Picture the scene: your product team has already defined what the ideal product for your target audience should look like to satisfy their needs.
They’ve agreed on how it needs to be built and you’ve set a clear product strategy, structured with key objectives for each stage of the development process.
But what’s next?
How do you relay this information to your product designers and software developers? The aim is to somehow bridge the gap between the development team’s output and the goals that your company is aiming for.
And that’s where product initiatives step into the spotlight.
Product initiatives are a set of key tasks that need to be completed to hit the product goal.
You can think of product initiatives as the thread that connects your product team’s everyday work with the ultimate, higher-level goal that your business seeks to achieve.
So what’s the difference between a product goal and product initiatives?
Let’s break it out.
Product goals turn the abstract product vision into certain specific objectives (milestones) that need to be reached by a specific date.
They give an understanding of what your product will accomplish, when it will be ready, how success will be measured, and why your product will be a great asset to the overall business goals. Goals are straightforward — limited to clear time frames — and would generally last from three to 12 months.
Let’s say you have a fitness app. You’ve got a fairly steady rate of active users, your churn rate isn’t terrible, but the product is lacking something nonetheless.
You’re not satisfied with the product’s KPIs, metrics, and statistics — so what possible product goals might be set up for it? You could decide to:
Reach 100k users by the end of Q2 (remember, goals need set timeframes!)
Increase the number of ‘Pro’ subscribers by 30% by the end of the year.
Reduce customer churn rate by 10% in H2 2022.
Now that you know what you’re aiming for, how will you get there?
Product initiatives tell you how and by what means you will achieve these product goals.
Initiatives merge performance improvement, platform enhancement, app upgrades, and various features into themes that arrange the product workflow. Initiatives can also be set on company, product line, or product levels.
They are not necessarily tied to only one product area, and can be spread cross-functionally across your product portfolio. Since they are aligned with strategic planning periods, the timeframes for product initiatives are usually a couple of months (a half or quarter of the year) and last for several releases and sprints.
So what product initiatives could you set to achieve goal number 1? Any of the following could help…
To improve app performance on all available devices
To redesign the UI
To optimize the UX
To run more targeted ads
To refresh and update the training exercises, review the menu, and undergo a general overview of the programs offered for different users.
Before specifying product initiatives, you’ll need to set your product, sales, marketing, or any other business goals according to your current stage of product development. These goals should also be supported by specific KPIs — based on market analysis or data-driven hypotheses to add substance to your vision.
The next step is to align your business goals with your product initiatives. Organizing it that way will help you avoid possible deviation from product vision and strategy.
Product initiatives are tightly linked to the product goals and should be defined based on the real needs of your user base. Stepping out in the market and interacting with users — using qualitative and quantitative analysis — will help you be as customer-centric as possible.
Learning about the theory of product initiatives is great, but putting that knowledge into practice is even better! So, let’s get to it.
Imagine, you are the product manager of a popular gaming app entering a new quarter. What should you do?
Step 1: Decide on the product vision, for example: “We want to be the #1 game in the App Store/Play market, provides gamers with an exciting, safe, and satisfying user experience.”
Step 2: Define the metric you will use to estimate your success. This might be the number of active players, but it also can be the number of recently referred users, your app’s user rating, or a total payment volume. Don’t try to track all the metrics, though! Choose one ‘north star metric’ to focus on most.
Step 3: Now it’s time to set the product goals — remember to be realistic! For example, if your goal is to increase the number of active users by 200,000 in Q1 2022, then you’ll want to break that leap down into achievable milestones that edge you towards your goal, such as:
Motivate 50,000 players to reach level 10 by January 31
Engage 50,000 players into 5 battles by March 25
Achieve 150,000 players logging into the game every day by April 27.
Step 4: Set the product initiatives as required for the goals you’ve specified. In this example, many different initiatives could help us, such as:
Conduct thorough research on the graphic styles that keep players engaged
Develop 3 new bonuses for players who reach level 10, release 10 new armors, present 2 new characters, etc
Improve your app’s mobile performance, so players can play wherever they are
Optimize the number and the quality of ads shown after every battle
Review the payment methods
… and so on.
Product initiatives play a hugely important role in the overall success of your product. Follow the tips we’ve shared in this guide, and you’ll reach your product goals faster and with more clarity!
And for more product tips, check out the rest of the airfocus blog. We’ll see you there!