Your Daily Data Squat

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the power ingredient of easing into a product role which is to get very comfortable with the data.

In this post, I write about the types of data you need to worry about and the tools to use.

At the root level, there is raw data that is captured and stored in large scalable data warehouses such as Big Query from Google, RedShift from Amazon & Azure, amongst multiple others.

To make sense of this raw data there exist Business Intelligence (BI) tools, which provide the most powerful and flexible set of visualization and data munging capabilities. Some common names of tools are — PowerBI & Tabeau. Traditionally, there have been dedicated groups that own and operate these BI tools and generate reports for everyone in the company. More recently tools such as Mode Analytics, ThoughtSpot, Looker, Periscope Data … have emerged that aim to democratize the data access to everyone within a company. They make it really easy for someone who does not know SQL to do data analysis.

Even with the increase in ease of use of the BI tools there still exists a need for less complex data analytics tools targeted to the specific personas within a company. I will talk about two such persona’s — Product Managers & Marketing Managers.

Google Analytics Pathing Analysis

The most popular tool of this type is Google Analytics (GA) because first its free, second it’s easy to implement and third it’s powerful. Copying and pasting one javascript snippet provides you with a full dashboard with lots of numbers. It can be overwhelming and takes time to understand how to use all the numbers. GA deals in Pageviews, which some now classify as vanity metric. It was built for Marketing Managers and the reports focus heavily on how the user got to your site (there is optional but seamless integration with SEO and Google Adwords) and what devices, geographies or demographics they belong to. If you haven’t spent enough time with GA, it might be useful to connect with a consulting company to maximize your setup, after all the tool itself is free!

MixPanel Retention Cohorts

The overwhelming amount of data gathered and sorted by GA gave rise to a second set of SaaS data analytics tool companies that have the core philosophy that you need to have a hypothesis about what you want to measure and why before you start collecting the data for it. This paradigm shift was started by the founder of MixPanel about a decade ago and has since been adopted by others such as Amplitude and Segment. Together these three companies (Segment, MixPanel, and Amplitude) provide the leading set of tools and capabilities to deeply understand your SaaS Product. These tools are geared towards helping you build a great product based on tracking specific actions that users do in your product.

Amplitude is another option to use instead of MixPanel but its focussed more heavily on cohort analysis than MixPanel, which allows you to investigate and take action and test in the same tool.

If your team size is greater than 50 people, you should look into the Segment. This allows you to instrument events once and pipe the data to multiple analytics tools and avoid reinstrumentation as your needs for the tools evolve.

Segment: Easy to configure and pipe events to multiple destinations

For user experience a PM should look into a heat-map tool so you can know exactly what your users are experiencing. The best tool for that is FullStory easy to use, real time and many actionable insights. In Full Story if you see an anamalous experience you can report it to the QA and Customer Success teams by directly linking to Jira and Slack!

Finally, there are survey tools to capture qualitative metrics. One should look at integrating an in-app survey tool such as Delighted or Uservoice. There are many others Delighted is simple to use to get NPS scores and Uservoice is versatile.

A really good option is to integrate Drift and spend some time understanding customer issues during the onboarding period. The data points might be small but will be valuable as a PM to understand customer pain points.

Once, you have the cohorts and the survey data you can use any number of “Take action tools” such as Intercom, Pendo, LeanPlum, Iterable, Sales Force Marketing Cloud …this list is endless.

To summarize, as a PM, on a daily basis use tools such as:

  • Google Analytics
  • MixPanel
  • Full Story &
  • Drift

Below is a short video that provides some more color around all the tools and capabilities I’ve written about above in this post. Would love to know what you think and look forward to your comments.