Bart Krawczyk Learning how to build beautiful products without burning myself out (again). Writing about what I discovered along the way.

Building a data-driven insight generation loop

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Building A Data-Driven Insight Generation Loop

Insights tend to appear out of nowhere. You’ve probably experienced a situation where you do a customer interview, review a company dashboard, or even just walk in the park and have a breakthrough.

These moments are incredible, but an experienced product manager shouldn’t rely on random strikes of inspiration. PMs need a systematic process for consistently generating new insights.

Expanding the number of insights you work with is the easiest way to fast-track your product and career growth. The more insights you have, the better decisions you can make.

In this article, you’ll learn what a data-driven insight generation loop is, how to create it, and ways to implement one within your product team.

Table of contents

What is a data-driven insight generation loop?

A data-driven insight generation loop is a process that maximizes your chances of finding relevant insights from data.

While there’s no magic, 100 percent guaranteed formula for generating actionable and highly-valuable insights, proper processes and routines increase the chances of capturing these insights.

The insight generation loop relies on consciously defining, capturing, triangulating, and analyzing data regularly to come to new understandings.

How to create a data-driven insight generation loop

A data-driven insight generation loop consists of five steps:

  1. Defining the hypothesis
  2. Planning the analysis
  3. Performing the analysis
  4. Pressure testing the findings
  5. Deciding on the next steps

1. Defining the hypothesis

When fishing for insights, the first thing that you need to do is define a hypothesis. At this stage, it doesn’t need to be evidence-backed. After all, you are exploring insights, not validating specific hypotheses.

A good approach would be to define a metric you want to improve and set a broad hypothesis on how it can be achieved.

A specific metric allows you to focus your exploration around a concrete outcome, while a broad hypothesis lets you expand your thinking. If you set an overly specific hypothesis, you’ll get stuck answering the “yes or no” statement, which is validation, not insight generation.

2. Planning the analysis

Although it may be tempting to jump straight into analysis, save some time to plan your approach.

Randomly clicking through dashboards without investing time to think through the approach results in wasted time.

There are various analyses you can perform. Some examples include:

Start with the simplest and most straightforward analysis. It’ll give you early signals if you are heading in the right direction before investing too much time in a more detailed analysis.

You can always plan a second loop later.

3. Performing the analysis

The next step is to actually perform the analysis. Understanding your product from a data perspective is pivotal for building a successful product. The process of analysis involves extracting, cleaning, visualizing, and interpreting the data that you have.

Before your analysis, build off your planning sessions and clearly define your objectives and how you will measure your KPIs. This will ensure that you have stakeholder alignment prior to diving in.

To perform the analysis, you can use one of the testing strategies listed above, or you can utilize LogRocket and take the guesswork out of it. LogRocket combines session replay, error tracking, and product analytics all in one cohesive dashboard that enables you to make informed decisions about your product.

4. Pressure testing the findings

The most common mistake people make is not pressure-testing their findings.

Your initial analysis can be flawed, especially when you start with a broad and straightforward analysis. The time you selected, the segments you decided to analyze, and the criteria you chose all impact the outcomes of your analysis.

A robust insight holds true across multiple analyses from different angles.

Pressure test by finding an answer to these three questions:

What’s the relative impact of the change?

You might discover that doubling feature X usage can triple your revenue. A 200 percent boost to income might sound tempting, but what if feature X targets only 5 percent of your user base? And what if it’s the cheapest feature you have?

This 200 percent boost in a specific feature revenue might translate to a mere 1 percent boost for the total revenue.

Always look at the big picture.

Are there any potential confounding factors?

There might be other factors influencing your analysis that you didn’t consider.

For example, you might discover that people using a feature X tend to retain three times better, but that alone doesn’t prove that the features cause retention.

There might be another variable that impacts both the usage of feature X and retention. Be wary of correlation and make sure that you look at all the factors at play.

Is there any other way I can confirm my analysis?

Try to think if there are other ways you can solidify your confidence.

For example, if you run the analysis for a 14-day period, you could check if it still holds true for 21 or 28 days. Or you could check different random samples of 14 days in the previous quarter.

The bigger the insight seems to be, the more pressure testing it deserves. After all, you don’t want to pivot your business model based on flawed insight.

5. Deciding on the next steps

The last step is deciding whether to exploit the insight further or to explore new insights.

If you feel the insight is promising and you can further test it, consider looping again. Otherwise, it might be more beneficial to start a new looping process.

As a rule of thumb, you should explore other areas if you:

  • Are running out of time and have no promising results
  • Hit diminishing returns — a new loop doesn’t add new value

Data-driven insight generation loop example

Now, let’s take a look at a hypothetical example of a data-driven insight generation loop.

You are a product manager working on Kindle, an e-book reader developed by Amazon, and are tasked with improving the retention of people using the built-in digital store. You define a retained user as someone making at least one purchase a month. The steps are as follows:

1st loop

Since highlighting text is one of the core advantages of e-books, you want to take a look at it. That might sound like a random thought, but you don’t need a super-specific hypothesis to start looping.

You plan the analysis and decide to:

  • Use behavioral segmentations — highlighters versus non-highlighters
  • Include the whole user base
  • Analyze the last 30 days
  • Compare store retention of both groups

You run the analysis and get the following result:

1st Loop

You then pressure test it by:

  • Checking different samples across periods to see if it’s relevant across multiple months
  • Checking if there’s a relative impact

It turns out the highlighters build 50 percent of the user base, which allows you to conclude that the insight is relevant and want to explore it further.

2nd loop

You want to understand the differences between both segments a bit deeper. You also remember that you introduced an onboarding feature only on some Kindle models. You believe that it might impact the usage of the highlighting feature.

You decide to run another segmentation analysis, this time analyzing how the number of highlights changed depending on whether the user received onboarding or not:

2nd Loop

The result turned out neutral. You pressure-tested it by testing different Kindle models and periods; the results were similar.

You decide to reject the hypothesis and start a brand new loop.

3rd loop

This time, you decided to test a different theory — that the amount of highlights differs on genre by genre basis.

You run a similar segmentation analysis as during the second loop:

3rd Loop

It turns out that people reading self-development and educational books highlight more often.

Although the insight itself doesn’t seem super actionable — it seems like a natural phenomenon that people highlight more in self-development than fantasy books — it inspires yet another theory to explore.

4th loop

The first loop proved that highlighters retain better.

The third loop proved that self-development books tend to be highlighted the most.

Now you want to gather more evidence and see if self-development book readers retain better, so you run yet another segmentation analysis. This time you compare the retention of self-development book readers with other genres:

4th Loop

The analysis suggests that self-development book readers retain better.

You pressure test by:

  • Comparing other segments and periods
  • Cross-checking with spending
  • Assessing relative impact

Next steps

At this point, you have to decide what to do next. There are a few options:

  • You might run another loop to polish the insight even more. For example, aren’t self-development book readers also book hoarders? This could be a fifth loop
  • If other loops found an even more impactful insight, you might want to switch your focus there
  • If you have spare time, you might want to explore brand-new insights before doubling down on this one
  • Run an experiment based on the impact. Could promoting more self-development books lead to more self-development books readers and increase store retention?

Closing thoughts

A single insight can change the trajectory of your product dramatically. Because of this, Improving the insight generation process is one of the highest ROI activities a product manager can do.

To maximize the chance of getting valuable insights from data, follow this five-step loop:

  1. Set up a loose hypothesis
  2. Plan the analysis
  3. Perform the analysis
  4. Pressure test the findings
  5. Decide to exploit or explore

Don’t leave your career to chance, and start fishing for these insights ASAP.

LogRocket generates product insights that lead to meaningful action

LogRocket identifies friction points in the user experience so you can make informed decisions about product and design changes that must happen to hit your goals.

With LogRocket, you can understand the scope of the issues affecting your product and prioritize the changes that need to be made. LogRocket simplifies workflows by allowing Engineering, Product, UX, and Design teams to work from the same data as you, eliminating any confusion about what needs to be done.

Get your teams on the same page — try LogRocket today.

Bart Krawczyk Learning how to build beautiful products without burning myself out (again). Writing about what I discovered along the way.

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