By Ward van Gasteren

Ward van Gasteren is one of the first Growth Hackers in Europe. As a growth hacking consultant he helps businesses to implement Growth Hacking. You’ll find him often as a growth hacking speaker on stage or as a startup-mentor at StartupBootcamp, StartupWeekend and Aimforthemoon.

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What is the One Metric That Matters? (+ 4 Steps to find your OMTM)

OMTM explanation One Metric That Matters with examples
Ward van Gasteren is one of the first Growth Hackers in Europe. As a growth hacking consultant he helps businesses to implement Growth Hacking

The ‘One Metric That Matters’ (OMTM) is a very important concept in Growth Hacking. Every growth hacker or growth team should work with an OMTM as their daily focus.

In this article, I will explain what the One Metric That Matters is, how you determine your OMTM and what you should do with it.

Hereby an easy overview of what we are going to discuss in this article:

Table of Content

(Tip: Use the links below to navigate directly to the relevant chapter.)

What is the One Metric That Matters (OMTM)?

The ‘One Metric That Matters’ (abbreviation: OMTM) is the number that is used as your only focus in your daily work as a growth hacker or growth hacking team. Every marketing task must contribute to the growth of this number, hence the name ‘One Metric That Matters’.

The OMTM is chosen as the number on which the team expects to have the most impact on growth in the next 2-4 months.

The OMTM concept was coined in 2013 by Alistair Croll in his book Lean Analytics. He worked with many startups and noticed that startup founders and marketers were quickly distracted by “vanity metrics” and other numbers that only distract you from your growth.

Examples of One Metric That Matters

There are thousands of suitable OMTM examples.

They can be fairly broad to super-specific metrics, where the rule is that as a larger company you have to work towards a more and more specific metric.

Hereby some One Metric That Matters examples per company size:

OMTM Examples One Metric That Matters
Some examples of OMTMs

OMTM examples for Startups (<50 employees)

As a startup you are still very small and you should focus first on finding your first traction. That is why you want to choose an OMTM like one of the following examples:

  • Number of website visitors per month
  • Average click-through percentage from homepage to checkout
  • Retention of new customers after 7 days

OMTM examples for Scale-Ups (50-200 employees)

Scale-Ups should already have some traction and should therefore focus more on specific personas within their general target group. So think of one of these One Metric That Matters examples:

  • Number of website visitors per month from SEO on our blog
  • Conversion percentage of website visitors from Germany
  • Retention of new, freemium customers after 7 days

OMTM examples for Corporates (>200 employees)

For a larger company / corporate, it should become more important to focus on investigating smaller adjustments to your Pirate Funnel, such as highlighting the WOW moment or focusing on even more specific steps within your funnel.

That is why you want to choose an OMTM like one of the following examples:

  • Number of website visitors per month via SEO on our blog around one specific topic
  • Average click-through percentage on the AddToCart Enterprise package button on the Prices page
  • Retention of new customers after 7 days in conjunction with how quickly they experience the WOW moment

Why is using an OMTM so important?

The advantage of a One Metric That Matters is that it helps you to put all your time and energy into one thing, so you get a lot more done with that one case versus many little steps across different things; an important feature of a Growth Hacker Mindset.

An OMTM helps you in the following ways:

  • Focus for each single growth hacker and for the growth team as a whole
    When you use an OMTM, every team member knows exactly what to do and is no longer distracted by other ‘shiny objects’ on their path.
  • Achieves faster results
    Instead of zigzagging, you can now run towards your goal in a straight line, and the only question you need in every discussion is “Does this contribute to our One Metric That Matters?“.
  • More long-term impact
    By consciously choosing what you want to improve, chances are many times greater that you will only focus your attention on the most impactful parts of your company. After all, if you can focus on just one number for a longer time that’d better be a good number, right?

What is the difference between One Metric That Matters versus North Star Metric?

The One Metric That Matters and the North Star Metric are often confused. Understandable, because they are both focus metrics, both have specific to do with Growth Hacking and there is only one Northern Star right?

Well, there are some differences between the OMTM and the North Star Metric:

  • For whom: The One Metric That Matters is a number that you only use within your growth team, while a North Star Metric is even higher above the organization and is intended as a focus for the entire company to grow to. You can therefore also have multiple OMTMs within one company (if you have several growth teams), but always a maximum of one North Star Metric.
  • Size: Your One Metric That Matters is a lot more specific and includes, at most, one step from the Pirate Funnel, while the North Star Metric must be the umbrella for your entire company so that every business unit can always contribute.
  • Duration: You use an OMTM for about 2 to 4 months and then choose another OMTM for the following months. However, your North Star Metric never changes unless you would completely change your business model.
  • Ratio: Finally, your OMTM is actually supporting your North Star Metric. After you decide what your North Star Metric is, the growth team determines which number they should target as One Metric That Matters to contribute the most to the North Star Metric.
Difference definition North Star Metric versus One Metric That Matters
Difference definition North Star Metric versus One Metric That Matters

How to find your One Metric That Matters in 4 steps?

Let’s get started with the determining your One Metric That Matters. One of my most important tips is that you involve all stakeholders at this stage so that they (1) see what the growth team is doing, (2) understand why you have chosen this metric as focus and (3) feel involvement, which allows you to work together more smoothly in the future.

1. Discover the “bottleneck” in your Pirate Funnel

The first step is to analyze your Pirate Funnel. You want to focus on the part of your company where you can make the most impact and that is often the part of your company that performs the least.

Henry Ford worked in exactly the same way to build the most efficient car factories: If the factory can install 20 engines per hour, but can only paint a maximum of 10 cars per hour, it’ll leave them at only 10 delivered cars per hour. Is it better to focus on installing more engines per hour or painting more cars per hour?

As growth hackers, we work with the Pirate Funnel that cuts the customer journey of our company in 6 steps; Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention and Referral, abbreviated AAARRR. What is the most restrictive step here? A simple tool like Google Analytics could already do the trick, but there are also a lot of other tools for growth hackers.

(Tip: If you need more help with this, please read my step-by-step article about finding the bottleneck in your Pirate Funnel.)

Pirate Funnel Bottleneck AARRR
Example of how to find your OMTM through the Pirate Funnel

2. Determine a specific segment

If you are a start-up company, you can skip this step, since you can probably make enough progress by focusing on one of the six AAARRR metrics on their own.<