churn from existing users, you’ll be better able to determine the right strategy. Start by defining what an activated user looks like, as well as the milestones that drive successful onboarding, adoption, and long-term usage.

Recommended resources

Fostering Stickiness and Retention in a Changing Educational Landscape” by Samantha Karp

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the educational landscape changed rapidly. Here’s how one edtech company fostered stickiness and retention in this “new normal.”

Interactive product benchmarks

Is your product’s stickiness average? Below average? Best-in-class? What about your NPS? Use this interactive product benchmarks tool to find out.

3. Invest in your onboarding process

Your users will get onboarded whether you curate the onboarding experience or not. So, you might as well make the most of the process and design it with long-term user satisfaction in mind. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Successful onboarding drives new users to those “a-ha” moments or the personal realization of a product’s value proposition or fulfillment of marketing’s promise. In the definition of PES above, these “a-ha” moments are represented by your product’s Core Events.

There are three steps to effective onboarding, each of which should be crafted carefully. First is the “welcome and orientation” step, which should include an introduction to the app and an orientation on how to access the pages and areas needed to complete key tasks. Next up is “configuration,” aka set up, followed by “payoff tasks” (a-ha moments).

Recommended resources

Getting started with in-app onboarding

This how-to guide takes you through building onboarding guides, using tooltips to call out useful features, and ensuring new users find value in your product quickly.

The Psychology of Onboarding” by Kavir Kaycee

The goal of onboarding is to guide users to value in your product quickly, then keep them coming back. A bit of psychology can be helpful for both purposes.

Want to learn more about your product engagement score and what that number means? Take this interactive product engagement assessment for more information and additional resources.

About the Author

Sara is a content marketing manager at Pendo. As a Midwest native, she’s slowly but surely getting used to East Coast life — typically by searching for her latest favorite restaurant in NYC.