Understanding When Your Users Use Your Product…

…the time of day they use it most, and the time of day they’re most enjoying your product. The two are not synonomous, and sometimes the latter isn’t obvious.

They’re not synonomous. Recently, I was looking at some data on the time of day when our customers were shopping and found, as expected, that a lot of it happens during the workday. Makes sense, right? Mornings are hectic starting the day, evenings are busy preparing dinner and playing with the kids, and the middle of the day is when people are pretending to work but shopping instead.

But on cutting the data to focus on conversion rates for new visitors only, it was interesting to see that our users highly prefer 1st thing in the morning. There weren't as many visitors as during the workday, but a new visitor that stumbles on our site at 6am is 3x as likely to complete a purchase as the new visitor that comes at 2pm.

It’s not always obvious when in the day a user enjoys your product the most. When I worked at Pulse in 2011, we saw that a cohort of our users really enjoyed using our product in the morning and late at night. A second cohort was spread a tad more evenly throughout the day. And it seemed intuitive - the first cohort was iPad users replacing their habitual newspaper reading cycles. The second cohort was iPhone users, snacking on news in 2-3 minute sessions during idle times throughout the day (new consumer behavior Pulse enabled).

For many e-commerce sites, I’ve heard that their peak time-of-day is in fact in the middle of the workday. Separately, flash sales e-commerce has long focused on the beginning of the work day (~8/9am) and some have ventured into the lunch hour - that’s when the daily email goes out, the lifeblood of any flash sale biz.

It just goes to show that it really depends on the user you’re targeting. Through lots of user testing and focus groups, we’ve come to observe that our customers simply have very few moments of peace throughout the day. They’re not investment bankers generally - but rather, they’re often the COO of the family, requiring a little bit of attention at all times of the day.

So while they might have pockets to “snack” on Flipboard or Facebook (a 90-second effort), they’re less likely to have 15 uninterrupted minutes in the day to carefully peruse our shop. Successful conversions on thredUP are hefty - they often result from 5+ unique searches, which can be a lot of work. And all this with distractions flying at our user as she's trying to cross the finish line - the SMS, the calendar notification, the kid tugging at her shirt.

My point is simply the importance of understanding how this all works out for your product’s user base in particular. It allows you to pull levers like shifting traffic to times in the day with stronger conversion, with less noise and distraction. It can help you build on the product for those times of day (e.g., Pulse night mode). Or it can help you improve the product for those who come at less-than-ideal times of the day.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Josh Yang’s story.