Repeat usage is one of the most important success factors for building a large, stand-alone company. It’s hard to grab people’s mindshare and create a loyal user base when people only need to use your product or service occasionally.
One of the best metaphors I’ve come across to describe this reality is Google’s “toothbrush test” – where Larry Page insists that new products must be important enough that people will use them at least twice a day.
The toothbrush test is definitely a great benchmark for any social networking site. It’s why Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest have done so well. And it’s also why social networks for travellers or events have struggled to really scale. For the majority of users, there’s just too much time in between trips or events when the app is completely unnecessary (except those lucky few who spend a year traveling around the world).
The toothbrush test is valid for SaaS products as well. Products that are critical to the daily workflow, like business management software and collaboration tools, tend to have the lowest churn rates. Yet, both marketing automation and HR tools often struggle (unless they are addressing core functions).
Commerce is certainly a different beast when it comes to this benchmark. My own rule of thumb is that customers should have a reason to visit a commerce site at least once per month. Monthly subscription services like Julep have a natural touch point every time they send out their new products. Frank & Oak has created monthly-curated product releases that create an important monthly rhythm.
High repeat usage = large potential business
Repeat usage is the basis to build a large business and is generally driven by two things:
- How often people need to use the services/products your site offers
- If people remember your site in the moment they need the service/product
So think deeply about what kind of feature set and/or product depth and breadth you are offering in order to maximize the reasons why people visit your site (of course, you want to do this without completely diluting your brand in the process). In addition, find smart and scalable ways to remind people of your site’s offering…without crossing the line into becoming spam.
If you fail to give people a reason to visit your site and remember you, users will turn to Google to find the best products and services for their current need. And this is exactly why Google’s search passes the toothbrush test so easily…
P.S.: Which products you are using pass the toothbrush test?