This is the first post in a series we will be writing on analytics and the data-driven Product Manager. Analytics is an essential area for product managers to understand but it can be intimidating when you’re just getting started with the basics of product management. For those of you considering a role in product management, I thought I’d cover some of the basics first and in future posts we’ll move into more valuable techniques. I promise this isn’t like accounting or tax returns—a little dabble into tracking and you’ll find this new addiction will naturally drive you to understand more.
Start tracking your email signature clicks.
This is an easy example to introduce the basics. Let’s say my email signature says (which it does):
CEO at Google
I need to include some unique identifier to know that a user arrived on my site because they clicked this exact link. So I add an unused querystring to the end of my url like this “http://google.com?ref=signature-gmail”. And my email signature is now a whole lot more trackable:
CEO at Google
Viewing your clicks.
In Google Analytics, I will be able to see the number of times http://google.com?ref=signature-gmail was viewed and since the querystring parameter “ref” isn’t used by our developers, the user would have simply viewed the regular http://google.com page.
You will quickly realise that this method doesn’t scale very well. Every referral is separate you don’t have many ways to filter this data. For measuring more than a few tens of clicks, you will soon want the ability to group and filter certain types of referrals. Google Analytics helps you do this through Campaigns and make it super easy to construct your more complex tracking links with their URL Builder. This tool allows you to create separate campaigns and start collecting your click data in a much more systematic way.
Now that you understand the basics of how tracking works you can start applying this almost anywhere and I promise that once you see your first few clicks, you’ll want to start measuring more stuff. There’s a ton of resources available, endless techniques and methodologies, and a good selection of tools to use. Over the next few posts, we will cover some of the more advanced techniques to tracking and understanding your data so be sure to follow us on twitter to stay updated. I’d love to hear if you found this useful and if there are specific areas around data-driven product management you would like us to cover in future.