Ryan Stuczynski is the Growth Lead at theSkimm, one of the fastest growing email newsletters that delivers news with a distinct voice and fits seamlessly into your morning routine. Heap has been instrumental to theSkimm’s unprecedented user-growth by immediately giving Ryan the insights he needs to iterate on their product without developer resources.
Starved for data before launch
After launching theSkimm in 2012, the company reached a key inflection point in early 2014 as it focused the team’s resources on growing the audience. In search of immediate data capture, theSkimm turned to Heap, which provided access to all customer interactions in a matter of minutes with little tech resources required.
Beyond the benefit of automatic data collection, theSkimm had worked with both Mixpanel and KISSMetrics, but the team found that no other tool matched the ease of use offered by the Heap dashboard. Heap’s intuitive nature made the platform extremely easy to sell internally due to the lack of a learning curve. At the end of the day, the decision was simple: “Heap’s flexibility made the decision a no-brainer for us as we get a retroactive view of our world.”
Peace of mind for analytics
Over the past two years using Heap, theSkimm has grown at a rapid pace without having to worry about having data available to analyze their growth. For this reason, the team focuses on tasks that matter: iterating on features and analyzing the results of their work. According to Ryan, “Heap allows us to push code seamlessly without stressing from an analytics perspective.”
Exploratory customer-journey analysis
For theSkimm team, the initial analysis goal was straightforward: how do people progress through their site and ultimately sign up? The ease at which non-technical users were able to answer this question with Heap completely shaped how theSkimm analyzes their business. Using Heap’s list view feature, the entire team is able to identify common behaviors across specific behavioral cohorts to determine important actions that influence conversion: “there are always behaviors that we see in list view that we would have never thought about analyzing and we’re able to analyze this activity on the spot with retroactive data.” By bringing these key user actions into Heap’s funnels, theSkimm then determines how to drive people to those actions by making product improvements to see how conversion rate across multiple flows changes as a result. In short, “list view is useful for identification of activity and funnels are useful for understanding the implications of that activity.”
Data-driven feature iteration
theSkimm’s first applied this analysis model to improve their homepage signup and invite experiences. By focusing on key user groups in list view, theSkimm came to understand how people were using certain elements on the page, optimize for key events, and redesign the homepage based on these learnings.
When deciding which features to prioritize enhancing, Ryan applied this exploratory approach and noticed that several engaged users would use one feature, Recent Skimms, before converting to a subscribed user. To confirm the importance of this feature, the team grouped their sign-up funnel by whether a user had interacted with this feature. This analysis proved that Recent Skimms was an invaluable feature that increased the likelihood of users to convert. Taking this learning into consideration, theSkimm expanded the functionality and centrality of this feature leading to further accelerated growth. As Ryan sees it, “the key benefit was the ability to understand impact immediately…for certain features, Heap cuts down the feedback loop to nothing.”
This data-driven approach to product development is also instrumental across all facets of theSkimm’s web experience. Based on the learning that subscriber growth often results from email forwarding, one of the team’s recent key product priorities was to revamp theSkimm’s invite experience to offer users the option of sharing the Skimm with suggested groups of people. Heap was used to see how this new invite experience was utilized, ultimately leading to the recognition that the user experience needed to be dramatically changed shortly after the initial revamp. By comparing success metrics before and after the redesign, it became clear that the original change needed to be re-thought for users to take action. Furthermore, by asking the question “how do people who use the default invite template vs. specific targeted messaging influence invite acceptance?”, theSkimm found that specific focused messaging was much more effective. After acting on these insights, theSkimm’s improved invite experience more than quadrupled their daily activity.
Heap enables Ryan and the rest of theSkimm team to immediately act on user insights to quickly make product changes without requiring tracking code. By combining exploratory analysis in Heap’s list view with flexible funnels, theSkimm relies on Heap to drive user growth so it can give people everything they need to start their day.