The value of product usage data

Customer data is hot. And the 3 billion dollar Twilio acquisition of Segment, a leading customer data platform, suggests that it is only getting hotter. 

Customer data is used to improve a company's ability to attract, convert, and keep their users.

Many kinds of platforms and tools exist to help access the value in each type of customer data. However, one valuable type of customer data has been looked over: product usage data. 

Not all customer data types are born equal 

Customer data related to sales and marketing has always been heavily leveraged. The value of this data is easy to see; getting more clients means the company makes more revenue. On the other hand, it's not easy to decide how to approach product usage data, because the indication for success isn't as clear as for sales and marketing. 

Product usage data tells a story of how people see, feel, and act with your product. Usage data is traditionally used by product teams to inform product-related decisions. Where should I put this button? Or only a few people use our wishlist feature. Why? Do they need a guide to help them understand how to use it? These kinds of observations aren't easily translatable into revenue, which explains why product usage data has been neglected for a long time.

How to maximize the value of product usage data

The primary challenge with product usage data is collecting it. Capturing clicks, views, and other interactions requires collaboration between different levels of organization coupled with significant engineering work. Fortunately tools such as Segment and Iteratively have perfected a workflow capable of handling this step.

The traditional method of analyzing product usage data is called product analytics. Product teams use software like Amplitude or Mixpanel to build dashboards and make product usage queries such as daily active users, onboarding funnel, and so on.

Another way to leverage product usage data is through automated behavioral monitoring. These tools can automatically detect user experience issues and opportunities based on changes in product usage data. Tools like Lantern are like a security camera all over your product, alerting you when users struggle rather than waiting for angry customer tickets. You gain certainty that your product is optimized while still moving fast. 

You can also leverage product usage data through contextual messaging. Products like Intercom or Customer.io send messages to users based on how they interact with your product. For example, if they stop using it for a few months, you can choose to email them about features that they haven't used yet and win them back. 

Conclusion

Product usage data has been neglected because its impact on revenue is harder to measure. But since retaining customers has become a priority, product usage data is key to creating the best user experience with your product.

Many companies have made it easy to start even without a programming background. Begin collecting product usage data (Segment, Iteratively) and leveraging this data with product analytics (Amplitude, Mixpanel), automated behavioral monitoring (Lantern) and contextual messaging (Intercom, Customer.io) today.