Be A Better Growth Hacker By Learning To Stalk Your Most Engaged Users

Ok, let me start with a quick clarification (/disclaimer). In this article I won’t be advocating peering into your customers’ homes and seeing what they do at night. That would just be creepy. Instead, I’ll be looking at ways you can better adjust your product through observing what your most engaged customers are doing.

Which Customers Should I Stalk?

This is the question that many find hard to answer. The reality is that not all customers are created equally and looking at them all as a lump of data can lead to product changes that can push you down the wrong side of the hockey stick. This is generally amplified when you have a small data set to work from.

Let me propose an alternative approach. Why not try stalking your most fervent user? After all, they’re the ones who have found the value in your product. They’re the ones who (for one reason or another) have found the ‘magic’ in it. Besides, focusing in on the positives will give you an idea of what is actually working – which is generally the stuff you want to double down on anyway.

Now That I have My Stalkee What Next?

Now it’s time to look for those killer insights that will help you build your ‘engine of growth’. Let me use a quick illustrative story to highlight how others have done this.

Many of you’ve heard about the now famous growth team at Facebook formerly lead by Chamath Palihapitiya. One of the things they ruthlessly executed on was getting users to 7 friends in 10 days (watch this video (~34min mark) to hear Chamath speak about this – amongst other things).

To come to this insight they analysed cohorts of users who became engaged users and sifted this out from those who dropped off. From this they noticed that those who became engaged users reached the 7 friend mark in 10 days of signing up.

The point is that if you know the path that your engaged users have walked down you can start to syphon your other users down that exact same path. After all there is a reason you have engaged customers, it’s just sometimes you need to share the ‘secret’ with your other (less engaged) users.

You don't get to 1 billion users by luck. You need to engineer your growth.
You don’t get to 1 billion users by being lucky. You need to engineer your growth.

Ok, so that’s all well and good for Facebook, but how can you as a small business start to apply this approach? As usual it begins with data. Here are some simple things to find out from your user data:

  • Where did they come from? What channel were they acquired through?
  • How long before they became an ‘activated’ user?
  • Was there an obvious trigger which led them to being ‘activated’? i.e. was there a particular feature that they used numerous times per day?
  • How many times per day/ week/ month do they use your product?
  • What feature do they use the most?
  • What is it that they never (or rarely) use?
  • Have they turned into a referrer? If so when did they start referring customers? Was it weeks, days or months later?

What Do I Do With This Data?

Start testing! Come up with some simple hypotheses and start testing them. From here it’s a matter of dedicated testing and simply crossing things off the list.

Also, as a side note, these techniques aren’t only limited to social/ mobile/ local apps. If you run a service based business, for example, you can employ the same techniques. Obviously, you’ll need to focus on different user behaviours.

What Can I do Right Now?

So you’re pumped up and want to ‘get your stalk on’. Here are three quick actions you can take right now:

  • Look at your 3 top customers and ask “what are they doing on my site?” and start collecting some simple summary statistics.
  • Focus in on the 2 that really stand out – the outlier behaviours.
  • Compare this to someone who dropped off reasonably quickly from your site’s service and ask, “what were the main behavioural differences?”

If you have any comments or want to add anything to the above please feel free to make a comment below.

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