Insight/Action/Outcome: Providing their Fender Play®app for free for 90 days was a huge hit during the pandemic, but users weren’t converting. Using a Funnel Analysis chart, the Fender team uncovered where customers experienced friction, like being prompted to go to a redundant page as they were making a sale. Adjusting this flow boosted overall conversions by 27%—equating to a more streamlined, effective journey and thus a pleased consumer and a substantial increase in sales.
As far as I’m concerned, there are two things in this world: love and music. The guitar, in particular, is such a powerful instrument for producing creativity. At Fender, we’ve held a variety of surveys and research over the years to ask what guitars truly mean to people, and almost everyone gives us the same answer: “It’s become an extension of me.”
Music is so personal to countless people, and it would make sense for that individuality to apply to their instruments, too. So finding the perfect match in a sea of options isn’t just buying a product; it’s about searching for the other half of yourself.
At Fender, our goal is to make individuality an integral part of the musical experience. We want to create more music in the world—and to make it more personal. We specialize in guitars, amplifiers, accessories, home recording and more to help people create music at any stage of their journey. Everyone who works at Fender is motivated by a desire to help players find the instrument that most speaks to their heart, and once it gets into their hands, help them make good on their promises to themselves and achieve their creative dreams.
We’ve supported guitar enthusiasts worldwide but we got our start and grew as a business in Southern California. Our main factory is in Corona, California, right next to Fullerton, where Leo Fender’s legacy began. And because this legacy matters so much to our customers, it’s important for people like me to preserve it.
An app that unleashes the creative beast
I’m the VP of data and analytics here at Fender, and even though I have my hand in a lot of activities from the supply chain to ops to sales, my expertise is in digital analytics and marketing. I work primarily on enterprise analytics for various teams and departments, which means I strive to empower marketers and product people to have more data at their disposal. This equips everyone with data and intel to truly customize their strategy to help move the business forward, and also move the needle toward our customers’ best interests. As I like to say, “To equip is to evolve and to grow.”
Of all the projects here, my favorite is Fender Play®—our all-in-one learning, subscription based app that offers bite-sized lessons for beginner and intermediate guitar players. The guitar is a popular instrument, and Fender Play® has become a major part of our company’s unique value proposition. A lot of consumers come in just for that feature, especially since there are so many different ways to use it: registering for acoustic classes, trying the bass, or watching electric guitar lessons from some of the most talented instructors on the planet.
And yet, 90% of people who start their guitar learning journey quit before they reach their goals. For us, finding out why has become a bit of an obsession. And by equipping ourselves with great data, we are able to make Fender Play® even better.
Learning songs improved user engagement
Our company loves musicians, and we love getting them where they need to go. To make learning the guitar accessible to everyone, we need to determine why people stop so we can demystify the skill set and help them succeed. This means finding the best way to help learners get to the next song or video, which requires us to look at each journey to determine what propels people forward or causes them to drop out.
In other words, it was time to cut all the assumptions and look at individuals in their own unique journey.
People learn in many different ways, but everyone wants the same thing in the end: a sense of accomplishment and a new skill. However, when we looked at customer journeys using Amplitude Analytics, we realized learners weren’t getting to the achievement stage fast enough. We tend to think that it’s best to acquire skills and theory first, and then apply that to learning a song. But we found that users who made it through their first song had a higher chance of converting and making it further down the path of becoming the musicians they always wanted to be.
We re-evaluated our learning progression steps to see how we could improve the flow. Instead of starting people with a step-by-step guide that took 26 minutes to complete, we made the option of playing a song the first thing customers saw when they opened the app. We immediately saw an increase in customer conversions, as well as an increased number of people who returned the next day. This resulted in a 4% lift in engagement at every step.
We initially thought customers wanted to know what they had in store before trying their hand at a song. But Analytics showed us this was an assumption, not a data-driven fact.
We initially thought customers wanted to know what they had in store before trying their hand at a song. But Analytics showed us this was an assumption, not a data-driven fact. Casting aside this first assumption helped us feel more confident about getting rid of another. Music has such an emotional attachment, and people want to play the songs they love from people they like. So what if we added more songs to our courses and let customers select the ones they wanted to play? Better yet, what if customers could choose their own instructor and jump in head-first after their goals?
Analytics helped us build on our initial hypothesis and prove our idea before iterating on different ways to accomplish our ideas. Putting our assumptions to rest has led to so many positive outcomes for Fender. We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people learn how to deepen their enjoyment of music. Rather than letting their dreams become a fly-by-night fad, learners can now play a few songs around a campfire, during casual get-togethers, and wherever else they integrate music into their lives.
The success of Fender Play(R) has impacted our bottom line, especially when it comes to the lifetime value of our customers. People who start and quit within a few months may have a lifetime value of an annual subscription. But people who stay the course buy more guitars, amps, and pedals, not to mention all the other things they need to make beautiful music and share it with the world.
Reduced friction leads to more e-commerce conversions
As we started to realize how many non-data-driven assumptions were getting in the way of our goals, we took a closer look at our e-commerce platform.
Many beginner guitarists are intimidated by visiting retail stores, so we wanted Fender’s e-commerce site to be a welcoming space for everyone. We also knew millions of people were looking for new hobbies and ways to fulfill themselves during the pandemic, which is why we offered Fender Play(R) free for three months at that time. We hit a million users within the 90-day span, but we didn’t see much conversion.
Once again, we turned to Amplitude to look at the data. We used the Funnel Analysis chart (one of my favorite features) to uncover the places where customers experienced friction. We found the answer during the checkout process. Five percent of people dropped off at the redundant review stage, right after they provided all their information and were ready to make the sale.
We used Amplitude to present findings to stakeholders and walk through these problematic pieces of digital real estate. Then, our product team jumped into action to remove the page. After removing the cart review step from our funnel, we increased our “order started” to “order completed” conversion by 7%. We also boosted overall conversions by 27%. We estimate this increase in conversion will lead to a surge in not only interest but sales.
Data-driven decision making to achieve our mission
Apart from helping with specific product growth, Amplitude also helps us manage Fender’s data democracy, which makes our jobs easier. The burden of analysis doesn’t rest solely with data analysts. Instead, Analytics allows us to share the load across multiple departments and answer more questions faster for more people. It’s a one-stop shop for pointing them in the right direction and ensuring everyone is equipped to make decisions.
Analytics allows us to share the load across multiple departments and answer more questions faster for more people. It’s a one-stop shop for pointing them in the right direction and ensuring everyone is equipped to make decisions.
Everything is an assumption unless you’re leading with data. For years, our team at Fender assumed what people wanted, which slowed our growth and stopped us from serving customers as well as we wanted. But as we tested our way into what was actually working for the user, our solutions turned out to be something entirely different.
Although we’re making some data-driven changes, the mission of Fender remains the same. As Leo Fender used to say, “All artists are angels, and it’s our job to give them wings.” Using Analytics helps us give more wings to more people, guiding them down a frictionless path to get closer to the music they love.
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