What NOT to measure in B2B product companies.

It’s hard to set success metrics in B2B.

As a Product Manager, I’ve had my fair share of well-meaning attempts.

I’ve measured subjective signals which I’ve struggled to tie back to the business’s financial goals. Product metrics often left more questions than answers.

Through trial and (a lot of) error, I’ve made a list of things that you SHOULDN’T measure in B2B.

Why you shouldn’t measure usage

Say you work for a B2B that supplies online learning materials to employees. You recently release a feature that allows users to download the material as a PDF to read offline.

Example: Usage of a feature allowing PDF downloads

You have 10,000 users a day and pick an arbitrary target of 10% to justify bringing this feature into existence.

After a few weeks of measuring, the usage rate settles at an average of 8%. Is this a failure of the feature? What if 70% of all users use this feature? Is this because the export functionality is excellent? Did they use it simply because it was there? Or is it because the onsite content is below par? Do they even read the PDF once they export it? And did this feature contribute to the company renewing their contract?

It’s still unclear whether we should double-down on this feature or relegate it to the scrap yard.

Why you shouldn’t measure page views

Now picture you’re in a product team building a third-party Customer Support platform.

You launch a new reporting dashboard where users can see high-level data about their incoming support ticket.

Example: New reporting dashboard

You consider measuring page views to see how many times this new dashboard is viewed.

That should tell you whether users find it it’s useful, right?

Wrong!

Taking a page view at face value is misleading because there are too many variables at play.

Did your users visit a lot of pages because they were interested, or because they couldn’t find what they were looking for?

To top it off, a page is no longer just a page. Infinite scroll, pagination and multi-step content makes comparing pages rather pointless.

Why you shouldn’t measure ‘time to complete’

‘Time to complete’ can be useful to measure only if the end outcome is fixed.

Let’s say you work on a B2B product where employees submit their receipts for work related expenses for reimbursement.

Example: Expense reimbursement software

An employee has either submitted an expense claim successfully or they haven’t. The end outcome is fixed so the faster they can submit that claim, the better.

On the other hand, for goal setting software, the quality of the outcome has to also be considered.

If a user creates a goal faster, but it lacks detail or substance, is it really a success?

Is there anything you CAN measure?

I’m glad you asked.

Through experience and observation, I’ve discovered a few methods to objectively measure success in B2B companies.

Read how you SHOULD measure success in a B2B company.

Senior Product Manager — Culture Amp