Product management application case studies for your next application — case study #2

Kipkorir Arap Kirui
7 min readApr 11, 2022
Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

This is the second product case study I am publishing from previous product lead roles I applied for. As highlighted in the first post, I am sharing this with the hope that it will be useful to people in the product space irrespective of the level they are at. You can find the first case study here.

Case study 2— applying for a Head of Product role at a growth-stage fintech startup creating a new product

  1. What will determine your success in driving acquisition for the product?

Four key things determine the success of a product:

  • Value — does the product help the user achieve something useful? In our case, it is clear it is. Is it better than the alternatives out there? I am not sure about this yet
  • Usability — are people able to realize the value of the product? Can the user figure out how to carry out the actions necessary to realize the value?
  • Desirability — is it fun, attractive, and pleasant to use the product?
  • Adoptability — how easy is it for the user to find and start using the product? This has been mentioned as a challenge that the product is facing. Growth is not as fast as you would love it to be

For the product to grow, these four pillars are important. All rely on the team building the product. Specifically:

  • Can the team figure out a product that is of value?
  • Can we execute against the identified value? Do we have the right people and set up to execute?

As a product growth manager, it will be my role to make this happen. My ability to develop a product strategy addressing the four factors and how I will get the team (product, marketing, business development, activation) to work with me towards achieving the strategy will determine how well I can drive product acquisition.

2. If we had the resources to do only one thing for our growth, what it would be?

I would spend the resources on developing a product that meets the needs of the market. The chances of success increase significantly when you have a superior product that has product/market fit. This means I will spend more resources carrying out the following activities:

  • User experience research
  • Data analysis
  • Streamlining the product team to ensure we have the right tools and techniques to build a good product
  • Identifying business partners that can create more value for our users

3. Outline:

a) The strategies and tactics you will take to increase usage, activation, and retention for all three channels: App, USSD, and web.


Activation aims at getting as many users as possible to start using the application to realize some value after they have signed up. It is the next step after acquisition. The key strategy at this step is to ensure users take steps towards realizing value from the application within the shortest time possible. This is based on the fact that many users drop off quickly if they don’t realize the value of the application.

Some of the tactics I would use are as follows:

  • Development of a clear onboarding process — this can be a video or a guided tour of the application.
  • Incentive driven approach — develop a reward system for our users once they achieve key tasks in the application.
  • Helpers within the application to show how certain tasks are done. This is useful in ensuring users don’t get stuck and leave without raising the issue
  • Targeted email drip campaigns to show how some common tasks are done


Usage commonly referred to as engagement, is how the users interact with our product at a granular level. It is a good measure of how valuable a product is to the users as it shows how frequently they use it. Strategically, engagement will tell you how sticky your product is and as a result, is a very critical aspect of product development.

Some of the tactics I would use to improve engagement are as follows:

  • Messaging — this is the most important engagement tool. It will work well if the messaging is targeted, personalized, and suited for the channel. Email and in-app messaging are two channels I would leverage.
  • Customer feedback — capturing customer feedback and using it to improve the application is a good way to improve engagement as it results in higher user satisfaction. High user satisfaction improves engagement.
  • In-app support — traditional support channels usually require the customer to go out of their way to raise support requests. In-app support helps improve this. Applications such as have significantly improved how in-app support can be handled
  • Superior customer support — how well customer queries and complaints are handled will have a great impact on how engaged the users are.
  • Continuous app development — consistent bug fixing and rollout of new features


It is one thing to acquire users and it is another to keep them. Filling a bucket with holes is an exercise in futility. It makes sense to plug in the holes as you continue pouring water. Retention is a measure of how we keep users who have already started using the application. Actively engaged customers are less likely to churn. As a result, the tactics used to improve engagement have a huge effect on retention. Some additional tactics are as follows:

  • Messaging — messaging campaigns targeting inactive users can make the difference between a user leaving and one being reactivated. This can be done either via email or in-app
  • Retargeting — the app can be resold to people who have stopped using it. This would be similar to how we market during acquisition with the difference being that inactive users are being targeted and the marketing message is specific to them

b) How will you measure success against these tactics and what metrics will you use?


  • Activation rate — the rate at which our acquired customers become active customers by completing tasks
  • Time to activate — how long it takes for a customer to initiate an activation task such as doing a payment


  • Daily, weekly, monthly active users — this is a measure of the unique number of users who have been active in a specific period. The definition of active users is those users who have completed tasks that are critical to what would be defined as usage of your app. A task like login isn’t
  • Stickiness — the ratio of Daily Active Users to Monthly Active Users. It gives a clear indication of the frequency of usage of your application
  • User Retention — the percentage of users who are active after 1 day, 7 days, and 30 days of signing up or installing the app. This is best modeled as a retention curve so that trends are easier to see
  • Tripwires — an alert to spot non-engaged users and reach out to them before they drop out. The task completion rate, outlined below, is a good way to set this up
  • Task completion — the percentage of users who complete a task from start to finish. It is a good indicator of how engaged users are with specific tasks in the application


  • Customer retention rate — number of current customers relative to the number I had at the beginning of a specific period. Can be measured daily, weekly, or monthly
  • Customer lifetime value — a projection of revenue I can get from a customer based on their usage habits. It helps determine how much I should spend on customer acquisition to ensure a positive ROI
  • Repeat purchase rate — the percentage of customers who have bought from me more than once
  • Redemption rate — the percentage of customers who redeem coupons from campaigns ran to reduce churn

4. To succeed in this role and get tangible results rapidly,

a) How will you organize your first 100 days?

The first 100 days will focus on getting the following done:

  • Development of a product strategy and a product roadmap that will be communicated to all the team members involved
  • Implementation of a user-centered approach to product development within the product, marketing, and development team. This will create a culture of experimentation and rapid improvement of the product
  • Creation of a product management plan that will facilitate a shared way of working among the key teams (product, marketing, business development, customer experience, activation) to ensure obstacles towards achieving the product vision are minimized if not eliminated entirely

b) What is your plan for success ( focus areas for your first 3 months to achieve your goals)?

To succeed, in the first three months I will focus on the following areas:

  • Product — do we have the right product?
  • Execution — are we executing the product the right way? Do we have the right team to get it right? Are our teams set up in the right manner to execute well?
  • Customer experience — are our customers happy with our product? Are offering support and getting feedback?

5) Which are your critical success factors and what challenges could make you fail?

The key success factor is product growth revenue-wise. This will be driven by how fast the product can acquire users, the rate at which the users are activated, how engaged they are, and how high the retention rate can be. This applies to all the markets that the product is in.

The main challenge will be using soft power to rally everyone around a common course as defined by the product strategy. Most of the people I will work with won’t report to me and therefore the biggest challenge will be getting them to buy into the product vision and execute accordingly.

That is it for now. I really enjoyed working on these case studies then and I hope it will be helpful to someone out there. Do watch out for more product content going forward and if there is a specific area you would love me to focus on please let me know.



Kipkorir Arap Kirui

Ex-child, Reluctant adult, Experience Designer, UX Researcher, Design Facilitator, Senior Product Manager, Co-founder Made by People, Product at Microsoft