How to build data products that increase user engagement

Think about all the social media platforms out there, which ones do you use the most (and why)? I’m not talking about giving your LinkedIn profile a face lift before you put in a job application or searching for a long lost friend on Facebook; which of these apps are actually driving user engagement? For me, it’s Instagram; the interface is easy to navigate and more than once I’ve found myself re-opening it after I’ve just closed it. Have you thought about why many of these platforms have exploded in user engagement with many people posting to their Twitter or Facebook accounts multiple times per day? According to a recent Gartner blog, adoption rate for some of the BI tools in their Magic Quadrant are at a low but not too surprising 21%. Are people sick and tired of “all that data” or is there something more sinister at work…

We’ve thought a lot about social media platforms (and other apps) that seem to drive such high user engagement and put together a few thoughts on how you can do the same within your data product to ensure you keep users coming back for more. Before we reveal the secret sauce for building engagement in your data products, let’s take a quick look at how many analytics teams approach the problem.

Too often, teams building an analytics product for this customer’s approach the project in the wrong way, the story is oh so familiar. As we covered in a recent blog, this meant taking the reports existing in an Excel spreadsheet and web-ifying them in a cloud BI tool. It’s essentially surfacing the exact same information as before, but now with shiny new charts and graphs, more color choices, and some interactivity. After the initial excitement over the new toy in the room, the latter solution isn’t doing any better than the former at driving engagement; let alone delivering “insights” or creating a new revenue stream.

One of the big reasons customer aren’t lining up to write a check for the latest, greatest data product a vendor has rolled out is that the analytics team failed to make it engaging. Simply put, product teams need to let users know “hey—check this out,” “hey—we’ve got some important information for you”, and “hey—you should come back and see us.” Most teams do the second part, the “we’ve got insights” piece, but they fail to inform users why they need to keep coming back for more. These are essential elements of establishing engagement; not building these in is like skipping the foundation of a new skyscraper. "It's like when you see a skyscraper; you're impressed by the height, but nobody is impressed by the foundation. But make no mistake, it's important," said Akshay Tandon, Head of Strategy & Analytics at LendingTree.

Want to avoid the killer mistakes of failing to build engagement into your data product? Here’s how: