Travelling in the shoes of a PM
On May 4th it was announced in a general meeting that I’d be working as the Product Manager in onTribe. I joined the organisation on 26th January, 2021 as a Frontend Engineer working for 4 months before taking up the role of Product Management. Since the launch of our user side of the product on 16th April it was a big responsibility for which I was super excited to take on.
Product Management as we see is a very glorified job thanks to Twitter and LinkedIn, but essentially it is problem solving. This journey has been full of amazing experiences great learning for me and I wish to share some of my learnings and experience of working as a Product Manager via this blog.
To explain on what onTribe does is let us understand two primary stakeholders and their pain-points:
- User(primarily Developer, Designer): For a beginner as we know building a resume is not an easy task and it could take over 1.5 hours! Developers and Designers should focus on building their projects and skills vs their resumes. That’s what our product ideology stands for!
- Recruiters: Technical expertise should not become a hinderance for a non technical recruiter. As one of our founders Naman always said our product enables “Technical hiring for Non-Technical Recruiters!”
The product essentially focusses on the key idea hiring over the established Resume norm and preferring Portfolio which has everything the recruiter needs!
Our initial KPIs were as decided by me and the CEO were to increase the onboarding of our users.
onboarding >> signups
This made a lot of sense. I’ll explain it with a developer’s perspective.
Note: The below data is hypothetical.
Imagine you get 1000 users on your website. That’s amazing 😍. Wait! But to actually view the website and full product user needs to signup so that let say is 700 people. Amazing still right? No wait! After passing the onboarding stage you get only 70 people and that’s not good 😵. Hence the customers who actually saw the complete product is only 70.
This scene could be a very disappointing moment as it raises a lot of questions as to why the user didn’t signup or why the user didn’t complete the onboarding process, why did user leave in between. Analytics become your best friend! That became my first task = Increase the number of onboarded users.
Firstly I have to acknowledge the team here at onTribe which is highly efficient especially in realising and helping take first actions which could ease the process of user onboarding.
Initially we had 6 steps for User Onboarding both on Designer and Developer end. To brief about them -
Analytics showed us the 6 step onboarding process was posing as an uneasy process for the users especially in areas like User About, User Place and User Profile Photo. User wants a quick and zappy onboarding and some details like User Profile might not be available once you’re trying to sign-up via desktop. Hence we decided to cut the process to 3 steps and it did show the result! Users now did not leave us midway before completing the full onboarding!
Mails are one of the most critical tools which could help in organisational success but with a strong condition — if used effectively. It took me a lot of time to properly understand short and effective mailing style. The one Amazon follows which could communicate well as well as could avoid landing in Promotions Tab!
I did encourage adopting for mailing techniques wrt the recent meme trends and mould our product use case accordingly! We adopted mailing to encourage users to complete their onboarding process, announce new product features, etc.
On an average mail reads were 70–75 per mail but since adoption of these changes our read count boost to >165 per mail! Some of the sample mails are as follows -
To utilise GitHub as a service and to increase user onboarding completion, I suggested a few UI changes in Verification section.
Rather than existing User Verification section -
A suggestion in terms to increase Social Trust among different users so as to explore the complete platform was suggested by me -
We can retrieve friends’ names and profile photos from user’s GitHub following and display on the section. One corner case also exists that if a user doesn’t have anyone in following then we could proceed with the pre-existing section.
Furthermore this could be extended to different use cases as per you wish to increase user interaction on -
The idea of Social Trust goes back to year 2013–2014 where for majority apps and games like Subway Surf, Criminal Case etc. people preferred signing up with Facebook where it showed several friends also play this game/use this app. Primarily this increased the credibility of the app/game.
Stickiness of a product in simple words can be defined as returning of ’n’ users every regular interval of time. To implement such a thing I proposed — Hiring Events on our platform. Hiring events could be of Design Hiring or some hackathons bimonthly.
Let’s understand this more -
Example: UI Designer Hiring
Assuming a company — superCompany is hiring for UI Designers could utilise our platform. Users(Designers) could utilise this opportunity and post using the tag #supercompany most importantly for their work to be highlighted.
WHAT CAN BE ACHIEVED THROUGH THIS
- Business and Growth view point assuming only 50 designers apply to the hiring event. We have 50 users returning to our platform every 15 days. Overall activity increase => High Stickiness.
- Maintenance view point the team can address the issue and can equate the designer side which is not much developed(in terms of features) as per Developer side.
- Very minimal approach so as to not disturb the product team to create new/large products which could disturb the entire product plan ahead.
Though this plan secured from adding into more development work but does require strong support on he operational area so that the regular conduction of events could take place in the future.
Now Let’s Talk Some Metrics
1. Customer Fall-Off
Since launch of user-end on 16th April, 2021 the techniques we followed did prove success in bringing down customer fall-off ratio from 65% to 42.5%! And an overall customer fall-off cutdown to 59%
2. Customer Mail-Opening
Monitoring the analytics provided by Mailchimp even the unsubscribed rate one can know the effectiveness of mail. Mails were great in our case as they proved a rise of more than 2x as we adopted writing them in a more better manner.
3. Stickiness of the Platform
Yet to be measured
Before I moving onto conclusion I’d like to reflect and note some of my learnings from this short and sweet journey
1. Data always wins over intuition:
Thinking about any product feature is great but if it doesn’t solve the problem faced by masses it’s of no good. And data helps you in that. As in our case of 3 step cut-down in onboarding process.
2. Never Neglect Customer Reviews:
Very Very Important!!! Even when I was working as a Frontend Developer I was curious to know how my friends are using the platform built by me and my team and what feature most specifically! Customer reviews is like a blessing ✨
A small incident I would like to share in one of my customer reviews where I was amazed to know one of our customer using portfolios as a means for a technical content writing job interview! To me it was such a new use-case we didn’t imagine.
3. NoCode until necessary
Being an engineer even then I’d highly stress on it. We as developers love building apps even though they exist in the market maybe just to keep our inner child happy xD.
Well this is no good if you look in terms of productivity! Since we were always short in bandwidth of engineers I preferred to build/launch small features which could utilise minimal efforts from development team and help me reach the goal. Remember Hiring Events!
4. Always Learning
We never really believe that we’re giving the same old solutions again and again until we really analyses ourselves. I have been in that situation as well. But I’m happy to say I’ve changed. I would happily look on Google for different KPIs and their meanings if I didn’t understand! Majority times I would be reading on Medium and other blogs so as to find more industry adopted ways to improve user onboarding, marketing etc.
Case: While figuring out on increasing user onboarding I came across Uber’s old sing-up page(in a blog by Prev. Growth PM of Uber) where they displayed offer — “Unlock your first free ride”. Again this proved to be acting as a motivator for the user to sign-up onto the platform.
5. Clear Communication Solves Major Problems
No second thought on that. Well articulated ideas get into build really quick!
6. Prioritizing Always!
The best part about being in a startup was there were so many ideas/products that we wanted to launch out quick! But prioritizing the workflow so as to push the important and needy updates first is the key!
Easy to say but hard to practice, trust me!
This successful journey of mine came to an end in June 2021! Working in an early stage startup with around 10 people when I joined to now expanding over 25 was amazing! And especially the amount of ownership that I had received, words would fall short to express my gratitude. It’s an amazing journey I would cherish life long!
Being a CS Student, Product Management though highly fantasised as a career I always wanted to experience it and I’m thankful to onTribe and the leadership for giving me this opportunity. From creating PRDs to talking to customers I can now say that I am no more a noob. I recall my time as PM, I was in that state of mind where I did not want to stop thinking about more product ideas and keep on working towards more until I’ve solved the problem. Wishing for more such challenges in the future 🎉
Hope this article creates a part of value in your life. If you liked reading about my journey please consider sharing this article 🌻.
Happy to connect on LinkedIn.