Product Guy

Maker of digital products

Category: Analytics

What I’m Reading Sept. 11, 2016

Hover Tracking in Google Tag Manager (and Google Analytics)

Want to see where people are focusing attention but not clicking? Or where they’re focusing attention but there isn’t a link available? This nifty bit of code can tell you what elements of your page users are hovering their curser over. From the good people at Luna Metrics the listener keys off any CSS selectors so you can track any selector on the page. Another useful piece of information that on-hover tests can reveal is if users are being distracted from the primary goal. If a user is hovering and potentially focusing on a secondary element to the primary goal you might want to look at changing those secondary elements so they’re not as distracting.

Evolving App Store Business Models

David Smith looks at how his app business has changed over the four years he’s been tracking data and the eight years the Apple App Store has existed. Has it only/has it already been eight years! I enjoy reading these retrospectives because, well I might be getting to the age where I have enough experience that I enjoy reflecting on things I remember, but I also enjoy reading them because they can provide some insight on where we’re headed. When apps first started out we all thought people would buy our apps like they did video games and CDs. As David points out, that didn’t prove to be true, and eventually we moved to the newspaper revenue model, advertising. As users spend 90% of their time in three app categories, email, messaging and preferred social network, the advertising models will stop working as a sustainable revenue model. This brings us to the part of David’s business that’s always been there and has remained relatively consistent over time, the in-app purchase. As the advertising dollars become less sustainable will the in-app purchase model become the third business model in the app store evolution?

Dashboard Best Practices

We’ve all had it happen, you create an analytics dashboard and share it with your team, only to find no one is using it and still making the same data requests that you include in the dashboard. This article from Charlotte Bourne at Cardinal Path looks at why users are no longer using your dashboard and what you can do to create a loyal following. Common abandonment reasons include the dashboard no longer works after a site change, the analytics platform was not advanced enough, it wasn’t user friendly and the dashboard is too much work to maintain. One of the most valued pieces of advice on how to solve these issues is spending the required amount of time defining and debating the KPIs that are going into the dashboard. Make sure the KPIs are relevant, actionable and outcome based. Just because a KPI is an ‘industry standard’ doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. Also, we iterate on our code and we should iterate on our analytics dashboards. There’s always something you can tweak to make it better.

Advanced Personalization Implementations

Site personalization is something that has interested me for as long as it’s been around, everything from how to not make it creepy to how to actually implement it. Digging in the archives this article from Charlotte Bourne at Cardinal Path talks about three different types of personalization and tactics on how you can implement them. First up is cognitive personalization which uses a persons personal traits to deliver specific content. She discusses the Big 5 Traits that IBM use as well as intergrating Adobe and Twitter to build your cognitive profile. Another option is Account Based Personalization, this is outlined as a B2B play where rather than targeting individuals you target businesses. Using the visitors IP address personalized content and targeted messages are built based on attributes of the users business. An account of this option is outlined here from Citrix. The last option is Personalization for the Internet of Things. This option provides the ability to not only personalize content, like the fridge telling you the milk is empty and offering a coupon, but also information based on previous habits, such as the coffee maker learning you usually set it for 6am and it hasn’t been set for tomorrow morning.

What I’m Reading Aug. 21, 2016

User Stories Are Bad….M’Kay?

An interesting idea from Nathan Kinch on framing product requirements around Jobs To Be Done rather than User Stories. Using Clayton Christensen’s framework of Jobs to Be Done the use of personas is replaced with jobs. Rather than “As a (persona), I want to (task), so that I can (outcome)” the requirement is framed as, “When (job), I want to (task), so I can (outcome)”. After defining the JTBD requirements framework Kinch outlines how a product would be developed using this framework and provides some helpful tactics for presenting the business case.

How To Use Laddering in Qualitative Marketing Research

I’m always interested in articles that have tangible tactics I can use; laddering is the process of interviewing customers to find out what product features are important to them while driving to the users’ emotional benefits. The theory is that people buy with emotions and beliefs and rationalize the features and functional benefits. There are four levels to the ladder: Features > Functional Benefits > Higher Order benefits > Emotional Benefits. A word of caution, do not use the word “why” when asking laddering questions. It is known to put people on the defensive. This method can also be used as a tool to develop marketing material and articulate the value proposition for customers.

User Testing Gone Wild: A Guide To Course Correction

Using situational examples of where testing can go off the rails this article provides good advice to get things moving and back on the fact-finding track. First big tip, make sure your candidate never feels like they are being judged. When there’s a bunch of experts in the room that designed, and are building, the product, make sure they know you really want to learn from them. Only have two people in the room with the interviewee, one note taker and one interviewer. Make sure you test the prototype in several different scenarios including outside the office and offline. Use this pretesting time to practice the interview and tighten up your questions. Paper wireframes will never run out of battery power so have them handy just in case.

Hunter Walk on product management

A conversation with Hunter Walk, former product manager at Second Life and YouTube. One of my big takeaways from this conversation is that as a PM you’re ‘in service’ to the product and its customers for a given time period. Like every professional coach there will come a time when you leave the product and pass it on to someone else. The goal is to pass it on in a better position than you found it. Another key is to understand when it’s time to move on and what staging in a companies growth is right for you. I also appreciated Hunters comments around how PMs don’t need to come from a technical background, and if they all did there might be an issue with the engineers the company is hiring. Also some insightful comments on how a company’s KPIs change as the product matures.

What I’m Reading Aug. 14, 2016

Developing User Empathy

At times I have described my role on on the team as “therapist”. I listen to people a lot, work hard to understand what they’re struggling with and ask questions that will help them overcome the challenges they’re facing. As a product manager, immersing yourself in the challenges users are having completing a job is a large part of your daily work. Sachin Rekhi talks about going beyond the 90 minute user interview and thinking about job shadowing for a day or actually doing the users job for a day. Step two, practice mindfulness. This is the idea of being aware and open to what is going on around you and how that is having an impact on you and your emotions. It doesn’t have to be nirvana, you just need to be self-aware. Next, built mindful relationship with your colleagues. I’d suggest you practice and build mindful relationships with everyone in your life, it will just make you happier and a better product person.

What Is The Balanced Scorecard?

The first half of this article tells you the importance of the Balanced Scorecard, if you don’t need to be convinced jump to the Perspectives section and start there. The authors recommended viewing the scorecard from four perspectives; Learning & Growth, Business Process, Customer Perspective, Financial. These four perspectives then drive the Strategic Map. The scorecard is designed to be used at an enterprise level but it can also be applied directly to product management practices. There’s learning we need to keep current in our industry, there are business processes we want to refine to communicate our messages and deliver our products, know more about our customers & their level of satisfaction (that’s job one of for us!) and we certainty have financial goals.

Element of Value: Measuring What Customers Really Want

Last week I sat in on a Harvard Business Review webinar where Eric Almquist discussed how Bain & Company mapped product value against a modified Maslow’s hierarchy of need. The hierarchy is modified to illustrate four levels of attainment a company & product can reach within a customers value chain; functional, emotional, life changing and social impact. Within each of the four levels there are specific elements where products can meet customer needs. For example, at an emotional level a product like Netflix delivers on a nostalgic element. Bain also tested and proved that delivering on these elements would increase customer loyalty and improve revenue growth.

It’s Ugly but it Works: On Designing for Usability

There’s an adage about marketplace sites that says, if it works they will come no matter how simple or outdated it looks. Largely all people want to do is go into a marketplace, solve the job they have, and get out. Graeme Fulton outlines step by step why the simple but lovable app Tabata works and why we as product people we should always think usefulness first.

What I’m Reading July 10, 2016

Why Did My Sessions Go Down in Google Analytics

One of my favourite sites and blogs for actionable tactics is LunaMetrics. This post is about a question we have all had, or has been asked of us, “what happened with my visitor count on this date?”. The article covers the standard response of, looks interesting but let me look into it, to the campaign is working and how do we crank it up more. One piece of advice that I particularly like is to always consider seasonality. I’ve seen it before, there’s a big boost in traffic and we dig into it only to find out that the long weekend fell two weeks earlier this year than last.

The Recursive Product Strategy That Musk Used to Build an Empire

Last week Steve Sinofsky talked about how long it can take to build a sustainable start-up and find that breakthrough. This week Vinny Lingham’s post looks at how to build a framework for long-term effort and stay focused on the next milestone, on the way to the ultimate goal. Lingham’s uses Elon Musk’s experience with Tesla as well as his own experience to illustrate the framework he’s coined, Recursive Product Strategy. Basically you start at the end and work your way forward, not a new way of thinking but Lingham frames the idea in a manner that doesn’t simply list the things that need to happen to reach an endpoint. His method is to keep asking yourself “What’s Needed?” and “Why Not Now” at every stage. After you answer these questions for the final goal you have the next set of questions which will become the stage before the goal. Working this backward, or forward depending on your perspective you reach a point where the question of “Why Not Now?” becomes, “The time is now!”.

Three Types of Product Managers: Builders, Tuners, Innovators

Sachin Rekhi’s outline of how the online product management field is evolving is right on the mark. There are a number of essays on the varied skill sets a product manager needs to be successful but the practice of product management is becoming so broad that it’s time for it, like many professional practices, to become deep in some areas and for specialists to emerge. Rekhi identifies three archetypes and provides a very clear definition of each. This is a good read for those looking to enter the field and align interests with their future goals. I’d include a couple others, the growth product manager and the technical product manager.

Every Company Needs a Growth Manager

What works in small business and start-ups usually filters it’s way to the corporate world, this article suggests that’s now true of the Growth Manager role. Every company needs someone pointed directly at growing their audience, engagement and revenue. The role defines the growth path, coordinates and executes programs and optimizes the revenue funnel. A couple of quotes from Sean Ellis and James Currie about intuitive testing prioritization and knowing your acquisition channels really capture the essence of the role for me.

What I’m Reading June 26, 2016

Disruption’s Long, Slow, Complex Journey

The cycle is the same one Clayton Christian proved in The Innovators Dilemma but Steve Sinofsky does bring new examples from the retail sector. His illustrations around how long the decline can take are food for thought for those that think they can move into a disruptive position quickly. As a start-up it could become a long drawn out fight. Putting it in perspective, e-commerce is only a 300B industry compared to the total retail industry which is 4.5T just in the US alone. Sinoksky also illustrates well how businesses become trapped in a supply chain system that can stifle innovation and a rapid pivot.

Smarter Content Measurement

I must admit that when I see a new email in my inbox from Avinash Kaushik I get really excited and want to open it right away. I’ve also come to terms with the time investment, his posts take an hour of my time because I want to jump right into Google Analytics and research the topic he’s written about. This one is no exception. He shares two new custom reports which measure business value of content and technical page performance. On the business value side I found it interesting to look at Unique Pageviews against Entrance Page, high uniques and low bounce from first page in is a winning combination. Once you start adding advance filters like the number of unique page views over 10,000 and pages that are the entrance page more than 70% of the time and where the bounce rate is less than 30% then you start to see the pages that are really working for you. On the technical side the Average Page Load Time can be almost downright depressing. This report can certainly help get buy-in from those needed to spend some time and money on cleaning up some of the tech debt.

Intel Disrupted: Why Large Companies Find it Hard to Innovate, and What They Can Do about It

Looks like I was in a mode to read about how companies get disrupted this week. Steve Blank’s article looks at how companies become blind to the pending change because of the shortsighted view impressed on them by stock price. Longterm R&D does not increase stock price in the near term and is therefore easy and early to cut. Rapid shifts in technology and the start-up industry are also causing large organizations to falter and become displaced within their markets.

What I’m Reading June 19, 2016

10 Psychological Techniques for Engaging Your Users

Came across this article in my ongoing search for metrics around if and how much Easter Eggs increase Engagement. Ten solid recommendations around implementing the first step in Nir Eyal’s four step cycle in Hooked, the trigger. It’s also shocking to find-out that 65% of a sample population would shock someone electrically if they were told to do so by the correct authority figure. The comments on achievement are insightful and can be applied to both B2C or B2B site.

The Experience is the Product

Peter Merholz talk and post reminds us that in front of all the great technology and best business plans is the user experience. I’m also a believe that teams shouldn’t be organized around a code base but rather around a part of the experience as Merholz points out. This is usually illustrated in the marketplace model where there’s a team built around the buyer side and one around the seller side. This model can also be effectively applied to any other site such as a publisher where the teams might be aligned around editorial, video & photos, social and advertising. The other note that Merholz touches is that design is the key ingredient to effecting desired behaviour. For tactical examples building in the desired behaviour see the article above.

The Right Way to Use Analytics Isn’t for Planning

As one of the commenters notes this article talks about an idea that’s been around for awhile, data analysis tells us what’s happened rather than what’s going to happen and in a world of increasingly rapid change past trends are less likely to be signs of future predictors. More than ever there are constably changing perspectives from business leaders and data analysis is the tool that can support or refute these perspectives from being actioned. This point is well articulated by Jeremy Stanley in his post below, Doing Data Science Right – Your Most Common Questions Answered. Why I’ve included this read is that the authors of this article and Stanley point to the need to have people within the analytics/data science/business intelligence team that can work with a lot of ambiguity and still provide actionable recommendations. Great analytics teams produce the weekly traffic report but their real value is providing the insight on the perspective of that week, whether supporting it or not.

What I’m Reading May 29 2016

Doing Data Science Right – Your Most Common Questions Answered

Thought the Analyst that sits down the way from you was also a Data Scientist? Their not and this article talks about some of the differences while focusing in on what a Data Scientist does, when your business needs one and options on deploying them within the organization. There’s a good summary of the two main goals of data science; improving the products your customers use and improving the decisions your business makes. There’s also a good checklist to determine if your business is ready for a data science team.

Netflix Knows Which pictures you’ll Click on and Why

One of the main selling features of a movie/show on Netflix is it’s cover image and Netflix what’s to know which images you do like and why. In this Fast Company article Nick Nelson, Netflix’s global manager of creative services, talks about movie/show images and how they impact click-thru. Some of the most interesting finds where that people seemed to gravitate towards images with few people in them, seemly being able to process the emotion of the image more quickly. Expressions of those in the image was also important where characters that showed high energy emotions were more likely to receive a click than those with stoic faces. House of Cards must be an outlier.

How Your Start-ups Org Chart Changes Your Product

A good reminder article about Conway’s Law and how to not build your org chart or maybe make sure your org chart reflects how you want your product build. Some interesting comments of how building the org chart can be avoided by employing micro services and creating a devops culture. There’s also some fun illustrations of org charts for Google, Microsoft and Oracle.

Find, Vet and Close the best Product Managers

Todd Jackson shares insights on how to look for, interview and hire great product people. There’s a good round-up of the must haves, nice to haves and optional. A rundown of type resumes that you might receive when hiring is also interesting but his comments on vetting candidates are the most useful. The sample interview questions could be helpful but the best reminder in this piece is that when you identify the perfect fit, how do you get this person in the door. You want to hire great people and great people want to work a great companies. Hiring for product people is really a two way street where you both have to do some selling.

What I’m Reading May 15 2016

The Growth Hacking Podcast – Peter Reinhardt – Segment

Why settle for one analytics platform best parts of all of them. In this podcast Peter Reinhardt talks about his product Segment which is the “pipe” between your site and many analytics platforms. Peter shares some great insights into how he and his team ‘discovered’ the product as well as his best advice to those starting out, be a Product Manager.

Ad Block Tracking with Google Analytics

I am almost always up for an experiment and this is one I can’t wait to run. Avinash Kaushik who write’s Occam’s Razor and you’ll likely see here a bit as I read all of his posts shares some snippets of code to test if you’re visitors are using ad blockers. There are a number of reasons the publishing business is struggling and ad blocking is one. Gain some insight into how much of your traffic isn’t seeing one of your revenue streams at all.

Your User Deserve Better – An Inside Look at Reminder’s Customer Obsession

In this interview with Remind’s founder Brett Kopf he discusses how he develop his product idea, through personal need and interviews, as well as some specific tactics to stay connected with your customer base. This article made this week’s list because I am always looking for actionable tactics and Brett shares some activities that you can start at the beginning of product discovery but also ways to stay connected as you scale your product and business.

Apple, Facebook, Google, and Alibaba Take Hollywood

As we enter the beginning of the end of the banner ad (see Ad Block Tracking above) and Netflix’s accounts for a third of all internet traffic the race is on to find the next business model to deliver advertising revenue. The finish line for now is original content and this Fast Company article looks at how the four biggest contenders are gearing up.

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