The Meta Funnel: From User Activity to Product Changes

When we think about funnels, we tend to think about how users move through our product: what percentage of people who visit our homepage sign up, what percentage of those users pay, etc.

If we zoom out, there’s another even more important funnel that we can use to measure how sophisticated an organization is with its data:

User Activity → Data → Analysis → Insights → Product Changes

User Activity → Data: When users interact with your product, are you capturing the relevant data related to their activity? For example, you might track how many people visit your homepage, but how about what percentage scroll below the fold, where they click on the page that they shouldn’t be, the bounce rate, how they’re getting to your site and how that’s changing over time, etc. What’s important to track will vary by product and not everything you track will be important, but if you’re not recording the data, it will be impossible to analyze it.

Data → Analysis: You have data, but is anyone looking at that data regularly? All of the data in the world doesn’t matter if no one ever analyzes it. For some types of analysis your analytics tools will make this step easy, but it also might require complex queries or scripts depending on what questions you’re trying to answer.

Analysis → Insights: One of the hardest things about analytics is that it’s often difficult to look at all of the numbers and draw actionable insights from them. You may discover that your conversion rate is 15%, but is that good or bad? If it goes up to 20% is that because your product has improved or just because the quality of your traffic has changed. If the top term your users are searching for on your support page is “domains”, is that an indication that you need to improve the instructions you provide users in your product, or just an inevitable result of domains being very complex?

Insights → Product Changes: And finally, once you have insights from the analysis you’ve done, are you making any changes to your product as a result? Maybe insights into your product’s support search terms indicate that you do need to improve the guidance you provide to users within your product. Does your team then execute on that by actually improving the guidance within your product?

In my experience with both many years of side projects and at work, the conversion rate across this entire funnel is typically very low. Part of it is just the nature of the beast: it’s hard to set up tracking to collect everything that’s important, it’s hard to analyze the data you do collect, it’s hard to come up with insights from that analysis, and it’s hard to make changes to your product when you do have those insights.

But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth optimizing. If you can double your organization’s conversion rate between any of these steps, it should double the number of improvements you wind up making to your product as a result.

One thing that can help is to discuss with your team and document your organization’s processes for each of these steps. Things like:

  • Who is responsible for implementing analytics on your team?
  • If they don’t have experience setting it up, where can they go to learn?
  • Where can they go to learn what data is important to collect?
  • How do they analyze the data?
  • How do you ensure people are looking at the data often enough?
  • Can you automate the reporting? Should you?
  • Who on the team needs to be involved to maximize the number of insights you’re discovering from your analysis?
  • What does your process look like for turning those insights into actual product changes?

There’s probably a lot of low hanging fruit here for your team to work on. The better your team gets at moving down this funnel, the more improvements you’ll make to your product leading to happier users and more impact on your company’s bottom line.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s