Launched in 1999, Snapfish is an online photo company that is now part of the Shutterfly family of brands. The company’s goal is to make it affordable for photographers of all levels to create fun photo products. In 2007, Snapfish hit the milestone of hosting one billion digital pictures, establishing itself as the definitive keeper of people’s memories.
Omni-channel tracking helps increase conversions
If you have ever received a personalized photo mug or photo holiday card, there is a good chance it was created using Snapfish. The web-based digital photo company enables users to easily upload photos from their smartphones, computers, or social sites, and then store those photos, share them, and create personalized photo gifts.
Since most people take photos on their smartphones but manipulate them on web interfaces, it’s critical for Snapfish to offer a mobile app that easily syncs with the company’s web interface, so customers can start a project on one device and finish it on another.
As the Product Manager tasked with optimizing this omni-channel experience, Chelsea Heredia knew she needed to be able to track the friction points between these different channels, since the more friction customers experience, the more likely they are to abandon their projects, reducing conversion rates and lowering revenue.
To create these omni-channel analytics reports, Chelsea found herself cobbling together multiple tools. The process was clunky and ineffective, and didn’t often yield the data she needed. After switching to Heap, Chelsea could easily see which customers were actively using the app and web.
As Chelsea explains, “Heap’s omni-channel report enabled us to track how many customers were going to the saved projects in the app, tapping on a web project, going over to mobile web, and then ideally completing the purchase.”
This information allowed her to pinpoint and remove friction points so customers could easily float from device to device without losing their work. This was true even in situations where features were available on Snapfish’s web application but not the company’s mobile app: “With Heap I could set up links from the app to the website so if a customer wanted a product that isn’t yet offered in the app, the link will take customers to the mobile web where they can start their project instead of going to another company to find the product.”
Since her focus is shifting to customer engagement and retention, Chelsea also plans to use Heap data to help her increase purchase frequency, drive long term retention, and track more omni-channel actions over different time periods.
Mobile data made easy
Snapfish has been using Heap since 2019, thanks in large part to Chip Lewis, Senior Web Analytics Manager, whose responsibilities include supplying Snapfish’s product managers, UX designers, and experience designers with their analytics tools.
Chip was a key voice in encouraging Snapfish to acquire Heap. Having used most of the analytics tools in the space, Chip knew how difficult it was to track users across platforms, especially on tools that require manual tracking. Instrumentation always took more time than anyone had, and tag management got more and more burdensome the more the site evolved. It was these difficulties that ultimately brought Lewis to Heap: “Implementation of cross-platform tracking was so painful and required so much development effort, particularly to instrument our mobile apps, that we gave up trying and went with Heap instead.”
As Chip recalls, he and Chelsea used to have a mildly adversarial relationship, mostly around data collection. The business was always asking Chip for mobile data, but since the tools Snapfish was using required manual tracking, he needed to go to Chelsea and ask her to devote developer time to instrumenting the company’s mobile apps. Chelsea's developers, however, were busy building Snapfish—that was higher priority work. This led to an unending spiral: Chelsea and the business needed analytics data, but the work it took to get that data would take so much of her developers’ time that it wasn’t worth it.
Heap changed all that. Because Heap auto-captures all customer data, it allowed Chip to provide the business with all the data it needed, without having to wrestle with Chelsea or usurp her developers’ time. Chip laughs, “We were so excited that Heap addressed both our pain points! Now we’re fast friends.”
Like Chelsea, Chip appreciates that Heap is built on a user model, rather than the events model that Adobe and Google Analytics use, since this user-based model makes it easy for everyone at Snapfish to track users as they move across channels.
Chip also believes that Heap empowers teams to do true product discovery, since it can provide near-immediate answers to any question they have. “In Heap,” he notes, “you look at something and can instantly see what users are doing. Then you can generate five new questions.”
The better the data, the quicker the decisions
Mobile Product Manager Heidi Elmishad has been leading Snapfish’s shift to a mobile-first strategy. She also started with other tools, which she found unmanageably tedious. Because Snapfish’s existing solutions relied on manual tracking, Heidi had to correctly define all the parameters of every event that mattered before gathering data on them. If anyone happened to make a mistake, the whole team would have to wait until the next release to correct it. She admits, “Subconsciously, I refused to use the tools we had. I did not use data for a long time which is really bad for a PM.”
Heap, in contrast, took Heidi's team only a single sprint to implement, and immediately started giving them a wealth of data from the mobile app. With Heap, Heidi can define events on the fly, quickly look at conversion flows, and figure out where customers were dropping. She says, “Heap has helped me a lot with putting the roadmap and strategy together, along with how we can make it more simplistic and frictionless throughout the user’s journey.”
Live View is the best
Chelsea, Heidi, and Chip agree that their favorite Heap feature is Live View. Chelsea and Heidi both like the way Live View allows them to work through user flows in the Event Viewer and validate that the way they set up a report captures the events in the order they need. Heidi especially likes that Live View makes her feel more confident in the funnels or the reports that she creates.
Chip sums it up, “If I just turn on Live View and filter by my user ID, I can see everything that’s coming in. It’s just so much easier. It’s how it should be for all tools.”
The future with Heap
Now that Snapfish’s product managers don’t have to worry about gathering the right data, they are equipped to make better decisions and can quickly identify their business needs. The omni-channel data cascades upward into decision making and allows the PMs to be more strategic as they prioritize their feature roadmap. The things they long suspected were of high value to the business can now be proven. Using this data, they can make a case to management for the kind of resource allocations they need to make for product improvements.
Chip adds, “Before Heap, the best we could do understanding omni-channel data was stitching back-end data together. This didn’t allow us to truly follow users or understand their experience with our platform at all. So we were mostly making product improvement decisions based on gut instinct.”
When asked, Chip adamantly says there is zero question about recommending Heap.