In God we trust, everyone else must bring data.
— W. Edwards Deming
Before you panic and start wondering if this blog is really meant for you, let me put forward the prerequisites for reading this blog-
- You are a product manager who is tickled by insights.
- You are not a math geek. Numbers haunt you.
- You care about improving the product usability.
If your answer to all the above is yes, then go on, don’t stop reading yet.
We’ll start with a very basic question of- why looking into data is indispensable to product’s improvement and success?
Data, or simply call information, is the changing face of our world. By examining data, it is possible to uncover anomalies in user behavior, patterns in their decision making process and correlations in making a successful purchase. Fleshing out data and drawing useful insights from it solves the unsolved mysteries of product management. Mysteries regarding the behavior of your users- why or why don’t they make a purchase? Why or why don’t they sign-up for a free newsletter? Why or why don’t they read the entire blog?
It might look like a very small thing in the larger scheme of things, especially when you are building a new product and struggling with other product deliverables. But here’s the thing-
No data= no scope for any improvements.
I’ll share an incidence from my team which will probably help you understand why it’s important to look into data as a product manager.
We were working on a MarTech platform and helping our partners acquire more customers.
We thought that onboarding experience on our platform was great because we were asking a lot of questions to the users to customize their needs. We thought more information will help us create a better user experience for them. We were wrong. Most of the users who clicked on ‘Get Started’ did not complete the onboarding process. So we took a detour and started tracking user behavior through analytics. We realized we were asking for too much irrelevant information in the process that most of the users didn’t want to provide and eventually dropped off.
So, we reduced the number of screens and information that was required and voila! our conversions went up. Moreover, Google analytics gave us insights to prioritize and target only those common resolutions and browsers that our end customers were using.
I shared this story because it’s something very common in the startup world. When you’re launching your startup, you’re about to embark on a journey to an unknown land. Nobody knows at the outset of a project what exactly will work with users and what wouldn’t. You’re always in a rush to go to the market, always in the fire-fighting mode. So, that’s where data can guide you. If you can get the product out in the market for people to use, closely monitor how people are using it, and then based on those findings can make it better, faster, smoother — bingo! You’ve hit the nail on the head.
How do we process data to get insights?
Having data is never enough; your ultimate goal should be to turn that data into information and information into insight. So once you have collected data on user behavior, use it to drive your goals and optimize your output.
The process of collection of data, measurement, analysis, and reporting is a part of digital analytics. Digital analytics answers questions like- who is using your application? Are they new users or returning visitors? What are they returning to and what are they exiting from? How are they interacting with your application? Are they engaged? Are they signing up for your free subscriptions? Do they trust you?
All of this and much more- you can literally discover a lot more about your user’s behavior once you start using analytics. You can even get a variety of reports that will help you to make valuable decisions.
I’ll briefly touch upon the ABC of a funnel in digital analytics-
Acquisition- involves building awareness and acquiring user’s interest.
Behavior- is when users engage with your business.
Conversion- is when a user becomes a customer and transacts with your business.
In acquisition reports, you can see where your traffic is coming from. You can get information about demographics and location of your audience in Audience reports. You can easily analyze what devices, OS and browsers your audience is using. Behavior reports give you an overview of page views, bounce rate etc.
A conversion happens each time a user completes one of your business goals i.e. takes action that you had intended for your user. This could be signing up on your platform, checking out product from your e-store, completing an online test etc. You can also set up a “goal funnel” which is a data visualization of the different steps needed to complete the goal.
There are different types of goals — destination, pageviews, events. You’ll need to decide what you want to track based on your business goals.
Among them, events are pretty versatile. They can capture all interactions that you might be interested in when someone clicks or moves through your website. This could be button clicks, AJAX elements, file downloads etc.
You’ll get the true power of analytics when you start tracking your events as goals that can help you track conversions with precision. Multiple events can be recorded in a session making your goal tracking more robust.
I shared my own story above and I’ll leave it for you to decide what events you want to set up as goals. So, go ahead, start measuring. Because-
What gets measured, gets managed — Peter Drucker