How to use your data to build better products

Published on June 25, 2020 by Clark Wickstone

A virtual tidal wave

A virtual tidal wave of new apps and websites are added to the internet every day. Tens of thousands of digital products are launched by companies in the hopes of generating revenue and creating something their customers will love. Despite the large appetite to make these new products the vast majority of them are doomed to fail.

Competition, running costs, poor marketing and lack of demand are just some of the reasons so many of these products don’t succeed. According to a recent survey conducted by Gartner, “user unfriendliness” was also cited as a primary reason for failure.

Although the number is constantly shifting, Internet Live Stats estimate that there are roughly 1.7 billion websites currently online.

Product design is only the first step

Placing a skilled product designer on the ground floor of your product’s initial design and development is going to massively increase your chances of success. Making every design decision with the user in mind will lead your product towards greater chances of adoption and retention, but it’s only one part of the equation when it comes to making a user friendly experience.

User experience is something that needs to be measured and further developed post launch and on an ongoing basis. Applying product analytics tools and methods will allow you to do this.

What is product analytics?

Put simply, product analytics looks at the digital footprint of your users to determine how they use your product and how you can better meet their needs. It is an accurate view of how your product truly works in your customers’ hands.

Many small and large organisations sit on top of large untapped wells of data that can provide them with these valuable insights. Product analytics will allow you to unleash the data’s potential. It will help you form a clear and impartial story about how to optimise your product, respond to customer demand and improve your web traffic.

Product analytics looks at the digital footprint of your users to determine how they use your product and how you can better meet their needs.

It all starts with a plan

Before any tools are put in place every product analytics project needs to begin with a solid plan and an outline of your objectives and key results (OKRs).

Some common OKRs to focus on are:

  1. User Activation: Increase users who successfully sign up for your product
  2. User Retention: Increase users who stick with your product and visit multiple times
  3. User Referrals: Increase users who invite friends to use your product
  4. User Engagement: Increase the time spent or activities completed by users

Gather, measure and benchmark

Once your OKRs have been decided, you can choose from a number of tools that will simplify how you capture and measure your product’s data. Google Analytics, Hotjar, Amplitude and Mixpanel are among some of the most popular tools available.

Once the tools have gathered the data, the best place to start is with an hypothesis: An educated guess to what results you expect to see once you start analysing your data. This will give you a framework to guide your analytics under.

Every project is different, but measuring and organising your data under the following headings is a good place to start.

  1. Segmentation: Grouping your users according to different properties like location, age or membership type. 
  2. Retention: Measuring how many users return to your app or website over time.
  3. Funnels: Tracking user journeys to see where they drop off and stop using your product.

Sometimes the data will require augmentation from additional research such as focus groups, usability testing and surveys. For example, data may tell you that users from “x category” may not  be reaching “y goal”. This could be the product’s fault but it could also be because of a number of factors beyond your control that your analytics tools won’t be able to catch.

For example, say you expand your e-commerce platform into a new country and receive good overall traffic but 99% of users are abandoning their cart at checkout. It could indicate a fault with your checkout but it could also be that most users in that country don’t use credit cards for online payments and require additional payment options.

That is why it is important to benchmark your findings against other data, market research and general industry information gathered from other sources.

Sometimes the data will require augmentation from additional research such as focus groups, usability testing and surveys

Findings turned into actions

Once your initial research is concluded you’ll need to make decisions on how to utilise the new insights. When making these decisions it is good practice to consider the following:

  1. How is your data trending over time? Is it trending positively or negatively?
  2. If the trends continue will your business goals be met?

Answering these questions will help you locate problem areas and product pain points to address and improve. Iterating upon the original product design, adding new features and potentially applying A/B testing are just some of the ways the insights can be actioned.

What are the benefits?

Product analytics offers a number of benefits including:

  • Improved customer insights
  • Improved customer engagement
  • Improved product performance
  • Increased traffic
  • Informed decision making

Build it right

Whether you are looking to build a new digital product or grow an existing one, you’ll want to partner with an agency that understands the power and importance of product analytics.

At MiniCorp, we build exceptional digital products and experiences. We don't just build products that work, we build products that thrive.

If you would like to partner with us to build and grow your next product contact us today.

Written by Clark Wickstone

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