When you first bring out a product into the world, you also have an assumption of how people would actually use it. Checking in on that assumption from time to time helps validate it. More importantly, it may expose new markets for your product.
Tracking the performance of your customers (as opposed to the performance of your product) is an interesting exercise:
- It can reveal startling truths about how people use your product: for example, we found out that taking a snapshot in CloudShare ProPlus, for backup purposes, has it’s own value, beyond sharing an IT environment. Maybe there is a new product there?
- It can reveal mis-used or under-utilized features, such as this great story about the twitter “reply” feature (disclaimer: that’s the first I heard about this feature as well).
- It can be used to keep tabs on how usable your product is. Tracking how much time it takes a customer to get from “new account” to “sophisticated user” can speak volumes about your ability to keep your customers informed and communicate the value of your product.
P.S: This is not unique to LinkedIn.
The habit of measuring the success of your product by looking into how advanced users are in using it, and striving to improve in that area, can keep you focused on core value. Some features, which look really nice on a product brochure, are used by few customers, and should perhaps be outsourced or moved to maintenance mode.