5 Innovation Metrics You Need to Know

May 13, 2023

5 Innovation Metrics You Need to Know

When it comes to early stage innovation, we can’t rely on metrics such as ROI or NPV to determine success, particularly given that such metrics favour short term returns whereas disruptive innovation can take years to deliver the kind of returns that large companies are seeking. If you’re evaluating disruptive innovation through a short term lens then disruptive concepts will either not get funded or the plug will be pulled prematurely in the event that they receive some initial funding.

What we want to measure early on in the innovation lifecycle is learnings.

In order to validate that the assumptions underpinning an idea or business model are flawed or valid, we must experiment, learn and iterate relentlessly in order to move closer to product market fit.

Leveraging Dave McClure’s Startup Metrics for Pirates, here are five innovation metrics you need to know:

1. Rate of Acquisition – validating the problem

The first indication that people actually care about an idea is whether or not they actually click through to a website via say, an advertisement.

2. Rate of Activation – validating the solution and features

Upon people finding out a little bit more about the solution, do they leave their email address, contact the company or sign up to a mailing list?

3. Rate of Conversion – validating the revenue and pricing model

Do people ultimately pay for a product or service?

4. Rate of Return – validating stickiness and engagement

Do people come back?

5. Viral coefficient – validating viral qualities

Do people refer friends and family?

Case Study

At Collective Campus, we’ve been working with a global life insurer in this space.

The insurer is interested in building an online

Rather than overcommit and invest millions in design, development, marketing, accounting and legal support before finding out whether people will actually engage, we’re helping them generate the

Based on an evaluation of the portal’s business model we were able to define:

  • Target customer segments
  • The problem being addressed
  • The solution to the problem
  • Key features
  • The revenue and pricing model

We then performed the following activities to generate the metrics that matter across the different tiers of the funnel.

Acquisition: Ran an assortment of customer segment targeted Facebook ads and Google display ads with ad copy addressing the problem we defined and to a lesser degree, the solution.


Activation: Developed a large number of landing pages with different copy to reflect the solutions and features being proposed.

Google Analytics was


Conversion: Once people click Find Out More, they are asked to enter their details and click submit. Once they do this a pop-up box appears inviting them to sign up to the portal for one month at a special early bird rate of $10 per month. Note: the portal doesn’t exist at this point and upon clicking ‘sign up’ users are told that “we’re not ready yet and you will be notified as soon as we are”. It’s important to use a mock brand to avoid reputational damage here.

Desired action: Click ‘Sign Up’ button

Return: We send marketing emails to emails we’ve collected and see if they will open the emails and click back into the site.


Refer: We send marketing emails to users asking them to share the product with friends in order to receive a month’s free subscription. A simple calculation you can run to test how viral your platform is the viral coefficientInvitebox is a great tool to help you embed a referral function into your emails.  

Desired action: Shares product with friends

Ultimately, you want to determine what your metrics look like today, where you want to be tomorrow and what you need to do to start tweaking these metrics towards where you want to be tomorrow.

However, if after numerous tweaks the numbers still aren’t moving, then it might speak volumes about the commercial viability of the problem, solution or business model you’ve identified.

Don’t want to take this approach? The alternative is simply taking big bets on unvalidated ideas and pay up to 1,000x more for an exponentially riskier approach. This alternative approach, which ultimately shuns the customer in favour in inside the building

Innovate or die.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

Steve Glaveski

Steve Glaveski is the CEO and Co-Founder of Collective Campus which he established to help companies and their employees to create more meaningful impact in the world in an age of rapid change and increasing uncertainty. Steve also founded Lemonade Stand – a children’s entrepreneurship program, wrote the Innovation Manager’s Handbook vol 1 and 2, hosts Future², an iTunes chart topping podcast on corporate innovation and entrepreneurship and is a keynote speaker. He previously founded HOTDESK, an office sharing platform and has worked for the likes of Westpac, Dun & Bradstreet, the Victorian Auditor General’s Office, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Macquarie Bank. Follow him at @steveglaveski and Book a free 15-minute call with Steve to talk through your innovation objectives.

Get the latest content first

Receive thought leadership in the form of blogs, ebooks, innovation resources, videos, invitations to exclusive events as well as the latest episodes of Future², our iTunes chart-topping podcast all about corporate innovation and entrepreneurship.

Thanks! We'll get back to you shortly!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form
By signing up you agree to Collective Campus' Terms.

Liked this?

Access more blogs, podcasts, videos, innovation, tools, ebooks and more just like this one here!