If you’re reading this, you’re probably no stranger to the idea of data-driven decision making. And if you’re a product manager, it’s probably something you think about nearly every day. Collecting and analyzing data is one thing–but are you getting the most out of your data at every phase of the product development life cycle?
Product managers are inundated with an abundance of data, and the insights they glean from that data are crucial to creating the best possible experience for their customers. When you’re devoting so much of your day to collecting data and using it to improve your product, it’s important to make sure you’re maximizing the value of that information.
To help, we interviewed several industry experts for our latest e-book to find out some of the often-overlooked ways product managers should be leveraging their data. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Analyze customer churn
It’s vital to understand why your most loyal users are renewing, but the most valuable insight often comes from the customers that choose to leave your product behind. By monitoring data around customer churn, product managers can better analyze user behavior and identify trends among users who abandon the product.
Bella Renney, head of product at Tray.io, explains: “I’m much more interested in the customers who came to the tool, used it, and then decided that it wasn’t valuable. Why did they churn? I think that’s the most important piece of data you can get as a product manager to make prioritization decisions.”
In a perfect world, we’d never have to deal with customer churn–but losses don’t have to be for nothing. Take the time to understand why users are churning so that you don’t waste valuable resources by making the same mistake twice.
2. Prioritize minor experiments
Gone are the days of blindly releasing a product into the world and hoping for the best. Today, products are constantly subject to change based on user feedback and reactions; after all, your product means nothing if people don’t continue to use it.
Even for well-established products, testing and experimenting throughout the product lifespan is essential. Manosai Eerabathini, product manager at Google, recommends making continuous, small tweaks to the user experience, which he believes can actually have the largest impact on your product as a whole. He mentioned Netflix as an example of an effective experimentation strategy: “They talk a lot about their data-driven mentality around homepage optimization, and these large products with really wide user bases where even small product changes lead to very significant changes in usage.”
Rather than only focusing on high-level product changes (which are still important), use your data to identify opportunities for minor updates. By analyzing data on your customers’ initial reactions to and interactions with these developments, you can uncover important insights that will help you build features that users find value in.
3. Learn as much about your users as possible
One way to ensure a positive (and lasting) relationship with your customers is to personalize their experience with your product as much as possible. But as concerns over privacy escalate, users are becoming increasingly reluctant to share the type of information that can help you tailor their in-product experience to their specific needs.
Travis Turney, senior data strategist at Rapid7, cites onboarding as the most crucial time to collect data about your customers. In his experience, people are more likely to feel comfortable providing information about themselves when they first start using your product as opposed to later on.
For example, be sure to identify each user’s role in the company and their needs within your product (e.g. using an in-app survey) so you can introduce the features that will be most valuable to them. You can also sync information stored in your CRM with your product analytics system to better understand the user’s industry, or their account’s renewal date. Capturing this information during onboarding enables you to provide a more personalized product experience from day one.
4. Synthesize qualitative and quantitative data
When you’re dealing with a constant influx of quantitative information, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Behind all of those numbers are real people with valuable insights about your product that you can’t always find in a single data point. That’s why striking the right balance between quantitative and qualitative data is so crucial. Greg Bayer, SVP of product at Nielsen, emphasizes, “a good product manager needs to blend both together equally.”
Your understanding of customers’ experience with your product is not complete until you combine observations from customer feedback and open-ended surveys with the quantitative data you’ve collected. Viraj Phanse, senior product manager at Amazon Web Services, even recommends PMs take calls with customers to hear about their problems and concerns firsthand. With more exposure to the user experience comes more empathy for what they are going through and what they need from your product.