How to Build Features that Move Your Metrics

In this article, you will learn how to identify features that are most impactful for your startup to build & focus on.

Published on
December 20, 2022

There are an almost infinite number of features and solutions you can build to address user abandonment in a sales funnel or activation process. But not every feature is the right solution. 

Finding which features are most impactful on your business’ growth can significantly improve your growth rate and success. So how can you avoid wasting your valuable time and money?

By sizing the opportunity. In this article, we will:

  • Share and define offensive and defensive prioritization strategies
  • Show how you can find the best need gaps to focus your time and money on
  • Explain how you can ‘ship to learn’ and efficiently test features

Let’s begin!

Feature Prioritization: Offense vs Defense

Deciding which features to build is the first step you can take when understanding an opportunity. We recommend categorizing features into offense and defense. 

Offense is an investment you make that will meaningfully drive the business right now, or allow you to meaningfully drive success in the future. Just like an offensive sports strategy, an offensive feature strategy moves you forward. 

Successful offensive feature strategies often impact a lot of users, address narrow need gaps, and are compounding. 

Defense is an investment you make to avoid risk. Just like in sports, a defensive feature strategy prevents you from moving backward. 

Locate Leverage with Your Product

Next, you want to find a place in your user lifecycle that you can leverage. This cycle consists of the acquisition, activation, and retention. 

It will look different for different businesses, but what’s important is that you have data and metrics giving you an inside look into how your users engage with your business throughout the lifecycle. 

So how do you leverage? 

We recommend looking at the stages in your user lifecycle that see the most loss. For example, if you lose 20% of your leads in stage 3 of the activation process, but only 5% in stage 1, focus on stage 3.

Carefully focusing your efforts on a narrow need gap allows you to put your time and attention into bite-sized problem areas that can have a large impact on your users. 

This potential for a large impact is what makes your time investment worthwhile when it matters most, in the startup stages of your business. 

You might be wondering, “How do I uncover need gaps?” Let’s look at that now.

Uncovering Need Gaps

We recommend 3 steps for uncovering need gaps:

1. Quantitative Analysis

In this step, you’ll want to look at the data you’ve collected. 

Are there any steps a successful customer takes that the unsuccessful group doesn’t? 

Compare a group of users that didn’t make it through your user lifecycle to a group that did (successful customers). 

2. Qualitative Research

Engage with your users and ask them questions. The goal is to identify common user problems that prevent activation. 

Here are the 3 interview steps we use:

  1. Discover context. Ask what led the user to your solution in the first place. 
  2. Probe for a mismatch. Ask questions that will lead users to share why or how the service or product isn’t working for them. 
  3. Pitch solutions. Based on what the user shared in the interview, pitch possible solutions or features that may solve their problem. A positive response may indicate you have a solution that will resolve user loss in the activation stage of the user lifecycle.

3. Ship to Learn

The goal of ship to learn is to quickly test resolutions in a low risk environment. 

If you’ve isolated a pain point or segment where users leave the activation process and you’ve identified the need gap with research, you can then work on a tentative solution. 

Isn’t the goal to find long-term solutions? Yes. 

Ship to learn is not a method promoting quick fixes. In quickly forming and testing temporary mock-ups, you can test solutions before investing the time and labor full development requires. 

Once you know it works, then you can give it your all!

If video is more your style, check out our accompanying YouTube video on building features that move your metrics. Have questions? We'd love to answer them right in the comments of the video. We’ll see you there!

Jesse Venticinque

Jesse is the Co-Founder & CPO at Fitbod, a consumer subscription fitness app that utilizes data science to help your body get better with every workout. Jesse brings 15 years of experience in consumer product strategy and UX design to Fitbod. Before Fitbod, he was an early hire at Linkedin and lead design for a variety of Linkedin’s mobile products, and a startup veteran of companies such as Slideshare, Altschool and Predictify.

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