What is Product Intelligence?

6 min read

What is Product Intelligence?

Product Intelligence refers to the automated collection, analysis, and sharing of data for actionable insights about a product’s performance. Product intelligence gives feedback to relevant teams so they can convert and retain users most effectively, and iterate and innovate with speed and accuracy.

What is product intelligence?

Product intelligence refers to the use of tools that collect and analyze data about a product’s performance with its users. These systems then automatically communicate that data to key stakeholders. The goal of product intelligence is to create a positive feedback loop that helps teams to iterate and innovate with the greatest speed and accuracy, as well as engaging, converting, and retaining users most efficiently. 

If your product can help generate feedback on how to improve itself, you should be taking as much advantage of this as you can. When you’re smarter, your product is smarter. Your customers are happier. Your company grows. And so on.

Or vice versa! Yikes.

There are so many components to getting this right. It’s more than just the integrity of your product. There’s also shipping, marketing, and customer support, to name a few. Product intelligence helps collate all of these factors to evaluate the overall performance and popularity of not just your own products, but those of your closest competitors.

While product intelligence is a relatively recent term, it’s becoming the inevitable direction every product and company that wishes to prevail, let alone survive, in the marketplace must take. You can no longer afford to have a “dumb” (or even indifferent) product.

Why is product intelligence important?

With ubiquitous information, and increasingly better tools for sifting and sorting it, the pressure is on. Today, everything shifts in real time. Formerly solid positions, such as brand loyalty, have become moving averages. The emotions a customer feels about your company could change dramatically between lunch and dinner! Users are now more informed…and less patient and more fickle than ever. Mediocre products sink rapidly into the quicksand of irrelevance, and we are fast approaching a time when only the very best-designed and managed products will even stand a chance. 

Since people will not take the time to adapt to your product, your product needs to adapt to its users. So it goes without saying: you should be listening carefully to anything your product can tell you. 

Learn how to reduce customer churn

How does product intelligence work?

To understand the concept, consider two popular games: poker and chess.

  • Poker is based on unknown information. The cards are dealt randomly, bluffing is a tactic, and luck plays a not-insignificant role.
  • Chess, in contrast, exists as a system of perfect information. 100% of the data is out in the open, and the competitors (and even the spectators) can equally see what’s available. 

It’s knowing what to do with this obvious information, and translating that into strategic action, that elevates players into masters. To triumph in business today, you not only have to have more complete information than the other guys. You also have to know how to use it going forward.

What does product intelligence measure?

Products are now full-on experiences, and in many cases entire brands have become experiences as well. The process of attracting and retaining customers has become as complex as a mating dance. You can and should measure things like:

  • After a holiday promotion, who came into your website, and from which channels?
  • Does group X tend to download three special reports before they buy?
  • Does group Y usually abandon their carts at checkout?

Your users are intelligent. If your product can tell you what the users are doing, then the product is intelligent. Let your product absorb the intelligence of your users.

Learn about Product Metrics

Who benefits from product intelligence?

  • On the company side, teams are able to connect with their work at greater depth. 
  • Product managers can facilitate updates, launch new features, and sunset ineffective ones.
  • Product designers and engineers can improve upon their successes, and create new ways to add value.
  • Marketers can develop new campaigns, design more effective ads, and forge deeper connections with customers.

As for your customers, they suffer less friction and frustration and have more rewarding experiences with products they can enjoy. Which translates to increased loyalty, referrals, and engagement that you can take to the bank.

Learn some powerful customer retention strategies

What is the difference between product intelligence and business intelligence?

Business intelligence takes a broad view of business operations. It’s concerned with the health of your company and the vitality of its different teams and divisions.  Organizing, visualizing, and analyzing business intelligence data arms decision-makers to make traditionally difficult decisions with greater accuracy. Should we build another factory, expand overseas, shutter a division, train more salespeople?  And so forth.

BI tools tend to be complex and usually require a data scientist to  deploy, manage, and utilize. 

Where BI uses a wide lens, product intelligence is a zoom focus on the specifics of the product: tracking and analyzing user activity, customer engagement, conversion, and retention. It helps internal teams find answers through behavioral analysis without the need for a data expert to interpret the data.

What’s the difference between product intelligence and product analytics?

Here we see the most overlap. Product analytics refers to the tools used to establish and measure KPIs. Product intelligence encompasses the actions and strategies you take, thanks to harvesting this data.

Analytics tools help teams formulate and answer questions related to customer behavior in order to drive engagement, conversion, and retention. These areas can include marketing, sales, customer success, and tracking behavior within the product. 

Analytics will tell you what’s happening in real time. It’s like sticking your hand out the window to feel for raindrops. Intelligence is realizing whether the next quarter will be ideal for raincoats and umbrellas, or sunscreen and beach towels. Then tooling up your innovation, production, sales and marketing accordingly.

In a nutshell:

BI tools make work easier for decision-makers.

Product analytics tools are the cooperative components of product intelligence.

Product intelligence is how you make predictions and innovate for the future.

What are some ways I can use product analytics to increase product intelligence?

Self-service product analytics tools allow individuals and teams across your company to make the inquiries they want, when they need them, without requiring the time or resources of data experts.

Autocapture data on product performance

A great suite of analytics tools will automatically record all the data so you can ask questions about product performance and customer behavior on the fly, as often as you like, without prior preparation. Just try that with Google Analytics!

Form hypotheses

With a full data set, the answers are there, you just have to figure out the most effective questions. Ask as many as you can think up. The more tests you can run, the better. 

Perform cohort analyses

Isolate users into groups based on shared characteristics and study their behavior to find useful correlations. This will help you reduce churn, improve engagement throughout the customer lifecycle, and optimize your website and product to meet conversion and retention goals.

Learn how to use cohort analysis to boost retention

Collect feedback from users

Developing interviews, surveys, and focus groups adds another dimension to product intelligence by revealing how customers feel, and their level of satisfaction with your products and services. Text analytics tools can analyze reviews, social media comments, and ratings so your team doesn’t have to read through individual comments.

Test (and test, and test) your theories

In your quest for product intelligence, never stop asking questions. Remember, Thomas Edison first found 10,000 ways NOT to make a light bulb.

What are some best practices for product intelligence?

Understand your customer journey

Website and app behavior are important, but to reap significant benefits, you need to include insights from your marketing campaigns, ad spend, sales efforts, revenue, and more.

Survey your competitive landscape

Know who your rivals are (and their SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). You should strive to understand competitors’ products, strategies, and marketing tactics as well as you know your own.

Refine and improve your product

This one’s obvious….yet be sure you are making improvements based on user behavior and feedback, not just internal goals.

Make sure your products are easily found and understood

A great product needs to be infinitely searchable, with its key attributes, features, and benefits stated clearly. Customers can’t buy if they can’t find it, and they won’t buy if they have to guess at whether it meets their needs.

Strike the optimal balance between price and value

Cost is always important for users, but it isn’t everything. Discounts might help sales, or hurt them. You need to understand the qualities that create value in your products, and learn everything you can about why people choose to buy—or not.

Perfect the product experience

A smooth and seamless experience increases Customer Lifetime Value and builds loyalty while decreasing churn. Analytics will help you measure popular metrics like Customer Effort Score (CES), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and to understand the “why” behind your customer behavior.

How can Heap help me develop product intelligence?

Our product analytics tools make it easy to capture a complete set of customer data, so your organization can fully understand how users interact with your products. Heap lets you quickly turn insights into action and give customers what they want most. Everything we do is designed to help you understand your business better. Find out how we can help you accelerate your company’s goals.