3 Tools for Lean Product Managers
When I think of Lean, my mind automatically goes to Emails. Man, I love emails. I’ve been testing things leanly with them the past year. They’re cheap, easy to set up, and you get instant results. Amazing.
One of the projects I tested with emails at OpenSky was the implementation of a product review program. It took all of 2 days to put this in place before we spent a month building a full-fledged review program. I sent an email out to about 2000 buyers asking them if they would review the product they bought. When you clicked on the email, it took you to the existing product page and just scrolled down to the Facebook Comments section where they could enter the review (no coding done on the page at all). We proved implementing the feature was worthwhile as the percentage of comments we received doubled, showing customer interest and commitment.
If you’re an existing company, you’re probably already using MailChimp, Sailthru, or another client. You can easily recycle one of your templates to send out an email explaining a new feature or asking them to do a task. If you have a small subscriber list or are just starting out, check out Mailchimp. You can send up to 12,000 emails per month to 2,000 people absolutely free. They also have a bunch of premade templates, so no coding required. (And after you sign up and pay for your service, they send you a free t-shirt. Love my t-shirt. Good marketing Mailchimp!)
Once you send out that email, you can instantly gauge interest from your customers with clickthrough rates, opens, and conversions. All the clients track these things for you. Then you’ll be able to tell if your feature is a good idea or not in a day or two.
Optimizely provides a way to change the look of your website without a release of code. You can enter buttons to see if someone will click, change text, or implement a whole new section. It’s very versatile. For this one, if you want to get fancy you’re going to need some HTML and CSS. If you just want to edit text, rearrange things, etc you can use their editor without coding. So there is potential need for a developer if you don’t know HTML or CSS.
3. Crazy Egg
If you want insight into where your customers are spending time on your site, Crazy Egg is your tool. Their heatmaps will show you where your visitors are clicking and scrolling. If you’re planning on altering an existing page or testing a new UX, this is a great way to track if people are seeing your changes. This data is essential in making sure your customers are using the features on your site to the expected levels, and so you can iterate fast if they are not.
I found this particularly useful when trying to determine if our customers scrolled down to the end of the product pages. We had so many products for sale on one page, they could be scrolling down for a whole minute. Everyone was convinced we needed to change this layout because our customers would give up scrolling and not see half the products. There were long talks on how we could do this most effectively, but all the solutions were going to take a while to implement. So we popped Crazy Egg on the page, and found out about 80% of customers scrolled to the end. We were shocked and didn’t change anything.
There are a few downsides to CrazyEgg. It doesn’t work well on dynamic pages. If your info is changing from day to day, you can’t see where people are clicking and scrolling accurately. You can add it, but your results might not be that accurate. Also, you need some magic if you want to see clicks and tracking behind log in walls. Other than that, I think it’s a great tool to get customer insight.