From marketing and product analytics to experiential analytics, digging into the numbers is deeply rooted in Shayna Stewart’s background. A year ago, her focus on analytics took on another dimension when she began heavily advocating for the importance of a customer-centric product framework. We sat down with Shayna to learn more about how to align customer demands with business goals to create products that are more valuable for users – and therefore more successful.
Name: Shayna Stewart
Role: Digital Product Manager at Y Media Labs
Tai Rattigan: What’s your role at Y Media Labs, and how did you end up there?
Shayna Stewart: I’m a Digital Product Manager at Y Media Labs. I actually decided to make the jump into product management just about a year ago. I historically sat on analytics teams for my entire career, so I’ve made my rounds from survey user-based consumer research to marketing research to product analytics back to marketing and now back to product analytics. But the reason I wanted to move into product management was because, as the analytics person, I started to get frustrated with my insights not being used, and I wanted to more actively drive the changes needed for product success.
TR: Do you think product teams are evolving? If so, how?
SS: Yeah. When I was first exposed to product management, they were more technical, more in the weeds with the technical teams.
Now what I’m seeing is a big evolution for the product manager, being the advocate for the user. PMs are thinking more about what the user wants as opposed to being ingrainedPMs are thinking more about what the user wants as opposed to being ingrained in the constraints around how the business works and how they operate internally. in the constraints around how the business works and how they operate internally. Ultimately, I think the product manager is probably the first position that’s evolving to have a consumer-centric mindset, and they’re educating the rest of the organization to also adopt that.
TR: What do you think are the biggest challenges that product teams face today?
SS: That’s a good one. I’d say customer-centric KPIs are high up there. Product managers are becoming the advocates for the consumer, which requires making data consumer-centric. We have to update the legacy back-end systems to answer consumer questions and set consumer-centric KPIs in order to evaluate how well the business isWe have to update the legacy back-end systems to answer consumer questions and set consumer-centric KPIs.
answering to those consumer needs.
Building consumer-centric KPIs are challenging because oftentimes business stakeholders think of their KPI as “revenue.” But revenue in itself is not descriptive enough to know if the business is executing on consumer needs. In the case of a retail example, a consumer-centric KPI would come to fruition in the sense of Number of Items Sold that Were Not Returned. That metric would actually describe if a shopper feels that they found something they looked good in, as opposed to revenue, which describes the Number of Items Sold x Price. Price is a gameable metric used to entice shoppers to buy, which does provide extrinsic value but won’t describe the intrinsic value of finding the perfect black dress for the holiday party.
Related Reading: 10 Steps To Get You Started with Behavioral Analytics
TR: Do you work with a customer-centric framework?
SS: For me the consumer-centric framework is step number one, and I think that’s missing from a lot of businesses. A lot of companies are coming from a framework of: How is my business doing? Am I getting the best product out there? But that framework doesn’t necessarily align with a consumer getting the best experience.
So as a business, you really need to understand not only your consumer-centric frameworkAs a business, you really need to understand not only your consumer-centric framework but also the needs, wants, and desires of the consumer. but also the needs, wants, and desires of the consumer. Then you need to marry that with your business framework, which is: How do I provide that service? How do I ship the best product logistically? How do we get it to them the fastest?
For about a year now, I’ve been trying to advocate consumer-centric analytics. For example, what does a click of a button mean? What’s the best way to analyze that sort of user behavior? At Y Media Labs, we’re building a lot of new products to bring analytics to the forefront, including how to contextualize a button-click in a customer-centric format. We take a hypothesis-driven approach, where you actually start to think about and hypothesize why you’re going to build the product the way you’re going to build it and build in a consumer-centric framework for that.
We might hypothesize why a segment of users will perform a certain action. For example, one hypothesis might be “if a lead needs to buy a dress for a holiday dinner, they will complete onboarding.” Then you can actually test that hypothesis using your data to understand onboarding motivations, which is tied to your consumer-centric hypothesis. Once you do, you can really start to contextualize what that button-click means and why it means that.
Related Reading: Why Experiment?
TR: What tools do you recommend companies use to grow their product?
SS: Amplitude. I will say as an unbiased view of Amplitude and from sitting on a lot of analytics teams. I’ve actually worked with Google Analytics, Webtrends, and Adobe Analytics.
As an analytics person, it gets very difficult when you’re working with product teams and you can’t answer important questions on segmentation and cohorts such as “who are your core group users” and “how do they differ from all of the other users?” When you’re unable to answer these questions, it’s not because you’re not working hard or not trying hard enough, it’s just that the tools simply cannot address the type of questions being asked. For me, it was extremely refreshing to find a tool like Amplitude, which out-of-It was extremely refreshing to find a tool like Amplitude, which out-of-the-box can answer the questions that are being asked around product.the-box can answer the questions that are being asked around product.
Second, I think any user-testing platform or A/B testing platform is crucial. A/B testing or any type of testing is actually pretty difficult operationally. The leaders who try to implement those tools are met with a lot of resistance from the company because, historically, companies didn’t rely on these experiments. The old mindset is one of “this is what we think is best” and “this is what we’re going to provide to our customers.” But now, when we’re moving to a consumer-centric point of view, it’s actually the customer’s choice of what’s best, which is what testing helps facilitate. Operationally, that’s a very different way to work. Similar to changing your databases to a consumer-centric database, you also need to move to a consumer-centric mindset with your testing tools.