One of the most interesting takeaways from the Growth Hacker Conference in Silicon Valley this past October was the importance of identifying your products’ Aha! moment.

As you probably know, just because someone signs up for your product doesn’t mean they will become an active user. (I sign up for websites all the time that I never visit again.)

That’s why growth teams at the some of the most successful startups have learned to identify leading indicators of whether a user will turn into an engaged user later on – often known as the “Aha! moment”.

It’s called this because this is the moment a user gets what your product is really about and why it’s valuable to them.

A few “aha” moments to note:


Josh Elman, Twitter’s product lead for growth and relevance until 2011, took a look at their usage numbers and realized that once a user follows 30 people, they’re more or less active forever. If Twitter couldn’t get a person to follow 30 other people, that person was very unlikely to ever come back.


Chamath Palihapitiya, who ran Facebook’s growth team, said that the Aha! moment they used was a user reaching 7 friends in 10 days.


Nabeel Hyatt, former GM at Zynga, realized in their case that if someone came back the next day after signing up for a game, they were much more likely to become an engaged and paying user. So they focused on what they called “day 1 retention”.


ChenLi Wang, who runs growth at Dropbox, has noted that the best indicator of whether someone will continue using Dropbox is when they put at least one file in one Dropbox folder.

Find your Aha! moment

As Richard Price notes, Aha! moments tend to fit into three categories:

  • Network density: X friends or connections made in Y days
  • Content added: X bits of content added
  • Visit frequency: Visiting again within X days

In most cases, the best way to identify these moments is to look at different cohorts of users that became engaged and cohorts of users that didn’t and see what sorts of patterns emerge.

Once you’ve identified your Aha! moment, focus your UX to get as many people to reach that moment as soon as possible. Try to get them to complete that step during their first interaction with your product, as Twitter and Facebook do by pulling in your contacts and recommending people for you to follow.

Think back to a time when you really fell in love with a product. What was it about that product that got you hooked? What was your Aha! moment?