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"Heap removes the idea of a gatekeeper to information. It’s so easy to use that anyone can login and poke around on their own without having analytics experience."

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Charlotte Weiskittel

Senior Director of Product Management at DonorsChoose.org

DonorsChoose.org has raised nearly $300 million to help teachers and students in high-need communities. As Senior Director of Product Management, Charlotte Weiskittel oversees product development, A/B testing, and usability testing to ensure that donors and teachers have an amazing and consistent experience.

Heap has helped Charlotte measure how product changes impact donor conversion and user retention without having to think about instrumenting analytics code beforehand. Heap has also opened up data to people at DonorsChoose.org who didn’t have access before, leading to some unexpected wins.

Problems with Google Analytics and SQL Queries

Charlotte initially used a combination of Google Analytics and SQL queries. Google Analytics was helpful upfront with pre-built pageview-based reports, but tracking granular user interactions for every new feature took a lot of forethought and developer time.

Another approach Charlotte and the rest of the team took was to look directly in their database. They ran SQL queries directly against user accounts, donation records, and other recorded data. But this strategy had two major drawbacks. Many of Charlotte’s teammates didn’t all have enough proficiency with SQL to access the data they needed. Also, the data recorded in their database didn’t cover a lot of key client-side interactions like clicks, pageviews, and errors that would help them measure the usability of the site.

Funnel Analysis

Charlotte decided to take a look at Heap instead. One of the first use cases was measuring the conversion rate and health of their donation funnel. In many ways, DonorsChoose.org’s donation flow operates similarly to an e-commerce business. Users search for projects, find something that they feel a personal connection with, and then follow a multi-step checkout flow that ends with a “Thank You” page. Heap lets Charlotte define events related to each step of that flow, including every error message, and start measuring conversion within seconds.

Customer Support: An Unexpected Win

An important group at DonorsChoose.org is the customer relations team. They help site visitors who have problems creating projects, making donations, and navigating the site in other ways. A longstanding problem of the customer relations team was the difficulty in diagnosing what problem a user was running into. Were they getting confused by the UI? Was it an on-page Javascript error? Or something else entirely?

Once DonorsChoose.org started using Heap, Charlotte quickly realized its potential to improve their support process. Heap’s list view allows the support team to look up an individual user and see exactly what he or she did on the site to better troubleshoot the problem. Heap’s API also lets them provide additional context with very little effort, such as user metadata, client-side and server-side errors, and more.

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