How To Measure Product Usage

“Great products are engineered when product managers truly understand the desired outcomes by actively listening to people, not users.”
– Michael Fountain, Director of Product at Apptentive

A product is a means of revenue generation in a company. For an organization or a company to succeed, product usage is quintessential. Product usage tells a company how many people are using their product. It provides detailed data and answers the how, when, and who. Product usage is basically the analysis of data that entails the users’ interaction with the product. 

The role of product manager is to understand the basic concept of product usage and to find out how to measure it. There have been some product usage metrics that have helped in measuring the product-user interaction. These metrics are beneficial to a company in numerous ways. They provide better insights, allow for better decision-making, and increase revenue generation. The most significant reason for using the product usage metrics is that it helps in improving relationships between the customers and the company. Numerous online learning resources help in understanding these metrics.

Here are some of the product usage metrics: 

Time To Value

Time to value refers to the time taken by a user to realize the value of a product. For a product to be successful in a market, time to value should be made less. To measure time to value, one must understand the meaning of “value” in each type of product. Value is measured based on the time taken by the users to,

  • Start using the product
  • Upgrade the version of the product, i.e. from free to paid
  • Achieve the desired ROI

Product Adoption 

Product adoption, as the name suggests, is the journey of a user from getting introduced to a product to adopting and using it. The seven stages of product adoption include,

  • First encounter
  • Activation
  • Selection
  • Payment
  • Primary use
  • Advanced use
  • Advocacy

A product manager career includes proper and effective product adoption.

Feature Usage

Feature usage refers to the usage of a specific feature of a product by the users. The role of product manager is to calculate this rate and discuss it with the team. It helps in the evaluation of the features of the product and also introduces a path for improving it.

Feature usage rate= Number of feature users weekly or monthly / Total number of users in the same period X 100

Apart from this, many tools help in measuring the users’ interaction with a product. 

Tools For Measuring Product Usage

In addition to the metrics used, there are some tools known for measuring product usage. A product manager career includes the usage of these tools while working on a product.

Mixpanel

Mixpanel is a tool that helps in the analysis of the users’ interaction with the internet-connected product. Numerous companies are using Mixpanel for determining product usage and getting a detailed, real-time insight into how much the customers and clients are using the product.

                                    

Mixpanel

How difficult is the implementation of Mixpanel?

Online learning resources will tell you about the implementation of the tool. In reality, there isn’t any accurate effort that measures the difficulty level. If a product is a data dashboard, it’s a rich application making heavy use of JavaScript. In such a case, one will have to do a moderate amount of work to meaningfully track user actions (events like viewing a dashboard, downloading a report) and relevant metadata about them (e.g. “specific types of data”). Google Analytics and Mixpanel track only universally available information out-of-the-box like URLs, page titles, and browser info, but anything more complex than that is not going to be automatically tracked by their default installation. One should loop in an architect or the lead front-end developer early in the consideration since only they can advise on how difficult it will be to meet the requirements.

Browsee

There are times when Mixpanel is a little difficult to implement as you have to send all the important events using code to it. The role of product manager includes trying different tools and evaluating which is the best. For this, you can try Browsee. They have a good free plan and a session recording tool that automatically tracks all the user events and gives an exhaustive search over them. 

                                                 

Browsee

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is one of the most effective tools for measuring product usage. In a product manager career, the use of Google Analytics is common. It helps in the analysis of activities and behaviors of users on websites and mobile applications. Over time, Google Analytics has upgraded to provide more detailed reports on customer location, user behavior, and per-click quotas.

                      

Google Analytics

Although, Google Analytics does not give a single view of any one customer, so drawing meaningful conclusions about user behavior takes a lot of guesswork and one needs to start first with a hypothesis and then try to figure out how many sessions met that criteria. For this, Mixpanel is better as they let you narrow into the individual and find unpredictable behavior among each (like navigating back-and-forth between reports, etc). 

Other tools like Heap, Fullstory, and Logrocket do auto-tracking, which means they automatically track everything they can about the state of the page the user was on every time they clicked or meaningfully interacted with something on your site. The downside is that everything is getting sent to a third party, so you need to make sure data that shouldn’t get tracked to a third party is explicitly excluded. 

                       

Product usage analysis

In hindsight, a product manager career includes having a clear understanding of the primary goals to measure product usage – 

  • Room for improvement in the tech solution
  • Room for improvement in user behavior (clicks to perform a particular operation). 

Once products start to mature, Product strategists and Product Managers are forced to spend the majority of their time making existing features one bit better with each release. Innovation is hard to come by. Many online learning resources tell us so. Take for example Apple – They differentiate iPhones by the number of cameras and for that matter, the smartphone industry hasn’t seen any revolutionary innovation in the past 5 years or so. 

How to know which users are using the product?

  • Install an auto-tracker with session recording built-in, like fullstory or Logrocket.
  • Check-in on day 2 to make sure it installed OK, but then let it collect some data for a few days.
  • Come back and spend a day observing user sessions. Take lots of notes – what is remarkable and noteworthy about each session? What surprised you? Which behaviours would you like to measure over time, and do you want to know that per page, per session, or user?
  • Build your tracking requirements off of this – you’ll probably find a lot of events and application states you didn’t think of.
  • Install something like Mixpanel or GA off of those requirements so you can reliably track those data points and events over time, and use those tools for your trend analysis, cohort analysis, acquisition, attribution analysis, etc.
  • Check in on your session recording tools a few weeks before you plan your next release so you know there aren’t any new surprises, and monitor them for hypercare after any higher-risk release. 

Conclusion

The role of a product manager is diverse. Ultimately, customer satisfaction should be the end goal. To count report downloads, use a button, etc. “Even Taxonomy” can also be developed for such things. Software tools that track clicks are the most obvious options but end users have to pay a heavy price usually in terms of the performance and then there is also the cost factor if you have to deploy it to a lot of customers. The fastest, cheapest way to do this sort of thing is Google Analytics. For other alternatives, look up online learning resources.

Though, in the end, it is up to you. Choose wisely!

Summary

The given information tells us about the various tools and metrics that are used for measuring product usage. Product usage refers to the analysis of data that entails the users’ interaction with the product. There are numerous metrics used for measuring this data. Feature usage, time to value, and product adoption are some of them. Apart from these metrics, tools are also used for the same purpose. Google Analytics, Browsee, and Mixpanel are the main tools used. A product manager should use a tool or a metric based on their knowledge and convenience

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