I started a new job as a product manager for an online shop some years ago. During my first week, the CPO told me, “We’ve built a new website, but cannot get it live. I want you to figure out why it performs worse than our current version and how to get it live.”
I learned the team had worked on the new website for six months, and despite all efforts, they couldn’t match the performance of the current one. Back then I didn’t have robust analytics tools available to me, but I needed to solve this problem for the CPO.
When I looked at the new website, it made no sense why it performed worse than the current one. It was faster, more intuitive, and simpler. And yet, the conversion rate was 10 percent worse.
I was scratching my head until I thought about introducing a digital experience monitoring tool. Once I did, I easily solved the problem.
In this article, you will learn what digital experience monitoring is, the critical components that go into it, and the benefits of implementing it within your product.
Table of contents
- What is digital experience monitoring (DEM)?
- What can DEM do for you?
- Critical components of digital experience monitoring
- DEM benefits
- Digital experience monitoring tools
What is digital experience monitoring (DEM)?
Digital experience monitoring is a tool that helps identify issues with the user experience and offers solutions. Such issues can be related to page load time, crashes, issues with certain browsers, and increased bounce rates. It can also predict potential problems and present possible solutions.
Despite artificial intelligence advances, digital experience monitoring won’t do the job alone. This still requires human interaction, but I assure you it will make your life easier.
DEM will enable you to continuously improve your user experience, contributing to higher conversion rates.
What can DEM do for you?
Returning to the story I started, without DEM, I was digging into numbers and trying to uncover what was going on. I spent a lot of time trying to look at different angles. Here are some examples:
- Load time may be worse in certain regions
- User experience may be broken into different screen sizes
- The mobile version may perform poorly on other platforms
- A bug could be breaking the experience on other browsers
I dug into numbers and scenarios, watched screen recordings, looked at the heatmap, and was still underwater. I couldn’t identify why the new website performed worse than the current one. I felt powerless and didn’t know what to do. After weeks of working on it, I found minor improvements, but still couldn’t move the needle.
Once I started using digital experience monitoring, the problems surfaced, and the a-ha moments took over. Here are some of the findings:
- Increased bounce rate from newsletters in small smartphones — The newsletter was a significant source of our revenue. The bounce rate happened because the experience was broken, and the images on the landing page were misplaced, confusing users
- Lower conversion with tablets — The CTA looked like a footer, and users missed that and got stuck
- Long time to interact with average mobile connection — Users had to wait more than 45 seconds to interact with the new website if their relationship was slower than usual. That was the result of our image-loading strategy
On top of knowing our issues, we learned potential solutions for them. That enabled us to fix our problems and improve our conversion rate with the new website. The new website was rolled out to our whole audience in a few weeks.
Critical components of digital experience monitoring
DEM helps you beyond understanding the bottlenecks and places you lose users. Here are the key components:
- Accessibility — Helps you uncover opportunities to enhance accessibility
- Performance — Monitors your platform for hints about performance issues and potential solutions for them
- Usability — Evaluates how your platform is used and helps understand where you have potential improvement opportunities
- Security — Searches for security breaches and point them out with a possible solution
My challenge years ago was launching a new website to match the current conversion rate. With digital experience monitoring, we surpassed that. We learned that our accessibility was weak.
For example, we didn’t have alternate text for a single image. We also learned that our performance was horrible on smartphones. Luckily, we knew the solutions and could quickly work on them.
The results of digital experience monitoring go beyond its investment. It contributes to continuously improving your user experience, user satisfaction, and consequently, higher conversion rate.
Today, applications have an endless amount of data. It’s naive to think you can look at data alone and come up with all the insights. The magic happens by transforming data into insights.
I invested several weeks trying to understand why the website performed poorly and failed to uncover the real challenges. You may blame me for that, but the digital application monitoring gave me insights in a few days that I could act on immediately.
DEM also allows you to improve how you release applications. Have you ever had a situation where everything works fine in your staging environment, but surprises take over when it makes it to production?
Well, I’ve been there more than I would like. The reason is simple: users have many ways to interact with the application, and even with the most modern automated tests, users will surprise you.
Digital application monitoring can record user data, which can be integrated with your release process to enhance the tests and reduce the chances of unpleasant surprises.
This can prevent a problem that would hurt your reputation. A smooth and pleasant user experience is necessary to remain relevant in a challenging market.
Digital experience monitoring tools
Digital experience monitoring isn’t a silver bullet to solve all your application problems. Product managers need to set it up correctly and know what matters and what doesn’t.
To do this, you can use the following tools:
- Metrics — Define the key metrics to monitor. You need to know what matters most and configure that with your monitoring system
- Digital experience analysis — The user experience is one of the most critical aspects of your application. The user experience analysis should be set to help you understand where the experience breaks, e.g., long load times, increased bounce rate, users getting stuck, etc
- Monitoring systems — Understanding the health of your platform is vital. Set up a monitoring system that will show you how your application performs and continuously work on giving it hints to make it even better
- User feedback — Create a room to receive user feedback. Whenever they complete a relevant task, leave them a chance to drop you a message. On top of that, you can use AI tools to analyze the feedback and get insights
Digital experience monitoring can be a game-changer for improving product quality. I still see too many products with poor user experience.
With that said, I still don’t believe digital experience monitoring is the solution alone. Human expertise is highly valuable to set it properly and analyze the insights gathered.
Use digital experience monitoring to:
- Help you uncover where user experience is sub-optimal
- Identify potential bottlenecks
- Receive notifications when something is going sideways
- Reduce friction with production release
Remember, at the end of the day, you’re the driver, not the passenger. Use tools to empower you to achieve more, not to define how you work.
Featured image source: IconScout
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