September 14, 2017

5 Questions to Kick-Start your Product Analytics Strategy

As you dive into product analytics and the wealth of information they provide, there are 5 key questions you need to ask yourself, as their answers will shape your overall strategy.

Question 1:  Why are you considering an analytics strategy?

Understanding what is driving your need to seek out an analytics strategy will help define some of the metrics you will need to track. Are you seeing a leveling or declining conversion rate? Are you struggling with onboarding a customer? Are you wasting effort developing things that are not being used?

Let me tell you a story about a company that we’ve recently engaged with who was redesigning their back-end admin portal. They didn’t have any analytics or feedback mechanisms in place, so they were operating based on the assumption everyone uses the Chrome browser. They spent weeks developing specifically to Chrome and fighting Chrome related bugs (while ignoring other browsers). Upon release, they started hearing complaints about how buggy the new site was. Confused, they polled their offices and discovered that a majority of users were actually on Safari. Had they actually been tracking their audience or had an analytics strategy in place, they would have known this before they started.

Question 2:  What does success look like for my company?

There are no one-size-fits-all analytics solutions, nor is there a one-size-fits-all set of metrics that will reveal all your challenges. Knowing what success looks like for your company or product will help you focus in on the most important aspects to track.

One example is an established patient management software company that’s looking to increase the number of users that go from a free trial to a paid account. They would likely track user behavior and time on-site among their analytics, but additionally, they’d add in user polls or exit interviews for users that did not convert to determine what caused them to leave.

Another example would be a mobile-focused customized photo gallery software provider who is just starting out and trying to determine if their product is actually something that people want. They would also track conversions from trial to paid, but they would add on a channel to look at reviews in both iTunes and Google Play in order to gather feedback from those using the system.  Their focus is on determining if their support in the market is growing and if their features are the features that users want to see.

Question 3:  Do you know your audience?

Your audience is one of the easiest things to lose sight of when you’re developing a product. Excitement about the next greatest thing often clouds our judgment and ability to objectively evaluate what is best for your user base.

Most product companies have a target market that they believe to be the right fit for their product.  By using both quantitative analytics (web analytics demographic data) and qualitative sources (user interviews and market trends), that assumption can be validated. By using data, a company is able to confirm that they are actually meeting the market they intend. In some cases, it may even uncover a completely unintended audience that becomes a great opportunity. Fun fact: Bubble Wrap was originally marketed as wallpaper!

Question 4:  Have you established/achieved product-market fit?

Have you reached the point where your usage is growing faster than you can add servers, or faster than you can make the product? Or are you still struggling to gain traction, or getting users to see the value in your product? This concept is that of product-market fit. Knowing if you’re there/close or not will guide the priority of certain metrics.

If you’re not there yet, then your focus will be on metrics or feedback that help you learn what your target market views and “must have” features are, and how your product stands up to those.

If you’ve reached product-market fit, then you’re analyzing usage and feedback through the lens of increasing conversions and improving the on-boarding process. You’re ensuring that your product stays a fit for the market and grows and changes with it versus away from it.

Question 5:  Is your product mobile-focused or mobile-compatible?

Usage patterns will differ based on if your product is used on a mobile phone, a tablet, or a desktop. The types of metrics you are tracking will differ based on the mode of use, so you’ll want to incorporate that into your strategy. How you track these pieces of information will also differ between desktop and mobile.

Take for example, time on site. This is a popular metric used to measure visitor engagement. Typically, the longer they are on your site, the more pages they visit, which theoretically leads to a higher conversion rate. However, mobile users don’t necessarily want to spend a ton of time on your site. Most mobile users are looking for something very specific and browse less. They want a quicker path to the conversion funnel, which means they are spending less time on your site. If you were tracking time on site universally you’d potentially see a problem where there was none (or miss a problem entirely).

For users that have no product analytics in place, getting started can be very overwhelming. Starting small, focusing on your business goals and outcomes, and asking yourself these 5 questions is a great way to start.