This is the last post in our series about tools and resources that are useful in either learning more about or doing the work of new product development for software. Our first post addressed the discovery phase and our second post covered designer resources. In this one, we are addressing analysis, measurement and testing tools and resources to support product optimization and marketing in the post-launch phase.

No product is perfect the first time - or ever, for that matter. There is no such thing as bug-free software or a user experience that just can't get any better. For better or worse, ours is a world of perpetual iteration and evolution that occurs before, during and after the product launches. In fact, the richest information that can be used to guide a product's path to success comes after launch.

While there are hundreds, if not thousands, of options for gathering data and conducting experiments, here are four examples of products we use to guide post-launch product optimization and marketing.

Usage & Engagement

Due to differences in the way that analytics tools gather and interpret data, it's advisable to use more than one tool to track the same metrics, and it's important to understand the respective strengths and weaknesses of each. Our two go-to sources allow us to combine insights from each depending on the particular KPIs (key performance indicators) for the product in question. 

  • Google Analytics: Google Analytics is deep, feature-rich and tracks everything from active users to conversion paths (and much more), all for free (up to 10M of data per month), but it can be complex and overwhelming. And as is the case for most every free Google product, support will be limited to, you guessed it, Googling and sifting through a lot of irrelevant information to get to an answer. We have seen people base important business decisions on basic metrics coming out of Google Analytics only to discover that they were receiving bad information because they failed to set a filter properly. So, unless you're an expert or have the time to become one, we recommend using Google Analytics for basic usage and audience stats and use more advanced measurement and testing tools, like the one below, for everything else.
  • Mixpanel: Mixpanel's advanced analytics goes beyond user and page view counts into tracking "events" such as uploading a picture, playing a video or sharing a post. It's worth mentioning that Google Analytics can do all of these things too, but the setup is more complex - and as we mentioned, a bad setup can skew your data. 

Marketing

A great product is just the price of entry these days, but without effective marketing, you won't be at the party for long. And when it comes to growing your user base, taking a growth hacking approach is a perfect fit because it was born from engineers and other "product" leaders at startups who weren't structured to have a dedicated marketing team taking an analytical, iterative approach to growing their user base.

One of the most powerful tenets of growth hacking is to focus on testing a wide variety of approaches, making small tweaks daily and scaling the ones that work. As such, any good growth hacker needs tools to measure and test their user acquisition strategy.

  • Optimizely: An easy-to-integrate and cost-effective complement to Mixpanel, Google Analytics and HubSpot, Optimizely allows us to perform quick and easy A/B testing on page designs, messaging and calls to action, the results of which are output in a clear and easy-to-understand report. By supporting multiple experiments with multiple variations across multiple pages, Optimizely allows us to test a wide range of elements simultaneously, which enables us to improve our marketing rapidly.
  • HubSpot: Far more than just an analytics and testing platform, HubSpot integrates social media, blogging, SEO, CMS, CRM, marketing automation and more into a cohesive closed-loop digital marketing platform. At anywhere from $250 to $2,500+ per month, HubSpot isn't cheap - and some argue that a comparable system can be built for a lot less using a conglomeration of tools such as Wordpress, Hootsuite and Mailchimp. However, we have found the level of integration between the channels to be extremely helpful in aligning our marketing strategy with implementation and optimization.

Final Thought

At the end of the day, the goal of these tools is to turn data into actionable insights, but the tools are only as effective as the person using them. None of these platforms are going to do the hard work for you - though they are likely to make it easier to uncover information that supports your product optimization goals.

To learn more about how Dialexa uncovers insights for our customers, including our software development process, click the image below.

Get Farther Faster with a free copy of our Guide to New Product Development Process for Software

Photo Credit:

"Rusty Tools"by Biser Todorov | CC-BY-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

 

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