Why Data-Driven Product Roadmapping Leads to Better Product Decisions

Product roadmapping is an essential process to match your product’s evolution with business goals, integrate customer and market data, and implement feedback from relevant stakeholders. It’s also a way to help everyone prepare for a product launch or feature rollout: Engineering departments must know about technical requirements to develop features. Marketing teams need to formulate benefits and selling points as part of a coherent go-to-market strategy. Salespeople must be able to inform prospects about anticipated releases. And customer success needs to prepare an onboarding strategy for current customers.

But product roadmapping offers little value to backup product decisions unless it’s data-driven. Senior managers in charge of budget allocation will certainly think twice before committing sizeable resources if they lack evidence to understand a customer need or link feature deployment to customer growth. That’s why your product management team needs a consistent way to gather product insights and customer feedback. However, not all data is helpful data for that purpose. Vanity metrics, such as an application’s total number of users, look great in an annual report, but they are not representative indicators of customers’ success with the product or how that ties to overall ROI for the business.

So how can you build a product roadmap using data that reflects product performance accurately and spot areas for improvement to reduce customer churn and drive growth? And what kind of user intelligence solutions can give you a hand to simplify data collection and analysis? We put together a short list of the key aspects you might find useful to monitor and explain why we believe they’re relevant to product teams.

Know what users are doing in your application

User intelligence is the most direct way to understand how your customers take advantage of your product. How frequently do they use it on a daily or weekly basis? What’s the impact of login frequency on NPS score? How much time do users require on average before they adopt your top three features? Analyzing in-product interactions can help you identify and optimize the components that differentiate you from the mass and give customers an excellent reason to upgrade their subscription or reach other milestones. With this information you can take steps, from targeted engagements and communications to product iterations, to maximize your count of core action while minimizing time-to-value.

Know what users aren’t doing in your application

A data-driven product roadmap may also need to address when an application doesn’t perform up to par or when features aren’t being used as expected. Users might have overlooked some updates or don’t see what various features could mean for their business. Alternatively, features that cause confusion or contention may be detrimental to user experience and should be removed or improved. Either way, knowing about what users don’t do is an excellent source of insights to take actions including:

  • Delivering in-app engagements, like tooltips or guided tours, to help onboard a user to a feature they may not understand or even know about
  • Sending users a personalized invitation to attend a product demo and learn more about the benefits they miss
  • Accelerating the feedback loop and iterate
  • Removing underperforming features from the SaaS application

What paths users are taking through the application

A Customer Growth Platform™ doesn’t just monitor in-product interactions at the user level but also can give insight into user flows and paths. Such information is useful to analyze how users behave, record exit rates at every step, and grasp the most natural way for them to navigate your product as it was intended—enabling your team to improve user interfaces and smooth points of friction notably with guided tours and feature callouts.

Who is adopting which features and why

Desired outcomes, objectives and product requirements will differ between user segments. Some have relatively basic needs and are at the beginning of the customer journey, perhaps still taking part in a trial. Others may already be enthusiastic adopters of your most valuable features. Knowing the difference between user types and their impact on your business is important to deliver highly relevant engagement and set priorities in the product roadmapping process—focusing on strategic or high-value customers.

Your product roadmap should be flexible enough to accommodate change based on the data you’re gathering. User segments and your SaaS product will evolve in parallel as new needs emerge and features are introduced or fine-tuned. In some cases, you will even need to make tough trade-offs such as deciding between keeping as many customers in scope as possible or deliberately focusing energy on particular user types.

Product roadmapping is a necessary exercise for product management teams at SaaS businesses to ensure there is alignment between your product development, business objectives, and relevant stakeholders. But it must be based on actionable data to be considered trustworthy. Schedule a demo with UserIQ to see how our Customer Growth Platform helps product teams create data-driven product roadmaps and show the ROI of their every efforts.

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