How to win at product analytics

A product manager’s guide to building an analytics culture.

“If you can’t measure it, don’t do it”. This was one of the first lessons my first mentor in product taught me. It is advice which I have remembered ever since, advice which I have occasionally ignored, but advice which has almost always turned out to be true.

If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.

Good product analytics is vital if you want to consistently improve your product and grow. Every time you make a change to your product, you need to how how that change has impacted your users and your KPIs.

Your product analytics tool should show you key events over time, allow you to view different types of user cohorts, retention and show your core user funnels (i.e. signup, login, purchase etc.) and where the drop offs in each step of that funnel are. This lets you know where to point your team’s focus to get the best results.

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Once you have a good analytics tool up and running, you’ll need to get the most out of it. So these are my top 3 tips on how you can empower your whole team with product analytics, build an analytics culture and ensure that you keep focus on your goals and measure what you are doing.

Tip 1: Give every member of your team access to your product analytics tool

Analytics isn’t just for product, it’s for everyone. Ensure every product manager, product owner, designer, developer, dev ops, QA, support agent, sales person – you can see where I’m going – Make sure everyone has access to your product analytics tool.

Analytics isn’t just for product, it’s for everyone.

Ideally you should be using a product analytics tool which requires no query writing or coding of any kind. But if you are not there yet, make sure everyone has at least enough basic training to be able to measure your key events and user journeys. Then set up some dashboards so everyone can view important events and trends at a glance.

This will;

  1. Ensure everyone can explore their own ideas or hunches without waiting on someone else to pull the data for them.
  2. Save you time pulling reports for people.
  3. Result in more well thought out product suggestions being submitted to the team.
  4. Give people extra insight for their own role. For example, your sales team can see which features different user find most valuable and incorporate that into their pitches.

Tip 2 – Share charts and insights regularly on Slack

As a product manager, you should be obsessed with how people are using your products, what they do well, what their biggest pains are, which funnel has the highest drop-off etc. More than that, it’s your job to keep everyone up to date on how your product is performing and how our users are using it.

So, every time you discover something interesting or the team has made good progress towards a target, share the graph showing it internally to try and generate discussion around it.

This will;

  1. Get everyone thinking about analytics and the customers affecting it.
  2. Get some good group discussions going. You’ll find lots of people have great insights and just need something to prompt them to share.
  3. Keep everyone on the team and wider teams up to date with what is happening.
  4. Keep everyone accountable. If your product isn’t improving, there is nothing like sharing that with everyone to get the creative juices flowing.

Tip 3 – Include analytics with every backlog or roadmap item

When a ticket goes into the backlog, you should have success metrics defined. Something like “introducing this feature should increase signup conversion by 15%”. In addition to just listing the success metrics, also include a link to a dashboard which shows those metrics over time.

This will;

  1. Ensure that everyone throughout the process who handles the backlog item has visibility on what you are trying to improve.
  2. Keep focus on the correct goal all the way through design, dev, QA and release.
  3. Stop people getting creative in the wrong places and makes the “saying no” part of product management really easy.
  4. Make measuring success in most cases as simple as opening the dashboard and looking how the numbers change.

If you don’t do any of the above, try implementing them for just 1 month and I guarantee you’ll be delighted with the results.

What are your top tips for getting the most out of analytics in your company?