To optimize your product, you need to test how it currently performs and then implement possible changes that could lead to improvements. The only way to do this is by measuring product success metrics.

What Is Meant By “Product Metrics”?

There are many types of product metrics. The most basic are the easiest to measure, but these tell you nothing about how users are interacting with your product. For a more in-depth understanding, you need to measure user engagement metrics. These tell you how often users engage with your product and the intensity of the interactions. As they provide you with a quantitative measurement, they are also a reliable source of data.

However, even then, the data is only useful if you use the right metrics for your product. What are the right metrics differs for every product, as you have your own distinct criteria as to what constitutes as user engagement.

This is where HEART from Google comes in.

What Are Google HEART Metrics?

Google HEART metrics tell you about the quality of the user experience. There are no specific HEART metrics, rather you select the right ones for your product based on the HEART framework.

H = Happiness

Happiness UX metrics measure how users feel about your product, including how well it meets their needs, how easy it is to use, and its net promoter score. Emotions are difficult to measure by examining behavior, but it is far from impossible when you use surveys and interviews.

A common mistake is focusing too much on whether the user is simply happy with the product. In fact, you need to go a step further and determine whether users feel that they are gaining value from the product.

You should decide how you will determine that users are gaining maximum value from your product. A behavior that indicates maximum value could be a certain amount of usage, a particular number of times (per day, week, or month) that users interact with your product, or whether users recommend the product to someone else. Set these as your quality metrics. When a user reaches the value point, you have activation. Bear in mind that value points may differ according to buyer persona.

Use the findings from your happiness metrics to:

  • Set goals to improve satisfaction from your product.
  • Find areas to improve.

E = Engagement

After happiness, you have engagement. This is all about how much the user engages with your product after activation. Engagement is easier to measure than happiness, as it includes several of the key metrics in business products, including frequency, intensity, and quality of interactions. Examples include visits, specific actions taken within a timeframe, and amount of time spent using the product.

It is important to understand that engagement is separate from activation — if you’re unclear, you may be measuring one but calling it the other. To summarize: activation is when a user reaches a value; engagement is ongoing interactions with your product, which show that the product continues to be valuable to the user.

Use the findings from your engagement metrics to:

  • Prioritize features that lead to high engagement.
  • Remove features that are seeing low engagement.
  • Test changes to features to see what can increase engagement further.

A = Adoption

Next in the Google UX framework, you have adoption. This includes product marketing metrics (such as ad campaign metrics) and product quality metrics. Adoption also includes some of the simplest metrics, such as number of new users and increase in people using a particular feature.

The reason marketing metrics are important for adoption is that marketing efforts tell users why they should choose your product over one from a competitor. For instance, they allow you to make users aware of a feature or opportunities that are only possible with your product. They also help you to acquire customers who are dissatisfied with their current solution.

The main difficulty with adoption metrics is that you need to consider word of mouth advertising. Although this is a challenge to track, it is possible when you monitor behavior and reactions to testimonials and results to a referral program.

Use the findings from your adoption metrics to:

  • Set goals to increase internal and external adoption.
  • Find out what leads to higher adoption.
  • Run first-click tests to see what users prefer to do first in a task.

R = Retention

Customer retention metrics examine how many users are returning to use your product. The calculation involves comparing active users in a period in the past to the present time, minus the number of new users. Low retention means a high churn rate — which could suggest that your product has an unaddressed issue or is lacking something. To find out just how churn rate is  impacting you, look at total retention and compare it to retention of users who passed activation.

Use the findings from your retention metrics to:

  • Discover why users stay loyal to your business or products.
  • Examine why other users leave.
  • Identify the main reasons for churn.

T = Task Success

Finally, we have task success. This covers a number of traditional behavior metrics, including error rate, efficiency (how long it takes a user to carry out a task), and effectiveness (how much of a task a user completes). You should only apply task success metrics to areas of your product that relate to completing tasks, not to your product as a whole. Task success is also useful for tech metrics, especially when in conjunction with UX, as this demonstrates the value of your product.

Use the findings from your task success metrics to:

  • Improve elements of your product for usability.
  • Locate areas without problems and leave them be.

The Goals–Signals–Metrics Process

Once you’ve considered all the metrics in the HEART framework, it’s time to put them into place and begin tracking. The best way to go about this is to use the goals–signals–metrics process.

Goals

There is no need to utilize metrics from each of the Google Heart UX categories. In fact, you’ll gain far more useful data if you consider what product KPI metrics mean the most to you.

To do this, you need to think about your goals and what metrics will show that you’re on track to reach them. Going through the HEART categories will help with this. Be sure that your goals relate to your product specifically and are about improving the user experience — it is no use focusing on vanity metrics like website traffic and social media followers.

Signals

Signals refer to how goals present themselves in user behavior and interactions with your product. Start by identifying possible signals for each of your goals and consider each in turn. Choose the most appropriate according to the following criteria:

  • How easy a signal is to track. If it is too difficult to know when a signal is occurring, you need to throw it out. Also think about whether your product already logs related actions or whether it would be feasible to implement this.
  • What signals you are already tracking. If you are already tracking any potential signals, take a look at the data. Find out how well they indicate that you are meeting your goal.

You can always change signals if you put some in place and find that they don’t provide you with the data you need.

Metrics

Finally, we arrive at the metrics themselves. The ones you should use will depend on the signals you’ve chosen. In some cases, only a single metric will be possible for the signal; in other cases, you’ll have multiple options. Once you have the data, run A/B tests to find ways to improve your product.

Limitations of the Google HEART Framework

The main issue with the Google HEART is that it fails to take into account that there is a difference between product metrics, project metrics, and product marketing metrics. You need to take this into account when choosing the appropriate metrics for your needs.

  • Product marketing metrics are useful for tracking before people start using the product.
  • Product metrics are for tracking during product usage.
  • Project metrics are for tracking particular features within the product, which includes tech metrics to ensure everything is working correctly and nothing is broken.

You may feel overwhelmed when deciding what metrics to track to measure the success of your product. However, when you consider the Google HEART framework and follow it with the goals–signals–metrics process, it becomes a much more manageable task.