Rachel Frenkel BenHanoch, Director of Product Operations at AppsFlyer, gave this presentation at the Product Operations Summit in London in 2023.

I want to tell you about how we aligned all departments around a single KPI, which is product adoption. 

But first, I want to start by telling you what I hate about supermarkets. One day, I was strolling through the aisles of the local supermarket with my checklist of items that I needed to bring home. I had a very clear goal in my mind. I had to check all the items on the list and get back home on time to put my kids to bed. 

I was strolling along, putting more items in my cart, and the cart became heavier and heavier to push until it completely stopped. I had to finish and go home, and I was looking at the cart until I realized that the wheels weren’t aligned. I was trying to pull and push but it wouldn't go anywhere. 

At that moment, I understood that my goal wasn’t going to be achieved. I wasn’t going to get home with all the groceries on time. So I just left the grocery cart there, rushed home, and was very frustrated. 

But on my way home, I realized that that's a theme I need to take with me. If the wheels aren’t aligned, we're not going to achieve our goals. That's a theme I need to take with me to my business life as well. 

Reaching business goals with one global KPI 

Sometimes, different departments aren’t looking in the same direction. They're not aligning. They're not working towards the same goal. 

Every department wants their ARR up and more customers to come, but, for example, if your product department is building your product for middle-sized companies in South America, your marketing department is advertising to residents of Europe, and your sales department is only answering inquiries from enterprises in North America, each one of them is trying to optimize getting more customers to your company and acquire more customers. 

But they're not going to succeed. 

They're not going to succeed because they don't support each other because they're not aligned. 

Local department KPIs don't bring local results. They bring no results. 

One of our jobs as far as operations is trying to make this alignment work. We always want to be looking in the same direction, and my suggestion is to work using one global KPI that all departments try to align with accordingly to reach our goal. 

Marketing optimization with AppsFlyer

I've been the Director of Product Management for AppsFlyer for a year and a half, and I've been in product management for over 20 years in many different industries.

AppsFlyer is a global company. We have 20 global offices worldwide and about 1,500 employees. We're a leader in marketing optimization. We have a growing ARR of over $350 million a year and over 100,000 applications that are using our SDK. They’re using it to optimize their marketing campaigns. 

Most companies today have an app, and if your app runs on iOS, Android, CTV, or even on a console machine, you can measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. 

Marketers advertise on different platforms, and they don't want to throw money away. They want to know that their campaigns are ROI positive, they have to measure and they need to understand which platforms perform best, which audiences, which creatives, etc. They need to measure it and follow it closely, and this is what AppsFlyer is doing for them pretty successfully. 

You can imagine that with the size of our company and having 20 offices worldwide, it's not easy to align the departments. But this is exactly what we did. 

Measure the value customers find in your product

We all use many different terms for business goals. I went and asked ChatGPT to define terms like, ‘What is an OKR? And, ‘What is a North Star?’ The answers were pretty similar. So then I asked, ‘What's the difference between OKRs and North Star?’ And then I got a third answer. 

So I’ve tried to make sense of them and give you my suggestions for definitions of these terms. And when you align teams on the language of the terms, it's the first step towards aligning on the goals. 

There's supposed to be a very intuitive business goal. The high-level objective is strategic, it’s long-term, it's qualitative, it’s where the company wants to be and what it wants to become.

For example, we want to be a market leader in North America. That's a strategic goal. You don't know when you'll become one, but this is what you want to be. But to become that market leader in North America, you want to have something that you can measure to see if you're on track. 

You use specific metrics that allow the company to measure and assess the progress, and the numbers need to go up or down depending on what it is. You want to see that you're on track to achieve your goals. 

If you want to be a market leader in North America, you want to count the number of customers in North America and you want to see if the number grows. 

But that's not enough. It’s all about the right pace. Is it what we expected? Is that pace going to help us achieve our business goal?

And then you introduce a third term, which is OKRs. These are the midterm goals of your company. You have quarterly or yearly objectives with measurable key results so you know what it means to be successful and what it means to be at the right pace to get to your business goal. 

Is that everything that we need to know about getting to our goals? No. Why not? Because we only looked at the perspective of the business. We need to look at the perspective of our customers and what they see in our products because the magic happens when customers find value in our products. It doesn't happen when we try to achieve something but nobody wants to bite. 

I want to introduce you to the North Star. There’s a specific definition of the North Star that I really like; it’s a metric that measures the amount of value we deliver to our customers. 

A lot of people do try to measure the value that they bring to the customers, but they try to measure it in ways that aren’t accurate enough. 

They try to measure net promoter score (NPS), which is an indication of the value of the customers finding your product because if they're saying they're happy with the product, they're probably happy. But that's not always the truth. Sometimes they say one thing and do another thing, so it's not objective enough to measure NPS. 

You also sometimes measure renewals, which is again an indication. If your customer renews their contract, it means that they're happy.

I want to suggest another metric which I think is the most objective one to measure the happiness of your customers and create that magic. But before we do that, why do we even care that our customers find value in our products? 

It's very simple. If customers find value in our products, they become loyal customers. Loyal customers pay us and stay with us, and our ARR grows, or at least stays the same and we don't have churn from our product. 

But it's even more than that because customers who are happy with our products not only renew their contracts, but they're also more open to upgrades or upsells. Because they’re happy, they love to hear what else you have to offer them. 

Not only are they renewing and open to upsells, but they're also open for expansion, like adding more users from their company to your product. They're also going to speak highly of you when they speak about you to their colleagues and friends, and that’ll pull more customers into your company. 

This is why it’s so important to measure the value that customers find in your product. 

The ultimate North Star - product adoption

The ultimate way of measuring the happiness or the value that customers find in our product is product adoption. Sometimes people think that product adoption is only for product managers, but it's not. It's for the whole organization, and I'll explain why. 

So first of all, what is product adoption? Product adoption is how deeply your customers are using your product. 

Deep doesn't mean the number of visits or number of sessions. It's, which features are they using? How often are they using these features? Do they save? Do they come back to their work? Do they share? Do they interact with your teams to understand better? Do they interact with your CS to understand better? Do they use those complex features that you know aren’t for beginners? How deeply are your customers using your product? 

That's product adoption.

To make product adoption successful and ensure it’s adopted deeply by our customers, we can only do it on the product side. We have to have at least all these departments aligned toward making product adoption higher. 

We have to have the product management team create value for our customers. We have to have the marketing team educate the market about the values that they can find in our product. We have to have the CS team tailor the features and the capabilities and train the customers on how to utilize the product to get the most out of it. 

This means that at least three departments are tracking and optimizing their actions towards making product adoption higher, and that will flow more dollars into our company. 

You need to follow two steps. One is measure, and then you need to try and make it better. 

Now I’ll explain how we actually measured product adoption. It was an amazing project and the success was way above our expectations.